The Grantura was the car that started TVR on the road to fame …
Established a couple of years after the Second World War, Trevor Williams established his auto engineering company Trevcar Motors, supplying spares for army vehicles. After a couple of years he was able to realise his dream of building a sports car. He used an Alvis Firebird Chassis, strapped a Ford 100E engine and his own design aluminium body. He continued to tinker and moved onto fibreglass bodies. He changed the name to TVR (a much better ring to it than Trevcar Motors, good call Trev …) and continued to experiment. In 1958, he started a ‘make to order’ system as he had been unable to keep up with orders when he unveiled the Jomar in 1957 in the US. And so the TVR MkI appeared. This later became known as the Grantura MkI since the fibreglass (GRP) bodies were built by Grantura Engineering and that is how we talk about them today. The Granturas were popular in America and many of those that you see for sale these days are in the States.
It was a sports car coupe, with the characteristic long nose and coupe rear, I suppose it looked a bit like a mini E-type Jaguar or a toy car as the chassis was fairly short. However, it had a good reputation for roadholding and handling, but at a cost of comfort. The Grantura was hand built in the TVR Blackpool factory (sadly closed in 2006) and the spec. was a bit random as the car was built from various parts manufactured but the big players – Austin Healey, Ford Consul, VW Beetle, Triumph and BMC. Buyers could however specify the engine – side or overhead valve Ford, Coventry Climax or MGA B-series.
Like the Austin Healey Frogeye, the Grantura had no boot lid and to get at the spare wheel or to stow luggage, you needed to go in from the inside and lift the spare out through the front doors. The bonnet was front hinged.
In 1960, the MkII Grantura appeared followed in 1961 by the MkIIa, featuring the same mish-mash of parts but a larger engine, front disc brakes as standard rather than as an option and rack and pinion steering. The body lines looked smoother (or is that just my imagination?) but the performance was still inferior to many competitors, with the MG 1.6 litre engine, acceleration was positively sluggish – 0-60 in about 12 seconds was recorded although it was fairly economical at about 30mpg. The last MkIIa was built in 1962.
The MkIII and onwards was fitted with a 1.6 or 1.8 litre engine and other cosmetic improvements such as the Manx tail (to me it always reminds me of an Aston Martin DB5) and of course the Cortina (CND ‘Ban the Bomb”) rear light cluster! Technical improvements included a better suspension with telescopic shockers. The early MkIIIs had the usual variety of engine choices but the later ones were MG engines. Triumph supplied many of the component parts. During the Grantura MkIII era, TVR was, as usual, in severe financial trouble and closed down for a while.
As a Le Mans car, the Grantura MkIII was not a success. A works team entered a specially modified car (one of 3 built) in the 1962 race but it couldn’t take the pace for the full race and the engine overgheated. The same car raced a couple of times in the TT race at Goodwood and at the inaugural Harewood Hill Climb but after that it was just used as a road car. In the 70s, it went to Canada, then to the US and was returned to the UK in 2000 in a poor state. You can find the history of this hapless Grantura MkIII at http://www.tvr-car-club.co.uk/news_detail.asp?newsid=612
The Grantura MkIV, introduced in 1966 after the year or so gap in production, included the MKIII longer chassis to give greater stability, a bigger fuel tank and better quality trim.
These were never a volume production car, around 1000 Granturas were produced.
There is an online TVR Grantura registry at http://people.zeelandnet.nl/serel/