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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

16 Search results
TVR Chimaera
12000 24995 GBP
  • 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
    E&R Classic Cars
    +31 416 751393 VIEW CONTACT NUMBER
  • Chimaera 400

    £17,000 £17,000

    Cherry Pearl With Magnolia/Mulberry half hide interior, red stitching throughout, magnolia carpets piped in magnolia, red hood. Fitted with power steering, ali pack and CD. Fabulous specification correct 2000 model year, low mileage 3 owner Chimaera, lovely! Please call for full details.

    • Year: 2000
    • Mileage: 25400 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 400

    £12,000 £12,000

    Flat Black with Mulberry quilted half hide interior, black carpets piped in mulberry, red hood. Fitted with ali dash, CD, rear speakers, ACT sports exhaust and Team Dynamics motorsport alloys. A really good looking, well sorted Chimaera having been re-painted and re-trimmed, Mark Adams engine set up. A real eyeful! The car can be provided fully prepared, serviced with a new MOT and warranty for £14,500. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1995
    • Mileage: 75600 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 450

    £19,000 £19,000

    Chameleon Green with Neptune full hide interior, aqua carpets piped in neptune hide, teal hood. Fitted with power steering, full hide, colour keyed steering wheel and 6 stack CD. Probably a motor show car in this amazing specification! Three owners and a very good service history. The car can be provided fully prepared, serviced with a new MOT and warranty for £21,500. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 2001
    • Mileage: 36000 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 400

    £14,000 £14,000

    Crimson Starmist with Biscuit half hide interior, butterscotch carpets piped in biscuit, black hood. Fitted with power steering and 6 stack CD. An exceptionally well presented 3 owner Chimaera with a good service history. The car can be provided fully prepared, serviced with a new MOT and warranty for £16,500. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1997
    • Mileage: 53800 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 450

    £16,000 £16,000

    Jaguar Seafrost Green with Green half hide interior, green carpets piped green, black hood. Fitted with power steering, CD and rear speakers. Very pretty two owner Chimaera 450 with a good service history (19 stamps), she was fully re painted last year in her original colour, lovely! The car can be provided fully prepared,serviced with a new MOT and warranty for £18,500. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1998
    • Mileage: 43100 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 400

    £18,000 £18,000

    Desert Moondust with Portland Grey half hide interior, black hide to dash top, black stitching throughout, black carpets piped in portland grey, black hood. Fitted with power steering, shadow chrome alloys, ali pack, 6 stack CD and rear speakers. Sold by ourselves from new to a musician! Simply stunning!! The car can be provided fully prepared, serviced with a new MOT and warranty for £20,000. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 41300 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 450

    £21,000 £21,000

    Titanium Grey with Prussian Blue stitched grey half hide interior, navy carpets piped in prussian blue, blue hood. Fitted with power steering, 16" spider alloys, wooden steering rim, ali pack and CD. Registration number PS03 TVR by separate negotiation. One of the very last Chimaeras made, lovely specification, low mileage, very rare! The car is priced to reflect the new nosecone that has been fitted, not recorded on HPI. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 2003
    • Mileage: 24800 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, 5Ltr rims, sports exhaust, CD and rear speakers. Correct 1999 model year Chimaera 450, two owners from new, £3075 spent on last service with ourselves. The car can be provided fully prepared,serviced with a new MOT and warranty for £17,500. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 40300 mi
    For sale
  • Chimaera 450

    £16,000 £16,000

    Prestige Grey with Portland Grey/Nimbus Grey half hide interior, mauve carpets piped in portland grey, black hood. Fitted with power steering, sports exhaust, turned ali dash, ali pack, CD and rear speakers. Lovely specification correct 1999 model year Chimaera 450. The car can be provided fully prepared, serviced with a new MOT and warranty for £18,500. Please call for full details.

    • Year: 1999
    • Mileage: 50700 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

    £20,000 £20,000

    Nimbus Grey Door Cards, White Instruments, Electric Mirrors, Electric Windows, Cerbera Seats (Run Out Model Year), New Rear Screen, New Carpets, Silver Bagdes, 500 Alloys, Power Steering, Radio Cassette, Multi-Disc CD Player, Immobiliser, Alarm, Full service history Now sold.

    • Mileage: 60000 mi
    • Engine size: 4546
    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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