TVR Cerbera FAQ

12 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on TVR Cerbera FAQ

TVR Cerbera

This list of FAQ’s was compiled by Patrick Buckland and members of the Cerbera mailing list. Queries should be addressed to The advice is merely a consensus of opinion, if in doubt please check with your dealer.

Can I run on regular (95 RON) unleaded?

Generally speaking yes you can, without any problems other than a decrease in power. The amount of the power loss is not known. Be aware though that the very earliest Cerberas running the early cam profiles and/or very early ECU versions may pink under load.

What sports exhausts are available, and what are they like? Are they legal?

Many people find that fitting a sports exhaust improves the sound of the car no end, because it adds a lot of bass to the rather tinny noise that the flat-plane crank AJP8 produces. There are a number of systems to choose from, (one early dealer offering should be avoided because it just doesn’t last). Your first port of call should be your dealer.

Team Central have a good looking system, and Fernhurst are about to produce a system that they claim will be bullet proof and gorgeously loud.

The legality of loud exhausts appears to be a grey area. Generally speaking the police expect TVRs to be loud and don’t seem to have a problem with them.

How do I go about de-catting my car? Is it legal? Will it pass an MOT?

A: There is some debate about the benefits of de-catting. Most ‘experts’ agree that merely removing the cats won’t cause any problems as long as the Lambda sensors are left in place, and that the ECU does not need re-mapping. Simply replace the cats with equivalent lengths of exhaust piping.

The main debate is whether the ECU automatically makes the most of the cat-less exhaust, or whether re-mapping is required to maximise the benefit. The consensus now appears to be that re-mapping, although optional, will increase the power over and above that gained by merely removing the cats. Over 460bhp has been quoted as the power output of a de-catted 4.5 with undisclosed work performed on the ECU, however other people say that a increase of 20bhp is more likely.

Looks like somebody somewhere needs to get their car on a dyno!

A word of warning though: driving your de-catted Cerbera on the public road is ILLEGAL. There have been anecdotal reports of Ј5000 fines for owners of M3s doing this.

Note also that it’ll miserably fail the MOT come its third (and subsequent) birthdays. However this is not such a problem – just bolt the cats back on for the MOT and then take them off again.

A quick mention regarding the morality of this as well: A catted car uses up around 10% more fuel then one without cats, and converts all its carbon monoxide emissions to carbon dioxide – the greenhouse gas. Many people are of the opinion that catalytic convertors were only ever created to make politicians look like they’re doing some good for the environment. Whatever your opinions, a few expensive sports cars driving around without cats is not going to cause the world to end.

How do I stop the indicator beeper?

A: There is a volume control for the indicator beeper mounted on the circuit board onto which the speedo and tacho are mounted. It is on the back (i.e. the side that points forwards in the car) of the board, in the top centre. To get to it, take off the leather-clad cowling that surrounds the top instrument pod by undoing the two butterfly nuts that can be found by groping away under the dash.

You may find that you leave entire fingers behind whilst trying to find them.

Why do the brakes squeal?

A: Race-standard brakes often squeal. This is a problem that affects other supercars just as badly. Brake squeal is caused by the braking components resonating. This can apparently be cured by fitting anti-squeal shims which move the resonant frequency out of the audible range for humans (but cause dogs to explode every time you brake near one).

These are now standard on Cerberas which are affected because of the hard compound of pad used. Later pad fitments are much quieter. Dismantling at every service for inspection and greasing is a must to prevent pads seizing in the callipers.

This is due to a number of factors, including the fact that you can’t get a proper straight pull on the lever itself because its almost at shoulder height, but also because the handbrake itself operates on a small drum brake at the centre of the disc, and this small radius limits the braking torque effect it can exert. By relocating the cable anchor on the lever the braking effort can be improved (ask your dealer). A properly set-up and adjusted Cerbera handbrake can be made relatively effective.

Some cars suffer badly from this, others do not exhibit it at all. The draught comes from either a poorly sealing door seal or from the vents in the rear screen. Door seals can be a nightmare to get right due to the shape of the door. The rear vents can be partially blocked off with foam rubber.

Be wary of blocking them off completely if the later heating system mods are fitted (separate hot and cold vents as opposed to a mixer system), since this system recirculates the air in the cabin, and if the rear vents are blocked completely the car can steam up since no fresh air can enter.

