TVR Cerbera 5000: the (2nd) most powerful factory-built ever

TVR Cerbera 5000: the (2nd) most powerful factory-built ever


It’s called the Boss Cerbera.. a unique 5.0 litre, 505 bhp factory-built monster special that, if it were a Lamborghini, might be called a Jota! This car had the personal blessing of Peter Wheeler and TVR engine guru John Ravenscroft (the P and J in “AJP”) and the one-off AJP8 motor was put together by Ravenscroft himself.

The owner of this monster, Phil James, has been a devout Cerbera fan his whole driving life.
The problem was: What could succeed the 4.5? “I wanted that same quantum leap in performance that I’d got moving from a Griffith 500 to the Cerb 4.5. I wanted at least 500bhp, preferably 600bhp. I wanted a proper fright.” As rumours floated around about a Tuscan R, which then became a T440R and then eventually a Supercharged Typhon, Phil was spoilt for choice. But there was one factor that was missing: a V8.

Ravenscroft suggested “There are some parts in Peter’s Toy Box for a 5.0 litre AJP8 that might be made to push out 500bhp, with loads of torque. Would that do?” His exact reply was “OK, I’ll get the other 100bhp on nitrous”. He specified the same colour scheme as the MPH Typhon (Reflex Charcoal) and the project started early in the summer of 2004.

Making The Dream

As the project progressed a few problems arised: To make big power, you need to pull in lots of air and fuel and get rid of it similarly efficiently. The hole in the front of a Cerbera (and the air sump behind it) simply isn’t big enough for big numbers. The solution TVR devised was to take cold air in from the top – like a Tuscan Challenge racecar – which would require a bespoke bonnet and scuttle panel. As the only dry-sumped V8 Cerbera, there was already bespoke under-bonnet bodywork, to add to the underfloor modifications for the exhaust. Graham Browne (Sagaris stylist) was tasked with sculpting the bonnet with ‘Nostrils’, see below.

Phil James joined TVR in February 2005 as a press car manager. By this time the car was ready. And as you can imagine, he had quite a lot to say about it:

“Awesome is such an over-used word these days but I’ll never forget that first hearing – it’s like no other TVR… it’s awesome. It’s bassier than normal Cerberas with a much smoother roar. When the throttle was blipped, it revved like a motorbike – instantly rising and dropping. Wow, again! Resisting the temptation to drive it yet, I enjoyed listening to the test drivers’ reports: “it’s the fastest thing we’ve let out of the gates”. One reported getting wheelspin at 130 (something I’ve since done – just to check). Sure the Typhon and Cerbera Speed 12 have even more power and are undoubtedly faster still but I’m more than happy with where my car sits in the pecking order – it’s the most powerful factory-built TVR on the road.”

On The Road

“And boy does it go! I had, wrongly really, been obsessed by BHP while Ravey and Giles Cooper kept referring to the torque. Giles was dead right about the torque and, compared with the V10 M5, the Boss Cerbera’s 440lb·ft means its torque to weight ratio is almost DOUBLE the E60 M5 – in fact it’s not much less than a Mclaren F1. Consequently, the ability to break traction is comical. It can do a 180 degree turn on not much more than tickover. If I pop the clutch at 80 in 3rd, it will smoke the rear tyres and any clumsy gearshift up to and including going into 4th can do the same. Full bore acceleration mashes the rear end into the tarmac and the nose rears up – it’s splendidly violent as the engine unleashes its fury on the chassis and riding the traction knife edge is pretty exhilarating. Yep, it’s a proper fright all right.”

Official page of the TVR Cerbera 5000:

(Notice: we tried to contact the owner before the publication of this post but without any result)