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TVR Cerbera 4.5
The TVR Cerbera is a performance bargain - but it's also a bit of a handful

TVR Cerbera

TVR Cerbera

TVR Cerbera
For a two-door coupe the TVR Cerbera has an elongated profile

TVR Cerbera

TVR Cerbera
The TVR Cerbera's bodywork is powerful and dramatic
TVR Cerbera
This is the last TVR Cerbera 4.5 ever sold by the factory
TVR Cerbera

TVR Cerbera interior
The interior of the TVR Cerbera features very unusual styling and custom switchgear
TVR Cerbera steering wheel

TVR Cerbera interior

Year (of specifications) 1996 - 2004 (all Cerberas)
Engine 4578 cc 8 cylinder
Transmission 5 speed manual RWD
Max speed

180 + mph

0-60 mph 3.9 seconds
Horsepower 420 bhp @ 6750 rpm
weight 1100 kgs

The Cerbera is a brutish, leery British muscle car, and TVR at its best. It's not a refined and dainty sports car suitable for those new to RWD vehicles.

There are no electronic aids to stop you getting into trouble, and the sensitive steering takes some getting used to. Not that the steering is bad, it's just different to what you might initially expect.

Like many low volume UK manufactured sports cars, the TVR Cerbera isn't going to win any awards for reliability, and the temperamental electronics are just one of the weak spots. The clutches also have a disturbing habit of grenading themselves prematurely. The engines (both the V8's and the V6), if properly maintained are generally quite solid. But if left unserviced and unchecked the problems can quickly spiral out of control.

The Cerbera isn't what you'd call a sensible choice. It should only be bought by those who want a characterful, talking-point type of car, and are prepared to put up with a few issues and unexpected roadside pit-stops.

Over the Cerbera's 8 year lifespan there were three different engine variants - all designed and produced in-house by TVR. Initially the car was fitted with a 4.2 litre V8 which produced 360 horsepower. Two years later a 4.5 litre V8 option was included. This car, the Cerbera 4.5, became the top spec model for the rest of the car's production run. Power output for the Cerbera 4.5 was 420 hp @ 6,750 rpm, and 380 lb-ft of torque @ 5,500 rpm.

Later models of the Cerbera 4.5 were given the option of a 'Red Rose' specification, which increased its output to 440 bhp when fueled with super-unleaded (high octane) fuel and the driver pushed an unmarked button on the dashboard which altered the engine mapping to suit.

In 1999 the TVR Cerbera Speed Six appeared. Power for this model came from a 4.0 litre slant-six engine which developed 350 hp.

All the engines produce a fabulous, thundery soundtrack and offer up waves of torque throughout the rev range.

In general all the engines are pretty reliable if, and that's a massive IF, they are properly maintained.

The V8's are a bit more fussy than the V6 about servicing. Every 24,000 miles the tappets should be checked and re-shimmed - a time consuming job. The six-cylinder engine requires the same job, but at every 12,000 miles. Fortunately it's a considerably easier job on the Six.

The V8 can also suffer from leaks (see how to identify vehicle leaks), most commonly from the front cover.

Thankfully, despite the demise of TVR as a manufacturer, TVR Power - the engine division - is still around to provide maintenance, servicing and parts.

The Cerbera's transmission is a very solid Borg-Warner T5 5-speed unit. Aside from the possibility of wear on the 2nd and 5th gear synchromesh after many, many miles the gearbox has no reliability issues to watch out for.

Sadly the same can't be said of the clutch. Usually they last around 25,000 miles. Often the clutch will fracture the fingers on the pressure plate well before the clutch plates are actually in need of replacement.

Body and Chassis
The TVR Cerbera has a gorgeous fiberglass body which was exceptionally well finished. The curvaceous styling is one of the car's strong points, and overall the bodywork doesn't throw up too many problems. Door seals can leak and that's about it.

Unfortunately the leaking seals can allow water to get down to the steel chassis, if left unattended it can lead to extensive rusting, and ultimately a new chassis can be required!

The most vulnerable chassis section is the area at the back of the front wheel arch. If you're looking at buying a Cerbera check the chassis thoroughly to make sure there's no damage to the powder coating, or that there's no rust spots.

The Cerbera has a relatively harsh ride but not overly so. The sporty suspension setup, coupled with the quick steering rack can make the car feel a little nervous on uneven surfaces. The car is also prone to snap-oversteer, especially in the wet.

The interior of the TVR is like no other car, well except maybe some other Looney Tunes TVR's. It's a crazy mix of swoops, curves and rounded surfaces. TVR made all their own switchgear for the car - which is highly unusual for a small-volume manufacturer. Overall the leather trimmed interior of the Cerbera is a very unique place indeed.

The only issue with the interior is temperamental electronics. So check all the switchgear works the way it should.

Similar and related vehicles:
TVR T400R/T440R
TVR Sagaris
TVR T350
TVR Tuscan 2 S
TVR Tamora
TVR Cerbera Speed Twelve
TVR Chimaera 5.0
TVR Griffith 500
TVR Cerbera Speed Six

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