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TVR Tuscan: Buying guide and review (1999-2006)

TVR Tuscan: Buying guide and review (1999-2006) Classic and Performance Car
TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006)
We don’t have anything quite like the Tuscan today, although the results of the new Gordon Murray-designed, Cosworth-powered New TVR are yet to be seen. This was a reasonably priced, properly powerful rear-drive coupe/convertible with a serious power-to-weight ratio, and nothing in the way of driver aids to get you out of trouble if you louse it up. ‘Hairy arsed’ used to be the term for cars like this, and over the years plenty of Tuscan drivers have discovered just how hairy. 
Of course, that very lack of driver aids, along with the swooping bodywork, mad interiors and bellowing naturally aspirated engines, is part of what makes Wheeler-era TVRs so appealing. But it’s as well to know what you’re getting into. 
If you can find your way into the cabin (there’s a neat trick to open the doors), you will have to get used to the rather unique interior. Moving on from the Cerbera’s already wacky cockpit, the Tuscan simplified things to dramatic effect, featuring a large central speedometer, with a digital rev counter and central LCD display that showed various readings – cutting down on unnecessary gauges. Somehow, all this actually worked a lot better than the Cerbera, and it still feels surprisingly special to this day. Although overused, the term ‘unique’ really does apply here. 

Which Tuscan to buy? 

The Tuscan, initially with a 360bhp 4-litre version of TVR’s own straight-six, went on sale in 1999. The early cars were a curious mixture of ultra-pointy steering and disconcertingly soft suspension (Wheeler’s idea to make it more of a GT), though by the end of the year the damping had been improved. That was typical TVR: constant evolution. Which, of course, means the later the car, generally the better it is. 
In the early days there was a ‘Red Rose’ upgrade with an extra 20-30bhp, better brakes and tauter damping. That then formed the basis for the Tuscan S, which added front and rear spoilers to aid high-speed stability. Following Nikolai Smolensky’s buyout, the Tuscan Mk2 arrived in 2005 with a new front grille and fared lights. Underneath, the changes included revised suspension, a close-ratio gearbox, bigger brakes and – crucially – better-quality engine components. 
Best of the lot is the Convertible (and its Mk3 targa-roof equivalent), which arrived in 2006 and saw the quality ramped up again, taking the dash and wiring loom from the Sagaris as well as its far superior Bilstein suspension. 
Although this guide focuses on the second and most modern incarnation of the Tuscan, the name originally appeared on a TVR model back in 1967. Based on the less potent four-cylinder Grantura, it borrowed the idea of fitting a large Ford V8 engine from the earlier Griffith. The 270bhp-or-so 4.7-litre engine gave this car some serious performance, as well as a reputation as a bit of a widowmaker. 
A much less powerful Ford V6 model was launched in 1969, which went on to be the more popular choice. Production ended in 1971, although the name was again re-visited with a small run of TVR Tuscan racing cars in 1988, known as the TVR Tuscan Challenge. These V8 racers were based on the S-Series cars. 

Performance and specs 

Engine  In-line six-cylinder, 3996cc
Power 360bhp @ 7000rpm
Torque 310lb ft @ 5250rpm
Transmission Five-speed manual, rear-drive, limited-slip differential
0-60mph 4.4seconds
Top speed 180mph 
Insurance group   20
Fuel consumption  28mpg (claimed…)
Price when new  -

Dimensions and weight

Wheelbase              2361mm
Length 4235mm
Width 1720mm
Height 1200mm
Weight 1100kg

