MARTIN AND ARTHUR LILLEY
Before the third and fourth TVR Tridents could be delivered all of TVR’s hopes and dreams came to an abrupt end with the 1965 US dock strike. Having just made a major investment in the Trident, and on the strength of US sales of the Griffith and Grantura, the sudden loss of customers once again saw TVR in serious financial difficulty, with the company again going bankrupt in August of that same year. Yet again it was the enthusiasm for the cars that saved the company with the owner of a TVR dealership from Barnet, called Martin Lilley, and his father, Arthur, taking over the business and resurrecting it once more from the ashes, this time under the name of TVR Engineering.
The Lilleys thought they were getting the Trident which is one of the reasons that they bought TVR but unfortunately this had been bought by Bill Last’s Trident Car Company.
THE EARLY JOB
Among the assets they inherited there was a basic chassis that could accept MG four-cylinder and Ford V8 engines. Martin decided to develop this further, and over the next years created several variations on the original model theme.
THE GRANTURA MK4
For a time Blackpool concentrated solely on the MGB-powered Grantura 1800S, for which demand remained steady in Britain. Compared with cars built under the previous, rather discredited regime, it had distinctly higher-quality fittings, especially the TVR Grantura Mark IV that took over in the autumn of ’66.
The Grantura Mark IV was quite simply a refined and improved version of the 1800S. Martin Lilley was focusing on quality and the overall quality was better on this car. Many improvements had been made to the interior and heating/ventilation systems to make the car more comfortable. The car got wooden panels on the dashboard, the spring-and-damper was revised to provide a smoother ride and the engine was moved forward slightly. Weight was up as a result, but with 98bhp from the MGB engine, performance was still good.
In 1967 the last Grantura was made, and the Vixen replaced it.
Photo credit: Tony Hess TVRCCNA events chair