Mon. Oct 21st, 2019

The TVR Griffith 400 Sports Car

A review of The TVR Griffith 400 Sports Car, covering development, important features, and technical data of this the fifth model in the TVR range.

In this Article, I offer a nostalgic look at the TVR Griffith 400, one of an elite group of classic cars, which was manufactured during the period 1964 to 1966.

Launched in 1964, the two door, two seater TVR Griffith 400 was the successor to the Griffith 200, which was phased out in 1963. It featured:

  • An enlarged radiator, with two electric fans, to improve cooling, which was very necessary in a car with a V8 engine in a fibreglass body, that already had a reputation for engine overheating
  • A redesigned rear suspension
  • A slightly modified rear section, including a new window to provide improved visibility, and offer a more modern appearance
  • Addition of a distinctive circular rear light assembly, as used in the Ford Cortina Mark 1 saloon

It was powered by the special equipment HI-PO Ford 289 cubic inch (4722 cc) Windsor V8, overhead valve engine, fitted with three carburetors, and linked to a four speed gearbox.

This engine developed 271 bhp at 6000 rpm, and 312 ft/lbs of torque at 3400 rpm, and produced a top speed of 155 mph, with a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 secs.

It had a compression ratio of 10.5:1, and through-the-gears times of: 40-70 mph in 3.3 secs, and 50-90 mph in 6.5 secs.

This HI-PO engine was available as an optional extra in the Griffith 200 variant, which tended to use the standard Ford 289 V8 unit that developed 195 bhp.

Unbelievably, despite the huge increase in power produced with the 200 variant, it was still fitted with the same BMC back axle as used in the Grantura Mark 3, with the 1.8 litre engine.

Due to the addition of an alternative Salisbury differential, with a higher gear ratio, the 400 variant was slightly heavier than the 200 version.

However, the upside was that this addition helped to produce a higher top speed for the 400.

As a result of its redesigned rear suspension, the 400 was significantly lighter than its greatest adversary, the AC Cobra, which increased its relative performance.

However, the 400 suffered from the same build quality problems as had beset the 200 although, ironically, the cars destined for the UK market were built to a higher standard.

In early 1965, the east coast of the USA was brought to a near standstill by a prolonged dock strike.

This caused a severe disruption in the supply of 400 variant bodies that were being delivered from TVR in the UK.

If this was not bad enough, it also caused delays in the shipment of the body panels for the new Griffith 600.

This particular model featured a restyled body, built of steel rather than GRP, and produced in Turin, Italy.

Jack Griffith even went to the lengths of having the GRP bodies shipped by air across the Atlantic in order to maintain production.

The final outcome was that only 59 units of the Griffith 400 were built that year on his New York assembly line.

As a result, in 1966, he had no alternative but to cease production of the 400.

This marked the end of the TVR Griffith 400.

Perhaps this stroll down memory lane might have answered, or at least shed light on, a possible question:
Which TVR Sports Car is Your Favourite?

However, should this question still remain unanswered, I will be reviewing, in some detail, in future articles within this website, the entire range of TVR sports cars which were featured in the memorable era spanning 1946 to 1967.

I hope you join me in my nostalgic travels “down sports car memory lane”.

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