Most of the Soviet children learned about a diversity of automotive culture through the “Turbo” chewing gum inserts, flooded the post-Soviet Union space after the collapse of the USSR. Of course, there were always few of the lucky ones who held Western magazines and catalogs in their hands, but then again, how many of these lucky ones were out there??!
The great majority of boys, who grew up to be the car enthusiasts and the petrol-heads later in life, got their first glance at exotic brands and models thanks to the Turkish manufacturer of gum!
The car you see in these photos is the TVR Tasmin, which because of “Turbo”, was imbedded deep into the soul of our compatriot, who is now living in New York.
Artem was born in the sunny city of Tashkent in one of the former republics of USSR. When the Soviet Union gave it’s way, and bacchanalia began, varying degrees of madness everywhere in the nation states, his parents applied for a refugee program in the US, meanwhile relocating to Moscow. In 1996, the family received an invitation for an interview at the Consulate and eventually ended up in New York. Despite the difficult life of the young emigrant, Artem has not forgotten the bright impressions of the TVR cars, although he had never seen them in person. Then, one day, passing by a car repair shop, Artem saw a white Roadster TVR Tasmin! After speaking to a shop owner, he learned that this car was put up for sale because it’s previous owner had overheated the engine, but after the repairs were done he was not able to pay for service. Even though it was no longer Tasmin, but Frankenstein with an engine from Toyota Celica, equipped with a doubtful turbo, Artem realized that this was indeed the car he needed!
While he was getting his money together ($ 3,000), the car was sold. However, faded and somewhat forgotten dream once again reformed itself in to a distinct shape, and was transformed into a real goal! Artem began to search. He learned that up until 1987 TVRs were officially imported and sold in the United States. In fact: Tasmin was the last imported model to US by the TVR before the brand “died” in States. Major reasons behind the departure of TVR from the American market were it’s high cost and consequently low demand for the cars. Also there were known problems with warranty obligations and conflicts with dealers. As we all know TVR was not only making crazy cars, they were also running crazy business practices!
Next find was a red Roadster with completely rebuilt engine and a transmission. However, body and interior of that example required a full overhaul. The Tasmin design is a steel frame with fiberglass body panels, which are difficult and expensive to restore. But otherwise the car is simple and “honest”: suspension and steering sourced from Ford Cortina, rear differential is from Jaguar XJ-S, Ford Cologne 2.8-litre engine was paired to Bosch fuel injection delivering 160 hp (there was another 2.0-litre version extracted from the Ford Pinto, with a thought in mind to make the Tasmin cheaper, but with an output of about 100hp it was frivolous to expect success). Unlike in States, in Europe there were much more powerful versions available to public. In general, the car was a “precast hodgepodge” of parts sourced from many different European cars, whether it was headlight lifting mechanisms, door handles or interior elements. By the way, the body style of Tasmin, which became the first Wedge-style TVR car, was created by designer Oliver Winterbott, who had previously worked on Lotus Elite!
After learning that one of the weakest points on a TVR is a steel frame that is notorious to rust, Artem expanded his search to southern regions, where there are no snowy winters and, therefore cars get no exposure to salt and other corrosive elements on the road. Three years later, a suitable car was finally found! – 1986 280i ( Series II). Even though Tasmins were produced from 1980 to 1987, the name Tasmin was dropped in 1984 and substituted by engine displacement number (ex. 280i for 2.8-litter engine).
Car was found in a small town in California where it was owned by an old man who had variety all kinds of cars. However, since the TVR has no power steering and it was kind of hard to drive for the guy who is now pushing 80s, the Roadster was left behind and haven’t seen the road for the past 15 years. Tasmin was parked under the sun, so its paint on the upper portion of the body faded, and the state of the interior was leaving much to be desired. Fearing that the car would completely loose its former glory, the old man re-did the interior, wrapped the the upper body in yellow vinyl and put it up for sale. And that is how Artem became the owner of a car he had long dreamed of! Interesting thing was, that when this car went on sale, many American periodicals were writing about it – the car was interesting to everyone.
The 160-hp Ford Colodge V6 and manual transmission are original, and it really adds value to the car. One of the options for this model was an automatic transmission , making the Tasmin to be the first TVR with an “automatic.”
Among other unique features of Tasmin, it is also noted that it was the first production car in the world, which had both – a glued-in windshield and an antenna built into the rear window heating threads(on coupe models)!
We don’t know whether it is true or not, but the car was not “about innovation” – it was a built as a tough, raw mechanism for those who love and know how to stay with a car one-on-one. Basically, like the most of the TVRs. The car is fairly rare (less than 1,200 copies were produced) – TVR company was constantly in a fever, with bankruptcies that happened more than once, and our compatriot Nikolay Smolensky was also noted among the owners… The company does still exists today, and even displayed the new Griffith model few years ago. However, the official debut of the new car release is being constantly postponed! Everything is as always: there is a passion and a bright car, but there is no solid economy as a foundation…
Since the car is almost unknown to the Americans, Artem constantly faces interest from passers-by when “walking” his Tasmin in New York.
Of course, it ‘s not a car for daily driving more like a get away, or an escape car. A car that delivers a holiday-like emotions and boosts your testosterone.