TVR Cerbera reliability – the simple truth

TVR Cerbera reliability sarcastic face

You know when you’re washing your car, and a passer-by says “you can do mine next hahahaha”. I think I pull the same face while rolling my eyes into the back of my head, as I do when a stranger says something to me in my car, about TVR Cerbera reliability.

It happened to me a couple of weeks back; I was queueing for a car show and a guy in a hi-viz directed me where to park, but not before saying “a TVR, well done for getting here hahahaha”.

The thing is, in a way he isn’t wrong. TVRs were known for being unreliable. This goes way back to the 1960s, 1964 to be precise. Reliability problems and customer complaints halted imports of the Griffith to the U.S, until finally TVR went into liquidation.

But I doubt our guy in the hi-viz was harking back to the 60s for his comedy material.

Roll forward a few decades and another resurrection of TVR the company, and in the late 1990s/early 2000s the current new batch of TVRs sporting their in-house engines were going bang shortly after customers took ownership of them. I could write a lot on this topic, but put simply it was down to some poor decision making on cost-cutting and design changes.

Maybe this is what our guy in the hi-viz is drawing reference to. But this was over 20 years ago, those problems have long been solved.

Roll forward another decade to around 2010, and the value of those cars are hitting rock bottom (less than 50% of todays prices), and are now within reach of a new demographic of people who can scrape together to buy a seriously quick car, but are not willing to spend what’s needed to maintain them.

Maybe this is what our guy in the hi-viz is making reference to. A shed of a TVR for sure is going to have problems.

The Truth on TVR reliability

The fact of the matter is, our guy in the hi-viz, not only has all of that ancient history to refer to, he probably has some recent stuff too.

I’ve been in the TVR community for 7ish years now and I read a lot, not just about TVR Cerberas, but all models of TVRs. And while this next comment may upset a specific niche of the TVR community, there’s no denying it, you just have to spend some time reading Pistonheads / FB to see for yourself..

I’ve got a lot of respect for people who home-spanner and do it right. But there are quite a few people who own a TVR and maintain it on a shoe-string budget- meaning, they will get their spanner out when it breaks down. Wedge owners mainly, but sometimes Chimaeras too. This is after all, the cheapest entry to TVR ownership.

Back to our guy in the hi-viz, he remembers horror stories of past, and in recent memory he’s seen a few broken down TVRs, so I guess you can’t blame him.

The truth on my TVR Cerbera reliability

I don’t think my car is any more unreliable than the next well maintained Cerbera. And that’s the point, well-maintained.

Before I bought my Cerbera, my research told me that if well maintained, it should be fine. Look after it, and it will look after you.

That’s exactly what I’ve done, in the 7ish years I’ve owned it, I’ve covered 24k miles, and it has only been on the back of an AA truck once due to a clutch problem, and that I put down to the mechanic that replaced it (that I no longer use).

Aside from that breakdown, there have been other issues that cropped up, that meant I needed to make my way to a garage ASAP to have it sorted.

One was the gearbox, 5th gear is a known weak-point on the T5 gearbox. Another, was a Lambda sensor that happened just after I washed it. And the last was an erratic immobiliser.

I’ve written here about my average running costs and here about what to look out for when buying.

TVR Cerbera reliability

According to this websites traffic stats, one of the most common queries people are searching for is “TVR Cerbera reliability”, so here is my short answer to that:

like all classic cars, if maintained well, yes. There are some known weaknesses, but over the years, these weaknesses have been mostly engineered out through upgrades in a very active parts after-market.

From my experience, a good condition chassis + rebuilt engine (which realistically all would have by now) + strong gearbox (I’m a big fan of Quaife) + new alarm/immobiliser + good service history = you can’t go far wrong.

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