In the late 1990s, Peter Wheeler began the project that would fulfil his ambition to see TVRs at Le Mans. A whole new car was going to be needed. It would need to be built using modern composites, be more rigid than any previous TVR and designed to not just achieve in excess of 200MPH on the legendary Mulsanne Straight but to be stable and above all, win.
“It’s incredibly tempting to throw caution to the wind and just max it all the way. I try to resist – surely it must be crawling with Gendarmes today of all days – and I’m doing alright to begin with until a Ferrari 355 blasts past while I’m doodling along at 110mph. The road’s still empty and straight. Oh God, it’s no good. I drop it into fourth and start to reel him in while, over in the passenger seat, Chris goes suddenly quiet. The Ferrari is really shifting but I’m into fifth and we’re starting to close the gap. There’s a bend approaching and I think he’s starting to lift – yep, a momentary flash of brake lights – but there’s no lifting going on in the Tuscan, just throttle down and staying down as we eat him up through the fast left-hand sweeper just like he’s standing still.
It’s the best demonstration you could have of what makes this car so special – we’re doing over 160mph and there’s no way you’d have the confidence to do that in any other TVR. The Tuscan R now combines the incredible performance TVRs have always had in abundance but with a chassis capable of using it to the full.”
EVO July 2002 – Road Test to Le Mans.
There is often confusion over the naming of this project. While the project itself was focussed and singular, the naming of it was more typical of TVR. The car itself would be a steel tubular frame with full roll cage forming the backbone to a full carbon fibre monocoque. Meaning that while larger than any previous road TVR it would be lighter, stiffer and much stronger. New suspension designs were implemented (later to find their way onto the Sagaris) and professional CAD design and aero testing ensured a shape that could exceed, and be stable at, 200MPH+.
Between 2000 and 2004 TVR built a total of 7 race cars and 6/7 road cars. The first three race cars were of the TuscanR design but the last 4, (the 2 DeWalt cars delivered in 2003 and the 2 RSR cars in 2004) were T400R body shape. Earlier racers in some situations have the later rear, probably due to work after ‘racing incidents’. Of the 6/7 road cars, the 2001 prototype (since scrapped) had the TuscanR body but from 2002 the 5/6 later cars were of T400R design. The road cars had no standard interior as these were customer spec’d so differ slightly.
Originally it began life as the Tuscan R (A natural follow on from the infamous Tuscan Racers that the cars were to replace). This was a 2 seater, composite race/road car. There was one road car prototype built which was displayed during its lifetime (it was cut up and destroyed) in two colours, TVR Purple and a silver. This car is distinctive from those that followed by its different rear light configuration. The early T400R racers were of this design.
When TVR came to building the two real, road going, prototypes (the homologation cars) the project name changed shortly after the cars were built. Originally both badged as Tuscan R’s the FIA rules for Le Mans stipulated that there had to be two models so in 2002 the red car was rebranded as the T400R and the Fleetwood Brown car as the T440R, the latter sporting a 4.2L S6 opposed to the 4.0. Priced at £71,995 and £74,995 respectively at the time. Also at this time the road project would offer a 2 seater car with a long range race tank or a 2+2 with a standard sized (51L) tank.
In due course as TVR delivered the first (and only) T440 customer car they announced that all cars would be 2+2 and with the longer range fuel tanks (70L). The monocoque design had also been altered to offer better side impact protection. At the same time they announced the birth of the Typhon (In late 2003 the project was initially labelled the T550R). The Typhon would be a supercharged 4.0L T440 with larger brakes and the option of a sequential gearbox over the standard 5SP manual. It would also run ‘sequential’ injection, instead of the traditional ‘batch’ of other S6 cars. At the same time, the T400R badge was dropped as the Typhon would retain the two model line up required by the FIA. The red T400R was seen breifly with the T440R badge before being re-styled in the De Walt colours.
Before any customer Typhons could be delivered, Peter Wheeler sold TVR and the general development of both the race cars, the T440 and the Typhon were halted. With no race cars to support the T440R badge was also dropped at this time.
“The Typhon was fitted with a suplementary fuel rail within the airbox to deliver extra fuelling to keep temperatures down when running flat out on the Mulsanne Straight.”
The orange Typhon was fitted with the TVR Vortech super charger and the in-house designed and built sequential box and went on to be retained by the factory as the development mule for the ill fated Typhoon project. In 2004 during testing, the engine was found to produce in excess of 600BHP. Over the course of 2005, TVR stated that excessive heat from the super charger was a cause of delivery delays but the closure of the Composites Department around that time alludes to the possibility that this was a story to mask the deepening financial woes of the company.
