It wouldn't be a TVR without some kind of controversy – the Trident might be the most infamous of all…
By Matt Bird / Tuesday, January 12, 2021 / Loading comments
Doesn't it look incredible? Devotees will know that this is a TVR Trident prototype, but to everyone else this is nothing less than prime slice of classic Italian grand tourer. It's the glamour of the sixties on four wheels, complete with wire wheels, pop-up headlights and ornate, pretty details. It could line up alongside all manner of Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Ferraris and not look out of place. Which is some achievement for a British sports car designed by a man called Trevor.
However, as is often the way with a TVR tale, all is not quite what it seems with the Trident project. See, that Italian-inspired style came from a designer of Italian descent – Trevor Frost, or Trevor Fiore as he was known to some. With this silhouette presented to Director of TVR, Bernard Williams, in 1963, it was immediately given the green light – but, with funds sadly lacking, a Trident concept wasn't ready until two years later.
It had lost none of its impact by 1965, stunning motor show crowds at New York and Geneva. How could it not? But problems were on the horizon – again, financial ones – and TVR went into liquidation that summer. The Trident project seemed to be over before it had even begun.
But it wasn't. Well, not quite, anyway. TVR was soon bought up by Martin Lilley, who wanted to carry on the Trident project; in the interim, though, TVR dealer Bill Last had acquired the design from Fiore and planned to make his own interpretation of it. All sorts of legal wrangling ensued, from which we got the fibreglass Tridents, combining V8 power and Austin Healey architecture, until that failed in the mid-1970s.
This is not one of those cars, though; it's something far more special. This Trident is one of the original TVR prototypes, car number three after the first two were received so well. Given the fourth and final TVR Trident was a drop-top, this is the only right-hand drive coupe in existence (as the first two cars were left-hand drive). And it's now for sale, yours for £135,000.
The story from the mid-1960s is just as fascinating, and well worth reading in the advert. Shown at the Turin motor show in 1965, Trident number three was sold as a body and spares in the early 1970s. It was acquired by the current owner way back in 1986 (yes, really), compelled by the opportunity to buy the TVR he'd been besotted by since seeing number one at a motor show 20 years previously. An exhaustive restoration then took place – "the owner travelled far and wide to autojumbles and fairs to acquire correct period parts", says the ad – with the car finally completed in 1991. In the 30 years since it's been used sparingly, with 13,000 miles now recorded. A full respray in 2018 means the Trident is arguably looking better than ever.
It's on sale for £135,000, which is clearly a great deal as far as TVR is concerned. However, just as plainly, this isn't any old Blackpool classic, and think of what a prototype Jaguar or Aston Martin – the only right-hand drive example ever made no less – might now command. For the jaw-dropping style, fascinating history and flawless condition, it's easy to imagine a TVR die-hard parting with the money asked for this Trident. Just the thing to drive down to Members' Meeting come May, in fact…
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