In 1954 Trevor Wilkinson changed the name of his factory from Trevor Motors to TVR. He had been producing for some years some chassis structure for customers: in 1955 he built the first backbone type chassis which is still used nowadays in all production TVRs.
This kind of chassis liked so much to American Raymond Saidel who raced an Allard J2X Le Mans. Saidel, a resident of the New Hampshire, contacted Sydney Allard to purchase a rolling chassis for an Oldsmobile engine he already had. By the October 6th, 1954 Raymond had his SCCA liscense to compete in Championship.
The Jomar MK1
By the middle of the season Saidel decided that he could build a better handling race car himself and set out to do so. He ordered 2 Dellow Mk V chassis and began to build alluminum bodies for them. These were designated Jomar MKI. The MK I Jomars were very solid but the handling was rather poor. Cable brakes, and solid front and rear axles could only corner so fast.
During the 1956 season the Jomars scored well but often they found themselves in the middle of the traffic. A new solution was needed. Raymond found an advertisment for a “Race Proven” chassis in “MOTOR” magazine coming from an English small company.
He sent a letter to Trevor Wilkinson’s TVR Engineering asking to supply unbodied cars with Coventry Climax engines for the American market: the TVR Jomar was born.
7C101: the first Jomar MK2 (and the first TVR Jomar)
Trevor Wilkinson built the first rolling chassis (backbone tubular chassis, fully independent front and rear suspension, known with chassis number 7C101 (15th of June 1956). It was fitted with an 1100 cc Coventry Climax 4 cylinders engine and coupled to a MG TC gearbox. Then it was taken to USA to be bodied with a sport spider body and ready for tests in August. After some races in August and September without any result, the car was ready in April 1957. Together with 7C102 it attended Limerock Inaugural Event when it finished 4th overall. But one month later, 7C101 was destroyed at VIR by Ray Heppenstahl.
In the meanwhile, from England 7C104 and 7C105 chassis arrived for new racing purposes.
7C103: The TVR Jomar MK3
Chassis 7C103 had a different destiny. During 1957 Raymond Saydel bought an english wheel to facilitate panel beating and get coachbuilding faster. Thanks to it lines where smoother so the new Jomar Mk III came to life. He used chassis of 7C103 which TVR had improved with new modifications to suspensions. Jomar’s technicians drilled all possible weight from the chassis. To promote the Jomars, Saidel sold in spring 1958 the car to Seaman Bearing Company, Phoenix, Arizona. After some races and various transfers of property the car vanishes.
By October 1957, the TVR-Jomar Coupé appeared. Chassis 7FS101 was the first car ever produced and it took more than one year, since it was ordered to TVR, to be completed and sent to USA. It was fitted with a Ford 4 cylinders engine, 1172 flat head and a Shorrock Supercharger. For this reason, the chassis designation was “FS” (=Ford Supercharged) and C= Climax. These cars were extremely basic as they weren’t fitted with radio or heater and/or cabin ventilation. Most of them where retrofitted by Jomar’s technician Lou Turner aiming to a better comfort. There was another problem: several customers were disappointed by the short roof line so Saidel asked for a wider one. He got it starting from chassis 7FS103.
Beggining of 1958 saw three new cars from TVR to USA to become Jomars: 7C106, 7C107, and 7FS102 (all of them were coupé). Next car, 7FS103, was displayed at New York Auto Show. The car was a great success, and many dealers were signed up with multiple orders. Unfortunately over the next 6 months, the notchbacks wouldn’t sell and TVR couldn’t build but 2 more fastbacks. Dealers canceled or reneged when presented with cars for poor fitment. TVR was having troubles growing, and within 1 year they would have the production capacity they needed but for Ray it would be to late.
Chassis 7FS105 arrived on September 12, 1958 finished in black with a black leather interior. It was the 1st left hand drive Jomar.
chassis 7FS105, first LHD TVR-Jomar Coupé. (image from Jomar-Cars)
Raymond Saidel’s own racing car
Having been sold on the idea of the supercharged Climax engines Raymond Saidel decided to build his own race car including the chassis. Using the front and rear suspension from a TVR frame the Jomar team built a ladder frame to enclose the supercharged Climax. The new Saidel Sports Racing Cars#1, (SSR1) was built. During the winter of 1958/1959 the Daytona car (7C-S113) was built as well as the SSR1. There wasn’t enough time to construct a 3rd body for the newest supercharged chassis (7C-S116) so the body was removed from chassis 7C104 and installed on 116. The 7C104 chassis was stripped of all components and stored in the basement of the Merrimack Street garage until it was resurrected, rebuilt and sold to Dr. Mark Brinker in 2006.
[good literature: read about the first real badged production TVR: the TVR Grantura]