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Monday, 17 March 2014

TVR Grantura first drive

I am back writing for a good reason. To me, it's the best reason ever: I have finally been able to put my hands on the steering wheel of the Grantura I bought a couple of weeks ago.

First of all, here it is. Isn't it a beauty?

For those of you who follow me on Twitter (@britgasoline), you know that the purchase itself has been quite an adventure: being a passionate, little collector, I had to finance my dream car. I had to find it, negotiate for it, and of course find a way to pay for it. Talking about financing, the only way I could find to afford the TVR was to sell a car that luckily we had in our family, and that was not object of our care, attention and passion any longer. It was a nicely restored Alfa 2600 Sprint: great engine and history, but simply not British.

Being held in Italy, a Country where mid-priced classic cars sales are struggling at the moment, I had to dedicate a lot of time and efforts to place it on the market, and I eventually had to drive it myself 800km from Italy to France toconvince the buyer to get it at a ridiculously low price compared to its conditions. But the TVR was already waiting for me.

Back to the drive then, which is what matters in the end: I am in my garage at 10.00am this morning, March 16, on Lake Como, in a bright and warm Spring day in northern Italy after an almost sleepless night thanks to my little one: business as usual, I don't feel tired now. Getting into the car is not a struggle for me, but I admit I am not a giant, otherwise it would have really been an issue, given the low chassis frame and the overall height of the car. Clutch down, key turned, and the 1340cc Ford engine roars with no hesitations, ready to engage in its fight with the Lake coast road. Easy and quick, as it should always be. Bloody hell, what a noise. The clutch is surprisingly smooth and light, the feeling on the driving seat are overall just perfect. I am so low that I can barely see part of the bonnet beyond the  windscreen, and I am honestly surprised by the size of the steering wheel: I believe it's 17", and it is just enormous, leaving little to no room for the legs.

I start driving and I immediately realize what it means to control a proper light sportscar: great fun, and great fear. Bumps on standard Italian road makes you feel you might lose control of the car anytime, while wide steering wheel does not help with sending accurate and precise, reactive instructions to the wheels. The car flies, and sometimes it does it on its own. The breaks are, so to speak, a matter of creativity, the fiberglass body is everything but perfect and you can feel vibes and leaks everywhere all around you. The mix is absolutely scary, and the most exciting thing ever! It is exactly what you need if you are into british classic beasts. The gearshift of this particular Grantura has a very short gear lever and even shorter gear ratio, which imposes you to get your hand off the wheel quite often: let's say that the TVR does not like that at all, and that as soon as you lose even a bit of control over the run, she starts sliding and shifting all around the place.

The bottom line is that it requires a lot of focus, and you can only control the controllable, which makes it a fantastic mix between fun, excitement and challenge. Something I want to run past you though, gentleman drivers: should fun be more important then safety all the time? Should originality be? my TVR is 100% original, and that means no seat belts and no disk breaks. I am seriously tempted to install disk brakes, especially after having incurred in an unexpected stop and having experienced a sudden left turn due to one side of the drum brake clearly being more effective than the other. I think this is a bit too much, and I don't think improving my skills will make any difference.

Shall I go for that? Over to you.