Classic AutoRAI 99: post-war cars:
TVR & Vignale
Sportscar specialist TVR is
now one of the last remaining completely British car manufacturers, but it had a very
difficult history with lots of financial problems. After a bankruptcy in 1965 the company
was restarted by Martin Lilley (after his father had bought the company for him) and in
1967 a new model was introduced at the Racing Car Show in London: the Tuscan. It was aimed
at the American market and a 271 hp V8 engine was fitted. It still sported the classic TVR
looks but the chassis was adapted to accommodate the new and more powerful engine.
The Tuscan V8 was only
available to the American market, but in 1969 the European version of the Tuscan was
introduced. It was called the Tuscan V6 because the American V8 engine was replaced by a
lighter and smaller 3 litre British Ford V6 engine. This engine cranked-out 146 hp @ 4750
rpm and it propelled the 762 kg light car to a maximum of 209 kph, which was about the
same as the top speed for the heavier V8 version. Also the looks were similar.
The Tuscan V8 was produced from 1967 to 1970 and the Tuscan V6 from 1969 to 1971 in very small numbers: 73 for the V8 and 101 for the V6. Cars like the beautiful bright yellow Tuscan on the pictures are also a rare sight. The V6s however are worth about half the price of the V8s and are quite affordable (if you can find one).
Carrozzeria Vignale (1913-1969) from Grugliasco in Italy was a classic and
renown coachbuilding company that designed and built bodywork on chassis of lots of car
manufacturers like Ferrari and Maserati. When during the sixties the demand for
special-built bodywork and the availability of separate chassis diminished, Vignale turned
to the production of complete cars.
All Vignale cars were based on FIAT mechanical components, and this pretty 850 model was no exception. The best selling Vignale however was the Gamine (1968-1971), a retro-styled open tourer based on the tiny FIAT Nuova 500.
This 850 Coupé was produced from 1968 to 1970 in unknown, but very likely
small, numbers. Based on the FIAT 850, it had its 843 cc 4-cylinder engine behind the rear
axle. This 47 hp @ 6400 rpm unit gave the car a top speed of a disappointing 135 kph.
Production of this car ended after Vignale was acquired by Ford in 1970. Today it's
available at (low) second-hand prizes, but a perfect 850 Coupé like this one is hard to
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