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TVR showing signs of life, maybe

Thu, 06 Jun 2013

It seems that old British automakers never die. But they don't really seem to fade away entirely, either, drifting in and out of solvency and suffering the indignity of dead-end revival attempt after dead-end revival attempt.

Witness poor MG, which the Chinese are attempting to badge-engineer back into existence. Or Daimler, which Tata presumably bought along with Jaguar.

Another example? TVR, which apparently went extinct for good in 2012. As Autocar reports, however, the small automaker's moldering corpse may be showing some signs of life.

That TVR may have a future isn't all that surprising -- after all, it's had a rocky path that saw it get awfully close to the brink before. The company was founded in 1947 by Trevor Wilkinson and earned some notice for building underweight, overpowered sportscars with unforgiving handling -- in other words, the right mix of endearing quirks to spawn a small cult following.

Wilkinson owned the company from then until 1965; after that, it changed hands several times. It was most recently purchased by the Russian banker Nikolai Smolensky in 2004, but his tenure didn't see the creation of a viable automaker, either.

Smolensky recently divested himself of all TVR-related assets, including naming and manufacturing rights. Here's where it gets interesting: A certain “TVR Motor Cars Ltd.” has been registered in Kent, England since April.

Further, TVR's website urges its legions of fans to “never say never…”

At this point, saying that TVR has a pulse still seems a tad optimistic, but some mysterious Dr. Frankenstein types may -- and we stress may -- be raising the slab holding TVR's lifeless corpse towards the lighting rods.

We're curious to see what kind of quirky, cobbled-together creation this resuscitation will bring forth if it is successful. After all, Bristol's cessation of new vehicle production (not that any of their vehicles were ever really new in the first place) left a gaping hole in our fantasy fleet of ungainly, cottage-built British autos -- to say nothing of the hole it left in our hearts.

By Graham Kozak