Title: Mean Flying Machine
Howard Walker travels to the TVR works to drive the impressive 155mph 450 SEAC.
You could launch a Harrier Jump jet from the rear spoiler. To say this aerodynamic appendage is big, ranks as one of lifeís great understatements. It wouldnít look out of place on the back end of an F1 McLaren. It resides however on the 450 SEAC - TVRís most potent offering - the road going version of the companyís track racer.
SEAC stands for
Special Equipment Aramid Composite and describes the carís space-age body
construction. This involves bonding Kevlar and carbon fibre - both of
which are stronger than steel - into the body shell to increase strength
and reduce weight.
To Increase the power,
the engine is completely stripped sown, the cylinders re-bored and a new
crank-shaft and pistons fitted. Work is also carried out on the cylinder
heads, the manifolds and valves to allow it to breath easier and for
greater amounts of fuel to be pumped in. In standard form, the injected
Range Rover engine turns out a healthy 192 bhp; in the SEAC, this figure
is bumped up to a staggering 320 bhp. By comparison, a Porsche 911 Turbo
will produce just 300 bhp.
Floor the throttle and
this road rocket will hit 60mph from rest in around 4.8 seconds, touch
100mph in a shade over 12 seconds and blast its way to a top speed of over
155mph. Stirring stuff indeed.
We went to the TVR headquarters in Blackpool to try to tame this latest version of the SEAC. You sit low down in the carís cockpit, cossetted in a sea of soft creamy coloured hide. In front of you is a facia packed with more burr walnut that the antiques pages of Country Life. Imagine a Rolls-Royce two seater and you will get a picture of the TVRís cabin.
Most drivers will find
the seats comfortable and supportive, the steering wheel thick and macho.
But the gear lever is set just a little too far back for comfort and
thereís no space in the footwell for you to rest your left foot - apart
from on the clutch pedal.
The sensation of speed
is just phenomenal. As the V8 unleashes its power. Your whole body is
compressed hard into the seat. And the noise is just mind blowing; not
even a Le Mans Jaguar sounds so aggressive, so purposeful. You do need a
firm hand to tame the Blackpool beast. The gear change is hardly in the
Toyota Corolla class; the Range Rover box having a slightly slow ponderous
Driven quickly, the
SEAC feels safe, predictable and well-balanced. Thereís certainly no
shortage of grip; with 255/50 section tyres at each corner, the car takes
bends as if on rails.
The only problem with hard driving on country roads is the carís width. Although itís only 68in wide - itís about the same width as a Toyota Supra - the TVR does feel a wide car. The ride - while firm - is far form uncomfortable, though a deep pothole will send a shudder through the body.
During our day on the road we didnít see another SEAC and the chances of seeing one are slim. What the asking price of £33,950 actually buys is exclusivity. So far only fifteen 450ís have been built and with production running at only one car every three weeks, itís likely to remain exclusive.
A Porsche 911 might give you quality and reliability but a 450 SEAC will make you stand out in a crowd.
This article is reproduced with the kind permission of AUTOEXPRESS magazine Aug 2001.