|Wedge Model Area Editor: Steve Davis
Welcome to the area of the clubs website dedicated to the Tasmin and Wedges, as they have become collectively known amongst the TVR cognoscenti.
Love them or loath them there is no getting away from the fact that, as some of the loudest and, some may say, most bizarre looking TVRs ever to turn a wheel, you certainly cannot fail to notice them!
The crisp, sharp, finely drawn lines of Oliver Winterbottoms design, (yes he of Lotus Elite/Excel fame!), may not be to your personal taste and even now, some 30 years after its launch the shape still divides opinions amongst the most stalwart of TVR fans and club members alike.
So if you’re a bit of a wall flower, and like to be “part of the crowd” a Wedge might be something best avoided as you will find yourself way, way too conspicuous! Whether its stationary on Sainsbury's car park or at full throttle at Donnington a Wedge shouts out “LOOK AT ME, I`m Loud and I'm Proud” and you will get noticed. And then as if the visual statement were just a tease to simply attract everyone's attention you have the Wedges trump card………… THE NOISE!
A word of warning at this point, if you are easily led, and think a sportscar should sound like a sport car then beware. Don’t get me wrong no TVR model has ever been a quiet motor, and many can justifiably claim to be loud, but no other standard production TVR model ever got close to the ground shaking thunder that a Big Bad Wedge can produce when pressing on, it will blur your vision and place a face aching grin across your face that will last a week, only a Rolls Royce Merlin will have the same effect on your aural senses! And, once sampled you will be hooked; you will not sleep until you have your own Wedge safely tucked up in the garage so that you can get your next fix. The sound is addictive.
Ask any Wedge owner for a run in one of their cars and you will be hooked. If you can put up with the niggles with the electric's and inevitable mechanical issues you will encounter on these (or any other cars this age) you will be rewarded with a silly grin from ear to ear every time you hurtle up the road.
Many TVRCC owners have had their particular Wedge for many years and can be a wealth of useful information regarding their particular model and are usually only too willing to talk Wedge`s all day. So if you are thinking of purchasing your first Wedge then why not pop along to your local Regional monthly meeting and speak to other owners about your worries or concerns, they won’t bite, and you may even get the chance of a run out in the model you’re looking at investing in, to see if a big bad wedge is really for you.
|It was 1977 and development of the Tasmin was underway at Bristol Avenue with design input from Lotus exiles Oliver Winterbottom, body stylist, and Ian Jones`s, chassis draughtsman, both of whom had been heavily involved with the Elite and Eclat Lotus models. Within a year the prototype was being tested and by the end of 1979 not one but three new models were ready for production. Officially launched at the NEC Motor Show in October 1980 TVR showed the Tasmin FHC Series1 alongside the four seat FHC Plus 2 and the convertible.
TVR Tasmin FHC
All three models were initially powered by the 2792cc fuel injected Ford V6 'Cologne' 160bhp power plant and a non-overdrive four speed manual gearbox, with the option of an automatic being offered as from October 1980.
The fixed head coupe featured and fully glazed sloping hatchback and a long, low nose and steeply raked windscreen. The Plus 2 differed by having a shorter nose revised side skirt mouldings and a different spoiler arrangement at the front and, of course two, admittedly small, rear seats. The drop head introduced the split softop arrangement whereby a solid centre section was removed completely leaving the driver with the choice of lowering the rear section for completely topless motoring or leaving this section erect thus creating a cosy open top targa.
The Tasmin was also responsible for two other, oft forgotten, motoring World firsts. Not only were they the first production cars to feature a fully bonded laminated windscreen but the rear hatch was fitted with a built in radio antenna! Finally TVR had its new range for the eighties but sadly this had come probably 5 years too late and at a tremendous financial cost.
By 1981 things were conspiring against Martin Lilley. Firstly there had been an ongoing battle over 25 3000S models having been impounded by US Customs over a documentation dispute and TVR not only lost the cars but never received the £287,500 that they represented. Secondly Tasmins could not be sold to the US as the “Cologne” V6 didn’t comply with new emission regulations. And, crucially, the Tasmin was slow to sell in Britain due, in part, to the fact that at £12,000.00 they cost some £3000.00 more than the outgoing Taimars!
