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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
The British sports car heading abroad
by Julia Houston
BBC News, Blackpool

David Beckham
Beckham is among celebrity TVR drivers
At the height of its success, TVR could have claimed to be the makers of the ultimate British sports car.

Outselling Porsche in the UK and with David Beckham being a proud owner of the Cerbera model, the firm - whose prototypes more than 50 years ago used front coil springs from a dodgem car - was on a roll.

But now, the quintessentially British sports car manufacturer is moving production abroad, leading to the closure of its Blackpool plant and the loss of 250 jobs.

TVR was founded in 1947 by Trevor Wilkinson, who started trading as Trevcar Motors - he soon changed the name, taking three consonants of his name to create a sleeker image.

He used his own chassis and a Ford engine in his first models. However, it was about 10 years later the company really began to forge a reputation in the industry with the Grantura.

TVR Sagaris - pic courtesy of TVR
The Sagaris has a 53,000 price tag
In the sixties, the firm went through a major change when it was bought by TVR and Lotus dealer Martin Lilley.

He is credited with improving production quality and also managing to grab the headlines when nude models were employed at the TVR stand at the Earls Court motor show in 1971.

These days its glamour has been boosted in other ways, such as it being the car of choice for John Travolta in the 2001 film Swordfish.

The company was at the top of its game in the 1990s, when about 2,000 cars were being sold each year.

But in the past 12 months, only about 150 have been sold and in recent weeks demand is said to have dropped from 12 cars a week to just two.

Workers 'crushed'

It was bought by Russian tycoon Nikolai Smolensky in 2004 but as recently as last month TVR said it would be staying in Blackpool.

Workers are said to be crushed at the decision to move production abroad, as most have a passion and a belief in their product, which includes the 53,000 Sagaris, a car capable of 160 mph.

In June, a press release was released which declared TVR "would like to confirm that it will be remaining in Britain and predominantly within Lancashire, the region in which the company was founded in 1947."

It now appears TVR has decided to perform a swift u-turn.




SEE ALSO
TVR to move car production abroad
18 Oct 06 |  Business
TVR calls off factory relocation
20 Sep 06 |  Lancashire
Sports car firm starts relocation
21 Aug 06 |  Lancashire
TVR and council agree on new site
31 Jul 06 |  Lancashire
Car firm redundancy talks begin
30 Jun 06 |  Lancashire
TVR confirms factory switch plan
16 Jun 06 |  Lancashire

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