TVR CERBERA

Speed 12 race-car

by Dave Allison

 

In today's world of badge engineering and marque hype its becoming increasingly difficult to recognize just who does what in the racing world. Relatively humble manufacturers are using once great names to gain prestige and kudos. Thus we have a Bentley/Audi/VW, a Jaguar/Ford, an Aston Martin/Ford and a host of other marriages of convenience e.g. MG/Lola, Sintura/Lola, TWR/Porsche, TWR/Jaguar, TWR/Mazdas (Mazda and Ford are linked) which were called Jaguars. And let's not forget that Fiat made Ferrari wear their logo for many years.


Its good therefore to find a car which really is what it says on the can. TVR are independent and design and manufacture their own cars and engines with a flair that can only be described as breathtaking. On a budget that probably wouldn't pay Ferrari's corporate hospitality bill, TVR have made their own 7.7 litre V12 engine, reputedly capable of over 800 bhp unrestricted, then shoehorned it into a much modified Cerbera chassis. The end result is a true hot rod, which even ole' Shel would have been proud of. The Cerbera meanwhile, has grown muscles that make Arnie look like a wimp. And just like the Cobra of old, if you have enough money you can buy one to make those supermarket trips just that bit more interesting!

 

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Unfortunately such enterprise brought its share of problems at the track. While Loz's Fat Cat sat smugly in its basket, the boys from Blackpool ran themselves ragged de-bugging their pet beast during last years race season. When I saw the car at Croft qualifying, the engine had just arrived in the back of a van after an overnight rebuild at the factory. No spare you see!
But when it ran it sounded wonderful and led many a race before succumbing to various problems. A late season win at Silverstone was scant reward for all the hard work but the car gave much pleasure to those who saw and heard it. And this year, it's back with a vengeance!


The kit

The Cerbera has been blatantly ignored by other kit manufacturers, but Keith Williams and the team at SMTS have ridden to the rescue with a cracking little kit of the Scania sponsored 2000 season car. Think Marsh Models and you'll get the idea.

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The body is cleanly cast in a good quality resin with very little flash and neatly engraved panel lines. The attention to detail is excellent and the muscular lines of this unique car are well captured.
Baseplate and interior are cast separately in metal and are beautifully done, as indeed are all the smaller castings. Pedals and gearstick are provided together with a nice seat but the area of the passengers footwell is filled in and not representative of the real car, which has a plethora of equipment and wiring stuffed in there. In truth, very little of the cockpit interior will be visible through the small windows but that wont deter the super detailers (or me!) from having a go. Steering wheel and instrument binnacle are in metal, the instruments being taken care of by means of a decal, although I think the latter is from the road car, the race version differing slightly.


A full roll cage is supplied, also those parts of the rear suspension visible through the rear window.
Transparencies are vac-formed for front and rear, the front fitting from the outside. Side windows are, I think, intended to be cut from clear sheet, although there was none in my kit and neither was there a template, although the side window decals could be used if necessary.


Front splitter is supplied both cast and in p/e form and even the tops of the air jacks are provided as tiny castings. Four short turned tubes represent the exhaust pipes.
A double etched p/e fret takes care of the rest of the body fittings and includes rear diffuser and vanes, side skirts, wing endplates (wing being sensibly cast in metal), wing mounts, discs with separate calipers, tow-hook, fuel fillers, w/wiper, cut-out switch and pre-formed wheel spiders, the multispoke version being supplied.
Surprisingly, wheel rims are cast but are very well done, looking spot-on for size and proportion. Tyres are soft rubber which some modellers like but I would rather have resin. There is no provision for the five-spoke wheels used in wet races.


I wondered how SMTS would tackle the tricky and very distinctive lighting arrangement on the Cerbera with its multiple "spider eye" style. I needn't have worried. SMTS have included a full coloured set of the tiny reflective backed lenses beloved by military and railway modellers. These will surely compliment the model to perfection.


Finally to the decals. I have built a fair number of SMTS kits in the past and have always considered the decals to be their Achilles heel. 

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Those for the Cerbera are in a very different league. Printing is very fine with thin carrier film and good definition, although some of the tiny silver lettering was becoming a little indistinct on some of the smaller logos. There was NO yellowing. The markings are very comprehensive and a guide is provided on SMTS's usual instruction sheet. The only errors I could find were Ian McKellars name spelled with an "e" on one side of the car (minute!) and a large silver Scania logo missing from behind each front wheel-arch.
SMTS are aware of the latter and should be producing a correction sheet.
One note of caution. Do check references if possible as the markings and body details changed from race to race. And that's about it.


Summary

The Privilege GT series has been sadly ignored by kit makers, maybe because Ferrari and Porsche don't figure too greatly in it and that's a great pity as there are some really attractive subjects. SMTS are courageously attempting to redress the balance with this admirable little kit. If it is successful, they may be enticed to do more, this seasons Cerbera being a logical follow up. Unfortunately such an eclectic choice does not come without a price, 40 to whit.
This puts it on a level with Marsh's GTs with which it compares most favourably. It presents a challenge to build and whilst it has its faults (what kit hasn't?), its good points far outweigh any bad. As an added attraction, SMTS do a road version. At Croft this was finished in a gorgeous pearlescent strawberry red scheme.
If you like TVR's, muscle cars or just something a bit different from the red hordes, you'll like this. I do and so does my son who started work on his within minutes of opening the box!
NICE ONE!!!!