he TVR T350T is a blood and thunder sports car wrapped in the most beautiful shape to come out of Blackpool in a long time. Just like the T350C then, only with two carbonfibre lift-out roof panels for that authentic wind-in-the-hair TVR experience. You can judge for yourself whether the roof panels enhance or detract from the looks, but there’s no denying the sheer presence of the T350T.
It’s just as impressive once you’ve slid behind the three-spoke leather-rimmed wheel. A riot of curves and a feast of tactile materials jostle for your attention. Only the slightly odd driving position dampens the excitement; the wide transmission tunnel pushes the pedals out to the right and even before you move off the seats feel peculiarly unsupportive both at the small of your back and to the sides. Twist the key and the instruments jump to attention, needles flicking all the way around the dials before zeroing, aircraft-style. The fuel pump whirrs and with the next click the 350bhp 3.6-litre straight-six catches and settles to a purposeful, guttural idle. TVR seems to improve its ‘six’ with every new car we try and this Targa is no exception. It’s pretty grumpy when cold but sweet and progressive as soon as the fluids warm through. And it’s strong, too. This isn’t surprising, but it’s easy to forget just how savage the T350 is when you let it climb up towards 8000 rpm and grab another gear just as the red shift-light starts to blink. But what of the structural integrity? Well, thanks to TVR’s construction technique (substantial spaceframe chassis with fully-integrated roll-cage and unstressed fibreglass panels) it’s precisely as stiff as the coupe on which it’s based. There’s no shimmying of glass, no discernible chassis twist with or without the featherlight roof panels in place. Essentially the T350T is the dynamic match of the C, which means great in parts and frustrating in others. Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first. Like the T350C, the T suffers from disconcerting brake feel and a hyper-sensitive (although not in TVR terms) steering rack that seems eager to lunge at an apex but not so keen on giving up any information about what’s going on at the surface. On the track this means you really have to ease yourself into pushing at the T350T’s very high limits, learning to judge when the grip is running out rather than feeling it. The seats don’t help here either, as you seem to be forever sliding from side-to-side, which robs you of another sensory contact point. Fortunately the T350T is essentially progressive, being set-up to understeer first and then wait for you to either back off or push on to the rich rewards or dire consequences beyond. On the road you’ll rarely trouble the front Goodyears’ grip, but it still takes some time to get the T350T to flow rather than bite into a corner. Throw in a poor surface and the T350T can feel ragged as the wheels hop and skip over bumps and you’re thrown off line. Smoother roads suit the T350T much better, allowing the massive reach of its engine and the tight body control to combine to fling you along at a startling pace. Traction and lateral grip are superb, while roll is very well contained. And all the time that glorious engine howls its approval and dares you to summon up every last horsepower again and again. It’s a form of intoxication that only a TVR can offer. Little wonder customers keep going back for more. So the T350T isn’t flawless but it is an enduring challenge and a wonderful thing just to be around. And if you want wind-in-the-hair appeal, that extra £2000 is a price worth paying over the T350C. In fact it’s close to being the perfect British sports car. But here’s the rub. With the Typhon and Sagaris under development and the Motor Show looming (at which TVR is bound to show another new car) you can’t help but feel that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for TVR to polish the T350T into the absolute gem it could become.