Thursday, 17 July 2014

TVR Speed Twelve

Words & photos - Daniel Bevis

TVR's Speed Twelve is one of the most terrifying things that's ever existed - and not just in the world of cars, I'm including hurricanes and sabre-toothed tigers in that. It's the kind of car you tip-toe up to, being careful not to annoy it in case it spits hot race fuel in your eye.
TVR, of course, were always well known for their uncompromising builds, fusing outlandish and otherworldly curves with shouty, brawny engines, and there was never space for anything as fancy-pants or soft as ABS, airbags, or any of that nonsense. And the Speed Twelve? Well, this savage monster was the most uncompromising of the lot.
Taking the slinky Cerbera as a base, it formed a test-bed for a potential GT1 racer - something that never came to fruition; the Speed Twelve GTS did compete in a few rounds of the 1998 FIA GT1 Championship, but the rules changed rendering the car obsolete. It exists now as a bonkers and unique creation; under that rampantly slatted bonnet lurks a 7.7-litre V12 - effectively two Speed Six units on a shared crank, but the whole is far more than the sum of its parts - reputedly good for 1,000bhp, although official figures were never forthcoming. (A rough figure has been placed at 480bhp per bank, so 960bhp in total, although the car is so damn ferocious that it kept ripping their test equipment to pieces with its mighty claws.)
Peter Wheeler, TVR's then-owner, ultimately concluded that the Speed Twelve was undrivable as a road car, it was just too powerful. However, the car you see here was in fact built up as a road car from one of the prototypes in 2003 - its owner carefully vetted by Wheeler himself - using the shell of a defunct GT1 racer; the McLaren F1 had been in TVR's sights throughout development, and this example is capable of an F1-troubling 0-60mph in 2.9 seconds and a top speed of 240mph. Imagine how different the supercar scene would have been had the Speed Twelve made production...

Spotted at the 2014 Goodwood Festival of Speed - click here for more photos.

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