TVR Tuscan/Vulcan 6.3 2006/2013
- Test Drive
The name Vulcan? Vulcan was the Roman equivalent of Hespestus, the Greek God of the Forge and Fire - including Volcanoes. Enough said?
All who are TVR afficionados will have mixed feelings about Nikolai Smolenski and how the demise of the TVR factory in December 2006 impacted on your passion for the marque. However, in fairness to Nikolai, his intentions were correct and laudable; he wanted to improve quality control and build reliability into the whole range. But, the Speed Six engine’s “issues”- although sorted - had damaged TVR’s reputation so much that the inevitable occurred and TVR Blackpool closed in December 2006.
Nikolai tried hard to re-ignite TVR’s smouldering ashes. He set up a competent R&D operation at “The Barn”, with a limited staff. Their first product was the desirable Sagaris Mk3, but this never came to market - perhaps because the car was Speed Six engined. Development then switched to a different track. Smolenski recognised the Speed Six engine’s viability would be short-lived as it could not meet European Euro 5 emission regulations. Having reviewed the options, Nikolai adopted the time-honoured solution - as prototyped by Carroll Shelby with the AC Ace in the 60s. Shelby had taken a classic British 6 cylinder powered sports car and shoe-horned in a powerful American V8 - he named it the Cobra and a cult was born!
Nikolai decided this was still a sensible recipe 50 years on. The plan for the “reborn” TVR range would commence with the future classic Tuscan Mk3, and it would be powered by Corvette’s 6.2 Litre LS3 engine. Scoff not, ye purists! This is not an iron lump but a state of the art aluminium unit with half a century’s development applied. The advantages are that this power plant is pretty much the same size and weight as the Speed Six engine, develops 100bhp more with commensurate torque, matches the fuel consumption figures and complies with pretty nearly all emission requirements worldwide. In addition it is extremely reliable. And of course it has a soundtrack to die for.
And now we come to the actual “Reborn” Tuscan itself. The Mk3 Tuscan convertible in question was first registered by Peninsula TVR on 1 March 2006. The dealership kept the car for 12 months before it became a private owner’s property. Subsequently the car was bought by Nikolai’s Austrian-based TVR GmbH and the development programme began.
In a nutshell, a Coventry-based company installed a brand new LS3 engine mated to a 5 speed gearbox. This engine, running standard Tuscan exhausts was mapped by specialists in Austria. The suspension employed Ohlins 3 way adjustable dampers with matched springs, originally set up for high speed Autobahn driving (now retuned for UK roads!). Dietrich Probst, MD of TVR GmbH, advised Str8six that the car out accelerated a Porsche 997 GT3 RS on an Autobahn from 70 to 120 mph, running from it up to 180mph before licence preservation considerations prevailed! Other development work included the incorporation of a prototype DTA Electronic dashboard, and the car was fitted with Sparco seats. But it still ran on 18” Spiders….
Many of you will recall plans announced in early 2012 to offer “Reborn” TVRs at a price of £100,000. Those plans were stillborn. Ultimately Nikolai decided to put the “Reborn” TVR concept on ice. In June 2012 he offered a T350 (under consideration for an electic sportscar development) and the Tuscan V8 prototype to Str8six. Appropriately enough, Str8six “liberated” the ‘Vette-engined Tuscan on 4 July 12 - American Independence Day. The 2 cars reached Str8six at Lewknor in Oxfordshire, and clearly needed enormous application and expense to render them saleable!
Discussions took place at Str8six to determine whether the Tuscan should be simply tidied and sold, or another route followed. Jason Clegg, MD of Str8six, had worked at the TVR factory and understood Nikolai’s aims and modus operandi. It was agreed that this Tuscan would be re-named VULCAN and be transformed into “Motorshow Launch” standard - as Nikolai had undoubtedly originally planned. This intention appealed to Dietrich Probst and Str8six was sanctioned to market the car as a TVR and to use the original, classic TVR badges.
And so the transformation began. Str8six stripped the car for a total respray and transported it to Surface & Design (S&D) in Blackpool to be re-finished in a specially formulated paint colour (known as Forged Graphite). The interior was delivered to Lee Whitehead of St.Anne’s, and Str8six’s styling concepts were worked on in conjunction with Lee, who had trimmed the original Motorshow Tuscans for Peter Wheeler 13 years previously. Lee is now the proprietor of Trim-Unique and his execution of Str8six’s requirements was faultless. And yes, the seats are based on a Ferrari design…why not? If they are good enough for a Ferrari…!) The dashboard binnacle solution was designed by Str8six and transformed by S&D and Trim-Unique to become a production-ready item. The foot pedal area was completely re-thought and all the cockpit switchgear was transformed. The Vulcan is still a Tuscan, but “only just” as you know it!
