The gnarliest TVR of them all is a true collector's item.
The world's only street-legal TVR Cerbera Speed 12 will be made available to the buying public this May, with UK-based Silverstone Auctions handling the sale of this exceptional piece of British motoring history.
Originally designed as a race car, the rare TVR will be a familiar sight to those who spent hours playing Gran Turismo, making several appearances throughout the series. It remained a firm favorite among gamers, thanks to its immense performance. The Speed 12's exuberance wasn't exaggerated for the video game, with a mighty 7.7-liter V12 providing outputs of 840 horsepower and endless amounts of torque.
This one-of-a-kind example has been fettled to produce an additional 10 ponies and a ridiculous torque figure in excess of 900 lb-ft. Its first owner, an avid TVR enthusiast, extracted more muscle by fitting uprated components and treating the engine to a remap. That's a lot of power for a car that weighs around 2,204 pounds.
If you're unfamiliar with the Cerbera Speed 12, this road-going brawler was built to take on the McLaren F1 GTR, arguably one of the most desirable cars of the'90s. Amongst a sea of dreary Vauxhall and Ford sedans, the TVR debuted at the 1996 Birmingham Motor Show and startled the crowds.
Even though it was intended to be a street-legal supercar, the development was biased towards creating the perfect GT1 endurance racer that TVR hoped would dominate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Despite throwing everything at the Cerbera Street 12, its career as a racecar was short-lived. After a few appearances in the FIA GT Championship, an unexpected rule change threw a spanner in the works, and the TVR's racing career was over.
That's a shame, as the Blackpool-based company put a great deal of work into the Speed 12. The engine, for example, was created by splicing a pair of Cerbera Speed Six engines together. These inline-six motors shared a steel block and were further enhanced by the company's John Ravenscroft.
Legend has it that the Speed 12 was so powerful that it snapped the input shaft of the dynamometers, forcing TVR to evaluate each cylinder bank separately. With a reading of 480 horses from either side, the total output was around 960 hp. However, TVR's official figures were pegged at a more reasonable 800 hp for the intended road-going model.
And we say intended because the Speed 12 never saw the light of day. The late Peter Wheeler, who owned TVR at the time, took a complete prototype home for the night, and it must have scared him senseless. He reportedly returned to work the next day, saying it was too powerful and extreme for road use.
Wheeler, a larger-than-life character with a penchant for lairy cars, wasn't one to shy away from a hair-raising experience - so it must have been quite a handful. As such, TVR returned deposits and broke the remaining prototypes up to use as spares for the race cars.
But one example did survive, and it's the vehicle you see here.
In 2003, after the Cerbera Speed 12 had been forgotten, TVR surprised the supercar community by offering W112 BHG for sale. With the racing program now a bittersweet memory - and the road car project scrapped - the boutique brand wanted to make sure this exclusive model would exceed the expectations of everyone. TVR put three race engineers on the job, and over two years, they would build and test each piece of the car to ensure it was perfect.
Using parts from the racing project, the Cerbera Speed 12 sports air jacks and carbon fiber/Kevlar bodywork honed in wind tunnels to provide exceptional downforce at triple-digit speeds.
Two years later, it was completed. Wheeler wasn't prepared to sell it to anyone and personally oversaw the sale of the car to an enthusiast who lived up to his lofty expectations. The aforementioned performance upgrades demonstrate his love for raw, race-inspired cars.
The red-painted Brit was later sold to the current owner, who, according to the auction house, "sees himself as a custodian" of the Cerbera Speed 12. In 2014, he treated the car to a full recommissioning, which helped it win the Style et Luxe' Concours d'Elegance best in class at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. The car is now kept in tip-top shape and is ready to pounce on a race track at a moment's notice.
Silverstone Auctions makes no mention of price, but we're guessing the Speed 12's rarity, provenance, and heritage will require a new owner with deep pockets. The lucky buyer will receive an ECU and exhausts for MOT testing (UK roadworthy inspection), and, what's more, the existing owner is all too happy to share any knowledge and advice about the special TVR. Like how to not die on a wet track.
Thanks to the Aston Martin DB11, the British V12 supercar still exists, but we will never see something like this again. The Cerbera Speed 12 is an exceptional example of British engineering and a testament to the zany automaker that is TVR.
Sadly, the automaker has fallen from grace. Wheeler sold the brand to Russian businessman Nikolay Smolensky in the mid-2000s, who palmed it off on another buyer less than a decade later. Now, the brand hopes to make a return with the new Griffith, which will reportedly be offered with a traditional V8 or as an electric vehicle.
It's been a few years since the rebirthed Griffith was announced, and fans of the brand aren't holding out hope for an imminent return. Hopefully, the company can get its act together, and who knows? Perhaps, one day, we'll see an electrified successor to the Cerbera Speed 12.
It would make for a great Lotus Evija rival.
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