Tom’s Turbo Charged TVR

Ah Super Trev, a familiar face at Re:Fuel since we kicked things off back in August 2019. When I first heard him rumbling away, I wondered why a superposed ‘naturally aspirated’ TVR was whooshing like an Evo on heat? I soon came to realise the reason the car was making that noise was because it had a turbo the size of one of Saturn’s moons bolted on the side of it. I’ll leave the rest to the owner Tom to explain; because I still can’t get my head around it!

Trev is a MK1 TVR chimaera 400. A few years ago I was after a V8 powered, rear wheel drive, manual convertible, lightweight sports car to take on track and auto solo’s etc, turns out there’s not too many cars that tick those boxes, so it was an easy choice to make when I was finally in the position to purchase one. After hunting around, I was offered Trev for an absolute steal as he had not seen the road in 4 or 5 years and was laid up in a shed in Kent with a few mechanical issues. Not being shy of a spanner or welder, I took a punt and am glad to say it was the best choice I have made with a car to date.  

Day 1

When I bought Trev, I never really intended to modify him much further, just brakes and suspension as he was a low mileage good example of a car. However, we all know that’s rarely the case. So fast forward to a track day at Pembrey last June. It was the hottest June in years and this unfortunately took its toll on Trev, as I ended up roasting the head gasket, possibly dropping a liner, and essentially giving myself a free pass to do some engine mods. 

I put Trev in a corner for a few weeks, whilst deciding what I wanted to do, and stumbled upon a 4.5L TVR 450 engine for sale with a turbo kit and ECU from a crashed car. I snapped it up, had it delivered to a friend’s unit, dropped Trev round there on a Friday lunchtime and we set about tearing him apart. By Sunday evening we had him running like a champ and I drove him home with his new heart. I then took the car to an engine tuner in Plymouth for a map check; where it made an eyeball wrenching 520hp.

A couple of weeks later the eBay special turbo died, so I grabbed a new Garrett GTX3582R from Owen developments, threw that in, had the engine tuner remap the car and it made 545hp with 600lbft at 14.7psi – which is hilariously obscene in a lightweight RWD car. This is when he became Super Trev. Due to his power delivery, I’ve put switchable boost settings on the dash, giving roughly 400hp, 475hp and 545hp at the flick of a switch. This means I can still drive him in the wet on low boost, and the majority of the time it’s set on medium boost. High boost is more for “drag strips”, etc – as it spins the wheels at pretty much any speed when boost builds. 

At this point I realised what I had created

My favourite thing about Super Trev is its presence when you drive it, at any speed. It really does feel special to drive around, turns heads and gets a lot of conversations started when I park him up. The brutal power at any gear and speed is also pretty awesome!

If anyone is after a TVR, and wanted to build something similar to Super Trev, I would probably offer the same advise as any specialist car; buy the best one you can afford and don’t worry too much about the mileage etc, worry more about its maintenance and service history. But most importantly, if you are not prepared to learn to spanner on them yourself, be prepared to spend a fortune in garages.

I’ve taken Super Trev to a couple of tracks around the UK, and I’m planning to do some trips to the Welsh valleys, Scotland and the Alps in the next couple of years (assuming we’re allowed out by then). Another factor will be whether I can afford the ridiculous amounts of fuel it drinks – for reference on my last trip to Re:Fuel, I used an entire 57L tank over the 70 mile drive… 

Anyway that was Supertrev, thanks for reading and I’ll hopefully see some of you all at a Re:Fuel meet in the future 😊


Car Facts

Make: TVR

Model: Chimaera

Year: 1995

Engine: 4.5L Rover V8

BHP: 545hp, 600lb.ft

Top Speed: 160mph max. But 135mph + feels like your’e about to die haha

0-62mph Time: untested

Weight: 1000kg

Additional Mods: Garrett GTX3582R, custom intake and intercooler set up, Megasquirt 2 ecu, switchable boost settings on dash (5psi, 9psi, 14.7psi), SS metal worx full custom stainless exhaust, Bola B7 wheels with AD08r tyres, Quaife diff, Mocal oil cooler, Gaz coilovers, Brembo 325mm front brakes, home made bonnet hinges and an upgraded sound system.