The Chimaera was first produced in 1993, while the Griffith was taken out of production. It was designed by Peter Wheeler, John Ravenscroft and Peter's dog Ned, who rumour has it designed the front indicator recess.
The car was based on the Griffith 4.x running gear and chassis, and was fitted with a slightly softer suspension set up, with Bilstein dampers and a rear anti-roll bar. The car was provided with a 4.0ltr or 4.3ltr version of the Rover V8, as fitted to the Griffith, but with catalytic converters to meet 1993 regulations. The initial reviews of the car were very favourable.
What they said at the time:
Fast Lane 1993
"Overall, this is possibly the best handling front-engined/rear-driven sports car in the world."
Sports Car International 1994
"There's little on the market that can touch the Chimaera for its seemingly incongruous blend of high performance, road behavior, individuality and value."
"What you get are straight-forward, old-fashioned thrills. Buy wisely and you wont be disappointed."
Performance Car 1997
"The TVR sounds as glorious as a Rolls-Royce Merlin aero engine."
"The Chimaera sounds good and pulls enough wallop to satisfy all but the utterly power-crazed."
Making the best better
The first modification took place in 1994, when the Rover SD1 gearbox was replaced with a Borg-Warner T5 gearbox. This was followed by the introduction of the 5 litre engine as fitted to the Griffith 500.
1996 was the first major overhaul of the Chimaera. It was at about this time that the Chimaera and the Griffith started to share the same chassis and brakes, although the dampers remained different. The Griffith also received the Chimaera's rear anti-roll bar. These changes were all under the surface and went unnoticed by the majority of people, but the biggest changes were cosmetic!
The wire front grill was replaced by the split intake design from the Cerbera. The door locks were replaced with an under wing-mirror design, the rear bumper strip and boot lid were re-designed and the boot hinges replaced along with the rear light clusters. The interior also got a refresh with many of the switches being re-designed. However, throughout these changes the car was unmistakably still a Chimaera. These cars being TVR's, the '96 editions can have some or all of the modifications described installed, which can make buying spares a challenge!
2001 was the next time the exterior of the car was changed with the addition of faired in headlights.
In 1993 the Chimaera became TVR's biggest selling car and remained in that position untill 1998. There were about 6000 produced, and there are more Chimaeras on the road than the total TVR's produced over the preceding 25 years.