The Cerbera was first unveiled to the public at the 1994 Birmingham Motor Show, taking another two years for the first one to hit the roads. The introduction of the Cerbera took TVR into slightly new territory; a more family orientated 2+2 sports car, covered with a hardtop, and utilising TVR first in-house developed engine.
TVR tradition was kept however in the spirit of the car; mating a scarily powerful, lightweight engine, to a lightweight body, to create one hell of a performance package. The engine remains one of the highest performing naturally aspirated engines to date, producing 83.3 HP/litre for the 4.2, 93.3 HP/litre for the 4.5 and 97.7 HP/litre for the 4.5 Red Rose.
Not only did customers get the timeless beauty on the exterior, but once again TVR went out to slaughter cows a-plenty for the interior. One of the characteristics that makes a Cerbera such a special place to sit is the exuberance and extravagance of the inside. From the swooping dash and centre rest, to the two prong steering wheel complete with inset gauges and controls.
One thing not to forget is the immensely sexy noise these beasts make, especially on full throttle. So loud, deep and rumbling you could be mistaken for thinking the Norse god Thor was orchestrating. Other, newer, supercars may now be slightly quicker around corners, may possibly surge off the line quicker, but no car quite competes as an all round package of charisma, brute force and elegance.
The 4.2 was TVRs base model for the Cerbera range, with an reported engine output of 360BHP. Coupled with a body weighing in at about 1100kg, it created a car that could reach 60mph in 4.2 seconds and on to a top speed of 185mph.
The main differences with the 4.2 Cerbera were in the engine bay, distinguishable by its overhead fuel rail and side air intakes. For the more technically minded of you, you may be interested to know that all 4.2s came with a plated LSD as normal, with the Hydratrak (viscous) LSD as an option. One last thing to note is that the early 4.2 engines were fitted with a cast crank (rather than the later steel crank), and a small percentage of these have failed. Other than this though, the AJP engine is known to be quite bullet-proof!
When they were released the 4.5 was priced roughly £5,000 more expensive than the 4.2. What did you get for that extra money? Well the main gain was the engine output, being increased 60bhp over the 4.2 to 420bhp. In reality a number of owners have reported power figures of nearly as low as the 4.2, however it does seem easier to tune the 4.5 back to the kind of power figures it should have been putting out, and onwards. TVR revised the engine bay slightly for the 4.5, changing the air intakes to silicon hoses that arched over the top of the engine. On the exhaust side, the manifolds were made from slightly bigger tubing to help those exhaust gases escape quicker.
In line with a car that could now accelerate to 60mph in 3.9 seconds and go on to a top speed of 195mph, TVR decided to fit bigger brakes and the Hydratrak LSD was now a standard option in order to improve all round handling and stopping ability. To give a bit more clearance around the brakes the 4.5 was also the only Cerbera to receive 17" wheels.
The Red Rose was I guess the pinnacle of the Cerbera range. Based on the 4.5, but tweaked, reaching for motoring perfection. The engine was tuned, and you had the option to hit a switch on the dash, which would tell the ECU to change to an alternative fuel map and you'd get the benefit of 440 horses pulling you along. The Red Rose was also giving larger brakes and tweaked suspension making it a very formidable package.
Speed Six Cerbera
In 1999 TVR developed their 'Speed Six' engine which would eventually go on to be installed throughout the TVR range. The Speed Six Cerbera was based on the 4.2, with the same size brakes but a quicker steering rack and Hydratrak LSD as standard.
The Speed Six variant used in the Cerbera was the 4.0 litre, churning out 350bhp. Despite being down on power against the 4.2 Cerbera, the Speed Six engine is slightly more 'torquey', meaning performance figures are almost identical up against the 4.2.
Unfortunately the Speed Six engine endured a torrid time in its first few years, with breakdowns and rebuilds quite common. Rest assured however, there are now countless improvements and upgrades that can be had, and any of those cars needing a rebuild, most probably will have by now. Perhaps, however, still be wary of those low mileage examples that do not include some sort of detailed service history.