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TVR Chimaera: Buying guide and review (1992-2003)

TVR Chimaera: Buying guide and review (1992-2003) Classic and Performance Car
TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera interior
TVR has always been a car company notorious for doing things a little differently. The Blackpool-born company has been around since 1947, and despite some turbulent times, has produced some of the most iconic lightweight sports cars the UK has ever seen. The Chimaera, however, was something new for the company. 
In the past, many of the models were unruly beasts – fun but very uncivilised – while others have been highly focused performance machines. The Chimaera however, is the one model that hit the sweet spot  for many, sitting somewhere between quirkily designed widow maker and useable weekend toy. With the tried and trusted Rover V8, simple strong mechanicals and a stylish fibreglass body, the Chimaera is great fun to drive. 
Under the skin, the Chimaera was effectively based on the same tubular chassis as the Griffith, but with softer suspension and a tad more interior and luggage space it became the much preferable GT choice. Like all TVR models, driver aids such as ABS and traction control were considered to be superfluous. Omitting these items makes for a very light car with stunning acceleration, while the handling at the limit demands a measure of skill and respect from the driver.
TVR boss Peter Wheeler and designer John Ravenscroft worked on a new design for the Chimaera, trying to create something a little bit more restrained than the Griffith while staying true to TVR's nature. Take one look at the Chimaera, and it's instantly clear that they succeeded. It doesn't quite hold a candle to the the drop-dead gorgeous Griffith, but the Chim is a genuinely handsome car. It even has a pair of distinctive indents in the front bumper for the indicators, left in the initial styling mock-up of the car by Wheeler's pet dog Ned. It Looked so good that it made it to the production car... or so the legend goes!
As the car matured, it quickly became TVR's biggest selling model – surpassing the Griffith. Despite it's more laid back settings, many actually prefer the overall handling balance of the Chimaera, and there's actually not a lot of difference in performance term to the mighty Griffith. 
After a turbulent decade of new ownership, and a promising (but still uncertain) future, classic TVRs are continuing to rise in value. The Chimaera is still an affordable enthusiast car but with the first cars now pushing 25 years old, there is a lot that can potentially go wrong with a purchase, so it's vital to do your homework.
Which one to buy?
The basic Chimaera shape stayed the same throughout the 11-year production run, however detail changes to the front grille, rear lights and wheels differentiate the various models. There were four engine sizes through the years, with power ranging from 240bhp for the first 4-litre cars, up to 340bhp for the 5-litre models.
When looking for this sort of car, its easy to fall into the trap of wanting the full-fat Chimaera 500, however the consensus is that the smaller-engined models are slightly better balanced. The sweet spot in the range is probably the 4.5, with weight at not much more than a ton, performance is still scintillating. Going for one of the later models, which was fitted with an upgraded gearbox and some of the smaller niggles ironed out, is a good starting point.
Options at the time were mostly limited to interior trim changes, with full leather interior, air conditioning and heated seats being a few of the luxury items that a potential owner could specify. Power steering was also offered as an option, in turn adding a much faster rack.
Once you have settled on the model that you would most like to own, speak to any TVR fan and their advice to anyone interested in getting one of these cars is to always get the best condition model you can find. TVR owners are a passionate bunch and they are more than willing to impart their knowledge on potential new owners.
Performance and specs
TVR Chimaera 4.5
Engine 4495cc, V8 
Gearbox Five-speed manual
Power 285bhp @ 5500rpm 
Torque 310lb ft @ 4250rpm
Top speed 158mph 
0-60mph 4.6 seconds 
Fuel consumption 15mpg 
Insurance group 20
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2286mm
Length 4015mm
Width 1865mm
Height 1215mm
Weight 1060kg
Common problems
• Spares and new parts are generally in very good supply, and if not there are many specialists that have since developed many workarounds and improvements to the original designs.