Some dealers neglect to mention that when you start the car, partly depress the throttle as the engine turns over. This should make it start easily. Without this, starting can be next to impossible, however owners can easily fail to try this if they have got so used to modern computer managed cars in which you are told NOT to use any throttle during starting.

After starting keep the engine at around 1500 RPM for a minute. Avoid blipping the throttle repeatedly since this gives acceleration enrichment leading to cylinder bore washing or flooding. However if there are lots of people watching you, repeated blipping of the throttle may be mandatory.

This seems to vary from car to car. Some people report dreadful reception, others have no problem – at least on FM anyway. Adding an external aerial helps tremendously – see your dealer or a local ICE specialist for help. If you stereo was fitted by the dealer, you may want to go directly to them and complain about the reception.

If they try to tell you that they’re all like that sir, don’t believe them! It should be noted however, that AM reception appears to be terrible on almost all Cerberas.

The aluminium chin spoiler is very vulnerable and tends to get bent and/or torn off very easily. It is partly there to prevent lift at high speeds, and thus is extremely important if you plan to get well into the upper reaches of the car’s performance, otherwise you stand a chance of the steering going light on you just when you really don’t need it (remember that Merc at Le Mans ’99?). Anecdotal reports speak of no problems at around 120mph with the spoiler missing however.

The other reason for the splitter is to increase air-flow through the radiator by prevent air entering the underside of the car and thus decreasing the pressure differential between the front and rear of the radiator. Therefore you could experience overheating problems without the splitter, however no reports of such problems have yet surfaced.

Why does it sound like a bag of nails when I start it up?

The diesel tractor impression is due to a few things, but generally that the engine and engine-bay make no attempt at noise suppression, unlike your average production car. Also it has plenty of noisy gears in the cam drivetrain, and on earlier cars the cams themselves are noisy. Later cars have the so-called soft cams, however some owners have reported a preference for the early cams because they like the edge that they add to the engine noise.

Other aspects such as servicing and tappet clearance also come into it, but generally speaking the engine is meant to be noisy, so stop complaining and go out and drive it!

What on earth is a flat-plane crank?

Like most Ferraris, the Cerbera’s AJP8 engine uses a flat-plane crank. Flat-plane means that the crank throws are all in a single plane – i.e. if you laid the crank on a desk it would be flat. Laying the crank of a conventional (twin-plane) V8 on a desk would result in a very three-dimensional wobbly thing sitting there. In both cases however, the desk will get very oily.

With a twin plane you get eight evenly spaced firing intervals for every two complete engine revolutions, but the downside is that you can’t take advantage of exhaust pulse extraction effects since the manifold design is prohibitive. The Cerbera’s flat plane crank means that the engine (essentially) becomes two four cylinder engines operating on a common crankshaft, so the exhaust design is made like a traditional 4-2-1 set up to take advantage of pulse tuning effects.

Thus a flat-plane crank produces an engine that is more powerful but rougher in nature. It also means that the engine sounds like a pair of four cylinder engines together, rather than the classic warble of a V8 (e.g. the Rover engines used in Griffiths and Chimaeras). As a point of useless trivia, a four cylinder engine in a boxer configuration, as used by old Alfas, Beetles and of course the Subaru Impreza sounds like a classic V8.

The unusual exhaust sound is made even more weird by the V angle not being 90 degrees. Its 75 degree angle means the engine doesn’t behave exactly like two four-cylinder engines since instead of the firing intervals being 90 + 90 degrees apart they are 75 + 105 degrees apart.

I bet you didn’t really want all that gory detail, did you? And I bet you’re now wanting to know what pulse effects are? Basically its a technique where exhaust gets actively sucked out of the cylinders by the exhaust system, due to standing waves being set up in the exhaust pipes. Better?

I didn’t think so.

What are the rules for running the car in?

Opinions differ, but there is a general consensus that it is worth being careful, as it makes the engine smoother and actually more powerful in the long-run. However this is not unanimous, and some people claim that you can thrash the engine from the word go. You should be warned however that TVR have been known to refuse warranty claims on engine problems if they find out that the car has, for instance, been taken on a track day when less than 2000 miles old.

A sensible scheme is the following:

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