Before the Russians came the Tasmin. Cut like stone and built like paper, it did one thing very well…
Go Very Fast:
Not more than a cult overseas (as yet), the TVR name will forever hold a special place in islander’s hearts.
It’s likely to say this is not down to the quality of the cars themselves – apparently more debatable than a BMW Mini Clubman – but more of a semblance thing. You take a risk with a TVR, and we like risks over here at hecklerspray. We like noise too – and TVR’s do that even better than breaking down.
The TVR Tasmin stands as one of the firm’s most contested efforts. While many could appreciate its apologetically simple approach to sports car embodiment (we get the impression TVR’s engineers moaned every time someone so much as uttered the word ‘brakes’), a handful of boringly sensible, more married people felt it was an overpowered heap of junk.
It was, and still is, a little bruiser of a car. A stripped down, angry borstal boy with no friends and a multitude of casual sex partners. An inverse Japanese roadster; the moody Tasmin brought a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘starts every time’.
You Lookin’ At My Bird?:
TVR’s ‘Wedge’ Tasmin was first introduced in 1980 and stayed in production for eight years; first as a fixed head, then as a convertible. Neither were that special to look at. Aggressive, obviously, right-angled with a whiff of Mandate, only the convertible can be deemed interesting enough to impress your mates today.
Ford were on hand to help cobble the Tasmin together from various bits and pieces of their parts bin. Such as it was for TVR, they were building a car to kick your arse, not cosset it through the declining years.
Due to the aforementioned Ford connection – specifically their related problems in the Middle East – TVR were not in a position to export the Tasmin with their standard 2.8 litre powerplant (as borrowed from a Granada). Lateral thinking ensured and they decided to fit Rover’s gorgeous, wonderful, historically magical V8 instead.
With UK approval, the Tasmin V8 worked a charm on punters. Before we all gave a monkey’s about warmer winters and recycling our socks, proper men purchased cars that actively polluted the atmosphere as much as possible. A Tasmin done the job nicely, thank you very much.
Oh, and that famous ‘Rover’ V8 once belonged inside a big fat Buick – not vehicles known for their environmental pedigree, or ability to move from A to B without drinking an entire tank of Shell’s most expensive either. But do we care..?
If the outside of a Tasmin does not convince you it occupies a different age, the inside certainly will. Don’t jump to conclusions, we love this car like a lottery-winning ex-girlfriend, but that doesn’t mean we don’t recognise its absurdity.
Yes, the transmission tunnel is wider than a tree trunk. Yes, TVR are in the habit of just leaving bits of trim they do not consider necessary to finish (see: doors, floors, footwells, visors that don’t fall in your lap like emergency oxygen masks) and, finally, yes, the convertible’s targa top did have more in common with a tressle table than a roof. Rolls Royce did not have any kind of vested interest in TVR and that was abundantly clear for many, many years.
From our understanding, driving a Tasmin is an amazing experience. Responsive, fast, firm and entirely terrifying to bring to a standstill in the wet. This is what safety features are all about. Forget your ‘active this’ and ‘adjustable that’, just pay a bit more attention in a car that should rightly be fitted with wings and you will surely get home for the night.
We want a go and it’s on our list, so if anybody is willing we would be as chuffed and grateful as a porn star that doesn’t have to wear nappies to have a ride.
If you can find one, an operational Tasmin could, theoretically, be bought for less than £3,000. We would not recommend this though. With a car as crudely constructed as a TVR, you should spend as much money as possible.
Try eBay for memorabilia however. They’ve got loads of cool stuff.
Whimsically dated and still a bit too much of an old Vauxhall saloon from the rear, the Tasmin could yet make a convincing retro recovery.
[story by Chris Laverty]