TEN YEARS ON
TVR TUSCAN S (manufactured 2004)
The TVR factory were in 2004 busy producing the highly stylized unique Tuscan’s for discerning sports car customers and road runners of the period.
These ultra special cars were eye candy compared to the usual European continental super sports cars, seen as different, as they were just that. Often seen, compared and written about through the many media outlets as a rare, fast and British straight six sports car harbouring no IT frills only a well presented, engineered and aero dynamically vehicle that captured many hearts
We have just revisited the TVR Tuscan S now ten years on – Arriving from Australia to take a 3000-mile tour including Kirkcudbright, Scotland, Oxford, England, Dijon France, Verbannia, Italy, St Moritz and Interlaken Switzerland, Reims, Lille France and back through Folkestone to Needham Markets in a TVR Tuscan S.
Driving the well presented metallic Balearic Blue Tuscan S off the forecourt of Kerridge’s Sports Cars in Needham Markets, after having a real teaching lesson on how to enter and exit the car plus the other secrets of the Tuscan, we were confident on at least being able to get in the car.
Starting our journey that would put the Tuscan through all manner of weather and road conditions on this autumn drive we headed North along the A17 and 52 with clear skies to our first stop over in Harrogate, Yorkshire. This initial run enabled me to slowly get used to the handling of this supercar – bluntly it comes across as an eager, yet frisky racehorse that once you have hold of the reins and show who is boss, performs as all good sports cars are expected.
A real drivers car, the Tuscan goes where you place it on the road, corner hugging with confidence. After a day under the Autumn sun after sight-seeing Harrogate and Knasborough we set off for the Scottish Low Lands around the Solway Firth, straight up the M1 and left through Dumfries to the small harbour and artist town of Kirkcudbright, a fishing town with an eagerness for the twenty first century. Staying in a well recommended Hotel in town we spent four days navigating, touring and exploring this lovely area of the Scottish Lowlands, enjoying both country and its uncluttered roads which we recommend as well worth a visit in a Tuscan.
We transverse and crossed the many minor roads along the A147 through Castle Douglas, New Abbey and beyond stopping at the Steamships Pub on the banks of the Solway Firth, whether mud or water, the area is an artist’s delight. The TVR loved the twisty turning roads with no uncontrollable rear end step outs in the wet, the 245 x 19” tires took some altering to get the ride and grip as required ensuring the tires held their own giving a remarkable drive.
Our next destination was south to Hadrian’s Wall, a wish I have had for many years, the sun was out again but the roads damp along the A447 to Hexham. Stopping and walking sections of this magnificent structure enabled one to imagine the lonely, cold and isolated life of a Roman guard back in AD140. I have always wondered where all the stones to create the walled fields of Upper Middle England, my guess is that as Hadrian’s Wall used to be at least 3 meters high and now only one third the height numerous stones have been borrowed!
Staying in the renown Langley Castle that night, saw us up early on a clear day and what a drive we had, the A646 is a magnificent drivers road well sealed, great corners, up and over the Pennines to Penrith (at the end I nearly turned around to do a rerun – great road with no traffic) At times we had morning clouds below us being blown along the valley’s, the majestic views from the top of the Pennines were photographic, then on to Keswick in the Lake District. The Tuscan showed it’s worth on these great drivers road as with a flip of the throttle when over 4000rpm and the car digs in and like a Greyhound rockets along barking through the rev’s with its hair standing exhaust note from the clat exhaust, a sound and road to be enjoyed.
From the Lake District, we made our way to Oxford for an overnight stop then the following morning a run down to Folkestone Eurotunnel car carrying station, some 40 minutes later and the Balearic Blue S was nose down, tail up and transiting the fast drive through France to Dijon. The faster the Tuscan went the better road holding characteristics were felt from its road hugging spoilers and aerodynamic styling. The Tuscan at the best of times is not very often seen, let alone in Continental Europe, we hooked onto the rear of a local, low flying 6 litre Mercedes coupe and were soon at our destination of Darcy Square, Dijon and the Sofitel Hotel which is always a good stop over as both Dijon and the Hotel have hidden treats to offer.