• It is also worth noting that TVR was famous for its clever use of parts from other manufacturers, including Vauxhall, Ford and Rover, meaning that finding compatible parts is sometimes surprisingly cheap and easy. Sites like chimaerapages.com have detailed lists of interchangeable components, from dashboard switches to steering racks.
• As the factory-applied powder-coated chassis chips and wears away, the mild steel chassis begins to corrode. Outriggers are generally the first to need repair, although more work may be required on older Chimaera that has been patched up over the years. A full body-off refurbishment of the chassis is the best course of action, as strong repairs are almost impossible with the body on the car.
• A lot of the common rust spots are extremely difficult (or in some cases impossible) to spot with the body in place, so photographic proof of any restoration work is an absolute must. 
• As the cars body is made of fibreglass, rust is a non-issue. Instead look for any botched repair jobs or ill-fitting body panels. Any Chimaera will have had at least a couple of front-end resprays by now, so ensure the finish is of a good quality. If the the car has a lot of stone chips, this can be a good bargaining points.
• Engines are generally reliable. A general check of the cooling system for water mixing with oil (check under the oil cap) should alert you to any head gasket potential issues. The temperature gauge may fluctuate between 70-90 degrees during normal running, with the cooling fans set to cut in at 92. Any signs of dodgy manual fan switches should sound alarm bells.
• Check that the engine restarts once hot. A bad earth connection is usually the culprit if it refuses. A healthy battery will always help a car turn over better for hot starting.
• Windscreens on early cars can show milkiness around the edges, which is usually due to inefficient sealing at the factory. It’s not a major issue, as the windscreen can be replaced relatively cost effectively.
• Uneven tyre wear can indicate worn out suspension bushes or tired dampers.
• The electrical system needs to be thoroughly tested, so make sure that all of the switches, buttons and lights work as they should.
• Gearboxes are hard wearing and the changes should go through relatively smoothly. Some recalcitrance when engaging reverse is considered normal. 
• Throttle cables have a tendency to snap and should be checked for fraying.
• Fan belt failure is a common problem, and carrying a spare in the car is a wise investment!
• Fuses tend to blow regularly, although there are a number of modifications that can be made to the electrical systems to cure this. It is wise to carry some spares.
• There are also a number of aftermarket upgrades that can be carried out to improve the reliability and usability of your car. Hot Start kits, manual fan overrides, lights on buzzers and other mods are all available, and can be retrofitted relatively easily.
Model history
1992: Chimaera introduced in 4 litre and 4.3 litre guises.
1994: Gearbox changed to Borg Warner T5 unit and 5.0 litre and 4.0 HC engines become available.
1996: Chimaera models receive facelift with the most notable changes to the front grille. 4.5 Litre engine introduced. Roll bar becomes optional extra.
1997: Tail lights changed to bespoke TVR design (previous item was off a Fiesta).
2001: Covered headlights introduced.
2003: Last Chimaera rolls off the production line with approximately 5200 cars built.
Clubs and websites
www.tvr-car-club.co.uk - UK-based owners club for all TVR enthusiasts
www.chimaerapages.com - Lots of technical information on the Chimaera
Summary and prices
High mileage early Chimaeras, requiring some restoration work, generally trade for around £10,000. It’s best to aim for the best condition car you can find, as a troublesome car can severely dampen your initial enthusiasm. 
It’s therefore best to look for cars between the £15,000 to £20,000 bracket, with photographic proof of any chassis work. For this you can get one of the facelifted models with some good service history. Some Chimaeras have been trading for upwards of £25,000 in the past few months, and this is the sign of the increasing popularity of these vehicles. Insurance can be quite pricey for such a powerful car, although specialist and classic insurers may lower your premiums significantly. 
The TVR Chimaera is a fantastic car, and offers a no nonsense sports car in the mold of the big engine British muscle cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s. It demands total focus when driven hard but rewards with great handling and a thumping V8 soundtrack. Bag a Chimaera now before everybody wants one!
Words: John Tallodi
TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera TVR Chimaera interior
Last updated: 30th Mar 2016
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TVR Chimaera cars for sale

