TVR Tuscan Speed Six - Everything you wanted to know
The TVR Tuscan Speed Six was released as a production model early in the year 2000. The car with its removable hard top and rear screen could be transformed into a targa in just a matter of minutes, leaving enough room in the boot for a couple of golf bags. At 1000 kg one could be forgiven for expecting the car to be little more than a racer with lights, where in fact there is an impressive array of creature comforts for a car sporting such impressive performance; air conditioning, power steering, a duel electronic and mechanical dash and side impact protection to name a few. TVR's own Speed Six is the only engine offered with the vehicle, however the engine is tweaked to deliver varying outputs:
- 3.6L Mk 1 - 350 BHP / 290 ft.lbf
- 4.0L Mk 1 - 360 BHP / 310 ft.lbf
- 4.0L Mk 1 Red Rose - 380 BHP / 310ft.lbf
- 4.0L Mk 1 S (Pre - 2003) - 390 BHP / 310 ft.lbf
- 4.0L Mk 1 S (Post - 2003) - 400 BHP / 315 ft.lbf
- 4.0L Mk 2 (Post - 2005) - 380 BHP / 310 ft.lbf
- 4.0L Mk 2 S (Post - 2005) - 400 BHP / 315 ft.lbf
- 4.0L Mk 2 Convertible (Post - 2005) - 380 BHP / 310ft.lb
A Legendary Design
Modern vehicles are designed almost entirely by the use of computer software; CAD and CFD Packages among the most common. TVR's design team led by Damien McTaggert and in close co-operation with the companies chairmen Peter Wheeler adopted a more old school approach. The Tuscan was indeed shaped almost exclusively by hand, and it took almost two years to finalise the cars form.
Designing a vehicle in this way, although exceptionally time consuming, does offer certain advantages. Even though computer design software has advanced significantly since the creation of the Tuscan, rarely is it possible for an engineer to control a surface as subtly as one can when sculpting by hand. Indeed it would be hard for someone to argue against the extravagant exterior style of the vehicle; it is important to note however that the entire vehicle concept is about form following function. Make no bones, the Tuscan was designed to be a devastatingly fast road car, and to that end every component is centered around that one primary goal. An excellent example of this is the curved aluminum dash top, which although aesthetic in its own right, is only added to act as an inboard transverse strengthening beam.
Elements of original design thinking are abundant throughout the car. Engineers and designers spent an inordinate amount of time designing the seats so that they were practical and comfortable on the road, but provided the right support and position for those owners which chose to use the full performance of their vehicles on the racetrack. To accommodate the use of the car on track, the seats where manufactured with removable squabs which allowed the vehicle occupants to sit lower in the seats, ensuring ample clearence between crash helmet and roof panel.
Yet another example of TVR's unique design approach has manifested itself in the instrument binnacle, which was built in house at the companies factory in Blackpool, England. The instrument binnacle links directly into the engine management system and allows the driver to monitor all of the vehicles various parameters by accessing the datasets displayed on screen. The data is accessed by use of a rotary nob (akin to the system use in BMW's Idrive interface). The TVR interface displays fuel levels, engine temperature, water temperature, oil pressure, ambient air temperature and battery voltage to name a few. The instrument binnacle also includes a race car inspired shift light system which can be tuned to the drivers own preference; three sequential LED lights indicate to the driver the optimum moment for gear changes.
Engineering first and foremost
TVR is first and foremost an engineering company and thus ensure engineering relevance in all of its cars; nothing is added just for the sake of it. A case in point is the mechanically fastened bonnet cover. The bonnet is designed as a lightly stressed member affording engineers the ability to precisely duct airflow into the engine. The bonnet is without gas struts or hinges and as such can be manufactured to be extremely lightweight.
The chassis is derived from the Tuscan challenge Race car (TVR had its own one make race series). The advantage of using a race proven chassis tweaked for road use are numerous, chief among which are its proven crash performance, rarely has a chassis been so repeatedly crash tested. Although TVR's do not employ modern safety features such as airbags or ABS, the company still has a high commitment to safety. This is evident by the inclusion of roll over protection and side impact beams within the door cavity.
Engine Layout - Classic Sports Car
The Speed Six is the first engine purpose built by TVR for TVR. The engine has the classic straight six layout used in many a classic sports car. The company chose to build a straight six engine as they are inheriently well balanced.
The engine is constructed primarily from aluminium, and uses four valves per cylinder raising the volumetric efficiency of the engine at high revs, and finger followers which improves torque by allowing higher valve acceleration. The engines twin overhead camshafts are chain driven to ensure smooth and reliable performance.
The engine is sited in the chassis as low as possible to reduce the vehicles centre of gravity with a 15 degree cant allowing the bonnet cover to sit lower than it normally would, a design which can be seen on the Speed Eight and Speed Twelve racing variants. The internals are built around a nodular iron crankshaft with steel conrods and lightweight pistons.
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