So, after failing to attract private investment or state aid from the Government, Martin Lilley handed the business over to businessman, three time TVR buyer, shareholder and enthusiast Peter Wheeler. Realising that an “entry level” priced car was probably crucial Wheeler almost immediately introduced the Tasmin 200. By removing one or two refinements such as powered windows and radio cassette players and dropping in the Ford 1993cc four cylinder Pinto engine as used in the Capri and Cortina TVR could produce an entry level Tasmin some £2000.00 cheaper and the 200 remained in production through to 1984. But this was just the beginning!
There swiftly followed a short lived experiment with turbo charging the Tasmin, in an attempt to increase the performance of the V6 cars, which never really made it into production and only a few examples of the Tasmin Turbo were ever produced.
Apart from a facelift to the range which saw the Tasmin go from Series 1 to Series 2 and the dropping of the Tasmin badging in favour of the more self explanatory 280i decals little else changed at TVR. Then, in 1993, Peter Wheeler had a “Eureka” moment. By shoehorning a 190bhp Rover V8 into a Tasmin chassis they had created the 350i. TVR was back in the V8 business, the first time since the demise of the 1969 Tuscan. At the time CAR magazine called it “the greatest sports car since the Ferrari 275GTB/4” high praise indeed, and not empty praise either as this model would go on to be the best selling TVR of all time.
Never one to rest on his laurels Wheeler wanted more power from his Wedges so sought help from BTCC Champion and Rover V8 tuning wizard Andy Rouse who produced a “breathed on” 275bhp 3.9 litre version of the Rover V8 which formed the basis of the new 390SE which was introduced in the October of 1984. As it never received British Type Approval the 390SE is, technically speaking a 350i with special equipment fitted, hence the SE.
The styling of the car was also improved - or at any rate made more aggressive - with a deeper front air dam, and a rear under body aerofoil. Subsequent updating saw the body shell gain flared wheel arches and different sills. Ventilated front disc brakes and fifteen inch wheels were part of the package as well.
A Series 2 car appeared in 1988 with the most obvious difference being a rounder nose. Customers, with deep enough pockets, could also specify this model with an even more powerful 300bhp 4.2 litre V8 which was then designated 420SE but only about 7 of these were actually produced making them extremely rare indeed. Production of 390/420SE ran from 1984-89.
The next major Wedge development was in 1986 when the original “trailing arm” rear suspension was ditched in favour of a much better, and more robust, “A frame” arrangement, which improved both traction and road holding.
1986 also saw the launch of the 420SEAC (Special Equipment Aramid Composite) the World’s first Kevlar composite production sports car. Some 7 inches shorter, and 2 inches wider than a 390SE it featured a more rounded nose and often sports a huge “tea tray” rear spoiler to help get the 300bhp down to the tarmac. Final production of the SEAC`s saw the mighty 325bhp 4.5L V8 fitted which became the flagship 450SEAC and cost more than twice the price of the 390SE! After just three years SEAC production came to an end in 1989 with a total of 56 having been built, 37 420`s and .18 450`s it is believed.<
1988 saw production of the 280i range come to an end and the launch of the all new 400SE. This car was clothed in an entirely new shaped, more aggressively styled, body shell which incorporated both front and rear underbody air dams and was fitted the 275bhp V8. Internally the entire cockpit was re-styled and featured a more ‘wraparound’ dashboard. Many TVR fans feel that the 400 series cars were the best looking and the better built of all the Wedge cars.
The 450SE, introduced in 1989 sported a monstrous 325bhp 4441cc alloy V8. Production of the 450 cars came to an end in 1990 after just 35 or so had been built. And the very last, so it is believed, Wedges to leave the factory were three 430SE`s which were fitted with 4.3L Rover engines which were destined for the new Griffith model which was to finally replace the good old Tasmin, despite the development of a 3.9L powered prototype new style 2 + 2 Wedge, designated the Speed 8, being shown at the 1989 Motor show.