2000 – TuscanR prototype at NEC.
2002 – 2 Homologation TuscanRs built.
2002 – Names changed to T400R & T440R to meet Le Mans FIA regs.
2003 – Typhon launched at MPH Show.
2003 – T400R badge dropped.
2003 – T440R YC53GBW Registered & Delivered
2004 – Typhon AF04BYZ Registered.
2005 – TVR sold, racing program closed.
2005 – T440R badge dropped.
2006 – Typhons PN06EHT & PN06EHX Registered & Delivered.
2011 – Typhon AF04BYZ back on the road.
The two Reflex Charcoal Typhons were fitted with Tuscan S 4.0 S6 engines and one was sold direct to a customer and the other used by the new owner of TVR until that too was sold on to a customer. While both these cars were road registered in 2006 and the orange car in 2004 they were all built at around the same time during 2003/4.
Originally priced at £84,995, by 2005 the end of production the Typhon was £134,995. The cars had cost far more in labour and development than had originally been anticipated. In addition, TVR also listed two ‘Ultimate’ options, The high performance track day gearbox at £33,995 and the high performance track day diff at £14,995. Two ‘options’ which it has to be said make little sense but at a time when there was little sense emanating from the firm. One can only conclude they were priced to ensure that no one ever asked for them.
The cars cost far more to build than ever anticipated which was why production after 2004 essentially halted. In the post Wheeler era of 2005 the Composites Dept closed down and work began on a far simpler to build equivalent 2+2 super-charged car, the Typhoon.
Car No 1 – The TuscanR Prototype:
This was the first road car prototype. It featured a different rear light configuration and rear roofline, in contrast to the final cars. It was cut up and destroyed by the factory.
Car No 2 – The T400R (Homogation Car 1):
This was the first formal road car prototype. In a cherry red it was displayed at the 2002 NEC Motor Show as the T400R. In its penultimate guise it was carrying a T440R badge but retained the 4.0 S6 engine. At the time that the De Walt RaceSport T400Rs were heading to Le Mans, the race cars weren’t 100% ready and so this car was redone as a De Walt T400R lookalike to be used in the promotions in the run up to the event. Sometimes people think this is the car that was used on HMS Invincible in the famous photo shoot but that was just a body made from the moulds with scaffold poles to afix the wheels.
Car No 3 – The T440R (Homologation Car 2):
This was the prototype used by Martin Brundle in his 2003 Supercar DVD. It was displayed at the 2002 NEC Motor Show as the T440R before doing a tour of regional showrooms. At this specific moment in time there is no firm evidence as to what happened to this car. The current speculation is that during late 2003 it may have been re-trimmed and painted and have become one of the later vehicles.
Car No 4 – The T440R:
This was the first, and only, customer T440R. It was originally delivered to Lawrence Tomlinson of Ginetta who at the time was running a TVR racing team. It featured a 4.2L S6 engine plant and was the first of the cars to feature the revised side impact protection and also the modified dash pods. 2011 saw this car back on the road after an unfortunate crash some years earlier.
With respect to the final 3 cars built, The Typhons, we hesitate over how to order them in this list. In reality, the order chosen or any order is not relevant. We could list them in order of when they left the factory in the hands of owners, which would be the exact opposite of the order in which they were first registered (although the two Reflex Charcoal Typhons were registered on the same day, so like twins one can be deemed older albeit it somewhat irrelevant). The fact is that all 3 were built at the same time in the factory. The orange one was the first to go into final customer spec but was never delivered due to complications with the super charger and sequential box. The two Reflex Charcoal ones went into final customer completion around the time that the company was being sold.
Car No 5 – Typhon:
This is the original Typhon show car. First seen at 2003 MPH Show displaying the sequential lever. The car remained unfinished at TVR after a tour of TVR showrooms but was finally commissioned for the road by the new owner of TVR for his personal use. Featuring a 4.0L S6 engine and manual.
Car No 6 – Typhon:
Originally fitted with super charger and sequential gearbox and a 4.0L S6 engine this car was the first customer ordered and built Typhon but was never delivered to the customer but retained by the factory as the development mule for the stillborn Typhoon project. It now runs with a 4.0L FFF S6 engine.
Car No 7 – Typhon:
The only Typhon delivered directly to the customer. Originally ordered as a T440R in 2002 the order was upgrade to a Typhon when the model was announced in 2003 and delivered in 2006, by which time the end of the race program meant there was no need to retain two models and the T440R moniker had been dropped anyway. Originally a 4.0L S6 it currently runs with a 4.5SS S6 engine.