- Chassis # 4390FM
- Engine # D8906-93
- 1 Of Only 49 Examples Delivered To North America
- Powered By A Matching Numbers 142 hp 3.0L Ford Essex V6 Engine
- A Very Well Kept Example Featuring A Recent Mechanical And Cosmetic Restoration
- Sale Includes Original Owners Manual, Factory Spare, Weather Gear, And Over 40 Years Of Service Records
Those who know of TVR are likely only familiar with models like the Cerbera, Griffith, or Sagaris. They are among the most distinctive and wild-looking sports cars in the world, with design cues that put them more in the realm of concept cars rather than something actually produced. The company was founded in 1946 and built its first chassis in 1949, an open-wheel, open-top roadster reminiscent of race cars from the early 1930s. The cars used Ford drivetrains from the beginning, meaning that when Ford stopped supplying TVR with them in 1964 due to financial troubles, the entire company went under.
In late 1965, Arthur Lilley and his son Martin Lilley purchased the assets of TVR to make up for their personal losses of £2,000 worth of TVR shares when the company went under. Until their sale of the company in 1981, they produced several sports cars that kept the company afloat, with sixty percent of TVR’s production going to continental Europe and the United States in the mid-1970s.
Between 1972 and 1979, Lilley’s TVR produced the M series line of sports cars. The series included the 1600M, 2500M, 3000M, 3000S, and Taimar, with a shared chassis and body style between the cars but varying powertrain options. They used a front mid-engine, rear-wheel drive layout, and fiberglass body-on-frame construction.
The 3000S was the last model to come from the M series. It arrived in 1978 as a successor to the 3000M with significant body changes, including a reworked windshield, doors, and rear end. The new door design meant that rather than traditional wind-up windows, the 3000S used sliding side curtains that could be removed and stowed in the trunk.
The 3000S models that were exported to the US originally used Triumph’s 2.5 L inline-six. As those engines were in short supply, however, TVR contracted Olson Engineering, Inc. to modify the 3.0L Ford Essex V6 engine so it could be EPA-certified by the 1976 model year.
Imports of 3000S models powered by the 142 hp, 3.0L Ford Essex V6 engine began late in 1977 for the 1978 model year. According to the supplied owner’s handbook supplement, the emissions control system uses a catalytic converter, exhaust gas recirculation, and secondary air injection.
Only 258 cars were built, with 67 being left-hand drive and 49 originally exported to North America.
This particular example, Chassis # 4390FM, is one of those cars powered by the Ford Essex V6. It was sold new in late 1980 through Atwater Ford in Burlington, North Carolina, to a Lloyd R. Rothschild in Raleigh, NC. According to the build sheets provided by the TVR Car Club, it was delivered with a white paint job over an oatmeal interior with black carpets. Rothschild went on to own the car for the next two years before selling it to a Perry Wayne Phillips, also based in Raleigh, NC. His ownership seems to have only lasted around a year before he sold it to Kent & Joan Martin of Aurora, Illinois.
The pair took extensive care of their TVR, documenting every service done on the car for their seven-year ownership period. A new windshield was installed in February of 1984, a new exhaust in February of 1985, a Weber carburetor rebuild kit in June of 1985, new gas struts in May of 1986, new speakers in April of 1986, and new wind wings in June of 1987.
In early 1989, the two parted with the car and sold it to Donald Brown of San Diego, California. He owned the car for the next three years before he, too, sold it, this time to a Jonathan Joels of Englewood, New Jersey. The little TVR once more made its way across the country, where it stayed until 2017. During Joel’s ownership, the car continued being looked after and inspected yearly at Tom Siracusa’s Highwood Service Inc. in Englewood, NJ. In March of 2000, it received new door bezels, followed by another windshield in October of 2000, a modern Clarion AM/FM CD player in April of 2005, new spark plugs and a carb adjustment in July of 2007, another door bezel in April of 2013 and a new cigar lighter assembly in November of 2014.
After 28 years, Mr. Joels parted ways with the TVR and sold it to the current owner, a collector from Nazareth, PA. During the current ownership, the tradition of keeping the car healthy and running was kept a top priority, starting with 14” T-slot wheels from a 1977 TVR that were bought from Craigslist in January 2017. A new heater valve, water valve adapter, and chrome ashtray were purchased in February 2017. A hood badge from a TVR 2500M was acquired in March of 2017, along with a new genuine Weber 38DGAS 3C carburetor.
During that same month, the car was taken to K&T Vintage Sports Cars LLC in Allentown, PA, for a major service and refurbishing. The wheels were straightened and polished, the bumpers, their supports, and grilles were cleaned of rust, the wiring harness was repaired, and the coolant recovery tank was cleaned and polished. The work continued two weeks later when the side glass assemblies were removed and cleaned, the radiator was sent to be re-cored, all engine leaks were repaired, and all four wheels were painted. In April, the front-end fiberglass was repaired, filled, and refinished.
