REVIEW:// Dan Rogers fine TVR 350i

My connection with TVR is a bit odd. Looking at them as a schoolboy in the 70s the M-cars were appealing. Those long, sleek roadsters with their simple engine's and awesome performance were a fairly common sight and sound in our Dutch regions. On one sunny day a 3000M, Reliant Scimitar and a Marcos could well be the possible wheels to add the golden frame around my day.

Every other month in the early and mid 80s my dad and I went to Zandvoort. On the twisties towards the track dads Mk2 Escort was had for breakfast by TR6's and Tasmins blasting by. Unfortunately soon after that TVR's V6 rumble became a distant memory. 

Yup, Britains finest - well, at least to me - was no longer within my range of interest. The study, the alto sax, the work and if all that wasn't enough: girls. I became a regular workaholic: the graphic design jobbie in daytime (your first-in-last-out collegue), a quick meal at the students restaurant (a cheap eat 'n pay within 30 mins) and off to rehearsals, band-practise or any bar with a challenging jam session right into midnight. After a few stuffed years I fortunately met my Monica who kept me slightly below redtag-mode.

OK, every now and then a thundering Chim or dropdead gorgeous Griff shifted my attention from Jackie McLean and Dexter Gordon to fierce sounding 8-pot sportscars. But not for long . . . With the '26 Buescher in the flightcase to go, me and my old bicycle often went either too slow to follow or we were heading in the other direction. Which is pretty damn obvious in a city like Amsterdam. Often me and my brass fellow were off to a joint where cars had no place at all. My fellow jazznutters still don't understand WTF I have with those noisy wheels.

TVR 350i side logo

A new hobby : cars!
So what to do when the most beautiful daughter starts to breathe for attention? With this in mind I'd already given up my first alto-seat of The Netherlands best amateur big band. Along with that, moving from Amsterdam to Leusden didn't help with continuing my musical ambitions. Back from a full hours practise a day to a 30 mins a week it was realistic to assume my stamina and saxual athletics would diminish within months. No problemas senor for I had discovered Pistonheads.com. Thank you Petrol Ted.
Err, wasn't that THE TVR gathering place on the internet back in the days? 

TVR 350/P9101928 [small]OK, I discovered that my often sketched teenage dreamcar was called Cerbera now. The only thing missing was the convertible option. The racebred 4.2 and 4.5 AJP8 succeeded the obsolete Rover V8 which had served TVR so very well since the early 80s and deep into the 90s.

The original 3.5 litre Land Rover engine replaced the 160 hp Cologne 2.8 Ford V6 used in the early fourspeed 80s Tasmin wedge cars. With a solid 197 brake on tap the new lightweight 350i did not only made a firm step up in the soundbyte-category, it also had sufficient performance to eat almost anything three times the money. 
Wedges used the blue printed RV8 in various forms and all the way up to over 4.4 litres and 300 hp. They were truly the supercar-eaters of their time. With styling already out of date by birth TVR owner Peter Wheeler returned to the classic TVR-stylee introducing the V6 S1 in 1986. The last wedges were more or less specialist cars, racing cars for the road really having kevlar bits and hipo engines. The last wedge (who has it?) thundered out of Blackpool Av. premises in 1991. The RV8 was last used in the Chimaera until 2001.

A bit of history 
I dunno exactly how I met Dan Rogers - with a clubhouse like PH you never know - but I thought it had something to do with him wanting a job over here in my country. Anyways, his 350i-story is very interesting. In short then, before I tell you about my miles in his car: in the 90s Dan was living not far away from a TVR-dealer and the sight and sound made him want one of those loud beasties. With little cash in pocket he decided to just call Blackpool if they had a restoration project for him to pick up. Those were the days because early May '97 the phone rang with the invitation to come over and have a look at the green and silver Widget.

TVR 350/P9101914 [small]At the spot it was looking rather messy from the outside but with a little help from the TVRisti around the car even started. The chassis was almost perfect and Dan quickly made up his mind. 
Ben Samuelson told the interesting history about this one being one of the press/development/staff cars that racked up over 130,000 miles during its time at TVR. All that because the original buyer didn't want it at second thought. Just look at those 350SE wheels: only 20 cars were ever fitted with a set of these! What was he thinking!

