Originally intended as a replacement for the TVR Griffith, the Chimaera was based upon the same backbone chassis and Rover V8 engines but had longer travel Bilstein dampers and lower spring rates for more of a comfortable GT-like drive. Griffiths were known for their intimidating handling characteristics but the Chimaera formula proved much more palatable and, although the two were sold side by side, the Chimaera went on to be TVR’s best-selling model over its 9 year production run from 1992.
The styling was handled by John Ravencroft with help from Peter Wheeler and, legend has it, the family dog; the indicator cutouts are allegedly the result of bite marks in the clay model which Peter Wheeler liked and decided to keep! The interior, while not as wild as some of TVR’s more outrageous creations, still manages to cut a distinctive dash (no pun intended) and there is a good deal of luggage space with both a shelf behind the seats and a generous boot. The roof is a doddle to take down and put up: there is a targa section which can be unclipped and placed in the boot, and the rear section folds down very simply.
Under the bonnet, a range of variants on the venerable Rover V8 were offered, ranging from 3.5 litres to 5 litres with the general consensus being that the sweet spot is somewhere in the middle with the 4 litre or 4.5 variants. Power steering was a desirable option as manoeuvring without it is hard work, and the steering is slightly quicker at 2.2 turns lock to lock vs 2.5 for the unassisted rack.
The Chimaera 450 version was introduced towards the end of the model’s lifecycle and utilises the 4546cc engine intended for use in the P38A Range Rover, mated to the Borg Warner T5 gearbox. As such the 450 includes all of the development work that continued throughout the model’s history and the better rust-proofing that came with later cars.
This car was first supplied to Northwich TVR dealer Christopher Neil in July 2001 as a show/ demo car with a healthy set of optional extras: full leather trim, turned aluminium dash, Tuscan twin headlights, power steering, stoneguard protection and wax-oiled chassis and a battery isolator.
The current owner is very knowledgeable on the topic of Chimaeras, having had three 4 litre cars in period and acquiring this one more recently to add to his varied collection. With limited space, the impending arrival of two new additions to the fleet mean that some hard decisions have had to be made and he has reluctantly decided to let this one go in order to make room.
The service records show regular maintenance in its early years and attention commensurate with its more limited mileage in recent years. Although the supporting invoice has gone astray, the engine was apparently rebuilt by Autec Racing and is rated at 285bhp with 0-60 in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 160mph. The mileage of 52,707 is very low for its age and it has clearly been pampered all of its life.
All of the original handbooks, service records and factory alarm code cards are present, together with a selection of invoices from all through the history of the car.
The most recent MOT was issued on 10 August 2020 with only an advisory for wear on the inner edge of the nearside rear tyre.
The sheaf of paperwork also includes a copy of Classic Car Weekly from January of this year which highlights the high regard in which the 4.5 is held amongst TVR enthusiasts. Also included is a clear HPI check within the last couple of years.
Nestled against the high transmission tunnel, with the Momo steering wheel and turned aluminium dashboard ahead of you, the driver’s seat is a very special place to be. The dashboard and seats are trimmed in blue and black leather which complement the exterior well and show no marks aside from a small split in the gear lever gaiter. The stalks and handbrake lever sport aluminium items from the now closed accessories provider Leven, which add to the ambience.
The owner reports that all of the electrics function as they should and the original factory-fitted 6CD changer is present in the boot. TVR’s unique take on switchgear design is present and correct and the knurled aluminium knobs operate with a satisfying heft.
This example is beautifully presented in a fetching shade or dark blue. The paintwork is in excellent condition with no defects or chips and no signs of accident damage or repair. All of the wheels are unmarked and all of the tyres show good tread depth, with the exception of that noted on the MOT.
The targa roof shows a few marks from being stowed in the boot as a result of which the owner has commissioned a storage bag to protect it, which is included. The rear hood is in good condition and the rear plastic screen, while somewhat milky, has no splits or holes. The front windscreen appears to be the original fitment which is further supporting evidence that the car has not had any unscheduled visits into the scenery.
Overall it’s in great condition and a real head-turner.
The car starts on the button, hot or cold, and has one of the all-time great V8 soundtracks. The engine bay is clean and tidy, sporting a recent set of HT leads and the front brakes have Hi Spec Motorsport callipers. Performance is strong and it feels as good for the numbers now as it would have done when it was new. There are no untoward noises, just the fabulous exhaust note, which is utterly addictive. In short, it goes just like it looks.
The Chimaera 450 represents the pinnacle of the Peter Wheeler era of TVR and this is a beautiful example. The combination of a sonorous V8 engine, manual gearbox and attractive roadster body is now the preserve of classic cars but the Chimaera is sufficiently modern to make it very usable on today’s roads. It certainly has no trouble keeping up with the traffic(!) and its compact dimensions make it easy to drive in traffic.
Prices are on the rise and with many of the cars changing hands through private sales, they are a rare sight at auction. This is the ideal opportunity to acquire a top-notch Chimaera from an enthusiast owner while the prices are still attainable.
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