Surprisingly the Tuscan has a gigantic boot for a sports car. The designers from the start always wanted the Tuscan to be a long distance tourer for two, having space and comfort. The boot comfortably fitting two large brown leather holdall type cases, wicker picnic basket, computer case, brown leather brief case, two thick driving jackets, all tools, necessary French ‘must have’ kit and ancillary items, Targa, roof and rear windscreen with room to spare, beats the Austin Healey days of serious packing planning. With the top off the next day we drove to Verbania on Lake Maggiore Italy, cutting across country with little traffic, the Eastern French and Swiss roads were a drivers dream. I could not wait to hit the mountain passes within the Alps, sweeping down the B roads of the mountain above Monteux to join the A147 through and over the Sequin Pass then down the other side to Verbania and our destination once again being the Ancora Hotel situated on the water front. As the weather changed we used the what seemed crude windscreen washers mounted on the wipers, surprisingly worked really well for the whole of our journey. With now very wet roads we drove with experienced caution feeling the rear end wanting to step out of line as the acceleration is very responsive.
Spending the next few sunny autumn days around the Italian Lakes and various mountain passes we really came to both know this Tuscan S, which provided braking confidence and security with its 230mm twin, multi holed and ventilated discs’ brakes. It’s makers certainly gave the market a car to enjoy with the throaty exhaust note not only on the acceleration but with de acceleration comes a howl and crackle that develops from the high lift cams, through the twin exhaust pipes which is enhanced by the canyons and high sided roads of the Alps districts. The gear shift and position of the lever is both smooth, not fast, but firm and comfortable, at times the exhaust note sounds as though there should be a sixth gear but belief me it is not needed on this rocket ship with acceleration still at 0-60mph @ 3.8 sec’s and a turn of speed surpassing 185mph.
Our return route took us from the Italian lakes to St Moritz with Autumn now clearly here, the trees of changing colours made each day a visual delight as hillside and valley’s were sparkling burnt Orange as the sun dances across swathes of woodlands.
All through Italy and Switzerland many car enthusiasts enquired as to the maker of car, where it was made and ’was its Batman’s car’, there is no doubt the wind tunnel tested smooth and curvy appearance still catches the eye. From St Moritz, next stop over being Arosa reminding me of my Swiss Alpes Rallye days, then Interlaken, again across snow covered Alps, twisting and turning up and down the passes – what fun to be, again across snow covered Alps, twisting and turning up and down the passes – what fun to feel the front end turn light as powering out of second gear corners up steep inclines, gives one the feeling of taking off.
Leaving Interlaken we tracked across Switzerland and France heading for Reims in Champaign country. Along B roads we drove some great stretches of road to ourselves passing through canyons, alongside wide running streams, through forests and over carpets of Golden fallen leaves that cover the entire road ways, what different country side is on display when compared with that of the Australian and Papua New Guinea that I was used to.
We found the two-tone bucket seats very comfortable for the long distance and yet body hugging through corners, leg room with the straight six engine could not be faulted so with our GPS unit nicely placed between the all alloy consul and the audio pod the drivers position offered all day comfort. The design and colour scheme used within the car were well chosen being off white and blue. From the leather steering wheel, all alloy fittings and leather and velour door, the cab fit out again offering genuine style and interest with the self empting ashtray (that no longer takes ash) After a long day’s drive and wet afternoon the visit to the Cathedral in Reims and the then Champagne was a nice finish to the day.
The following day it was off to Lille and chocolates in the old town,
again keeping off the motorways, for a change we zipped across central France in style and comfort, falling across the many WW1 remembrance sites in the Somme region.
Well by now we had used the air conditioners which work very well once you master the nicely melded alloy twist knobs that match the window openers. It was now the turn of the heater and demisters – again the controls and shark mouth like apertures providing well directed warm air where necessary and we did not experience any misting of windows.
Arriving back in England after such an experience in a car that still holds its own a decade after its manufacture, a true future Classic car. Other than checking the tires and refueling the Tuscan S was truly a treat to drive, an exceptional touring car. 9/10 marks and I look forward to further tests.