TVR Restoration Archive

As we complete our restoration tasks we will update this area to give an overview of the work involved in bringing the old girl back to life. We're looking to have her on the road for the end of the year - so this page will be updated very regularly as we start to complete the jobs...

Painting Completed - May 2013

The White Elephant's pearlescent white paint job has now been completed by the Surface & Design team and we are another step closer to the finish.

Over the next couple of weeks the doors, glass and body ancillaries will be fitted and we can set about making the bespoke headlamp covers.

Once the car is properly water tight, for the first time in over 15 years, we can then install the centre console and dash and complete the cockpit fitout.

Carpet At Last! - February 2013

Eight and a half years after Dave "Poseur" Cumming removed the tree which was growing out of the boot, the first of the new carpet is finally being fitted.

PW's original colour scheme is being adhered to faithfully, with wheat carpet being complimented by ocean spray and butterscotch leather.

The first part of the car to be carpeted is Sam's dog basket which can be seen forward of the rear wheel arch, pictured right, with the re-trim looking to be completed by the end of the month.

Bespoke S Series Fuel Tank - November 2012

As both fuel tanks, one Tasmin tank located behind the drivers seat and one S tank located across the boot, were looking tired, a new stainless pair have been expertly fabricated.

Pictured is Peter Wheeler's original S tank alongside it's replacement

As the original tank wan't a perfect fit within the boot, an amount of grinding will take place before the new tank is fitted.

New Horns - August 2012

A good proportion of the car's ancillaries being completely rotten, the original horns were badly corroded and unservicable.

A replacement set of horns have been found to take the place of the original pair and will be fitted to the car as soon as the respray has been completed.

Body Back Off - Engine In & Body Back On! - May 2012

With expert help from Heath & Paul the engine has now been installed in the chassis and the body put back on.

We now have to put the doors on and finish the bodywork before we can complete the build. So its back to Bristol Avenue ASAP.


Bespoke Tasmin Fuel Tank - April 2012

Having been hidden away for quite some time and still protected by its plastic shrinkwrap, the new bespoke drivers side Tasmin fuel tank is brought out to take down to S&D for fitting.

The start of the rebuild!

More Powdercoating - March 2012

With the White Elephant's bodywork now starting to take shape, it is time for some more powdercoating.

As the door internals were in pretty poor condition we have had everything blasted and re-powdercoated in their original colours. We also managed to locate some original door bushes...


Engine Completed - February 2012

At last the Holden lump is running again and returning some very interesting figures.

We now have to wait for the starter motor and clutch to arrive from Australia, at which point we can install the drivetrain into the car.

Body On - August 2011

With engine rebuild issues we decide to put the body back on for the moment until such time as the engine is ready.

Many thanks go to all the guys at Bristol Avenue for their help. It's a tight fit!


Front End Finish - June 2009

As we have to install the engine in the chassis before we drop the body on, it makes sense to complete the final painting of the inner nose and engine bay as soon as we can. Due to the intricacies of spraying these areas we have to spray the entire front of the car to finish this section seamlessly.

Once the engine and chassis are reunited once more and the body is lifted on, we will bolt on the doors, set the gaps and finish the painting.

Surface and Design - perfection!

Prime the Beast - May 2009

The Surface and design team now two-pack prime the entire body to prepare for the pearlescent white finish.

Quite amazing after all the happennings of the past five years that the old girl has ended up in the Bristol Avenue spraybooth after all...


New Plates - April 2009

Factory stalwart Damian McTaggart has kindly volunteered to have a set of plates made for the Elephant while he is having a pair made for his newly rebuilt Griff. I think Damian might be needing his before we need ours though...

Top Man!

Locate the Rad - March 2009

Next job is to enable installation of the radiator in to the nose of the Elephant

To enable us to achieve this the S&D team will extend the glassing within the nose section and then make the entire area perfectly level. As we have had the rad manufactured with a 10° fall from front to back this should mean we don't suffer from airlocks. Twin brackets containing bobbins will then be glassed in to the front of the nose for the rad's two pins to locate into.


Hinge the Bonnet - March 2009

Having fabricated the new bonnet from our splash mould, the Surface & Design team set about hinging the bonnet to give us some future servicability.

