After Blood, Sweat, and Tears, He’s Selling his TVR 2500M
Photography by Ryan Connolly
Ah, 1970s Britain. Who would have thought that a country blanketed in clouds most of the year would spend decades churning out some of the world’s greatest rear-wheel-drive sports cars? Sure, if things turned to rain there was a good chance your wipers would be on strike along with the rest of British Leyland, but across the pond where sunshine was (thankfully) more prevalent, there was little else on the road that could match the smiles-per-mile of Britain’s spunkiest automobiles.
The MGB, the Triumph TR6, the Austin Healey Sprite–these British classics offer the motherland’s best (and arguably the worst), and they positively evoke a nostalgia unlike no other. However, while these well-known nameplates have come and gone, there is one quintessentially British marque that has out-quirked them all since day one: TVR.
When I set out to find the inaugural car to feature in the series, the last thing I expected to come across for sale was a TVR–and not just any TVR, but a pristine 1976 TVR 2500M. You could have told me I’d find an EZ-GO with a Lamborghini V12 and I’d probably have found that to be more likely.
The owner, Neal, has had a fascination with TVRs ever since he was a wee lad. He laid eyes on one of the just 947 total 2500Ms sold throughout its five-year tenure, and knew he had to have it. “I loved its lines,” he said. Purchased in “basically barn find” condition, roughly eighteen months prior to being offered up for sale following restoration. When you consider that this was his childhood dream car one might ask “what gives, Neal?” Well, if nobody else was going to do it, I had to be the one to pop the question (you’re welcome).
Upon the very first glance, it’s impossible to take your eyes off the car. The long flowing hood leads into a snout resembling the unholy lovechild of a Ferrari 250 GT California and a Nissan 280Z. The stubby rear is so magnificently unique that it seems as if the designers couldn’t decide if it should have a trunk or a liftback, and therefore chose to give it neither. It all works so beautifully and feels so characteristically British, while still managing to look unique.
So what made Neal fall out of love with such a gorgeous little thing? One simple answer summed it up perfectly: “it’s not that I’ve fallen out of love with it, it’s that I’ve fallen in love with the process of restoring a car”. Most notable about the process is that Neil found a way to circumvent the haunt of British electrical gremlins (more on that in a moment).
Having seen just a couple of available TVRs, he quickly fell in love with this particular example as the previous owner had already dug deep into the restoration–and an unfortunate divorce situation forced him to sell. The paint was done, the body was pristine. A full body-off restoration, the previous owner had the frame blasted and refinished as well. The car was in process of being set up for racing, but it never saw a day at the track. As a first project, Neal felt it was perfect, since he wouldn’t have to tackle too much considering it was to be his first restoration. He plunked down about ten thousand bucks for the orphaned project, trailered it home, and got right to work.
One thing Neal told me about the 2500M was that it was originally engineered to wedge a V8 underhood, but for United States certification purposes, it ultimately came with the straight-six from the Triumph TR6. While this was all well and good, nobody in his or her right mind would say no to more power. So Neal said yes.
You see, this is no ordinary 2500M. Tilt the fiberglass bonnet forward revealing the most ingenious solution to solving British electrical gremlins that I’ve ever seen. Are you ready? You’ll want to have a pen handy. Tear out all of the British bits and stuff in a big, burly, American, Ford 302 cubic inch V8.
The massaged “five-point-oh” features aluminum heads, and has been ported, polished, and mated to a Tremec short-throw T5 transmission. Every inch of this powerplant has been gone over with a fine-toothed comb, and it shows.
The Cherry Bomb exhaust’s roars are glorious. They send a tingle down your spine. It is a sound that could bring democracy to Cuba. When asked what Neal would remember most fondly about the car, he mused “it’s an incredibly fast car, it’s all engine, it feels like you are taking off in a jet… and the sound is just incredible.” Barely tipping the scales at 2,000 lbs, he also slipped in that it has approximately the same power-to-weight ratio as the new 707-hp Dodge Challenger Hellcat. That’s a fair selling point.
In addition to the bonkers improvements underhood, Neal also added a new and complete Koni suspension setup all around, with upgraded Wilwood brakes at all four corners. On the inside, he personally added Dynamat to the full interior, and local shop Danbury Upholstery covered every surface with supple leather dyed a unique blue hue. As tight a squeeze as the car is for occupants, it is truly a lovely place to be wedged into. If he were to make any further changes, a wider tire-and-wheel setup and a nice stereo are the only things he felt the car might need.
His favorite memory with the 2500M was the very first drive after completing the mechanical restoration. The car may have still had a tattered Miata interior at the time, but that didn’t matter once it was out on the road, and the attention it garnered was a big perk as well. His favorite trip in the car was a drive out to legendary Lime Rock Park.
If Neal could choose his ideal buyer for the car, he’d like for that person simply “to enjoy it”. He says he would definitely be sad to see it go, but is excited for his next project, which he has yet to decide on. On what he took away from his time with the little TVR, “I learned there are a lot of things I can do that I thought I couldn’t, and I also learned to do a lot of things that I never would have attempted otherwise,” he said.
Sold for a paltry $24,000, this rare British classic with the heart of a Mustang will absolutely make a willing buyer giddy with excitement each time they turn the key.
Through all of the blood, sweat, and tears, surely, I thought, he must have named the car.
“If I name it I have to keep it.”