See and Hear the Spectacular TVR Griffith 400 Racing up a Mountain Pass

TVR Griffith 400 7 photos
Photo: Robbert Alblas/YouTube
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Established in 1946, TVR had a rather troubled history with several ownership changes. Come 2023, the company has failed to deliver the new-generation Griffith it promised in 2017. But while the brand's future is uncertain, TVR left a few spectacular vehicles behind. The original Griffith is one of them.
And I'm not talking about the first-generation Griffith that TVR launched in 1990 and offered through 2002. There's an even older Griffith out there. It was built in the 1960s in just a few units and it's one of the rarest TVRs ever made.

Why is it not considered the first generation of the Griffith nameplate? Well, that's because the 1960s Griffith is actually a modified Grantura put together in the United States. It was developed by Jack Griffith, who wanted a V8-powred TVR that could outperform the Shelby Cobra.

Following an unsuccessful attempt to drop a Ford V8 from a Cobra into a Grantura, Griffith requested TVR to supply him with modified chassis without engines and transmissions. The Grantura was equipped with 1.6- and 1.8-liter four-cylinder engines from the factory.

Griffith got the first chassis in 1965 and fitted them with small-block Ford V8 engines. The Series 200 was available with two 289-cubic-inch (4.7-liter) mills, both shared with the Mustang. The entry-level mill generated 195 horsepower, while the optional unit was the 271-horsepower HiPo K-code fitted in the Shelby GT350.

The latter was immensely powerful relative to the car's low curb weight and short wheelbase, which made the Griffith 200 very fast but difficult to handle. Only 192 cars were made before Jack Griffith replaced it with the Series 400.

Fitted with the 289 HiPo V8 as standard, the Griffith 400 also featured improved cooling and a redesigned then-state-of-the-art wishbone suspension. The Griffith 400 emerged with a power-to-weight ratio superior to the Shelby Cobra.

Unfortunately, the modified TVR failed to become a proper competitor for Carroll Shelby's sports car. A prolonged dock strike of the entire east coast disrupted the supply of bodies and chassis that Griffith was getting from the United Kingdom. The Griffith Motor Company was dissolved after only 59 Series 400 cars were built.

It's been more than 50 years since these spectacular sports cars rolled off the assembly line in Long Island, New York, and some of them are still around running and driving. And amazingly enough, a few of them are still being raced at classic car events. One of these cars was recently spotted at a hillclimb event through the Bernina Pass in Switzerland.

And not only does it look like it just left Jack Griffith's shop, but it also runs up the hill like it's nobody's business. If you're also a fan of these short-wheelbase monsters, hit the play button below and crank up the volume to hear it scream.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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