A few Wedges were still lying unregistered at dealers so you may find a few 400 and 450SE models that were registered into 1991 but officially production ceased at the end of 1990.
Buying Advice All TVRs have certain quirks and characteristics that you have to live with. When you meet and talk to other owners, you start to get familiar with the terms ‘They all do that’ or ‘Mine does that as well’.
With the above in mind, before charging ahead and buying a Wedge, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the marque, and try to get as much background information about the various cars as possible. A good idea is to obviously join the Car Club! - membership details can be found elsewhere on this site. Another good idea is to attend the various local TVR car club meetings that are held around the county, talk to other owners, try to get 'hands on' advice and ask lots of questions.
There are also several good books available that will point you in the right direction; the ‘Wedge Series’ book by Steve Heath contains a lot of useful information and can be purchased on this site. There are also some excellent websites out there on the good old world wide web, which also contain some very useful information. Try typing '350i', 'SEAC', 'Tasmin' or '280i' into a search engine and I guarantee a host of websites will come up.
You should also be aware that specs and equipment changed over the production of the Wedges quite considerably, over the years owners may have made various styling or mechanical modifications themselves. Some cars have may have PAS, wooden steering wheels, heated seats, air conditioning, roll-over bars, electric mirrors etc. It is also not uncommon to have completely different alloys, full leather interior options, upgraded engines or different spoilers. Each car is different and must be taken on it’s own merits.
Once you have decided the model you are interested in, the next thing is to find one. You will find these cars for sale all over the Internet (as well as on this site – see the Classified pages), you will also find a selection in the club ‘Sprint’ magazine or in motoring classified magazines such as ‘Top Marques’. General car dealers tend to shy away from these cars in the same way that they tend to avoid manufacturers like LOTUS; it is not that they don't like them, but simply they don't understand them. Another reason being that these cars are low volume, bespoke, hand made sportscars and as such they don't tend to feature in the price 'bibles' that car traders tend to use as reference, and are therefore considered 'quantity X'.
These days you will also be hard pushed to find any of the Wedge series cars in any of the main franchised TVR dealer's forecourts. There are however a handful of specialist independent dealers that may have a number. Dealers offer the benefit of warranties, finance deals and trade-ins for your old car, although the price will obviously be higher than if you were buying private. A shrewd move is to wait until winter to start looking, there are always more cars for sale at this time and the prices do tend to be a little lower.
Another good rule to follow is the later the car you intend to purchase (or can afford) the better it should be (theoretically). Early production changes and ‘fettling’ at the factory would have been sorted, and the production run would have settled down. Try looking at a 350i and a 400SE next to each other, the evolution of the model can be clearly seen.
A HPI check can also be a useful investment, costing around £40, the check could bring to light any sinister information about the car, not to mention if it has any finance left on it.
Low mileage cars might not be too good a thing either, these cars are meant to be used. Cars that are left for long periods can suffer from all sorts of problems, which could prove expensive to put right at a later date.
Try to test drive as many cars as you can before making a decision - don’t buy the first car you see. The danger is that as soon as the acceleration and noise hits you, the 'rose tinted glasses' go on, try to think rationally (well, it is a sportscar!) and try to evaluate the car in the cold light of day compared to the others that you have seen.
Things to particularly look out for are listed below:-
The underside of the car should be inspected thoroughly (preferably on a garage ramp). The chassis comprises of a steel tubular pipework that has been protected with a powder coating. Over the years stones etc puncture the protective surface, water gets in and starts to lift the protective coating and before you know it the chassis has started to rot.
There are many places on the chassis that get a bashing off stones, mud, water and other road debris, especially behind the front wheels and outriggers etc. Surface rust can be cleaned off, painted with ‘hammerite’ and then ‘waxoyled’. Check this out as a priority.
Bodywork / Trim
The various bodypanels, doors, light pods, bumpers, spoilers etc are now getting scarce, especially as the factory now no longer stocks such items. Although there are a few specialist fibreglass repair companies offering a full repair service full panel replacements will be difficult to source.