Common problems

• Early Speed Six engines suffered valvegear wear, oil starvation and other woes, some caused by design flaws, more by poor quality components. Many went back to TVR for rebuilds. Problem was, the replacement parts were still poor, so more engines went bang. By 2003 TVR was getting a grip on quality control, and, after Smolensky bought the company in 2004, real improvements were made. 
• By 2005/06 the engine was pretty well sorted, and it’s since been further developed by specialists. So the later the car or – or the more recent the engine rebuild – the better the outlook. But the engine still needs meticulous servicing – every 6000 miles, with tappet clearances set every 12,000. A full inspection by a specialist is advisable. 
• Check for oil leaks and signs of overheating, that it’s not excessively noisy on start-up, and is smooth at idle. The engine is far from refined, and depending on the ‘loudness’ of the exhaust, it might be difficult to hear any issues.
• Check the fans kick in: the first at about 92deg, the second a few degrees higher. 
• The Borg Warner T5 ’box is generally sound, but needs regular oil changes, as does the diff. And beware clutch slip or judder – replacement takes five hours. 
• There’s considerable disparity in handling between cars, so try to experience a few. From 2003 the handling was improved by a change in king pin inclination that made it less ‘twitchy’. 
• Damping on early cars wasn’t great: Nitrons and Bilsteins are popular upgrades. 
• If it tramlines badly, ask if it’s had the geometry checked. Expect to replace suspension bushes every six or seven years (budget a grand). 
• Early wheels were prone to spokes bending; vibration could mean a bent spoke. 
• The steel chassis resists rot better than many, but it’s still worth checking the usual areas like the outriggers and looking for accident damage. As the years go on, chassis rust will inevitably become a larger issue, so be cautious.  
• For the GRP body, check panel fit, including the roof, and that the doors and boot open and close cleanly. 
• Check the rear screen is the later, bigger item – early ones were prone to popping out at speed! Also check the roof catch above the rear-view mirror for similar reasons. 
• Obviously, check all of the electrical items, and unreliable connections have been known to lock owners out of their cars. Wires and connectors in the battery compartment are vulnerable to corrosion and chafing, so must be in top condition. In bad cases this can result in shorting-out, which could lead to a fire. 

Model history

1998: The original Tuscan concept car is shown at the Birmingham International motor show.
1999: First Tuscans go on sale in the UK after a huge number of deposits the following year.
2001: Tuscan R offered from TVR’s motorsport division, in either fast road car or full-blown track racer. TVR offered up to 450bhp which was apparently enough to push it over 200mph.
2002: The 390bhp Tuscan S is launched – effectively a better developed version of the earlier Rad Rose cars.
2005: Tuscan Mk2 arrives on the scene, bringing with it numerous tweaks. Power was pushed to 400bhp, with top speed apparently pushing more than 190mph. A full convertible model was also offered for the first time.
December 2006: TVR goes into administration, and production is stopped.

Owners clubs, forums and websites

- tvr-car-club.co.uk – Owners’ club 
- mytuscan.co.uk – in-depth model guide 
- str8six.co.uk – sales, servicing
- tvr-parts.com – original-spec parts
- powersperformance.co.uk – servicing, parts
- fernhurst-tvr.co.uk – sales, servicing 
- racinggreentvr.com – servicing, sales 

Summary and prices

You can find tidy-looking early cars for around £15k-16k, but don’t buy without getting a specialist inspection. £17k-20k throws up plenty more, both private and trade, but again tread carefully. For a properly sorted car with a good history and (probably) a rebuilt engine, you’re currently looking mid to high-20s (and rising too). 
Generally add at least a couple of grand for an S in equivalent condition. Late Ss and Tuscan 2s are now £30k+. Exceptional Mk2s are high-30s, while Mk3s and Convertibles are £40k+. Values remain strong for a reason, and it’s difficult to think of any rival that offers the raw and untainted thrill of a well sorted Tuscan. Choose wisely, and you will have an amazing B-road blaster.
TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006) TVR Tuscan buying guide (1999-2006)
Last updated: 2nd Oct 2017
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TVR Tuscan
29995 35995 GBP
  • Reg, TVR Tuscan 3600cc, Pearl Blue, Magnolia Hide – Late MK1, Low Mileage


    2004 04 reg, TVR Tuscan 3600cc, Pearl Blue, Magnolia Hide, Dark Blue Carpets, 18 Inch Spider Alloys, Nitron Suspension, High Level Brake Lamp, Full TVR Service History, Just Serviced, Waxoyled Chassis, 24600 Miles from new, Plate Not included There are no features available

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 24500 mi
    For sale
    James Agger Autosport
  • Reg TVR Tuscan S 4000cc – Reflex Purple – SOLD


