The story of the TVR 400SE begins with Oliver Winterbottom who, after designing the wedge shaped Lotus Eclat and second generation Lotus Elite models launched 1974, was responsible for designing the wedge shaped TVR Tasmin launched in 1980.
Over the years the Tasmin which was originally available with 2 litre / 122 cui or 2.8 litre / 170 cui Ford sourced motors grew into a second incarnation with a 3.5 litre / 215 cui V8 that traces it’s history back through the Rover 3.5 litre Coupé to the aluminium V8 Buick 215 designed by Joe Turley for Buick Oldmobile and Pontiac vehicles launched in 1961.
Launched in 1983 the TVR Tasmin 350i which became the plain TVR 350i in 1984 had a 190 hp and a 130 mph capability. With it’s Rover power the 350i became marketable in the middle east where there was, and is, a resistance to anything associated with Ford due to it’s dealings with Israel. In 1984 a 390 SE engine package was offered to 350i customers with a blueprinted version of the V8 motor with 3905 cc / 238 cui cylinder capacity, high lift cam shaft large valves and Cosworth machined pistons which brought the power up to 275 hp.
In 1986 further improvements offered 300 hp from the 420 SE spec which could be ordered with a lighter and slightly more rounded 420 SEAC spec body. For 1988 introduced the 3948 cc / 240 cui 400 SE which offered marginal performance improvements over the 390 SE and used the Series 2 390 SE body with asymmetrical near side louvers in the bonnet and a slightly more tidy nose as seen on the example above.
With the increase in engine size and output from 100 – 160 hp for the Tasmin models to 275 hp for the 400 SE seen here the transmission tunnel was increased in size to accommodate ever larger transmissions required to cope with the extra horsepower and so the foot wells have decreased in size. The extra heat generated by the more powerful motors allegedly also means occupants feet are more exposed to heat soak than was the case in the original Tasmin.
Equipped with 8J x 15 inch wheels and ventilated disc brakes the 400 SE could reach 60 mph from rest in 5.6 seconds or 100 mph in 14.8 seconds and max out at 145 mph. In 1989 a final version of the TVR Wedge was introduced the 320 hp 450 SE good for 150 mph.
The rear deck spoiler on this 400 SE appears to have been sourced from the ’86-’88 420 SEAC which had up to 20% of its body panels made from light weight kevlar. The 400SE is renowned for making a phenomenal noise and exhilarating acceleration.
Thanks for joining me on this ‘Foot Warmer’ edition of ‘Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres’ I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !