Friday, January 13, 2017

Auction Watch: 1972 TVR Vixen w/ Alfa Romeo Power

Find this 1972 TVR Vixen w/ Alfa Romeo Power here on eBay bidding for $12,899 reserve-not-met with 2 days to go.





 From eBay listing:


This TVR Vixen 2500 has been in our family since about 1976, and before we owned it a more distant family member owned it after having bought it new in San Francisco, CA.  From 1976 onward this car was always garaged and used very sparingly.  It's now being offered for sale for the first time in all those years.  Here is a great opportunity to purchase an extremely rare car in excellent condition, with no stories or history of any damage or rust, and with a highly desirable engine/transmission setup.  We've done all the work for you.

From 1972 to 1976 it is our understanding that only 385 TVR 2500's were produced, indeed making this a rare car.

In 1996 she was still wearing her original butterscotch color paint.   While still in good condition we wanted to modernize her looks so it was repainted in actual yellow, which from our recollection was a GM color called Canary from the 70's/80's used on Corvettes.

While being an interesting car to drive with excellent handling characteristics, we always felt that this TVR with the original Triumph 2500 engine and 4 speed transmission was not living up to its potential.  TVR only used the 2500 engine as a compromise for the U.S. market because it was emissions compliant, yet this also meant that its horsepower output suffered, and in various driving conditions this engine in a TVR was known to overheat far too often.  The 2500 is an enormously large and heavy cast iron lump, and with twin Stromberg carburetors it only generated about 106 bhp in the U.S. market, with driving potential further limited by only a 4 speed gearbox. 

After getting frustrated with one engine related gremlin after another, and being a very heavy engine with limited performance capabilities (for example a Chevy 350 V8 weighs just about the same), we decided to have an engine/transmission transplant completed.  Up through 1972, TVR's had been offered by the factory with various 4-cylinder Ford engines of small capacity, as well as Ford V8 engines (creating the Griffith and Tuscan models).  They were made to be fitted with a wide range of engines and sizes.

We therefore began to think about a period correct engine with an associated 5-speed transmission, specifically looking for a much lighter, more powerful and reliable unit.  After having owned and restored multiple Alfa Romeo's since the 60's, and because we also owned Alfa's at the time (and still do), it occurred to us that an Alfa two-liter DOHC alloy engine with an associated 5 speed transmission would offer vastly improved performance and reliability.  Our Alfa's were being serviced by the Sandeman's at Alfa Performance Connection (APC) in Laguna Hills (they are now in Orange), so it made sense to go to Stewart and Stewart Jr. 

After taking some measurements it was determined that only very minor modifications were needed to install an Alfa engine and transmission.  The motor/trans mounts and one front cross member were repositioned.  In 2003 an Alfa 2.0 engine and 5 speed transmission were both rebuilt by APC and subsequently installed.  It all fit just right.  An Alfa tachometer was used, but other than that the stock AC gauges remain.  At the time of the transplant the odometer showed 10,751.  The odometer now shows just under 14,600. 

With this Alfa setup our TVR is a real performer.  It now weighs about 200 lbs les than a Triumph 2500/4 speed equipped car, it has 136 stock hp with the twin Weber's compared to 106 hp for the Triumph.  The Alfa engine also revs perhaps 2,000 rpm higher than the Triumph 2500 unit if need be.  At speeds of approximately 90 mph this TVR will run forever, nearly loping along in 5th gear with the engine quietly turning maybe 3,500 rpm, which is no strain whatsoever on the Alfa unit.

When cold, after a pump or two on the accelerator to prime the Weber carbs she fires up and nearly immediately sets into a smooth idle.  She drives wonderfully.  Shifting is perfect both up and down through all gears (Having owned so many Alfas, as other various sports cars, we are very familiar with shifting Alfa transmissions properly) with the clutch engaging as it should.  There's no hesitation or smoke from the engine at any speed.  She tracks straight and true down the road.  Braking is excellent.  Steering is precise. 

She handles as well if not better than any of her competition from that era.  Note that due to the chassis design of these TVRs, the engine sits well behind the front axle making them a front/mid engine car with excellent balance and weight distribution.  The track on these cars is also very wide, and they sit low, so handling is further enhanced.  You'd be hard pressed to find a better handling sports car from this era.