Interior trim can also be expensive to have repaired or replaced. The wood vaneer and leather seats and upholstery are a prime example of such items. If you can, when looking to purchase a car, try to get one with the trim in relatively good condition. The interiors on these cars can deteriorate quickly if not looked after.
The hood and door/window seals can be replaced but again, bank on an outlay of quite a few hundred pounds unless you are talented or brave enough to do the work yourself.
These cars are essentially plastic with earth connections here there and everywhere. Issues with electrical items not working can be down to simply a wire off or a corroded fuse terminal to a failed or seized component. Some of the motors for instance such as the light pod lift, window lift, wing mirror positioning, heater fan and windscreen wiper motors can be very expensive to replace and difficult to source. Check these all work prior to negotiating a potential purchase.
Check the usual fluids and cooling system for signs of leakage, blue smoke from the exhaust etc, also check things like the brakes for signs of fading or the clutch for slipping when pulling away. The brakes have never been a strong point of the Wedge series cars so bear this in mind when stamping on them on a test drive. Also listen out for noises and 'clonks' from the transmission and suspension. This could be a sign of worm UJ's, failing steering racks or worn suspension bushes and springs etc.
Another issue is checking out the handy work of previous owners. Buying a 350i with a 4L engine is a good example that should raise suspicion. Has the work been carried out correctly? Does the seller have all of the relevant documentation?, does the upgrade work come with a warranty??. Thoroughly check the V5 documentation this has lead to a number of disputes in the past as to the authenticity of the car's credentials. For instance just because it has 450SE stickers on the outside may not necessarily mean that it is actually a 450SE.
The engines on the 200, 280i and 350i are pretty much standard Ford and Rover units. The larger capacity engines although tuned to give more power have also been heavily modified by 'TVR Power' to enhance the output. Parts for the engines themselves are relatively common although be aware that not all components are standard Rover or Ford items TVR has been known to modify certain components.
After all this, should you decide to purchase a Wedge car I can tell you from experience that riding around on an absolute tidal wave of V8 noise with the roof down simply does not get any better. Go for it, stand out from the crowd and get yourself a TVR Wedge.
|More technical info to follow. However here is an article submitted by Leswillisatpen@AOL.com.
Refurbishing the steering of our ‘Wedge’ to ‘as good as new’
The steering on C37DWW –2.8i after 125K miles was showing signs of wear, causing an annoying vibration at the steering wheel.
All the usual things have been attended to -
1. Replacing a worn ball joint. Significant improvement
2. Reversing and tightening the upper Universal joint. Some improvement
3. Attention to the shims in the steering rack. A little improvement.
4.There was no discernable play on the wheel bearings,
5. Balancing the wheels, no improvement
At this stage I sought advice from my friendly maintenance manager at H.H.C as to other reasons for the vibration at the steering wheel.
He suggested that wear on a ‘steering bush’ located where the rod passes through the bulkhead might be the cause. However, I could not trace a replacement for the item – H.H.C. knew of the bush, but could not supply. Blackpool, also recognised the item, but again could not supply. (This was before they packed all the bits in crates!)
I decided to have a replacement bush fabricated as shown in diagrams 1,1a and 2., and this is a tentative report as to the result. The work was done in a local light engineering factory, using a black hard plastic, and a cir-clip as a retainer.
The steering now feels much smoother and firmer, I am pleased with the result
As far as I can remember, this is what it felt like when we bought the car in June 1986. We hope to confirm the cure when we cover a few hundred miles at a sitting – probably in the Spring driving down to Provence.
RE-FURBISHED BUSH .
Views A. and B. show front and rear views of the replacement fabricated bush in its mount.
View A1 is an enlarged view showing the circlip holding the new bush in
A view of the 18 year old Grommet removed from its mounting.
I understand that the steering column was based on the TR7 column, and that the rack is Cortina Mk.2.
Upper U.J. – 62mm long and reversible – the steering rod is 15mm diam.
A useful suggestion for prolonging the useful life of the U.J. is -
A) to reverse its position end for end, and
B) to drill out the pinch bolt hole slightly, and use a bigger bolt. Enabling the use of a bigger spanner, so getting the pinch bolt tighter.