blackpool

The new TVR Griffith is mad. Which is why you should love it

TVR chose to launch its new Griffith at the Goodwood Revival last weekend

THE NEW Ferrari FXX? Sorry, not really that fussed. The Aston Martin DB11 was lovely, but hardly astonishing. And I was a bit ‘meh’ about the McLaren 570S, to be honest.

I’m sure all three are resolutely thrilling on the right bit of racetrack but it’s entirely forgiveable to be a bit blasé. We’re used to seeing shiny new supercars from all three, all of which are a modicum more impressive than the last one. It’s a bit like Liverpool doing rather well in the Premier League – just like they did last year, and the year before that.

But a new TVR is more like Leicester thundering in and unexpectedly snatching all the silverware, against ridiculous odds. The latest Griffith is the car that so many of us wanted to see, but none of us really believed was ever going to happen. Only that last Friday, after more than a decade of waiting, it did.

Barely a week in and there have already been plenty of comments that it doesn’t look bonkers enough to be a TVR – even I think it’s got shades of Jaguar F-type, but that’s hardly a bad thing. It’s also been fitted with ABS and a sophisticated power steering system but otherwise it’s business as usual for a carmaker that’s crafted its reputation on being ballsy where everyone else plays safe.

It has a V8 not a million miles from what you’ll find in a Ford Mustang but it’s been breathed on by Cosworth so it’s developing something in the region of 500bhp, with a Porsche-troubling power-to-weight ratio of around 400bhp per tonne. Gordon Murray – of McLaren F1 and Mercedes SLR fame – has helped out with the underpinnings, so it shouldn’t drive like an old-school TVR. It’ll be much better than that!

Even the Griffith’s launch makes it loveable. TVR could’ve done the sensible thing and flown out to Frankfurt, where everyone else is unveiling their new metal at the moment, but it decided instead to do it at the Goodwood Revival, a classic car event known for being consciously stuck in the 1960s. It’s emphatically not the place to launch a brand new car – but TVR did it anyway.

In fact the only thing that’s missing from this curiously British resurrection is the old Blackpool factory being brought back into action and giving Lancashire its sports car crown back, but that would be far too predictable for the new boys at TVR.

So they’ve decided to build it in a small town in Wales instead. There you have it – Ebbw Vale is Britain’s answer to Maranello…

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Why you really ought to do the Blackpool Illuminations in a classic car

david-regularly-takes-his-own-cars-to-see-the-illuminations

YOU DON’T have to venture far for one of Britain’s greatest drives. Blackpool’s Illuminations are big fun in the right car – as long as you’re prepared for it to average about three miles an hour.

I’ve ‘done the lights’ pretty much every year since I earned my licence and loved every minute. You can enjoy it in just about any car but to make the most of it bring a convertible that won’t overheat in prolonged stints of traffic, make sure it’s an auto so your left leg’s still working by the time you reach the Pleasure Beach, and tell your mates to wrap up warm because at no point will the roof be going up. Vauxhall’s Cascada, Mercedes’ E-Class Convertible and BMW’s 4-Series Cabriolet are pretty much perfect for the job.

The cars to cruise up the seafront and bask in the gaudy glitz of the lights and waft in the vinegary smells are better than ever. The only problem – if my last couple of trips up the coast have been anything to go by – the traffic management seems to have got worse.

Go on a busy Friday or Saturday night and you can expect to be queuing as you soon as you emerge from Lytham St Annes, sometimes with your engine off for 10 or 15 minutes at a time. That’s fair enough for one of the North’s most congested tourist hits, but what isn’t are the scary manouveres other impatient motorists pull to try and beat the queues.

On a visit last weekend drivers routinely drove up the wrong side of the road at well above the 30mph speed limit, usually with terrified-looking tourists heading straight at them in the other direction. For the best part of half an hour I watched as headlights flashed, horns blared and tyres screeched as people desperate to see the lights before everyone else caused other cars to career towards the kerb. It wasn’t just cars full of impatient Illuminations-watchers either; the single worst offender was a double decker bus, its driver thinking sticking his hazards on was enough to allow driving up the wrong side of a busy road.

Without wanting to sound like Alastair Stewart on some bad Nineties rerun of Police Camera Action it was some utterly appalling driving – but I reckon the ball’s in Blackpool’s court to sort it out. It’s great the Illuminations are hauling in the sightseers, but I suspect a massive accident caused by an impatient oik driving up the wrong side of the road won’t do the show any favours.

It’s a resounding A+ for the lights themselves – and I’d still recommend seeing them – but a firm ‘must do better’ on the traffic front. Same again next year?