However, the heart of the beast is its V8 engine, which was hidden from view - and rightly so, given its state of presentation when purchased. So, S&D were asked to incorporate their opening bonnet solution whilst Str8six set about creating and specifying the engine bay cosmetics - including the defining, “trademark” Vulcan 485 engine plaques. The engine sounded “nice” - but Str8six wanted “gorgeous”. The incorporation of a 70 mm big bore system - produced by the UK company which created exhausts for the Sultan of Brunei’s McLaren F1 roadcars, in conjunction with a former East German company that supplies AMG - produced the desired result! Go to our video page and choose “Str8six TVR Vulcan V8 - Final Setup” to get an idea of what the Vulcan sounds like from inside the cockpit.
Str8six also changed the clutch mechanism so that the car could be driven, not only by Hercules, but also by mere mortals. Str8six’s development also homed in on the Vulcan’s wheels. The Spider alloys were first fitted to Tuscans in 2000. We were now 12 years further on and fashions change. Considerable research and discussion with wheel manufacturers ensued. This led to the design of brand new 19”, forged, monobloc alloys - with centre recesses designed to emulate the centres of the Spider wheels - and engineered to suit the Tuscan and Sagaris fitment requirements. These new alloys are in tune with the wheels fitted by manufacturers such as Aston Martin, Ferrari and McLaren to the current crop of high-end Supercars - all of which feature multispoke, forged, monobloc alloys with sharp styling. The Vulcan’s alloys were specified so that they would accommodate AP Racing 6 pot (Front) and twin pot (Rear) brake calipers - clamping on larger diameter ventilated discs. So this car really stops - as well as goes!
When the car was absolutely signed off it was handed over to Autocar’s Matt Prior, who reviewed the Vulcan for the 24 April 2013 issue. He did not make a single negative observation. The whole article is worth reading but these extracts give a clue…. (see our press and Media page)
“There is so much to like: incisive turn-in, lots of grip and mechanical feedback by the bucketload…”
“Yes, the steering is still fast, but it not nervy”.
“It’s respectably damped even with larger wheels than on original cars, and maintains precise body control”.
“The fit and finish is better than in any TVR I can remember”.
“Speed by the bucketload, too, when you forget about cruising and give it the beans. Blimey, it pulls. It goes. And it sounds mega. Its fairly devastating, all told - and it remains in the Top Performance Division, no question. There’s so much to like.”
The car had just been sold to a TVRaholic, who had already owned 4 TVRs – the last of which is still one of the finest Sagaris in England. Why would he sell the Vulcan after taking this Supercar on trips within the UK and on the Continent covering only 6,000 miles during his ownership? Having sampled American V8 power, he has placed an order for another V8 American powered TVR – this time from the Les Edgar stable - with a Mustang rather than a ‘Vette engine. Yes, he is on the list for one of the new TVRs due next year and thought he should sell the Vulcan before taking delivery of his sixth TVR!
And so it is that this unique opportunity has broken cover! The opportunity to own the Very last, truly epic, TVR Supercar from the Peter Wheeler/Nikolai Smolenski era - possibly unrepeatable for years to come - and in absolutely beautiful condition.
The Vulcan will, of course, be supplied with Str8six's renowned "All the 12's" handover specification. The car will receive a full 12,000 miles service, and it will have 12 months TAX, 12 months MOT and our 12 months/12,000 miles FULL WEAR AND TEAR WARRANTY (covering parts and labour) on the entire car. It will be supplied with a 12 Volt trickle charger and an Anderson jump lead cable.
Exceptional Historic Significance
This goes without saying!
POST SALE TO NEXT OWNER
Date TBD - 12,000 service/Str8six TVR
If conditions are wet we reserve the right to provide a demonstration drive, rather than a customer driven test drive. Please bring your driving licence if you wish to test drive this car. Finance is available, subject to the usual terms and conditions.
- with our 12 months full wear & tear warranty
The above car comes with Str8six's renowned full 12,000 miles service completed, 12 months MOT, 12 months Tax and 12 months/12,000 miles full wear and tear warranty covering parts and labour. Plus an inbuilt 12 volt trickle charger and a 12 volt auxiliary cable (if applicable) will also be provided.
This car comes with Str8six's renowned "All the 12’s” handover specification
The 12 months/12,000 miles warranty - is FULL WEAR AND TEAR (Parts and Labour)