Yes, we’re late with our condolences and alas no, this isn’t hayfever causing wetness in our eyes… We are deeply distraught that you are no longer with us.
The news that you have been laid to rest is, some would argue, a merciful release from the cycle of promise and disappointment which you and your following have been through since you were evicted from Blackpool in 2006. When, quickly, quietly, with little discernible reason and no sentimentality, you were taken to the knackers yard.
What followed was a sadly all-too-familiar, messy and protracted death which only seems to happen to British companies under alien ownership.
The truth is that you and the late Peter Wheeler, your penultimate owner and boss, were kindred spirits. Ben Samuelson – your former PR wrangler – when talking to Car magazine described his time at Blackpool with the pair of you as:
“Exciting, challenging and fantastic times. You never got bored – you didn’t know what was going to happen next! There were no committee meetings, he [Wheeler] wasn’t a touchy-feely person, there were no group yoga sessions or anything; he was a proper boss.”
Yes, you were sired long before Wheeler, but somehow during his ownership you realised your potential, you excelled and caught the imagination of sports car enthusiasts. Pick a Wheeler-era model and none will fall short of enthusiast’s expectations – be it a retro S, the all-rounder Chimaera or the brutal 450 Sausage Egg And Chips.
In essence, you were to the realm of the petrolhead what Loaded was to the Nineties lad. A spine-tingling flashback to older ways – regarded by some as raucous, tricky and even, apologies for this, ‘crude’ – to the enlightened you were an antidote to the increasingly anodyne and knock-kneed machines which were spilling out of the mainstream’s factory gates.
If Colin Chapman epitomised the clean, crisp and sophisticated way of building a ‘pure’ sports car, you were its evil twin ‘excitement’; exhilarating, raw, focused, uncompromising yet beautiful. Little wonder you inspired a cocktail which could chin an ox.
Each time I drove one of your offspring they didn’t frighten or intimidate me, because this is how sportscars should be. Hop into a Griffith and its driver is quickly mainlining dynamics; a V8 junky indulging in seamless power, feeding off an exhaust note akin to an ancient demon firing an AK-47 whilst wearing smoldering Y-fronts… Occasionally buzzing on a narcissistic glimpse of its beautifully designed and perfectly proportioned reflection as it danced across shop windows.
Sadly, your death hasn’t come as a surprise. You’ve spent too long in stasis, hooked up to a life-support of promises, rumours and tittle-tattle – but nonetheless there was always hope.
You took the competition by surprise, but quickly they took notice and began to emulate you. AMG, M Division and Porsche synthesised your essence and added it to their models. Luring people into their suave showrooms who thought they liked the idea of a TVR, but who really couldn’t man up to the reality. A raw ownership experience lacking the safety net of nannyist driving aids – PAS, ABS, ESP, EDB, BBC, ELO, HPI or LOL – and instead featuring, erm, your ‘eccentric foibles’ which struck as and when… Yes, the German competition may have been better built and more reliable, but at what cost? We would argue ‘soul’.
Rumours are that in the afterlife you will reincarnated as a manufacturer of blades for wind turbines, but we’ll only believe that when we see Clarkson marketing his own brand of vegan ready-meals.
So rest in peace, old friend. The world will be a poorer place without you – but you never know, hopefully we’ll see you again on the other side.
In deepest sympathy,