Adjustable gas struts, in fact the same specification struts as we are using on the rear screen, will also be fitted to support the bonnet when it's open.

Good job!

Bespoke Rad Finished - February 2009

The Pro Alloy bespoke radiator is an impressive piece of fabrication and the mounting of the two Jet Boost Kenlowes is a work of art. We couldn't have wished for a better job. All the hours spend grinding out the inside of the nose and making wooden mock-ups has certainly paid off.

A big thank you to the Pro Alloy team for their efforts.

New Bonnet - January 2009

As the old kevlar bonnet was twisted and badly damaged, a new fibreglass bonnet had to be fabricated at Surface & Design from our splash mould.

The new bonnet will feature a bigger grill section to allow a larger volume of hot radiator air to exit the car, as well as cut-outs in the return at the top of the bonnet to assist in cooling the engine bay.

We will also be hinging the new bonnet and fitting a pair of gas struts for servicability.

Powdercoating - December 2008

The first batch of powder coating, after just a little bit of light welding, has been completed by Steve at Fast Line Coatings Ltd in Preston.

It's hard to believe they are the same bits of rusty metal! We will be back at Fast Line in the Spring to see Steve with the next batch.

An excellent job!



Jet Boost Kenlowes! - December 2008

The twin Kenlowes arrive as we start to build our army of new parts to fit to the Elephant in the new year.

They fit beautifully on our wooden mock-up and will do a hugely better job then the original underpowered unit.

We have now sent the fans along with our fabulous wooden radiator mock-up to the rad fabricators to let them work their magic...


Order the Kenlowes - November 2008

To replace the original 300mm single Kenlowe 1720 fan, we are ordering twin 330mm Kenlow HP Series 'Jet Boost' fans to assist with the cooling of the Holden lump.

The Elephant had a history of overheating and now having done the maths we realise that the original single Kenlowe couldn't possibly have shifted the 3000 cubic feet of air per minute necessary to cool the 5ltr V8.

The new twin Jet Boost unit will solve the problem.

Click here to see the Kenlow HP Jet Boost wiring diagram




Powdercoating - October 2008

Ensuring the White Elephant lives on for a little longer the rear screen hinges and fixing mounts are bead blasted and powder coated to protect them from the elements.

A number of the parts had to be refabricated as the originals were rotten due to the age of the car and the fact that the rear screen had been missing for a number of years. However all is now well and the back end of the car should look as good as the day PW took her home for the first time



Surface & Design #1 - October 2008

Nelly Goes Back Home!

Having completed our in-house bodywork tasks, the shell has been returned to Bristol Avenue for the Surface & Design team to work their magic and complete the bottom end and engine bay finishing. There is plenty to do, including fabricating a new, stronger bonnet which will hinge, this replacing the original kevlar bonnet which had to be lifted off completely to access the engine bay. The inner nose also needs an amount of work to ensure the new radiator can sit flush for optimum performance. Both footwells also need some attention as the passenger side is wafer thin and the drivers side has a sizable hole in the front corner.

By the time the shell has been fully prepped and given a coat of two-pack primer, the engine bay, tunnel, nose, sills, rear valence and wheel arches will all be finished in the car's signature pearlescent white, at which stage she will be ready to mount straight on to the rolling chassis.

A big thank you to everyone who turned up on a cold and rainy Saturday morning to help with the lift - it was much appreciated...

Fireproof Access - October 2008

To allow access to the back of the Holden V8 we have cut two access panels at the rear of the engine bay. We hope this will allow us to change the two rear plugs with the engine in situ, which originally wasn't possible.

These areas, which were touching the manifolds, had burned through. So by cutting them out and fitting two recessed metal plates we will leave space for the manifolds, and a little airflow, whilst giving us access to the two rear plugs.

The plates have had fireproof matting bonded to them just in case...

And to make life a little easier we will be making two 'invisible' velcro overlapped joins in the carpet to allow us in.

The Long Hard Grind... - October 2008

Having prepared the shell for delivery to Surface & Design we can now crack on with preparing and making good some of the more intricate metalwork pieces.

We have given ourselves until early February to finish all these small jobs, so we have to crack on with them immediately.

With a long list of parts to work on, from the front pulley to the rear window hinges, PW's original pedal box is the first to feel the wrath of the welder and angle grinder...