    2003 03 Reg, TVR Tuscan S, 4000cc, Reflex Purple, Azure/Atlantic Hide, Air Conditioning, Gas Discharge Main Beam, Factory Rear Spoiler, Front Splitter, 18 inch Anthracite Alloys, 322 Front AP Discs, High Level Brake Lamp, Upgraded Audio, Sports Exhaust System, Waxoyled Chassis, 12 Months MOT, 12K Serviced, Last Owner Since 2006, There are no features available

    • Year: 2003
    • Mileage: 50400 mi
    For sale
  • TVR Tuscan Speed Six 4.0


    Vehicle Information TVR TUSCAN SPEED SIX 4.0 2000(W) NOW SOLD: ALWAYS LOOKING TO REPLACE TVR STOCK. PLEASE CONTACT GILES FOR A CHAT CHASSIS: SDLEA16A1YBOO1183 Registered: 12/06/2000 HISTORY: 6 owners. 29668 miles from new. 14 Service stamps + Service check invoices from Mat Smith TVR within the last 2k miles. MOT 06/09/2015. Complete Handbook pack. 1 Key. Nice selection of service invoices from new including the original bill of sale, MOT history. V5C docs and tax discs from 2006. OWNERSHIP: Supplied new by Brandon TVR in Edinburgh, the first owner kept for 6 years and 12436 miles. The next owned for 2 years driving 7000 miles. The car changed hands twice more until May 2009 when at 22000 miles the 5th keeper then retained for the following 5 years. The most recent seller decided he wanted an Aston Vantage and I was fortunate enough to buy this TVR direct from him. SERVICE HISTORY: PDI 55 miles 26/7/00 1008 26/9/01 3531 10/9/02 3705 29/10/03 4478 21/9/05 9445 (engine rebuild) 04/7/06 12436 ( New head etc) 14/4/07 13178 3/6/08 19784 19/9/09 23392 19/9/10 25428 19/10/11 26376 13/11/12 26552 08/11/13 26949 31/5/14 27492 29/08/14 28555 EXTERIOR: Finished in Argento pearlescent the pain

    • Year: 2000
    For sale
  • 2003 TVR Tuscan


    Tuscan 2003 (52), 49,000 Miles, Air Conditioning, Highland Grey Pearl Mica With Parchment Half Leather and Part Beige Lamonta, Anthracite Carpets. Fantastic and Comprehensive Full Yearly Service History. Will be Sold With Extensive 12 Month Warranty and fresh front end paintwork to deal with stone chip defects. There are no features available

    • Year: 2003
    For sale
  • TVR Tuscan

    £34,990 £34,990

    Leather Upholstery, Alloy wheels, Air conditioningVVS are delighted to offer this very low mileage 2003 53 plate TVR Tuscan 4.0. Presented in the stunning color combination of Nightfire Red metallic with two tone magnolia and red hide. The specification on this car includes 18 inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, private TVR number plate included and a fitted car cover. This is one for the collector as it has covered just 23000 miles from new and has a very comprehensive service history with marque specialists. Part exchange to clear rules apply., Please visit www.vvsuk.co.uk for 20 High Definition photographs of this car.

    • Mileage: 23000 mi
    • Engine size: 3996
    For sale
    £34,990 £34,990
  • 1969 TVR Tuscan


    (SOLD) Car Condition: Show Level; We started with this chassis and built the fastest TVR on the planet. Ric Wood from England built the Cosworth GAA Essex V-6 motor (a 312 HP motor with triple downdraft DCNF Weber carbs). The motor was matched into a world class, close ratio Ford T-5 transmission. From there, the heavy-duty drive shaft couples with a Corvette Posi traction differential. The half shafts are custom heavy-duty half shafts with machined M-21 U-joints (each one costs $278!). The uprights have been reinforced with ½" aluminum plate, and the rear vented discs are stopped by Outlaw four piston calipers. The same type of aggressive engineering was applied to the front suspension. The uprights are reinforced and vented rotors and Outlaw 4-piston calipers. Both front and rear sway bars are custom and fully adjustable. Spax adjustable gas racing shocks are in both the front and rear. A custom header system was fabricated and is easily removed for maintenance. The fuel cell that sits in the rear has square tube steel surrounding the entire cell for safety if a rear collision would occur. An 8-point cage houses the driver in a safe and secure environment. Autometer gauges keep t

    • Year: 1969
    For sale