When Martin Lilley bought TVR in ’60s Dad was working for him at the Barnet Motor Company. Martin was looking to make a success of TVR and had an idea in late 1965 for a small 2+2 convertible with the engine, floorpan, transmission wheel trims and most of the mechanicals based on a Hillman Imp Sport. He commissioned Trevor Fiore to design the all steel body and it was built in Italy by Fissore first shown at the 1966 Turin Motor Show.
A name was needed urgently and could not be decided, but as Dad was running the Barnet Motor Company and doing very well in various TVRs Martin decided to name this pretty little car after Dad’s daughter Tina, hence the TVR Tina. The story was always that they got some Ford Cortina badges and chopped the “cor” off! Also the name fitted in well with TVRs model range, as at the time the very attractive TVR Trident was the focus and you could see the family resemblance in the two cars.
At the Motor Show the front of the Tina came under criticism from all corners as it would not have gotten past the American regulations and this really was the target audience to make the car profitable. The Tina went back to Fissore for modification, where it joined its uncompleted fixed-head coupé sister.
Martin Lilley wanted the convertible and coupe TVR Tinas to appear at the October 1966 London Motor show, as having them there would show TVR as a company in good health and on the move.
The TVR Tinas were the stars of the show and customers offered to leave blank cheques and after the show the telephone rang constantly at TVR’s factory at the time. There was no way tha the TVR Factory at Hoo Hill could cope with the production required for such a large market and if it was to be sold for a low price it would have to be produced in quantity and production would need to be outsourced.
Just the coupe was shown at the Turin Motor Show of 1967 and TVR said that production would commence in early 1968, each car priced £998.00, all taxes included.
Rootes, Jensen and Aston-Martin were all approached to help with production and Rootes definitely had the capacity, but the Tina would have been an alternative to the Alpine…but this was never brought up and there were other problems. The bodyshell was to be fabricated out of fibreglass and then bonded to the steel Imp subframe and this wasn’t practical and a metal body would be too heavy for the planned engine. Jensen was asked next (as experienced body builders) but they doubted that the Tina would sell in the numbers required to be as profitable as it needed to be. If the Tina would become a volume item then the USA would have to be the major market and Jensen felt that the Tina would not go down well in America. Aston Martin was also approached but it had its own financial problems and was discounted.
Just the coupe was shown at the Turin Motor Show of 1967. TVR said that production would commence in early 1968, each car priced £998.00, all taxes included.
Unfortunately it was all to no avail and was not to happen. There were various reasons, costs being the main and production capacity another and therefore the TVR Tina never reached production. In some ways it had served its purpose as a show stealer and shown TVR as a company going places
On the other hand it is also a case of might have been. If Rootes, Jensen and Aston Martin had of been more enthusiastic the coupe might have been just as successful as some of it’s contemporaries (i.e. the Fiat 850). If Rootes would have been willing to provide some of the funding in addition to the drivetrain the chances are that Jensen would have put the car into production on a contract basis. Of course Chrysler had now entered the picture (having bought Rootes-shares) and they weren’t favorable to the idea.
Martin Lilley decided to abandon the project that had consumed over £15,000 and concentrate on his other TVR designs.