1988 TVR S1 2.9


• Only around 650 cars ever made
• Recently stored
• Spare chassis available

The Background

TVR is one of the best-known names in the low volume British sports car business, and for good reason. The brand's successful formula saw it achieve remarkable highs, even running one-make race series and taking its place on the Le Mans grid.

The S Series is probably the car that launched the brand to its most successful period, under the ownership of new chairman Peter Wheeler. With around 2,500 examples made across five distinct generations, it was one of the most popular models too.

The History

Despite being a Lancashire icon, this TVR has spent most of its life on the other side of the Pennines in North, South, and West Yorkshire. First registered in February 1988, the car is a late example of the S1 – though the owner advises it has the S2's 2.9-litre Cologne V6 rather than the S1's 2.8. TVR did make a handful of S1s this way – sometimes referred to as S1.5.

Although the odometer reads 11,000 miles, older MOT certificates make it clear that the car has been once around the clock, and the five-digit display is simply one number short! One of the earliest certificates shows it had covered an impressive 34,000 miles inside its first five years.

In recent times the car has been laid up in storage. The current owner has brought it back out again after five years, ready to sell on to a new home – indeed they have several other cars available through Car and Classic Auctions too.

The Paperwork

There's an inch-thick A4 folder of documentation for the TVR which covers a significant part of its life. That covers old MOTs dating back to the early 1990s and up to the most recent – the car is not currently covered by an MOT, and is declared SORN.

Among the official paperwork, there's also a slew of receipts and invoices across the car's life, covering replacement parts and maintenance, with many from well known TVR specialists. A quick scan of the bills reveals several that are not quite in the four-figure range, and we'd estimate easily £7,500 in total; not bad for 33 years and 110,000 miles!

Additional paperwork includes documentation pertaining to an immobiliser, a TVR S Series handbook, copies of in-era magazine road tests, and HPI certificates. There's also the purchase agreement from when the current owner bought the car.

The Interior

One thing that TVRs always had over their contemporaries was a spectacular cabin, and that's certainly true here. The swooping cream leather dashboard and centre console, trimmed with slate blue contrast, is matched by cream leather seats and door cards, again featuring slate blue piping and stitching.

The car's time in storage has affected the interior somewhat, but it almost all appears to be pretty superficial. While it would greatly benefit from a good deep clean, there's no physical damage we can spot on any surface. The driver's seat does show a few more creases – as you'd expect – but it's neither damaged nor worn through. There's some stiffness to the seat adjusting mechanisms that some lubrication would probably cure.

While the blue-carpeted lower trim is also in good condition throughout, you'll spot a couple of areas where trim pieces are missing. They're still present with the vehicle, but they're currently stored in the boot, awaiting refitting – again a legacy of storage.

The boot is actually an impressive space, and there's also a generous amount of room behind the front seats, even when the roof is down.

The Exterior

One bright side to classic TVRs is the fibreglass body. There's no rust, because there's nothing to rust! We have carefully checked the body over for any of the usual signs of fibreglass damage, and pleasingly it looks like there's nothing to report. That said, the white paint has dulled a little in its time in storage, and a good valet should bring it back to life, and there is a car cover included so you can keep it that way.

There's a few areas where a new owner might like to make some changes if they want to match the show to the go – the front indicator repeaters, for example – but it's generally straight and true. Interestingly, the bonnet and boot are both secured using racing-style pins rather than the regular latches.

The non-standard wheels are an obvious item here. Finished in a novel blue/purple colour, they certainly stand out, but give a more racy look. The current owner had briefly mulled turning the S1 into a hill-climb-type car, and the wheels and bonnet pins certainly lend themselves to that end. A set of original wheels is also included, though we haven't seen their condition.

Lastly there's the unusual convertible split-targa roof. This consists of a rear section you can lower and two independently removable roof panels – so you can have some sky above the driver, or both seats, or drop everything entirely. This is in excellent condition, without a mark anywhere on it, even the plastic rear screen, with the blue colour matching the interior contrast sections.

The Mechanics

While most S1s used the 2.8-litre Ford Cologne V6, this car is equipped with the 2.9-litre version from the later S2; it's not uncommon to find this as an aftermarket upgrade, but TVR itself also made a handful of 1988 S1s with the S2's engine, often referred to as the S1.5 by enthusiasts.

As is typical, it wasn't playing ball when we visited, though it had recently moved under its own power; that's possibly down to that period of storage again, as these TVRs do like to keep moving, but as it has no MOT or VED it will need to leave on a trailer in any case.

The seller has done a significant amount of mechanical work to correct some issues flagged on the last MOT, including the wheel bearings. While we obviously weren't able to drive the car around, we didn't pick up a hint of anything alarming while pushing it around for the photographs.

Unusually, if the car reaches its reserve price, the seller will include a full spare chassis. This has been primed and rustproofed beyond the standards of the original, and would extend the TVR's lifespan and potential considerably.

The Appeal

TVR is a British icon, as we've seen with recent, protracted attempts to revive the marque, and the S Series is once of the cars on which its reputation was built. Incredibly popular in its day, the S1 is still a piece of automotive theatre now.

This example would make a great project for either recommissioning to the road or even the basis of a truly special cafe racer.

Notice to bidders

Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1988
  • Make TVR
  • Model Series 1
  • Colour White
  • Odometer 111,000 Miles
  • Engine size 2792
  • Location Northumberland
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
12 bids from 7 bidders
  • reynold•••• £4,900 29/07/21
  • gary.le•••• £4,700 29/07/21
  • reynold•••• £4,500 29/07/21
  • gary.le•••• £4,300 29/07/21
  • John Ho•••• £4,000 29/07/21
  • harry-p•••• £3,250 29/07/21
  • John Ho•••• £3,100 29/07/21
  • reynold•••• £3,000 27/07/21
  • Mark45 £2,500 24/07/21
  • haydn-m•••• £2,100 22/07/21

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