TVR Griffith, a blast then and now – Autoweek

17 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on TVR Griffith, a blast then and now – Autoweek

TVR Griffith

, a blast then and now

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What gearhead could want anything more–a potent Ford 289 Hi-Po in a luscious 1,800-pound fiberglass body, with a just small enough wheelbase to cause even the least faithful to pray aloud in tight turns.

It’s the TVR Griffith, and it’s not for the faint of heart when pushed to its limits. Mike Mooney knows that only too well.

#8220;Of the 262 built, I drove about 255 of them. And my boss was Mark Donohue,#8221; said Mooney, Griffith Motors’ original factory test driver who today owns the Griffith Motorcar Co. in Claremont, N.C.

Griffith bodies were built in the United Kingdom and shipped to the United States, where they were constructed and finished on Long Island, N.Y. For most of the car company’s life, Mooney, formerly a police office responsible for patrolling the Long Island Expressway, used the 11-mile stretch of road to test the new Griffiths.

With some training from Donohue, who worked for Griffith before joining the Penske race team, Mooney became an astute tester who helped ensure that every Griffith produced was capable of scaring the bejesus out of its new owner.

#8220;You have to respect the 85.5-[inch] wheelbase, because the front end and rear end like to swap places a lot,#8221; Mooney said with a grin.

According to his Griffith registry, of the 262 cars built–which include the 200 Series, the 400 Series and the 600 Series–he has knowledge of about 210. This past year, he learned of the existence of three #8220;missing#8221; Griffiths.

At a Griffith gathering last summer at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, nearly a dozen Griffiths were on display, including an immaculate example owned by Tom Shelton, a former Ferrari dealer who loves Ford-powered cars. He bought his 400 Series car about five years ago.

#8220;The big thing about a Griffith is that the chassis needs to be rust-free. Fortunately, this was a Colorado car for quite a long time, as well as a drag-racing car that held quite a few racing titles.#8221;

With the help of a friend, Shelton removed the flared fenders he found on the Griffith and replaced them with the correct fenders, still available in England. And, aside from a few cosmetic improvements and the addition of chrome wire wheels, the car is pretty much as it was found.

#8220;It is a blast to drive!#8221; he said. #8220;You can double-clutch it real easy, and heel and toe it. It’s a little squirrelly on short turns because of the short wheelbase, but it turns in real nice and it will come out of a corner fast.#8221;

While you might think Griffiths would command big bucks, Mooney said good cars are being sold for about $20,000, because of the country’s weak economy. Still, that’s not too bad when you consider that a Griffith cost about $3,500 new.

For more information about Griffith cars, visit Mooney’s Web site at www.mikemooney.com .

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