Lamp Units Finished - September 2008

So having redesigned the original individual headlamp adjusters so they will adjust as a pair, and having fabricated a mild steel mock-up, we now fabricate two complete units out of stainless steel ready for final installation into the car once she has been sprayed.

Adjusting the lamps in tandem does restrict the angles somewhat, so to give us some adjustment back we have opened up the fibreglass apertures as much as we can.

An Up & Down Day - September 2008

Having had to replace or re-fabricate over a dozen internals for the doors, including push-bike gear cabling and stop-ends for the window height restrictors as the doors are frameless, we now put them together properly for the first time since the strip.

As both doors are different sizes we have to adjust them both quite differently and they both work first time.

A testament to Tony's patience...




Wooden Rad - September 2008

We fabricated a wooden radiator to make sure that the opening in the nose would allow us to change the rad should we need to. Using the enlarged opening we maximise the surface area to allow us to install twin fans this time.

The new rad will be an uprated twin-core aluminium unit, seated at an angle of 10° to help reduce airlocks. We are also upgrading the rad mounts to allow for installation without having to bolt right through the bodywork - this minimising the attractive rusty staining on the front-end paintwork...

Design Headlamps Adjusters - September 2008

To allow for proper adjustment we have designed new mounts for the twin Hella headlamps to allow them to move in tandem.

A mild steel mockup has been designed and we are now in the process of fabricating a pair of stainless units for installation in to the car. These stainless units will be fitted with UK spec dip & beam lamps to replace the original continental dip-the-wrong-way units!

What was all that about then?


It's a rotten job... - September 2008

We fabricate several new internals for the doors as the majority of the parts were far too corroded to re-use.

New stainless steel nuts, washers and bolts will be used to reassemble the units which will then be liberally sprayed with a good coating of Silicone.

We don't fancy having to do this one again!






Let's go all sparky! - August 2008

Before the shell leaves we also have to plan the ancilleries and lighting loom for the front of the car (it didn't really have one before...) and mock up to fit.

Modifications will include wiring for the radiator's two new switchable high volume Kenlowe fans.

All the front end wiring will be tidied up quite dramatically to ensure future servicability.

Hours of endless fun then...



Sanding the Bodywork - July 2008

Many hours of sanding are now required to help prepare the bodywork for the guys at Surface and Design.

Every inch of lacquer, which is peeling badly, has to be removed and any irregularities in the shell must be marked up so they can be corrected before painting.

And no - Tony isn't really that grey - it's just sanding dust - OK!




Doors Together... - July 2008

Having dissembled the two doors and found them to be rusted to death, we have sourced new window winder motors & mechanisms, but still have to purchase new 'green' glass and do a spot of welding before the doors can be re-assembled and put back on the car.

We require many new internals including new window runners, as the originals are no longer servicable. Rover SD1 fronts are the order of the day - unfortunately there are none available. More fabricating...

Engine to the Shop - March 2008

So having spent many, many happy hours freezing our bits off in the shed wearing out the Dremel, the engine having been stripped and then polished to within an inch of its life, it is now time to take her to the builders. We hope to see her return, fully dyno tested by the end of the summer...






Polishing Time - October 2007

The White Elephant's engine wasn't particularly that attractive when it was brand new, with it's rough cast plenum and dull aluminium valve covers and ancilleries. And after sitting in the TVR graveyard, open to the elements for several years, they looked even worse.

We have taken the decision to polish the engine parts to give the old girl the facelift we feel she deserves and when he engine is re-assembled we will show you the result...

ECM Test - February 2007

The ECM was sent off to Lucas to be checked out, as it had been sat in rather damp conditions for a number of years and could well be corroded inside.

Much to everyone's surprise she came back with a written report confirming a clean bill of health.





New Exhaust System - September 2006

As the original exhaust system was is a very poor state of repair, we fabricated a new one - sympathetic in every way to the old one - but this time made from high quality stainless steel for better aesthetics and longevity.

As the system may well not bring the noise level down below 105db, we also have the option of fabricating a pair of track-day baffles for the end of the system, to allow us to pass scrutineering for hillclimbs and sprints.

Although if we can get away without the baffles we most certainly will!

Oh yes...



