It unbelievable to think about the limitless emotions that can be evoked by an inanimate object. The relationships we build with our cars go well beyond that of a simple ownership, and one’s bond with their car can sometimes make us overcome some pretty difficult hurdles. The tale we’re about to tell is one of love, passion, devastation, and rebirth. Sounds pretty dramatic, right? Let’s delve into the story behind a car we’re about to start seeing a lot more… Nick’s 2001 TVR Tuscan Speed Six.
Picture this: You’re fifteen, and you’re on holiday with your family in the UK. You see this really odd but really cool looking sports car, and you’re drawn to it. You have never ridden in a fast/sports car before, and completely unprepared, you’re taken for a spirited drive in a car built by British manufacturer TVR. That was Nick Steed’s first encounter with these hard-to-find British sports cars, and it left him longing for more. In fact; he made a promise to himself that one day, just one day, he would own a TVR Tuscan of his own.
Manufactured in the UK between 1999 and 2006; the TVR Tuscan is a rarity here in Australia. I distinctly remember my first experience with one, and it was the leading cause of my over-exaggerated, red cordial-fuelled rage quits when trying to handle the bloody thing on Gran Turismo as a kid. Odds are this hasn’t changed. The 1020kg fiberglass-bodied skid-rocket is powered by a 290kw inline-six engine paired with a six-speed manual transmission, and as specifically directed by TVR, no traction control (or airbags, or ABS brakes…).
Jeremy Clarkson once summed up TVR pretty accurately in a single quote:
“I always got the impression that TVR Build a car, put it on sale, and then found out how it handled, usually when one of their customers wrote to the factory complaining about how dead he was”.
Nick never let go of his fantasy of owning a Tuscan. TVR was the brand that genuinely ignited his love for cars. When we dream of our future cars, they’re often replaced with something else after a few years of crippling self doubt and countless car finance applications. In Nick’s case, it was a long commitment – twelve years, in fact. Come his late twenties; Nick was alerted to a mysterious Tuscan becoming available in Australia. Within days, the Newcastle-sourced 2001 built Tuscan was sitting safely in his driveway, and his dream had quickly become a reality. After dreaming of the car half his life, the sense of achievement would have been of no comparison to anything I’ve felt before. At the time, it was believed that less than ten examples existed.
In December 2015, Nick’s dream was turned upside down when he was involved in an accident, which caused extensive damage to the front end of the car. The car was taken off the road, and nick was left with a choice – write the car off, or push forward and carry out extensive repairs. One option was easy and stress-free. The other was going to be a long, rocky path with an uncertain outcome. We know how it feels to adore your car more than anything in the world, and we all know how it feels to look at your car as you look at a loved one. If you had the choice between letting a loved one go, or going the long way around with the chance that you may bring them back to life, would you not choose the tough option? That’s exactly what Nick chose, and here we are, in October 2018, looking at the product of a very long repair process.
The preliminary stage of the car’s repairs was first establishing what needed to be done, and if it could be done. As production of the Tuscan ceased in 2006, parts were understandably difficult to come by, and when you did, they were e x p e n s i v e (basically the first world problem of any 90’s import owner ever). Sourcing the parts wasn’t easy, and the UK was the only place they could be found. Luckily for Nick and the team carrying out the repairs; there were still some genuine parts hanging around. Various suspension and mechanical components were replaced, but the most costly (and difficult to find) component was the fiberglass front end of the car.
What Nick remarks as the most difficult challenge of this process, however, was the colour choice! As the factory Tuscan paintwork featured a chameleon paint, a simple colour-match wasn’t going to cut it, so the choice was made to rub down and respray the entire car in a whole new colour. Turquoise was later decided to be the colour of choice, and frankly, I love it (this has absolutely NOTHING to do with the fact I owned a Tiffany Blue Audi TT at all). The colour works well because, unlike the chameleon, it showcases the car’s dramatic bodywork more, and looks incredible in overcast weather.
This rebuild took almost three years. There aren’t many people who I’ve met who have had the patience or the passion to push forward in such circumstances, when having the liberty to simply write the car off with insurance was always there. Of course it was a frustrating journey for Nick; being unable to drive the car you love and constantly be reminded that you won’t be able to do so for a very long time would have been a very emotional experience. It’s taken such a long time that Nick actually struggles to come to terms with the fact that it’s back in the first place.
The car now sits in a greater condition than what it was in the first place, and it’s now become Nick’s mission not only to keep the car, but to improve it. In order to keep the cars affordable; TVR took a number of production shortcuts which resulted in either some annoyingly strange features, and generally faulty parts throughout the cars. One thing they nailed, though, was producing a car that was not only incredibly fun and challenging to drive, but drop dead gorgeous. Nick’s priorities involve a complete interior facelift and re-trim, suspension and mechanical upgrades. Most of all, though, he just wants to look after it so that he can enjoy it for years to come. Nick aims to preserve his TVR for future generations of enthusiasts to enjoy, and he aims to make every effort to come out and showcase the car to the world, so that we can all appreciate one of very few models in Australia.
Nick and his TVR have a long road ahead together, and at Slowlife we’re excited to see where it takes them. We’re hoping that he can make it out to our October edition of Slowlife Saturdays (hint hint)!
Enough talk for now, though. Time to hit the road and drive.
Model: Tuscan Speed Six
Engine: 4.0L Inline 6 (NA)
Output: 290kW (475nm)
Suspension: Double wishbone
0-100km/h: 3.9 Seconds
Top Speed: ~300km/h
Images: Rapture Media