20 Search results
TVR Chimaera
13500 27000 GBP
  • Chimaera 400

    £14,000 £14,000

    Starmist Green with Irish Mist/Ocean Green full hide, BRG carpets piped in Irish mist hide, black hood. Fabulous example of a 3 owner Chimaera with a lovely specification, looked after by ourselves since 1997, outriggers just replaced, supplied with a fresh 12k service. Registration F5 TVR included in the price. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1995
    • Mileage: 57400 mi
    For sale
    Fernhurst Motor Company
    01428 653924 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Chimaera 400

    £27,000 £27,000

    Crystal Blue with Prussian Blue full hide interior, navy carpets piped in portland grey, grey stitching throughout, blue hood. Fitted with power steering, carbon dash and full hide and registration F2 TVR. Exceptional Chimaera that was subject to a ground up restoration to an extremely high standard at 49,000 miles. Please call for details.

    • Year: 1998
    • Mileage: 52100 mi
    For sale
  • Reg TVR Chimaera 4500cc – Arctic Silver


    1999 V Reg, TVR Chimaera 4500cc, Porsche Arctic Silver, Portland/Prussian Hide, Aluminium Dash, Power Steering, Imola Factory Alloy Wheels, 1999 Model Year, Angled Rear Number Plate, Vertical Lift Boot, Upgraded Silicon Hose Kit, Full History, 12 months MOT, Sold previously, Alarm System Factory Alloy Wheels Power Steering Sports Leather Seats Vertical Lift boot

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 62700 mi
    For sale
  • Reg, TVR Chimaera 4500cc


    1999 T Reg, Chimaera 4500cc, Antigua Blue Pearl, Magnolia Hide, Dark blue Carpets, Power Steering, Imola Factory Alloys, 1999 Model year, Vertical Opening Boot, FSH, Sold Previously By ourselves, Featured in Pistonheads TVR Chimaera buying guide 2017 Alarm System Electric Mirrors Factory Alloy Wheels Ice Detector Power Steering Sports Leather Seats Vertical Lift boot Wood Dashboard

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 53400 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 450

    £15,000 £15,000

    Halcyon Heather with Magnolia half hide interior, purple hide to dash top and door tops, navy carpets piped in prussian blue, blue hood. Fitted with power steering, extra hide, ali pack, CD and rear speakers. Correct 1999 model year Chimaera 450, two owners from new, just had a new MOT (no advisories) and a £3075 service with ourselves. Registration number not included. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 40200 mi
    For sale
  • TVR Chimaera 500 Cabriolet 1995


    SOLD / VERKAUFT / VENDU / VERKOCHT TVR Chimaera 500 1992 black with red interior The exclusive British TVR introduced the Chimaera in 1992. The very sportive convertible was designed for long distances and comfortable drive experience. This TVR Chimaera 500 was delivered in 1995 with very beautiful black paint. Not only the exterior as the full red leather interior with wooden steeringwheel is in great shape. The TVR has a powerful 4997 CC, 8 Cyl. engine and is linked to a 5 speed manual gearbox. With his weight of 1060 Kg the TVR is a real sportswagon with marvelous drive behaviour and sound. This beautiful Chimaera 5.0 is ready for many nice rides. Car has Holland title and Holland mot/tuv. Easy to register in every EU country. You do not need to pay any importtaxes. We can help with transport.

    • Year: 1995
    For sale
  • Chimaera 400

    £13,500 £13,500

    Iris Blue with Magnolia/Prussian Blue half hide interior, blue stitching throughout, navy carpets piped in magnolia, blue hood. Fitted with power steering, ali pack, 6 stack CD and rear speakers. Perfect specification Chimaera 400 with an excellent service history, looked after by ourselves since 2002, we have completed 15 services. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1997
    • Mileage: 48700 mi
    For sale
  • TVR Chimaera 4.0