Body Shell Mods - August 2006

The prototype bodyshell has been modified by cutting access panels in the front of the tunnel to allow the rear plugs to be changed with the engine in situ. The nose has also been cut at to allow sidelamp and indicator bulbs to be changed without having to cut out the complete unit. Always a good idea...

Body Shell Repairs - May 2006

The old girl's bodywork isn't in the best of conditions, so we spend a couple of months cutting out star-cracks and making good the holes in the bodywork in preparation for when she eventually goes to the spray shop.

Several areas are repaired on the car including the front pillars and several areas on the rear quarters where the fibreglass is particularly thin.

We also make good the inside of the nose where the radiator is located. There is no evidence of a major front-end shunt, but it looks like there could have been one or two near misses in the past and the entire area is live.

We are also taking into consideration here that we will be re-installing a bigger capacity radiator with twin fans, as Nelly has a history of running very hot and over heating...


Back in Black! - February 2006

Feb 2006 the chassis is collected back from Richard Thorpe at RT Racing in Sheffield, who has done an absolutely fantasic job on the old girl. The new powder coating is very impressive and the chassis looks better than new.

All major parts have been replaced and the front anti-roll bar brackets have been modified to add strength.

Good job!

New Veneers - January 2006

The fully refurbished veneers returned from London Carriage Craft early January 2006 and looked absolutely amazing. Given the dreadful state of the originals, Malcolm and the team have done a superb job.

We look forward to re-fitting the veneers as the finishing touch to trimming the interior in Spring 2009.



Splashing Around! - August 2005

It took around five months spare time to complete the set of 10 splash moulds for the White Elephant.

If she was to take a knock at any time, at least now we can give her a proper repair.

It's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it!


Pristine Wheels - July 2005

Before we could remove the wheels we had to hammer off the alloy centre caps which had badly corroded and welded themselves to the body of the wheel. Believe it or not it took over a week to take all four wheels off without causing any damage.

The four OZ Racing Lattice Wheels were taken to Pristine Wheels in Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes for a complete rebuild including diamond cutting and re-chroming, before having the new 245/45ZR16 T1R Toyo Proxes fitted & balanced.

To move the chassis around whilst the Alloys are being refurbed, we purchased two four 5 stud Ford Granada Mark II and two Mercedes steel wheels from a breakers yard.

The refurbed wheels look superb!

Clocking On - July 2005

All of the Elephant's clocks were sent to Carerbont Automotive Instruments for cleaning, checking & recalibration.

Several of the instruments were showing signs of water ingress and rust and the tacho has been updated.

The clock was left on 24002 miles though, just as we found her, well, 24001 actually - but who's counting!





Washing the Shell - March 2005

With plenty of help from the guys at West Lancs TVR Car Club we give Nelly's tub a proper wash for the first time in years.

The tub is washed thoroughly, inside and out and top to bottom, in preparation for the splash mould manufacture to follow.

The next two weeks will be taken applying 7 or 8 coats of blue release wax to the shell to ensure the splash moulds release from the tub when we want them to.

Cheers chaps!

Fuel Tank Removal - March 2005

Both the rear mounted S Series fuel tank and the mid-mounted driver's side Tasmin fuel tank have to be removed before we can complete the strip of the shell.

The straps securing the Tasmin tank have to be ground off - not always the best way to remove a fuel tank - so probably best to get Gus to do it, just in case anything does go bang!

Both tanks will be replaced by new stainless items to be fabricated bespoke by SEAC legend 'Stainless' Steve Charlesworth

What a great guy!




Body Strip - March 2005

West Lancs TVR Car Club Motorsports Guru, Jim Edwards, kindly lends a hand as we completely strip Nelly's body in preparation for the splash mould fabrication.

Again, everything is tagged and catalogued to allow for easier assembly - well that's the plan anyway...

Cheers Jim!



T5 & Diff to ATJ - February 2005

The US spec Borg Warner T5 box & the standard Jaguar Salisbury diff were re-built by ATJ Transmissions in Chester.

Both units were stripped and acid-bathed before being thoroughly examined and then re-assembled by Alan.

The gearbox was re-machined to accept an updated seal kit and an updated thrust bearing was installed in the bell-housing.

Several hours were also spent re-finishing both units to bring them up to an 'as-new' finish.

An excellent job!