Did we mention that being an aluminum engine the Alfa two liter won't ever have overheating issues like the Triumph-equipped TVRs had?  There is a manually operated electric fan installed in lieu of a mechanical fan.  This channels all the engine's power where it belongs and if you're ever driving in very hot weather in stop-and-go conditions the fan is available via a dash toggle switch if needed .

All the gauges work.  All the exterior and interior lights work with the exception of the interior courtesy light.  The twin speed wiper motor works.  The heater blower works.  The choke cable was removed as it's now unnecessary with the twin Weber carbs.  There is an aftermarket temp gauge that was installed when the car was fitted with the Triumph engine.  It is disconnected.  When the original stereo is turned on only static comes through the speakers.  The rear glass is real glass as from the factory, it's not a Plexiglas replacement.  This is a valuable piece as a new glass rear window would cost about $2,500.

The wheels are the original TVR 15-inch aluminum alloys and they are in excellent condition, with no curb rash or marks of any note.  The Pirelli P400 tires were installed at the time of the engine transplant and have the vast majority of their tread remaining.  The original spare wheel fitted with some good rubber is covered by the original wheel cover and sits in its position behind the front seats.

When the car still had its Triumph drivetrain, we had some suspension work done by Steve Ferron, who restores, repairs and races TVRs.  After the engine/trans swap we had David Zumstein of Abingdon West Ltd. service various aspects of the car.  Mr. Zumstein has restored multiple concours-winning TVRs and British cars.  Mr. Zumstein also worked on another TVR we had, a Grantura 1800S.  Stewart Sandeman Jr. has also serviced the car when needed over the years.

Did we mention that Stewart Jr. did a compression and leak down test on the engine in December?  All cylinders read 170 to 180 on the compression test, exactly where they should be for a fresh engine running as it should.  For the leak down all cylinders were in the 8 to 15 range (anything under 30 is considered a fresh engine).  The twin Weber's were also cleaned by APC in December.  Mr. Zumstein did work on the brakes and suspension, including a front wheel alignment.

The car is fully operational and can be driven anywhere.  We recently drove it on a 300 mile road trip with no hiccups whatsoever.  There's likely a lot we forgot to say, so feel free to ask any questions.  We have all the documentation and paperwork for the engine transplant and various subsequent services.

You may view the link below for 100+ more photos and some video of the car in action.  Note that in some photos the interior appears a bit gray, it's actually black.  Also, in the undercarriage shots you may notice some water still on parts of the frame due to having just been washed.  There are no oil or fluid leaks.  We purposefully did not attempt to scrub down the underside and then repaint it to attempt to hide anything.  There's nothing to hide here.  The chassis is original, and rust and accident free, and the body is all original fiberglass with perfect shut lines.

Bid with confidence!

https://1drv.ms/f/s!AuY1ztrHSK3siK8rrNqXLBLAmhm6EQ

Be sure to check out the auction for our special Austin Healey "frog eye/bug eye" Sprite.  It is eBay item # 

On Jan-01-17 at 16:05:37 PST, seller added the following information:
Some bidders have asked about documentation.  Visit the link with additional photos/video

https://1drv.ms/f/s!AuY1ztrHSK3siK8rrNqXLBLAmhm6EQ

and note the photo of various work orders, etc. that has just been posted.  Thank you

On Jan-08-17 at 20:58:17 PST, seller added the following information:        The Sprite eBay item  #     291995321433







5 comments:

  1. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. That's a lovely write up and that does indeed sound like a great drivetrain swap.Very nice.

    ReplyDelete
  3. For once, an engine swap that sounds like they actually thought about it before they did it. They could have just swapped in a V-8, but personally I prefer a light car with a moderate but lively engine. This thing could be a lot of fun. Just how much fun will be determined by the reserve price!

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is not often that you read "it occurred to us that an Alfa two-liter DOHC alloy engine with an associated 5 speed transmission would offer vastly improved performance and reliability." and agree.

    This sounds like a great car!

    ReplyDelete

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