TVR Picture Gallery and History

The Fabulous Griffith

Legend has it that Gerry Sagerman took his TVR Grantura to his friend Jack Griffith's Ford dealership to make use of one of the mechanic's foreign car skills. While Gerry talked with Jack in the front of the dealership, as a prank, the mechanics took the engine from Mark Donohue's Cobra race car and placed it in the engine bay of the TVR. The suspension promptly collapsed under the weight. When Gerry saw his car he started screaming "What have you morons done to my car?", attracting Jack's attention. Jack said nothing but ordered a TVR minus engine. Thus was born the Griffith. Gerry says this never happened. This is one story that will never die.

At Woodwork 99 Jack Griffith told a different story: Jack's friend Carroll Shelby was building the famous Shelby Cobra. AC Cars build the Cobras in England and shipped them minus engines to the States, where Jack collected them at the docks and stored them at his dealership until Shelby was ready for them. In return for this, Jack got a Cobra to race. Mark Donohue, the dealership's Vice President, did most of the development as well as the driving. In 1962, Ford introduced the six cylinder Falcon, a light weight car that begged for v8 power. Jack and Mark started installing v8 engines in Falcons. His friend Dick Monich, the TVR importer, was visiting and the question came up, "could they put the v8 in a TVR?" Since Dick had driven one there, it wasn't too hard to check.

Dick Monich imported engineless TVRs, sold them to Jack Griffith who added Ford V8s and sold them as Griffiths. At the same time Dick sold four cylinder TVR Granturas. Griffiths were sold from 1963 to 1966. The Griffith was famous for overheating and having brakes inadequate for 150 mph. A handfull of Griffiths were shipped back to the UK for sale. One of the first buyers was Lotus and TVR dealer Martin Lilley.

Martin thought the car was fabulous. Of course, aerodynamic lift took over below the top speed of the car, necessitating a trip back to the factory for body repairs. A New York dock strike trapped a shipment of TVRs on the way to Jack's Griffith factory, driving TVR into bankruptcy. Martin's Griffith was impounded by the receivers. The only way to recover the car was to buy the factory. He did.
Griffith 200 Curious?
Left: Griffith before Woodwork 14.
Second: Griffith 200 trailered to Woodwork 12. Photo by Marshall Moore.
Third: Another Griffith at Woodwork 12. Photo by Marshall Moore.
Fourth: Griffith 200 draws the curious at Woodwork 8. Photo by Marshall Moore.
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Griffith gathering at Summit Point Race Track, WV May 1993. Photos by Marshall Moore.

Modified Griffith Modified Griffith Modified Griffith
A somewhat modified Canadian Griffith. The fierce cold can do amazing things to fiberglass during a long winter.
Griffith Brochure Griffith Brochure
A Griffith sales brochure. The base vehicle cost $4160.00.
NY Auto Show Car
A plaid GRiffith at the New York Auto Show in the 1960s. Photo Supplied by Joe Rauh of the Griffith Club.

The Griffith had another problem, worse than overheating and weak was too fast. It weighed over 500 lbs less than a Cobra and had less drag. The laws of physics made the Griffith faster than a Cobra. This offended Carroll Shelby. Since Jack Griffith could buy any motor Carroll Shelby could, there was only one solution. A bigger motor. A REALLY BIG MOTOR. Shelby built the 427 Cobra.The 427 was too big to fit in the tiny TVR, and TVR lacked the financial resources to build a wider car. Shelby had won, or had he?

After the TVR-Griffith connection failed, Jack developed a new car: the Griffith 600. The chief engineer was Robert Cumberford. The all steel body would be produced in Italy. Jack would fit Chrysler 273 cu. in. v8s in New York. Sixteen were built before delays in producing the bodies stopped the project.

A Griffith 600 brochure.
Two short articles from magazines no longer published.
Two pictures taken of a Griffith 600 at the Amelia Island, Fl Car show, March 2004. Photos by Gus Fell.

The TVR Tuscan

The Griffith went out of production shortly after Martin Lilley took over TVR. Jack Griffith and Dick Monich stopped operations and soon Gerry Sagerman started representing TVR in the US. Within a year Martin needed another fix of V8 madness and introduced an improved Griffith called the Tuscan. Gerry imported several of these to the States. The ultimate Griffith/Tuscan was the long wheel base, wide body Tuscan (LWB WB Tuscan) which sported a restyled body whose styling became the parent of the M series. The cost of importing v8s to Britian and the high fuel consumption compared to other British cars made the Tuscan as difficult to sell in Britian as the Griffith, and the regular narrow body Tuscan was switched to v6 power before the M series replaced it. One of the rarest cars in the world, only eight to twelve LWB WB Tuscans were built.
LWB WB Tuscan LWB WB Tuscan LWB WB Tuscan
Left: A long wheel base wide body Tuscan at Woodwork 12.
Center and Right: The same car at British Car Day 1985.


Uncredited photos copyright by author.

Last updated on July 28, 2004.