1985 TVR Tasmin 280i

Although I typically try to steer clear of the "little British roadster" so cliched and overexposed in the classic auto world, this TVR is shunned enough by purists that it's right at home on COTC.

British cars had a hard time in the late 70s and early 80s, especially in markets outside the UK. They shed the legendary sexy curves of the 50s and 60s in favor of hard angles that the Germans and Japanese were so good at. But unlike German and Japanese engineering, British cars weren't known for ergonomics or efficiency. They also rusted faster than the speed of light.

The Tasmin showed up in 1980 looking like Giugario took the weekend off and gave styling duties to his son or brother. You'd think it would be hard to screw up the wedge, but here TVR go and do it, making it awkward, derivative and cheap, especially with those parts-bin taillights last seen on the 70s Lotus lineup. This one takes things further with chintzy gold paint and even golder BBS knock-off wheels.

Inside is that stack-of-boxes dashboard, infuriatingly made worse with a wood steering wheel and shift knob (never understood why those appear on supposedly sporty cars - aren't they slipper and make you lose grip?).

Fortunately, some relief comes from under the hood, a 2.8-liter Ford Cologne V6 good for about 160 horsepower to the rear wheels.

This one has obviously been lucky enough to have an adoring owner, who imported it themselves from the UK to the US in 2011. They state it has no catalytic converter or engine-strangling emissions equipment, keeping power intact. The seller says it's in better than daily driver condition. It's not everybody's cup of English tea, but it seems like a well kept example of a quirky chapter in TVR history, sandwiched inbetween their sumptuous 60s and 90s-00s cars.

By the way, as I'mm writing this I'm listening to this sweet song called "Maybe Tonight" by Lovelock which totally seems like it would be playing from this thing's stereo system.

Available here on ebay.

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