TVR Cerbera review by Jason Dawe

24 Aug 2014 | Author: | Comments Off on TVR Cerbera review by Jason Dawe

When TVR revealed the Cerbera in 1993 it redefined sports car the performance standards. Quicker to 100mph than a Porsche 911 Turbo yet costing just over Ј30,000, nothing else went so fast for such little money.

Within 12 months of its launch the original Rover sourced V8 engines were replaced by an all new, TVR designed, 4.2 litre V8 producing 360bhp. In a car weighing just 1,100kg performance was astonishing, 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds and 0-100 in under10seconds. With no power steering, no ABS and no traction control the car was all about raw performance.

In July 1997 came the ultimate Cerbera, 4.5 litres and 420bhp. Its race bred, flat crank, engine revving to 7,000rpm and powering the car from standstill to 100mph in just 8.2 seconds. Confirming it as the fastest British built sports car money could buy.

The final addition to the range appeared in April 98. The Speed Six has a 4.0 litre straight six unit producing 350bhp and is the ‘slowest’ car of the range. The softer suspension, lower geared steering and higher profile tyres make the car smoother and less demanding to drive and the addition of power steering (standard on all models since July 1997) makes this car the most civilized in the range.

With the car having been in production for ten years, used examples are relatively plentiful and prices range from Ј14,000 for an early car up to Ј40,000 for a 2003 registered 4.5litre. But buying a used Cerbera requires care.

Owners regale stories of water leaks, dubious electrics and engines over heating. In wet weather the wipers are feeble, at night the lights are pathetic. Remember the car is hand made in a small factory in Blackpool, so forget details such as ergonomics.

The buttons and dials may be bespoke but don’t expect a handbook saying what any of them actually do. You need to have a good handover when you buy the car because without it, you may never know what your car is capable of!

The Cerbera also appeals to the track day enthusiast and whilst this is not terminal, it can be less than kind to a car. Tell-tale sins are bluing on the disc brakes, a sign of over heating and potential warping – virtually impossible if the AP brakes had been subjected to the manageable challenges of the road. Check underneath for scuffed exhaust system and sills, a sign that the car has left the track at some point in its life.

Look carefully at the body work and inside the engine bay, the tubular steel chassis is difficult and expensive to repair and the fibre glass panels can be replaced, hiding a multitude of problems underneath. Servicing also demands attention, the 4.5 litres use oil and regular inspection is required between services.

Check carpets for signs of water leaks and check the synchromesh on all the gears, the V8’s have heavier clutches than the Speed Six but all tend to crunch when engaging reverse gear. None of the cars have air conditioning as standard but it is a must have option due to the heat of the engine and the small cabin.

Buying privately is only feasible if you are an existing owner with a fair bit of technical knowledge, buying from a TVR main dealer is a safer bet. But on a clear, dry, summers day there is no finer car for the enthusiastic driver. The AP brakes pull you up on a sixpence, despite the absence of ABS.

The grip is incredible (despite no traction control) and the sound from the engine is second to none. Once you’ve driven a TVR Cerbera everything else feels pretty dull.

Check the following

Side window seals – prone to wind noise and water leaks

Blue brake discs – sign of overheating and warping

Fuel filler cap – mounted inside the boot, its easy to spill fuel on your luggage

Reverse gear –

Stone chips – front end suffers badly from chipping

Alloys – 18 inch alloys standard on 4.5 a popular option on other models but can be retro fitted for Ј1,500

Service history – Must be complete and perfect, 6 months or 6,000 miles

Catalytic converters – can be removed to add up to 40bhp of power but beware, these cars fail the MOT test

Sports exhausts – Even more noise but will cost you Ј700

Paints – TVR allow customers to choice there new car in any colour

Air conditioning – A must have option

PAS – Early V8’s have no power steering

Head gasket – A Speed Six weakness, check the history to see if it has been replaced

Fuel consumption – owners report about 18mpg for most models but will dip sharply if driven hard

2000MY changes – revised headlamps, larger alloys and integrated head rests

Tubular steel chassis damage – easily hidden by fiberglass panels

Demist – Condensation on the screen and difficulty demisting can be a sign of water leaks and damp carpets

The one to buy

TVR Cerbera 4.2

Air con, leather and 18’’ alloys

1998 ‘S’ with 20,000 miles

Pay Ј22,500 at a dealer with a 12 month warranty Ј19,500 privately

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