In May 2017, the engine and transmission were removed, separated, cleaned, and reconditioned. The rest of the engine parts, including pulleys, shafts, and housing, were also sanded and cleaned. The undercarriage and suspension parts received the same treatment. The engine bay was painted and clear coated, the chrome parts were sent for chroming, and reassembly began. The engine, transmission, and exhaust were reinstalled in late May.
Starting in late June, the front end was reassembled, the newly chromed parts were installed, and the wheel housings were painted. In July, a new battery tray was installed, the coolant system was prepared, further interior work was completed, including a new trimmed trunk floor, and a new tire was mounted on the spare wheel. The engine was running by late July, all four wheels were mounted, and the lights were wired and installed. The body was masked, and certain areas were painted. The door tops received three coats of color followed by a cut and polish, while the bumpers received four coats and a polish. The entire car was then cleaned, buffed, compounded, and touched up as needed. The windows were reinstalled in August, and the TVR was officially back on the road after five months in the shop.
In April 2019, a mechanical fuel pump was installed. The car returned to K&T in June for a tire repair and a misfire on cylinder #2, which was repaired with a new head and valve cover gaskets. The Duralast Gold battery and terminal protectors currently in the car were bought and installed from AutoZone in August of 2021.
As it sits, this 1979 TVR 3000S is a rarely-seen British convertible in beautifully restored condition. With only 49 M-series cars ever brought into the US, it is hard to overstate just how rare this 3000S is. Whether used as a traditional British roadster for carving up local canyons or as lawn candy at your nearest concours, there is no wrong way to enjoy this car. Reviews of the time called it “ being loud and fast” with “excellent road-holding.”
Upon purchase, the new owner will receive the original owner’s manual, all original weather gear, as delivered new, period sales literature and magazine articles, period photos of the car, TVR Club paperwork, handwritten correspondence between owners, and over 40 years’ worth of service records.
body and paint
Overall, for a car that is often referred to as having been “built in a shed” this TVR is quite respectable and evidence of general care and upkeep show in its presentation. The paint is consistent throughout, matches both in color and texture everywhere. It appears to have received a repaint and records indicate cosmetic freshening as needed over the years. While there are cracks to be found in the paint, blemishes that have been touched up and less than perfect panel gaps, the overall presentation is something to be proud of and requires no immediate attention.
glass and trim
The windshield is a replacement unit and is clear with no issues to note. The removable sliding side windows are in excellent condition overall and appear to be well preserved originals. All trim appears present, with the only notable flaws being some crazing in the tail lights, and slightly cracked rubber around the license plate light rubber. Otherwise the brightwork all shines nicely and is without major flaws.
The wheels are the rare T-Slot wheels that have been meticulously restored and polished and present beautifully as they are with crack free center caps.
Please view the photos in detail to review the blemishes present on this vehicle.
seats and surfaces
The interior is a combination of carefully refurbished and original materials. Overall the appearance is concours quality and has little in the way of flaws, very tidy. The doors, kick panels, center console and dash are all in excellent condition and appear to be the original naugahyde. The seats are also believed to be the originals, but the internals have been re-stuffed for both comfort and appearance. There are no real flaws to report beyond minor wear.
functionality and accessories
Just about everything is in correct working order. The only items that stood out as non-functioning or functioning intermittently would be that of the interior light via the door switch (works on its own, but not on the switch) and the horn which is faint. Lastly, the dimmer for the interior lights is intermittently working. Otherwise all other gauges, pulls, toggles etc… are in working order.
engine bay and trunk
The engine bay is where this car really shines, as it has received considerable care over the years, both from a mechanical point of view but also cosmetically with a focus on correctness. It is most certainly concours worthy. All of the correct stickers, plaques and coatings etc… are as they would have been on day one. Highly detailed, clean and correct is the theme throughout with nothing out of place beyond the occasional zip-tie where practical. Impressive.
The trunk area appears to be untouched, perhaps some minor wear here or there but otherwise very clean, tidy and without any issues to note.
Overall the underside shows a car that has seen some use but also care. Minor detailing would go a long way if desiring a concours underside. The biggest issue to note is some minor surface corrosion on the frame from failing paint. This is superficial and easy to remedy. Otherwise this car is impressive in that it leaks little to no fluids, rare on any old car but especially one from this era.
The engine starts easily, runs strong and is very responsive, balanced and well fitting for this car. It holds even temperature and oil pressure with no stumbling throughout the rev range. No smoking, knocking or other unwanted noises are present. Just a smooth exhaust note.
The clutch and transmission work as intended with no issues to note.
brakes and suspension
On our test drive the brakes were sticky, but with use loosened up. This car should see continual use and this will not be an ongoing issue. The suspension is tight with no abnormal noises.
The tires are brand new Hankook Kinergy 205/70R14’s on all 4 corners and the spare
The TVR 3000S borrows inspiration from the Anglo-American hybrid we have all come to know and love, the AC Cobra. This is essentially the 1979 version. Futuristic in its materials use, A V-Engine with extremely lightweight construction, rear wheel drive and true sports car design with no windows and two seats. An uncompromising and focused driving experience, this 3000S is the sweet spot for TVR production. Both rare and unique in what it offers the driver. An absolute blast to drive even if a bit cozy for 2.