One of the most charismatic and interesting automobile companies in history is TVR. The British automaker was famous for some, unusual design choices and some bonkers sports cars. Such as this TVR Cerbera Speed 12, that recently went under the hammer at Silverstone Auctions. The only example ever built, the Speed 12 is best described as the ‘world’s most dangerous car’. And its near 900 hp and weight below 2,500 lbs was somewhat unhinged back in the year 2000.
What may look like a race car is actually an incredible, one-off road car. With a V12 engine under the hood, manual transmission and large aerodynamic components. The car was also immortalized in the Gran Turismo video game, cementing its legend as one of the most ridiculous supercars ever created.
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The car originally conceived as “Project 7/12” in the 1990s, the aim to create a TVR that could rival the McLaren F1 GTR yet also produce a GT road-racer. The car made its debut at the 1996 Birmingham Motor show, and caused quite the stir among the crowd. The Speed 12 was set to race in the GT1 class and take on the Le Mans 24 Hours. But a sudden rule change and withdrawal of GT1 in other championships meant the Speed 12 was obsolete after a few outings in the FIA GT Championship.
TVR then attempted to develop a new car in late 1999 to race in the GT2 class. The car would have an 800 hp engine, cost nearly $300,000 and there would be a production version of the car too. However, the development of the now Cerbera Speed 12 was cut short after TVR boss at the time Peter Wheeler took a prototype home and declared it way too powerful for the road. Production was quickly canceled, any deposits returned, and the prototypes were all broken up for spares. All except one. That car would emerge in 2005. Having been under development since 2003 as TVR decided to create a true, best-of-breed Cerbera Speed 12 and use all their knowledge from the project.
What came was a monster V12 powered car, with the engine the last of its type developed for racing by TVR. The best components from its now closed race program were in its build, while boss Wheeler stressed that the car must be road legal. Carbon-fiber and Kevlar bodywork used throughout, the Speed 12 even retaining the air-jacks it would have used during a pitstop. The car has passed through a several owners over the years.
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Under the hood is a race-bred, 7.7-liter V12 engine that produces 840 hp. The original engine had 960 hp. TVR had measured the bank of each cylinder separately after it snapped on input shaft on their 1,000 hp rated dynamometer. This resulted in a figure of 480 hp on each side. The engine was in effect two Cerbera Speed 6 straight-sixes spliced together, hence where the car got its name. The owner who bought the car from TVR would optimize the engine further with a remapping and replacement of components. With this, he managed to get another 10 hp out of it with the engine producing over 900 lb-ft of torque.
Remarkably, the car has a six-speed manual transmission, making this TVR a true gearheads dream if they can handle all of that power. They will also be handling an incredibly light car, with the TVR weighing just 2,400 lbs. A far cry from some of the 4,000 lbs + monsters we see on the road today. As the only example ever built, spare parts might be a little bit tricky. Unless you know Peter Wheeler’s personal race engineer who is said to be able to help.
It was the skills of Hosfield and other TVR engineers who optimized the car further. The Speed 12 was then recommissioned back in 2014, after it made an appearance at that years Goodwood Festival of Speed. A testament to how well the car has been preserved, the car won best in class at the ‘Style et Luxe’ Concours d’Elegance at Goodwood. With the car since maintained in impeccable race-ready and road-ready health. All while retaining those race car looks.
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When conceived for racing, the Speed 12 was all set to go up against the fearsome Mercedes CLK GTR which we recently rendered, Porsche GT1 and McLaren F1 Longtail. Three of the best GT racers of the 1990s and 2000s. So it is little wonder that a whole host of aerodynamic components such as the huge rear wing, the front splitter, the side skirts and the ludicrous diffuser. Even the windows are racecar ready, fixed in place with just a small opening to allow cool air into the cockpit.
This is a cockpit that while it may feature two seats, indicators and a somewhat standard TVR steering wheel and dashboard, also has a roll-cage. And bucket seats. Plus, an amusing little feature on the dashboard will reveal your laptime. Below that, is a message saying “Come On! FASTER!”. As if the Speed 12 wasn’t terrifying enough without the actual car telling you to go around the track faster than before. While the car is truly crazy, it is difficult to not be very impressed by everything about it and admire the lunacy in its creation.
The irony in its terrifying nature is that Peter Wheeler made some interesting design decisions over the years. He was a man that believed airbags were simply more trouble than they were worth. And he also felt that ABS just a crutch for poorly set up cars. The Sagaris was one TVR that lacked both of those features. Wheeler also believing they promoted overconfidence, while also risking the drivers' life in the even of a rollover. Which explains why TVRs were able to resist rollovers. Even the Sagaris had its terrifying moments, if any moisture came down you would certainly notice it. But like the Speed 12, the Sagaris is said to be fantastic to get behind the wheel of.
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Out of everything extreme that they did though, the Cebera Speed 12 is at the top of the list. A V12 racecar with a manual transmission, full roll cage, giant aerodynamic components that you can legally drive on the road. All of this sounds terrifying. The fact it terrified Wheeler when he didn’t think airbags were worth it says everything about this remarkable car. Wheeler himself personally vetted the first person to own the car. At its most recent sale, the TVR sold for £601,500 which roughly converts to $744,000. A sales figure double what people thought it would sell for. A figure testament to a car that, while terrifying, is nothing short of an engineering triumph.
Source: Silverstone Auctions2023-05-26T20:35:34Z dg43tfdfdgfd