Lost Concept Cars: TVR Project 7/12


You know you have a bonkers TVR when the boss says it's "too wild"!

Many cite the years when the late British businessman Peter Wheeler was in control to be the golden age for TVR, and it's not too difficult to see where they're coming from with that statement. After all, this was a time where TVR once again became a credible threat to the world's top sports car makers, and several of the firm's most famous models - the Griffith, Cerbera, Chimaera, Tuscan and Sagaris - were all either developed or conceived during this time. In fact, TVR was so flush with cash at this point, that it decided to develop a GT1 racing car.

As per sporting regulations of the time, a road car was developed alongside the racing car, with the first prototype being revealed in full at the 1996 British Motor Show under the guise of 'Project 7/12.'

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Unsurprisingly, it generated a sensational reaction from the press and public at the time - not only was it a purple supercar with a $214,000 price tag, but there were also some truly astonishing performance figures attached to it. Under the hood was a 7.7-liter V12 with a claimed output of over 600 hp - a power figure only associated with the most expensive and exclusive supercars on the planet at the time. Factor in the incredibly low claimed curb weight of 1,100 kg, and it's understandable why so many saw this new TVR as a McLaren F1 beater. Afterwards, however, things started going downhill for what was by this time redesigned and renamed the Cerbera Speed 12.

After a handful of races, the GT1 racing car suddenly found itself without a racing series to participate in, due to an abrupt change in the regulations. The car itself was re-purposed for life as a GT2-class British GT competitor, where a tally of impressive victories were countered by a series of chronic reliability issues. However, the final nail in the coffin came when then-TVR boss Peter Wheeler drove a road legal prototype, and promptly cancelled the project on the grounds that the Cerbera Speed 12 was simply "too unusable and wild" to be put into production. With immediate effect, the deposits were refunded.

The handful of prototypes that had been made were used as spare parts sources for the racing cars that would carry on pounding away in the British GT series until the early 2000s. It was during this time the purple concept cars also vanished without trace. By 2003, only one prototype chassis was left, and it was here where TVR hatched a rather oddball plan: put racing car bodywork on the road-legal chassis, place an advert for the car in the used car magazine Auto Trader and only sell it to the first respondent who gets vetted by Wheeler himself.

And you know what? Despite all those hoops to jump through, someone managed to buy the TVR Cerbera Speed 12. 13 years after it left the TVR factory, the sole Speed 12 road car in existence is still regularly seen at motoring events across Britain. That, along with being featured in multiple racing games over the years (most notably the Forza Motorsport and Gran Turismo releases), ensures the generations who missed out on being awed by the TVR Project 7/12 on its debut can still revel in the bonkers glory of the insane supercar this plastic purple mock-up paved the way for.

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