    £14,995 £14,995

    Vehicle Information WANTED: ALL CHIMAERA VARIANTS FOR STOCK (MUST HAVE FSH) TVR CHIMAERA 4.0 1999(T) PAS 1999 MODEL YEAR Registered 01/03/2009 HISTORY: 5 owners. 41960 miles from new. Documented Service History. MOT 11/05/2017. Full handbook pack + red code card. 2 keys. OWNERSHIP: Sold new by HR Owen, the first two owners lived in London.The third keeper retained the car for an 8 year period, with the last owner purchasing a Griffith LE from myself and part exchanging this Chimaera after 4 years of ownership. SERVICE HISTORY: 25.02/99 PDI 18/03/99 1060 21/02/00 4631 29/01/01 11849 29/05/02 16675 29/04/05 25767 + Headlight conv 09/06/08 30458 2010 - 2014 36789 Various work 08/05/14 39163 + Chassis Outriggers 24/05/15 39999 16/05/16 41863+ New Eibach springs EXTERIOR: Fully repainted in Crystal Topaz Pearlescent incorporating a Speed Six headlamp conversion by a very respected TVR paint shop in Bristol 11 years ago. The bodywork is currently in very good order with just a few age related marks. INTERIOR: The Biscuit half leather trim with Prussian Blue to dash / door tops has been well maintained by all previous keepers. Unfaded and unstained dark blue carpets piped biscuit along wi

    • Year: 1999
    For sale
  • TVR Chimaera 4000cc –


    1999 T Reg, TVR Chimaera 4000cc, Cherry Pearl, Power Steering, Magnolia/Cherry Hide, 1999 Model Year, Imola Alloys, Vertical/Hingless Boot Opening, Latest Wiper System, Burr Walnut Dash, Upgraded Leather Door Inserts, Magnolia Dials, No Ashtrays, Latest Rear Lights, Angle Rear Number Plate, Upgraded Mohair Factory Red Roof, Waxoyled chassis, 12 Months MOT, Just Fully Serviced, Sold Previously, 57800 Miles Alarm System Factory Alloy Wheels Ice Detector Power Steering Vertical Lift boot Wood Dashboard Special Order Mohair Roof 4000cc V8 1999 Model Year Imola Factory Alloys

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 58700 mi
    For sale
  • 1999 Chimaera 400


    TVR Chimaera 1999 (T), 24,350 Miles, Starmist Blue With Magnolia and Prussion Blue Leather (Extra Leather on Dash Top and Door Trims), Dark Blue Roof, Prussion Blue Carpets Piped in Magnolia. Sold and Service by Ourselves From New. There are no features available

    • Year: 1999
    For sale
  • 1999 Chimaera 450


    TVR Chimaera 450, 1999 (T), 43,600 Miles, Starmist Blue with Magnolia and Part Prussion Blue (Dash) Half Leather, Magnolia Carpets Piped in Prussion Blue. Recent New Outriggers and Re-Veneered Dash. Full and Comprehensive Yearly TVR Service History With Maintenance by Ourselves Since 2008, (only 3,000 Miles in Last 8 Years). There are no features available

    • Year: 1999
    For sale
  • TVR Chimaera

    £22,995 £22,995

    Full Leather, Electric Windows, Radio, CD Player, Immobiliser, Full service history This car has just arrived it now has pride of place in our showroom it really is an amazing example with a faultless detailed service history an A4 folder full of receipts Mots etc if you are in the market for one of the fantastic vehicles i urge you to view this one at some point please call for full details to find out more 01628 668802 07768331141

    • Mileage: 25000 mi
    • Engine size: 4546
    For sale
  • TVR Chimaera

    £22,000 £22,000

    Prussian Blue & Nimbus Grey Interior., Prussian Blue Dash Top, Nimbus Grey Door Cards, Prussian Blue Carpets with Nimbus Piping, Prussian Blue Hood, White Instruments, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Cerbera Seats (Run Out Model Year), Leven Technology Stalks, New Rear Screen, New Carpets, Enclosed Headlamps, Silver Bagdes, 500 Alloys, Power Steering, Radio Cassette, Multi-Disc CD Player, Immobiliser, Alarm, Full service history Stunning example of the final model, Maintained by ourselves since 2006.

