The TVR Cerbera Speed 12

In 1996 TVR unveiled a concept car called Project 7/12 at the Birmingham motor show. This would be the first of several prototypes for the most extreme TVR ever built. Project 7/12 was to be developed as a road car so TVR could enter a race version in the GT1 race series at Le Mans. TVR boss Peter Wheeler thought the car could win races and sell as a road car, effectively sharing the development costs.

The name “Project 7/12”, referred to the capacity and cylinder count of the new beast. The engine was two Speed Six engines combined to form a 90 degree V12 with 7.7 Litre capacity. The engine was officially said to produce about 800bhp but broke a 1000bhp dyno during testing, implying that the car was capable of far more. The car was also too powerful for Le Mans, the FIA limiting output to 660bhp.

Project 7/12 raced a few times in the Britcar championships, with air restrictors to limit the power. A rule change in GT1 race series meant racing cars could be purpose built, instead of being based on a road car like project 7/12, this made the project obsolete as a racing car.

The 1996 TVR Project 7/12 Show car

Evolution to Cerbera Speed 12

While the race car was now obsolete, focus turned to using the engine in a the road car. The bodywork was reworked and the car (now named “Cerbera Speed 12”) was ready by 2000, with a price of £245,000. During testing, 3 prototype cars were produced. Bodywork was now a heavily reworked version of the Cerbera.

After driving a prototype home one night TVR boss Peter Wheeler found the car too extreme for the road and decided to cancel the project. Deposits were returned but one road going car was produced by TVR using parts from the 3 prototypes combined.

TVR Cerbera Speed 12
The TVR Cerbera Speed 12 (W112BHG) at Goodwood Festival of Speed

“I knew within 300 yards that it was a silly idea. Over 900bhp in a car weighing just over a ton is plainly ridiculous on the road”

Peter Wheeler TVR
TVR Cerbera Speed 12 (W112BHG) at Goodwood Festival of Speed

W112 BHG / W312BFV / W312 BHG

The red car (W112BHG) is the only one with the actual 7 litre Speed 12 engine which was carried over from the race car. A Purple Speed 12 (W312BFV) is fully built and road legal but contains an Aston Martin V12 engine. The white car (W312BHG) had the show bodywork but was broken for parts.

This single factory built car was advertised for sale by TVR in August 2003 and sold to the buyer who still owns the car today. The customer was personally interviewed by Peter Wheeler prior to the sale, to ensure they knew just what they were getting (ie a prodigiously powerful racing car).

TVR Cerbera Speed 12 – Special equipment

This single road going Cerbera Speed 12 included various bespoke parts:

  • 6 Speed sequential gearbox
  • Pushrod suspension with remote reservoir dampers
  • Heater blanket to warm engine as part of the 30mins start procedure
  • Carbon bodywork
  • Full integrated FIA spec roll cage
  • Full rose jointed race suspension
  • Water cooled brakes
TVR Cerbera Speed 12 Interior
TVR Cerbera Speed 12 Interior

The finished Speed 12 road car weighs less than 1000kg and has around 880bhp giving the car a scarcely believable 880bhp+ per tonne power to weight ratio. This car was tested by EVO magazine in issue 079 and John Barker referred to the cars acceleration as “Terrifying”. The review marked the car 11.5 out of 5.

TVR Cerbera Speed 12 Engine
The TVR Cerbera Speed 12 Engine (7L V12 48 Valves)

“Perhaps an aspiring Speed 12 owner should strap himself into a racing seat and arrange to be ejected from the top of an erupting volcano”

Autocar 1997 Press release extract

Cerbera Speed 12 – An iconic TVR

The name Speed 12 is used for various iterations of different cars. The common factor is the engine, which ended up in one road car (W112BHG). While the show car and race versions are interesting, the road car ended up being the most special. The race car never got the chance to go to Le Mans, (the 440R later did) but the road car is still road legal and badged a TVR. There are so many quotes, sound bites and stories surrounding the car. It’s easy to assume the car was just a cartoonish monstrosity, built for amusement. In some ways it was, but the Speed 12 was also the ultimate expression of the TVR philosophy.

“The Speed 12 has been useful, though, for developing components for our more extreme cars – its diff and drive shafts have gone onto the 440R” (Which later became the Typhon)

Peter Wheeler – Extracted from EVO Magazine

Given that the project was scrapped by TVR, it’s amazing that there is a single road car at all, especially something so extreme. The Speed 12 also features in the Gran Turismo 5 racing game even though only one was made!

The Speed 12 is testament to the TVR approach to building cars. It’s somewhat mythical status was earned by being the most ambitious, world beating and extreme of all the cars produced by TVR.

“Peter (Wheeler) was never happier than when designing and building things with the quite brilliant engineers he surrounded himself with. The Speed 12 was the ultimate expression of this – a car whose only reason for being was because Peter could do it. And, yes, it really did blow up the dyno!”

Ben Samuelson TVR Head of PR
The first shakedown test of the Speed 12 at Snetterton

PO15TVG – Another take on the Speed 12

To confuse things further an Orange car (PO15TVG) appeared in 2015 parked up near the Nurburgring. This is thought to have been made out of spare bodywork by Helical technology . The DVLA refers to the car as TBR 612 Tempest, but it’s quite clearly TVR Cerbera Speed 12 bodywork and is badged a Speed 12 Turbo.

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