The history of 'White Elephant', the prototype banished by TVR


The TVR White Elephant, one of the last prototypes survivors of the mark.

The company sports a british TVR never characterized it or by being a brand more or by having a life placid. It is currently in the process of rebirth, with new ownership and new projects after a few years of inactivity, in what will be a cycle of life that is completely new and different for the firm, which until just a few years ago had been based in Blackpool, a town situated to the north of Great Britain.

Of the previous epoch, which ended up in bankruptcy with the Russian businessman Nikolai Smolenski to the front, since there are only the memories that make up the own story of the firm. History that, like many brands, also has its secrets and legends.

One of the last anecdotes of the signature began to emerge a few days before the arrival of Smolenski to TVR, to the middle of the last decade, and the stars in one of the models more striking and characteristic of the firm and that, oddly enough, don’t know too many fans, the TVR popularly known as the TVR ‘White Elephant’ or White Elephant, a Tasmin prototype that was registered with the plates F120 SCK and that the closest call Nelly.


Your body of synthetic material is a single piece.

In the time before the last Cerbera or Tuscan, the signature of Blackpool offering a range based on exciting sports models of two-seater format of the coupé or roadster, as were the Tasmin, 350, and 420. sports Models typically british content weight that from the eighties had a characteristic sharp front, the heritage of the current design in a wedge of the seventies.

Precisely at the end of that decade, TVR wanted to freshen up the look of the model Tasmin, for which, at the request of the Peter Wheeler, then visible head of the brand, decided to make a prototype very special, something more than a simple recarrozado on the frame of an existing model. To do this, they took a tubular frame SEAC of competition at that rendezvous of a body of highly modified from a Tasmin 350, flattening the sharp front of another prototype, the 420 Sports Saloon, losing during the process the headlights retractable look stunning in those moments all the TVR.

But unlike the rest of the production of the brand, this model was not made in fiber glass conventional, for the prototype F120 SCK used for the first time the technique of compressing the glass fiber against foam, a system that will be employed later, all models of the brand, and was premiered with success in this prototype only.


The maximum speed of this one off was encrypted at nearly 300 km/h.

For the engine, instead of employing the usual mechanical british from Ford or Rover and which had traditionally used the brand, was used for the first and only time a propeller Holden is australian, a V8 5.0-liter loaned for evaluation by the division of sport Holden Special Vehicles, accompanied one transmission, the Borg-Warner T5 5-relationships. This block, which was provided by the Tom Walkinshaw, was a motor racing pilot, which were manufactured just a dozen and that had as their sole purpose to serve as a testbed for the engines that used the australian brand in competition, so it is likely that the V8 engine installed in the prototype white TVR is one of the last existing of that series.

The V8 australian generated more than 400 horsepower, which at that time was an immense potential for the tiny prototype out of fiberglass, which although never stated the total weight, we can deduce that its mass should be between 1,000 and 1,200 kilos, if we take into account that the first TVRS of the era that used the V8 Rover weighed in dry only 1.050 kg. The figure of maximum speed makes clear the true potential of the prototype, 185 miles per hour, which correspond to 297.7 km/h, although it is not known that the mark came to check it out some time.

The result, as might be expected given the ingredients, it was a one off spectacular, especially for the body work, which had steps of wheel widened with respect to the Tasmin standard. All the details and specifications were dictated by Peter Wheeler, who used the prototype as a personal vehicle for two years.


In the rear we find a hole, destined to the basket for the dog of Peter Wheeler.

therefore, commissioned the white sport with a series of very particular elements. On the one hand, in the trunk of the two-seater we can find a hole hidden to save the hunting gun that Wheeler used to wear when he went out hunting, and as usually he was accompanied by his dog to hunt, he also requested a gap-specific to accommodate your dog after the seats.

As a substitute for the Tasmin, the White Elephant did not come to set, their aesthetics are not considered sufficiently novel with respect to the sport it was meant to replace, in addition, various problems became the engine australian infeasible, that he did go to the mark by the most economical V8 engine of Rover, that the mark had already been employing since a few years ago.

however, as a project, White Elephant was the unit tests perfect for the new system moulded body, process that is extended to the following models.


Image of the prototype abandoned at the factory.

After being the personal vehicle of Peter Wheeler for two years, the prototype was sent as a piece of display to the main dealer for TVR, which was only used sporadically. Years later, he was sent back to the factory, where ended up being the vehicle used by employees to run errands, such as going to lunch. With time, the prototype ended up in the back of the small factory, falling into oblivion for the fans of the brand.

Years later, a fan of the brand that he had the opportunity to visit the factory in Blackpool managed to sneak into the backyard, discovering the prototype abandoned, so I tried to buy it by all means, without success, the company was not interested in getting rid of the, despite the fact that its state of neglect was evident. The front hood and the almost horizontal moon back had disappeared, leaving it completely exposed to the elements, both its exterior and interior. At the same time that was discovered, not only was inundated by the within, in addition to the plants already growing in your passenger compartment, according to the testimony of the client.

In those early years of the proliferation of the internet, some researchers and explorers urban were surprised to discover the prototype is rotting away in the backyard of the factory, which caused a few more attempts to get the white prototype, without any success, TVR was not ready to sell White Elephant at any price.


Abandoned in a corner of the back yard of the factory for years.

however, come the summer of 2004 and a few days that Nikolai Smolenski is to do with TVR, that first client that had crept into the storage room of the factory, named Howard Bryan, decided to make a last attempt. After contacting Peter Wheeler directly, managed to convince him to be done with the remains of the abandoned prototype, becoming the savior of the White Elephant.

The state of the TVR was regrettable years to the outdoors with the interior and the engine bay to the air had made a dent in, so return it to its original state was not going to be easy or cheap. In that moment began a long process of reconstruction, more than that of restoration, which would take nothing less than 9 years and about 70,000 pounds, little more than 80.600 eur included in the price of purchase of the remains.

In 2013 concludes the long process that engaged various specialists british, and which included improvements in the section on cooling, a constant problem of the prototype the years it was in use, restoring all the splendour that it enjoyed in its day as a White Elephant. Since then, the white prototype has been seen in some events in the Uk, where it has been earned the recognition that the own brand has refused to give her to banish him to a corner of your backyard.


Currently, the prototype shows a state impeccable.

His story and the intense process of restoration has been reflected not only in several specialized media british, also has its own website, where he tells his story and the many steps that you llevó its complex restoration process.

today, this prototype, one of the few prototypes of the brand that still exist, not only is the living part of the history of the brand, in addition occupies one of the most eye-catching of the same.