Phil Hoad’s TVR Cerbera Project

Phil Hoad, our Operations Director, has been working on his own private restoration project.

Having previously owned TVRs in S and Chimaera guise (The later turbo charged) Phil bought his Cerbera SP6 (built in 2000) in September 2017. Although in running order the car was purchased as a project, which in true TVR fashion has escalated a little further than expected 🙂

The carpets were pretty tatty and what was originally grey was more a mixture of browns, yellows and black. First Job strip out and replace with black carpets trimmed with Portland grey to compliment the mad grey leather design of this model. You may spot the seats in the back….if you’re over the age of 8 forget it!

It was clear once driven a few miles that the clutch was slipping whenever planting the right foot, so off with the under trays and exhausts and drop the gearbox. Replacing the clutch, slave cylinder and pilot bearing as well as a new lightened flywheel….all off axle stands which (for anyone who knows about home mechanics) is a lot of fun! This fixed the initial problem but it was clear that the car was down on power and smoked upon restart which pointed toward a valve guide issue and at least a top end refresh….not an easy fix on these cars as it’s an engine out job!

The decision was taken to remove the engine and send to one of the best TVR engine builders out there (Powers Performance in Coventry) who actually rebuilt this engine in 2005 at 30,000 miles (the clock now showing 48,000). Unfortunately the SP6 early engines suffered from a chocolate top end and many were rebuilt in the early years with the same quality parts, which often lead to another premature failure. TVR Power have invested heavily in improving the quality by thorough testing and manufacture of their own and much improved replacement parts, which has pushed the 4.0L engine to further Capacities available to the public:

  • A 4.3 version by changing the stroke
  • A 4.5L by changing the stroke and an increase in bore size.

The upgraded engines are covered by a 5-year unlimited mile warranty.

So the only question was standard rebuild or an upgrade?!

This shows the block being re-lined but then disaster….

A previous and old crack in the block meant a new one was required. An unexpected and expensive replacement, but fortunately Powers Performance had a slightly cheaper second hand replacement block with the later and preferred additional cooling water ways.

Unfortunately this put an end to the 4.5L upgrade but going this far Phil wanted more power and opted to still upgrade to the 4.3.

Cerbera 4.0 SP6 factory fly figures – 350hp and 330 ft lb torque -170mph

Cerbera 4.3 SP6 fly figures – over 400hp and typically similar torque – 180mph (est)

Weighing little over a ton and with a reputation as a giant killer in its day in factory form, the upgrade is going to make for a lively drive!

TVR Cerbera shoot out and review, both by Jeremy Clarkson below.

Below are some pictures of the engine rebuild.

The original head being machined (the only part that remains of the original engine)
New bottom end with billet crank.
Newly lined bores.
Complete rebuilt engine

Whilst the engine was away being rebuilt and upon inspection of a rusty section of chassis tube by the Catalytic convertors, the restoration took a major turn. To do the job properly a body off was required.

TVR’s strength is in the tubular chassis and effectively the fibreglass body sits on top by way of 35 strategically placed bolts. You tend to put this to the back of your mind considering there are no driver aids in this 180mph car aside from power steering.

View from the front of the car’s engine bay with bonnet removed. The grey metal being the spaceframe chassis.
Chassis being stripped of components – the diff and rear anti roll bar can be seen still attached.
Just a few of the new components required for the chassis rebuild

Currently the chassis is away being blasted and repaired to factory condition. TVR chassis’ generally rust when subjected to the British weather, especially the ones produced around 1997-1998 due to being coated in house with a less than robust process. This meant that the powder coat would eventually peel and the metal would rust.

This time the chassis will get a zinc primer before the powder coating which should last for another 20 years and many beyond.

The car will be out this year – hopefully in the summer and will be run by Redmond Group in the Brighton speed trials on the 7th September 2019 over ¼ mile.

Please check back for further updates as they happen……..