A king's car 
It was Dan's lucky day indeed for the 350i's current engine had just been rebuilt before the car was parked up in the TVR factory yard, obviously waiting for a passionate guy to come and rescue it. The car was piggy back rided home and the next few weeks Dan and Co worked and washed and polished and found themselves a car in actually a not too bad condition. After the MOT was granted the car spent the next years being used most weekends, clocking up a further 30K miles to various car shows and national TVR events. Even better, to wipe away TVR's infamous non-reliability aura this silver-green one became Dan's daily driver clocking up over 700 miles a week at a Prius-envying 30mpg. Well . . .

TVR 350/P9101935 [large]

An earlier date to meet Dan and his car sadly failed but in September 2006 we shook hands. Now it was only a few weeks before I had a nice evening in the new 380 hp Sagaris. I strongly felt the urge to compare a few things old to new because the orange one was my first ever ride in a T. First of all this wedgie is a proper convertible with the roof perfectly stored in the more than ample boot. Secondly the position behind the wheel is absolutely spot on. And last before I start moaning about the Sag's minuses this '86er has all the nice soundtrack you'll ever need to embarress any Porker that isn't an RS.

And proper quick it goes too. So I met Dan at the 2006 edition of the wonderful Klassiekerrally Winterswijk. I invited him amongst other PHers who occasionally were around. And guess what: they all were surprised at such a glorious event. But that's another story. In advance we'd already made the appointment to take the 350i out when the classics were off rallying. I can tell you this - and probably any other - a 350i won't disappoint in any way.

Now of course you have to love the odd 80s looks. Many don't and in reward of that you can get yourself a wedge for peanuts money these days. Check the classifieds and treat yourself! I know I would if I had some pocketchange and a missus that would aprove my bit of midlife crisis. The car is compact and very well balanced. Inside there's room for tall guys like myself. I felt like a king both next and behind the wheel. The grey leather isn't my cuppa but all that is soon forgotten when the ignition key is turned. The 3.5 rumbles into life and even at low revs the urge to get you somewhere is distinctively present. To get you somewhere quick that is.

On the road
After a brief warm up,we cruised along in the direction of a German bordervillage. In a completely comfortable way the car doesn't feel rough or hard or racy at all. Accompanied by the trusted V8-sound we strolled along the rural roads and through the woods. But hey, after a while Dan shifted back and floored it. "Broooaaaammm, broooooooaaaammm, broaam pop bang!" Trees were flashing by and the magazine figure 0-60 in 6.5 secs are best believed. This is a fast one! Dan switched gear ultraquick and smooth because he's so one with his car. It did put a huge smile on our faces to thunder through the peaceful landscape in such a boyish manner. 

In Germany we found ourselves a pretty spot to take some pics: an empty parking space near a church. A good chance to have a closer look at details. Because inspite of all the fuss about this kind being believed to be the ugliest of TVR's I must say the proportions are pretty much spot on. As is the roadpresence and matching V8 rumble. Looking at the square back the brutal sports exhaust pointing Dirty Harry-ish at ya is an omission. All the evil is coming through these tiny twin pipes looking like they are from the same Granada most of the underpinnings come from. An understated detail, I like that on a vicious car.

The plastic bumper- and spoiler bits have the same decent touch. They are there but never in an exuberant way. Max Power has been kept at a distance and even the rims have that elegant and understated way that makes this 350i want to say: "Hey, I'm here and I'm damn fast but I'm not a show off."

Sixties and seventies TVR's were always composed of Ford, Citroen or other brand's bits and pieces and this one is no exception. What TVR was good at was making it look like a decent car without you thinking kit or LEGO. A wedge on a pic may not appeal because it looks as such but believe me it's worth a second look - and hear - in the flesh . . . err, handlaid composite. A wedge is stylish even. I mean, take a look at the interior. OK, it's no match for a Chim, Griff or Cerb but it's a class above the basic racy hard-edge kitcar. And yes, it lacks the class and British air 3000M's have but then this one has the proper 'sit' that made me want to go a lot further than the hours outing we had. I already mentioned a seat in this beastie was way more comfy compared to the 2006 Sagaris. Timewarp!

Dan's ride was chosen for TVR's 60 Anni feature in the 2006/1 C&SC mag. 

Well what's left to say is thank you Dan for coming over to the KR'06 and take care of that lovely ride of yours. I love it. See you soon my friend.

Cheers, Dink