Home » A Salute To TVR’s Very Weird Door Release Knob: Cold Start

A Salute To TVR’s Very Weird Door Release Knob: Cold Start

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One thing I love about cars is that even after all my years covering this business, I’m still learning new stuff every day. Case in point: this weekend, I learned all about TVR’s weird approach to the simple act of opening car doors.

We often think of America’s 25-year import rule in terms of Japanese cars, and maybe some forbidden-fruit BMWs, Audis and Mercedes-Benzes. But the world is a lot bigger and more diverse than Skylines and Integras. I’m starting to see a few more TVRs on the road in America these days, to which I say: good.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom
Tvr Chimaera 1994 1600 01
Photo: TVR

I had an encounter with a TVR Chimaera in New York this weekend, and while I stupidly forgot to take a photo, I asked the owner, what’s the deal with that knob thing below the shift boot? “Oh, that’s how you open the doors,” he said.

Chimaera Interior Knob
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

TVRs famously eschewed door handles. The various models open the doors in different ways, like switches under the mirror. The Chimaera I saw opened with a keyhole near the convertible top. It’s even weirder inside the car, too. Want to open the doors so you can eventually leave? Twist the little silver knob. That’s what it does. It opens the doors!

It turns out our old pal Doug DeMuro was on top of this a year ago. And for a guy whose work often highlights quirks and features, I’m sure the Chimaera had him busy for a bit:

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And if the quirks don’t keep you busy, a beefy Rover Group V8 in a car that only weighs about 2,300 pounds certainly will. It’s almost like an English Dodge Viper, which is perhaps why I like it so much.

Anyway, if you’re looking for something fun and different to import, look into a TVR. It won’t be as obvious as some options here in America, but if you know, you know.

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AnDe
AnDe
10 months ago

That’s an old mighty hat, TVRs and their door opening shenanigans. Still good for an entertaining piece of writing, perhaps. Could work for a Cold Start if not a bit too staged and “in the drawer”.
Surprise us, be creative around cars. Go deep into auto history and quirky things. That’s what you do best. Do not ever try to become one of those Automotive News Sites.
Leave the Union and test EV car shit out off here.
@PG: Relax a little, please, you are for too tense here. Your bitter writing is darkening the overall happy vibe around this site. We just love cars, dude, go surf. This is not Detroit.

Phuzz
Phuzz
10 months ago

I used to work with a guy who had a Chimera, with the five litre V8. You could feel the noise from the engine from inside when he pulled up, and this was an old pub, so the walls were about two foot of stone.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago

You’ve been doing a fine job babysitting Cold Start.
I’ve enjoyed your take on it.
Interesting and well written articles for sure.
Just needs a quarter cup more bonkers added to the mix.
When is Torch coming back? He’s always away on business trips these days.

“Papa? You don’t seem to have any time for me anymore?”

And the cats in the cradle and the silver spoon…

Last edited 10 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Dodsworth
Dodsworth
10 months ago

I want a manufacturer to make doors that have to be opened by the dashboard touchscreen, just so we can sic Jason on them.

Old Busted Hotness
Old Busted Hotness
10 months ago
Reply to  Dodsworth

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
10 months ago

“Open the door, you knob”

Is what I would say nearly every time I exited the car.

Rusty S Trusty
Rusty S Trusty
10 months ago

Advising your readers to import a TVR is not going to help increase your site traffic. Dead people don’t read The Autopian.

Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Phantom Pedal Syndrome
10 months ago

It’s a convertible, who needs opening doors?
(Spoken like I was 20 years younger than I am)

Last edited 10 months ago by Phantom Pedal Syndrome
Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
10 months ago

It rains a lot in the UK, the roof will mostly be up.

NebraskaStig
NebraskaStig
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Roof doesn’t matter much when it’s upside down in a ditch lol

Droid
Droid
10 months ago

“In the olden days, I always got the impression that TVR build a car, put it on sale, and then found out how it handle. Usually when one of their customers wrote to the factory complaining about how dead he was.” – j.clarkson

Trust Doesn't Rust
Trust Doesn't Rust
10 months ago

This is what happens when you decide to take inspiration from the French.

