Wednesday, October 18, 2006

TVR: Dead or Dying

TVR Cerbera
Once upon a time, the UK’s craziest car maker, TVR, made the most outrageous and striking you could imagine. They were sleek, low, scary sports cars with more in the way of speed and horsepower than common sense and usefulness. They were cars like the gorgeous Cerbera (pictured), the shocking Tuscan, and the almost pedestrian (by comparison) Tasmin.

And they were cool. They were British sports cars in the best and worst of the sense; they were nimble and full of charismatic personality, but they were also mechanically suspect. They also hadn’t been seen in the US for years as safety and emissions restrictions made it impossible for the small manufacturer to play in our sandbax.

In 2004, the struggling TVR was bought by a 24 year old Russion, Nikolai Smolenski, who has overseen the further decline of the British maker. Now, Smolenski is ceasing UK manufacture of the vehicles and moving production to an as yet unannounced location.

TVR calls it quits in UK

Despite having raised the hopes of workers and proud TVR enthusiasts in the UK, Russian owner Nikolai Smolensky has announced that he will be moving production of the niche sportscars out of the UK to another undisclosed European country. The move will result in 250 workers being laid off at the company’s Blackpool assembly plant. The Transport and General Workers’ Union that represents the TVR workforce said it was “bitterly disappointed” over the decision, especially considering that temporarily laid-off workers were rehired back in July and Smolensky had just moved his operations into a new facility within Blackpool. Smolensky seems to have mastered the art of false hope, having also announced in the past year that he would double TVR’s production with a new lineup and may begin selling cars in the U.S. Pardon us if we don’t get our hopes up.

Given the 26 year old’s previous promises and plans, this seems likely to be yet another step on the road to TVR’s oblivion. Obviously, TVR had a difficult time being competitive with larger manufacturers and its cars cost quite a premium, so non-car folks will hardly notice the loss. For car geeks, though, it represents another lost voice and little less personality in an industry that leans more toward mediocrity than we would like.


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