TVR Vixen S3

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This buyers guide is for the TVR Vixen models but some parts may also apply to the 1800S & Tuscan V6 models. This is only intended as a guide of what to look for. The best bit of advice I can give is buy the best you can afford. There aren't that many cars out there to choose from so buy the best of what’s available.

The Main points are as follows:

Exterior:
Check for cracks and crazing or flaking paint. A complete professional re-spray will about 2,000 to 3,000 and if you are going to tackle it yourself it will take a very long time to do it properly. Check the body for any irregularities like door gaps but remember most were probably sold in kit form so they may have been bad from the start. Recent re-sprays can cover a multitude of sins so beware. Try and get one with a glass heated rear screen if you intend using it in the winter months as the mist up virtually immediately you drive the car. Make sure the alloy wheels aren’t damaged around the edges and that the steel inserts for the wheel nuts to bite on aren’t cracked or missing. If it has wire wheels make sure the spokes are all tight and the wheels don’t slip on the splines.

Interior:
Check for water leaks as any window can leak but this can be fixed with new rubbers and or window sealant. Another source of leaks is from the doors and the under bonnet area around the battery and the pedal box mounting.. Because of wet interiors carpets sometimes rot away but can be replaced. Check the fuel tank which is under the rear "parcel shelf" to make sure it isn’t rusty especially at the bottom if the rear windows has been leaking. Make sure all the instruments are there and of the correct type as they are very difficult to find.

Chassis:
The chassis is reasonably strong, but due to their age they can rust. The front chassis outriggers can rust away so check under the car and at the rear of the wheel arches. Then check the sill tubes which can rust at the top. Check the rear outriggers as like the front outriggers they also collect mud. Check both under the car and in the wheel arches with the wheel removed. The chassis rear end rust is hard to detect with the body on but get underneath with an inspection lamp and have a good look around.

Suspension:
The rear suspension is usually pretty good and not likely to cause problems apart from sagging springs and leaking shock absorbers. You will either find 4 shock absorbers 92 with springs) or on later models just 2 shock absorbers with springs. Check the grease nipple for the hubs has been recently greased and try and check for cracks in the aluminium uprights as these are expensive to replace. The front is based on the Triumph TR6. There are double wishbones mounted in rubber bushes. These bushes wear and may need to be replaced. There are 3 grease points on both sides that need regular greasing so make sure they show signs of regular greasing. If there are no signs of grease visible budget for a complete overhaul. Check the tyres, there should be equal wear and any other could mean worn bushes or worse. A complete overhaul of the suspension is not difficult and reasonably cheap if you do it yourself.

Engine:
The engine used is the Ford Kent 1.6 or the Truimph 2500. If either of these are well maintained they have been known to do over 100,000 miles without problems. Look for oil and water leaks and blue smoke from the exhausts which suggest that the engine could do with an overhaul. Check the level of oil and water, which should be a 50/50 anti-freeze and water mix. Check for signs of coolant leaks. If the engine warms up very slow, check that a thermostat is fitted. If there is no thermostat be suspicious. Parts for both engine’s are readily available and they are both quite straight forward to work on.

Transmission:
If it is manual and an overdrive is fitted be sure the overdrive works properly. It should engage and disengage without trouble. Check for signs of clutch slip. The rear gearbox seal is also prone to leaking badly.
The propshafts and rear diff. only need regular maintenance and if not neglected are trouble free. The rear diff. has a small air hole on the top with a split pin inserted in it. This must be clear as it is the only way to stop pressure building up and forcing the oil out which can lead to premature wear.

Electrical:
Check the wiring looms and wires to see if they are still the original black wires with coloured ends that have a habit of falling off. If they aren’t and it has therefore been rewired make sure it has been done well and also hopefully included some extra fuses. The earths can be a problem as there are lots of them due to the fibreglass body. Check that everything works properly. Also check for corroded contacts as they can cause thing to suddenly stop working.

Hopefully this hasn’t put you off. If you find a good one buy it and enjoy it. You’ll love the road holding and it will bring a smile to your face every time you drive it.