Canopysaurus
Canopysaurus
10 months ago

Bet it’s fun getting out of that in an emergency egress.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
10 months ago

Many S1 Elises made it to the US yet? 1996 was the first year, so well inside the 25 year rule. And you can buy all the bits you need to convert them from RHD to LHD.

150kg (330lb) lighter than the US spec S2 Elise.

Chronometric
Chronometric
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

I am usually a minimalist but I like the fussy S2 Elise styling a little better. And the US models had quite a bit more power to make up for their extra heft.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
10 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

My S1 had 160bhp, so better power to weight than the NA 2ZZ engined S2s.

A supercharged S2 Exige is my dream Lotus.

Cerberus
Cerberus
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

I saw one on the road a few years ago and a 340R at a show that I assume was here on show & display.

Chronometric
Chronometric
10 months ago

I saw one at a European car show. A great way to fly your Auto Freak Flag.

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
10 months ago

TVR deftly straddles that ambiguous line between “garage-built kit car” and “legitimate auto manufacturer.”

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago

There’s at least a few British sports car companies in that category

Man With A Reliable Jeep
Man With A Reliable Jeep
10 months ago
Reply to  Ranwhenparked

Now that you mention it, a solid majority of British automakers might fall into that category…

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
10 months ago

As an engineer who has worked for some British OEMs I totally agree.

“Are we really doing it like this?”
“Yes”
“But this isn’t how Honda or BMW or Toyota would do it”
“If these parts were good enough for the 1971 Morris Marina they’ll be good enough for us!”

Tony Cotton
Tony Cotton
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

My 1987 Morgan uses Marina switchgear, which obviously has fallen apart. I tried to get a new indicator, thinking “Marina, loads around”, but they’ve all died. Only crappy sub-Lucas copies are available. So now old cars are worse than Marinas in the switchgear dept. We’re doomed.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

Don’t forget that the Rover V8 started life as a Buick V8 that GM scrapped. Granted, the reason GM scrapped it was because they didn’t want to make changes to better accommodate the all-aluminum design, but buying a dead engine design for cheap from a major manufacturer just sort of adds to the kit car feel.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

GM still got a lot of life out of the design though, it birthed the cast iron small block Buick V8 that was built through 1980 and the Fireball V6 that was made through 2008

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
10 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

Kaiser/Jeep were guilty of this as well. They bought a Buick V6 to use as a larger motor for the CJ. AMC eventually sold it back to Buick.

Slow Joe Crow
Slow Joe Crow
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

The Morris Marina door handles stayed in production until 1998 on the Landrover Discovery. FWIW the Defender used Sherpa van door handles from around 1987 until the end of the line in 2016. Thankfully almost everything else Marina died with the Morris Ital in the mid 80s

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
10 months ago
Reply to  Slow Joe Crow

Aside from that revival in Mainland China as the Chengdu CAC6430

Phuzz
Phuzz
10 months ago

As far as I can tell, the biggest British owned manufacturer now is McLaren, with Morgan coming second. Basically every other British manufacturer is foreign owned.
There’s Nobel as well, but they’re in the ‘not a kit car honest’ category.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
10 months ago

One of my friends has had a few TVRs, including a Chimaera.

Horrific choice of car to use for a first date.

Citrus
Citrus
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

I mean, you say that, but if my date showed up in a TVR, they would definitely have a much better chance to, uh, add more activities to the date.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
10 months ago
Reply to  Citrus

These thing happen when you’re trapped inside a car that’s likely to break down in the middle of nowhere.

Either that or lots of screaming.

Iain Tunmore
Iain Tunmore
10 months ago
Reply to  Captain Muppet

A lady rocking up to a first date in a TVR would be instant marriage material for me.

Brandon Forbes
Brandon Forbes
10 months ago

I need a TVR someday. They are just so weird, and that’s even before I knew this detail. I knew about the mirror mounted exterior switches, but had no idea about this one. This is the exact kind of weird content that brings me back to The Autopian every day!

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