The TVR 350i was designed by Oliver Winterbottom, who also designed the Lotus Elite and Excel models. Launched at the Brussels Motor Show in January 1980 as the Tasmin fixed head coupe series 1, before being joined at the NEC British Motor Show in October 1980 by the four seat fixed head coupe â€˜+2â€™ and the convertible. All three models were initially powered by the 2792cc fuel injected Ford V6 ‘Cologne’ 160bhp power plant mated to a non-overdrive four speed manual gearbox, with the option of automatic transmission.
In 1983 Peter Wheeler, the new owner of TVR had a â€œEurekaâ€ moment. By shoehorning a 190bhp Rover V8 into a Tasmin chassis they had created the 350i. TVR was back in the V8 business, the first time since the demise of the 1969 Tuscan. At the time CAR magazine called it â€œthe greatest sports car since the Ferrari 275GTB/4â€ – high praise indeed, and not empty praise either as this model would go on to be the best selling TVR of all time.
The â€œWedgeâ€, as it became known, was also produced as a 390, 400 and 450 SEAC (Special Equipment Aramid Composite â€“ meaning 20% of the body was made of kevlar) and was the first production car to feature a fully bonded laminated windscreen.
Production ended in 1990. My particular car was first registered January 1990 making it one of the very last 350iâ€™s built.
I bought my TVR 350i in 2006. I was fortunate enough to find the car locally â€“ just four miles from my home. During the last 8 years I have rebuilt the front suspension and upgraded the anti-roll bar drop links with rose joints. I have fitted rose jointed rear radius arms, both of which improve the carâ€™s handling. I have also had the flywheel lightened and fitted an adjustable fuel regulator. Last year saw a new hood and front end re-spray. The cooling system was upgraded with an alloy radiator. Last year I also rebuilt the top end of the engine, upgrading with composite head gaskets. This year will see the restoration of the dashboard veneer.
In 2010 I drove 3,000 miles in 2 weeks, travelling to Monaco and back via NÃ¼rburgring, Stelvio Pass and Alassio. The car ran perfectly throughout the trip.
Not long after purchasing the car I was travelling home, on a good stretch of bypass late one night, it was raining and I was â€œgiving it some welly,â€ when suddenly there was a loud whoosh and I was getting wet! The Targa roof panel had gone! I spent the next hour getting wet, trying to find the panel without success. I had to return the next day and in daylight found that the panel had cleared a 10â€™ hedge and was lying undamaged in a field.