Chassis to RT - February 2005

Following the preliminary trip to Sheffield before Christmas for Richard Thorpe to cast his eye over the old girl, this time Nelly's chassis arrives at RT Racing without engine & box for a complete rebuild and powder coating.

As Richard will be grinding off remains of swarf and old tubing from the chassis and thoroughly cleaning her up, the chassis will come back in better-than-new condition.

Top man!

See you at the end of the year - no rush with this one...

Strip the Engine Ancillaries - January 2005

With the engine now on the bench, the ancilleries were all stripped off and properly catalogued.

All parts look to be in fairly good condition, although it could be prudent to replace the Hitachi starter motor as it has been stood for several years and the water pump will be rebuilt or replaced, as it shows signs of wash marks, even though the car has only done 24002 miles...

Remove Holden V8 - January 2005

This is the time when you call upon your local TVR Car Club Archivist - Richard Sails - to lend you a hand and an engine hoist and remove the cast iron Holden lump from the chassis.

Removing the engine was reasonably difficult, as the manifolds are captive within the chassis rails and can only be removed once the engine is out. One can only assume therefore that installation will be even more difficult than removal. Something to look forward to then!

RT Chassis Examination - December 2004

We take the rolling chassis to Richard Thorpe at RT Racing for a preliminary meeting to decide the best way forward for the chassis restoration.

It is decided that we will strip the chassis, apart from the four corners, before returning it to RT where it will be further stripped and then bead-blasted to see what, if any, tubing needs replacing.

After making good the chassis it will then be bead-blasted again before it's final powder coating.

Body Off - November 2004

After stripping the interior and shovelling out the grass, the moss, the several buckets of crispy Bristol Avenue leaves and lastly removing the mouldy carpet, the first major step in our restoration programme was to remove the body from the chassis and take a proper look at the Elephant's bottom for the first time.

To download the Elephant's body-off wallpaper click here:

800 x 600 resolution Elephant wallpaper
1024 x 768 resolution Elephant wallpaper

The chassis looked reasonably alright to say the car has been sat outside for over six years. All the same the chassis was to be taken to Richard Thorpe at RT Racing in Sheffield for an inspection just in case...

Thanks to the 'Dirty Dozen' for all their time and support in helping with the task.

A great day!

Grind Those Nuts! - November 2004

In preparation for lifting off the body, all pipework, wiring and mounting bolts have to be carefully removed and catalogued.

Unfortunately several of the mounting points, including the two which locate under the front of the nose, are rusted solid and have to be removed with the help of John Kenyon and the angle grinder.

Nice one JK!

Toyo Tires - October 2004


Malcolm Robinson of Toyo Tires is seen here presenting Howard with a set of new boots for the old girl as Toyo Tires come on board as a sponsor of the White Elephant project.

As Toyos are already the tyre of choice for Howard's 400SE, it really is the perfect solution.

Many thanks to everyone at Toyo Tires for their help and support.




The Royal Visit! - October 2004

Factory legends and good friends John Mleczek and Jimmy 'The Jock' Hedivan visit the White Elephant shed to lend some help and advice at the start of her restoration.

We very much look forward to giving the guys a spin in the car and sharing a couple of beers when she's finished - but not at the same time!

Cheers chaps!

Power & Passion - September 2004

The White Elephant takes centre stage, next to the Speed 12, at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff for the TVR Car Club's main event of the year.

Penny Mallory interviews Howard about the history of the car and the forthcoming restoration.

The old girl's second outing...

West Lancs TVR Car Club - August 2004

Having just rescued Nelly, she is put on display at the next meeting of the West Lancs TVR Car Club. Albeit she arrives on a trailer of course.

Two weeks of trying to diagnose a starting problem lead to the diagnosis that we have some very rusty electrics and several blocked injectors at the very least. So we make the decision to start stripping her down almost immediately.

A good night all the same though!

Rescue the Elephant! - July 2004

On the 15th of July 2004, Gus & I collect the White Elephant from Bristol Avenue, just a couple of weeks before Peter Wheeler sells the company to Nikolai Smolenski.

The sadly missed Dave 'Poseur' Cumming helps us with the old girl and also very kindly has the tree removed which was growing out of the boot!

Dave, with PW's permission, also gave us a brand new rear screen, to help us on our way with our task. Good man!