Rare Rides: The Very Yellow 1988 TVR 350i

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

Somehow, Rare Rides has never covered a single TVR in the past. It was just a matter of time before one of their premium motor canoes sporty, all-British roadsters graced these pages. This one happens to be a very rare and very boxy 350i from 1988.

Like many small car companies, TVR’s had a string of owners. Started in 1946 by Trevor Wilkinson, the brand passed through the ownership of Martin Lilley in the Sixties and Seventies, and on to Peter Wheeler in 1982. At that time, TVR’s product lineup consisted of one car: the Tasmin. On sale since 1980, the first of the wedge-shaped vehicles from the brand formed the foundation of the rest of TVR’s offerings throughout the Eighties.

The Tasmin utilized a Ford Cologne V6, which was not the mill of dreams for TVR’s new owner. Setting to work with some minor visual changes, the company shoehorned a classic 3.5-liter Rover V8 under the sloped hood. The Tasmin 350i was born.

Production started late in 1983, and after a year the association with the Tasmin name was eliminated; the 350i left to develop its own reputation. Output of 190 horsepower and a lightweight fiberglass body meant a top speed of 130 miles per hour and a zero-to-60 time of just 6.3 seconds. A five-speed manual transmission was the only way to get power to the rear wheels.

TVR offered coupe and convertible versions, and the 350i was used as a basis for the visually similar 390SE and 420SE models. The model’s final development was the 450 SEAC, which used a 4.5-liter version of the Rover V8 (325 horsepower). The 350i remained in production in its base form through 1989. In 1990 and 1991, a special 25-car run known as the 350SE commemorated the important run of the 350i. The wedge craze was about finished by the dawn of the Nineties, and the much more modern Griffith was in production, ready to spawn its own variants. Mr. Wheeler owned TVR from 1983 through 2003, overseeing the development of the widest offering of product in the company’s history.

Today’s banana yellow 350i is well-maintained and has 82,000 miles on the odometer. Note the stylish rear lamps from a Renault Fuego! The seller notes just 897 units of the 350i were made in 1988, and asks $17,500.

[Images: seller]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

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2 of 11 comments
  • Johnster Johnster on Aug 29, 2019

    I used to see several of these around L.A. in the late '80s and '90s. They seemed pricey for what they were, but you wanted something different they did stand out.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Sep 04, 2019

    That is a comically undersized steering wheel.

  • FreedMike Needs MOOAAARRR POWER.
  • Mgh57 I should just buy an old car where everything is analog.
  • FreedMike You mean, the "Hellcat all the things" plan failed?
  • Fred I've only had it for about 7 months and I like it. Mostly because I have a hard time seeing my phone screen. So even tho my Honda's screen is 6" it's a lot easier to see than my phone.
  • Cha65697928 I'm 48. Both our cars have it, I'm never going back. Being able to activate calls, messages, music, nav, opening/closing garage doors all via voice command is awesome. Now if Audi would just allow Google maps to mirror in the middle of the driver's display instead of only allowing the native nav...