    • Mileage: 60000 mi
    • Engine size: 4546
    For sale
  • 2000 TVR Chimaera 400


    TVR Chimaera 400 57,250 miles. Finished in stunning Rolex blue with Magnolia Leather stitched Black and Black Carpets trimmed Magnolia. Power Steering, black hood, CD Auto Changer and Alloy Wheels. The car will be supplied with new outriggers and have a full 12,000 mile service before delivery to it’s new owner. Number plate available but not included. A classic TVR colour combination and available to view at our showrooms now. There are no features available

    • Year: 2000
    For sale
  • 2000 TVR Chimaera 450


    2000 TVR Chimaera 450 66150 Miles. Finished in Silhoutte Blue with Prussian Blue half hide interior and grey carpets. The car benefits from having recently fitted outriggers, a new hood and lightweight Team Dynamic multispoke alloy wheels finished in graphite grey. The car drives superbly and pulls with a solid punch having recently fitted uprated camshafts and vernier pullies giving excellent mid range torque. Offered in excellent condition and available to view at our showroom now. Alarm System Alloy Wheels Leather Interior Manual Transmission Power Steering

    • Year: 2000
    For sale
  • 1998 TVR Chimaera 500 A/C


    Chimaera 500 1998 (S), 33,300 Miles, Air Conditioning, Halcyon Atlantis with Pibrock Spinnaker Full Leather, Grey Carpets Piped in Pibrock Spinnaker. Grey Effect Immaculate Wooden Dash. TVR Engineering Demonstration Car initially and Then in Same Family Since 1999. In unusually Good Condition With Very High Specification. Will be Sold With Full Service and Warranty. Number Plate Not Included but Available There are no features available

    • Year: 1998
    For sale
  • 1999 TVR Chimaera 500


    Chimaera 500 1999, 55,500 Miles, Flame Yellow, Dark Blue roof, Prussion Blue Half leather with Dark Blue Carpets Piped in Magnolia, Adjustable Protech Suspension, Factory Sports Exhaust, BBS Cross Spoke Alloys (Original Estorils Available), Newly Replaced outriggers, Lovely! There are no features available

    • Year: 1999
    For sale
  • TVR Chimaera

    £14,990 £14,990

    Almost as new condition, just 14,000 miles. Imported from Japan aprox. 8 years ago, owned and cherished by a vehicle technician since. Spec includes: AIR-CON and POWER STEERING. Finished in Stunning Dolphin Grey metallic with as new Light Grey leather seats and trim. All our cars are thoroughly workshop checked prior to delivery. Credit and debit cards wecome, part exchange a pleasure. Please just ask for any more details you may require., This car is superb

    • Mileage: 14000 mi
    • Engine size: 3940
    For sale
  • TVR CHIMAERA 4.0. Wild Oyster Pearl.

    £16,995 £16,995

    * SOLD* Stunning Low Miles 99' Model Chimaera 400 in Wild Oyster Pearlescent with Magnolia Full Leather Including Dash and Door Cards, Black Carpets Piped Magnolia and Black Hood, TVR Embossed Headrests, Veneer Dash, Ivory Dials, Ali Trim, Power Steering, Remote Central Locking Alarm Immobiliser, Electric Windows, Electric Mirrors and Griffith 500 Estoril Alloys. Only 31000 Miles with Full Service History. New MOT and Full Service Completed March 2016. New Parts Include Pipercross High Flow Air Filter, Performance HT Leads, Spark Plugs, Fuel Filter, Braided Brake Hoses, 4 New Toyo Proxes T1R Tyres, Bosh Headlight Reflectors and X-Treme Vision Bulbs. This is a Well Sorted and Cared For TVR with Original Leather Manual / Service Book, 2 Keys and Remotes. Large A4 History File. Complete New Interior Carpet Set and Leather, Glass and Rear Screen all In Excellent Original Condition with No Dash or Veneer Cracks. Performs, Handles and Sounds Superb. Lovely Fresh Colour Combination and Great Investment Potential.;;In Stock - Please Call For Appointment To View.;Inspection Welcome. Full Dealer facilities.;Nationwide Delivery / Shipping. ;;

    • Mileage: 31000 mi
    For sale
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