Car enthusiasts of the digital generation, gather ‘round: The world’s only road-going TVR Cerbera Speed 12 is going up for auction. This fearsome one-off V12 beast is one of the most outrageous supercars ever to grace the road and our consoles, and now it’s up for grabs. If you’re not familiar with the car that was almost too crazy for TVR, allow me to introduce you.
Originally conceived for GT1 racing, the Speed 12 played host to a somewhat unusual engine – a 7.73-liter steel-block V12 that was essentially two Speed Six engines joined together. However, the Speed Twelve engine gained fresh heads with bucket-actuated valves and an even higher compression ratio of 12.5:1. In racing trim, it was limited to 660 horsepower, but that wasn’t a huge problem as curb weight clocked in at a feathery 2,425 pounds.
However, soon after the GT1 car’s introduction, it was rendered obsolete by the likes of the Porsche 911 GT1 and Nissan R390. No problem, off to GT2 it went. Unsurprisingly, it was very fast but also unreliable, garnering a spotty track record of victories and failures. However, racing was not enough – TVR wanted to sell a road-going version with the restrictor plates taken off completely. If this sounds insane, that’s because it was.
During the development of the Speed 12, TVR strapped the big V12 without restrictor plates to an engine dynamometer rated for 1,000 horsepower and let it rip. It blew up the dyno. Input shaft broken, end of story. As a way around this, TVR decided to dyno each bank by itself [Editor’s Note: We should find out exactly how they did this – pulled the plugs and the cam from the other bank? – JT], then through some fuzzy math, guesstimate how much horsepower the engine made. Each bank put out 480 horsepower, and TVR settled on a round 800 horsepower as an advertised number.
At £245,000, the price tag seemed absurd for something built out of plastic in a shed in Blackpool that may or may not have featured hidden messages under the carpets depending on who was working on it. Nevertheless, people lined up. After all, TVR claimed the Speed 12 would be faster than a McLaren F1 which, in the late ‘90s, meant it was faster than God. Unfortunately, in a pre-250 mph race, pre-driver aids era, faster than God was simply too fast.
After a road drive, TVR boss Peter Wheeler decided that the Cerbera Speed 12 was simply too fast for the road. If this were any other manufacturer, it would be okay to poke at them for being a bit soft. However, this was TVR, a brand known for some truly unhinged sports cars that had a reputation for spitting inexperienced drivers off the road and into the scenery in the blink of an eye. For a TVR to be too fast for public sale, it had to be something else. Indeed, Evo Magazine’s John Barker had an opportunity to drive this very car and described its experience on the road as “terrifyingly, crazily quick.”
As a result, plans for a road-going Cerbera Speed 12 were shelved, with customer deposits returned and existing prototypes broken down for use in racing. However, several years after the demise of the road-going Speed 12 project, Wheeler had a change of heart. One prototype would be reconstructed as a road car using racing bodywork, but Wheeler had to personally vet the buyer. Presumably, to make sure they wouldn’t wind up dead from the sheer thrust of the thing. A deal was struck to build this, the only road-going Speed 12 in existence.
Oh, and the world’s only Speed 12 isn’t entirely stock. After TVR went belly-up, the car’s original owner allegedly hired the original development engineers to turn up the wick to 850 horsepower and more than 900 lb.-ft. of torque. No turbos, no superchargers, just pure naturally-aspirated British speed. I particularly admire the “Pit you BASTARD” message that’s been programmed into the gauge cluster, a proper bit of humor in a dead-serious bit of kit.
If I were unfathomably wealthy, I’d do everything I could to get my hands on this car. It’s simply the most bonkers car from Britain’s most bonkers car manufacturer. From TOCA 2 Touring Cars to Gran Turismo 2 to Forza Horizon 5, this legendary supercar has haunted the dreams of digital-generation car enthusiasts for decades as the beast to tame. However, I’m not unfathomably wealthy, so I’ll have to be content with simply driving it virtually. If you have an incredible car collection and are looking to buy something absolutely mental, the Cerbera Speed 12 passes under the hammer on May 20. It’s either this or another vintage Ferrari, don’t be boring.
(Photo credits: Silverstone Auctions)
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I’ve used it in FH5 and FH4. My current one has a rally build, with rally suspension, dirt tires, and some extra power. It actually does well in S2 dirt races, but I like it to complete challenges on dirt.
I think I’ll have to try that. Normally for dirt challenges, like dirt speed traps and speed zones I’ve built a Rallighini out of a Huracan or if I’m felling more muscle car, a Rallenger out of a hellcat.
Damnit, My jeans are tight.
I love this thing. Being a TVR it will really fast, loud, and on fire within 2 laps. Still would drive it/own it if I could.
Oh look, it’s my go-to credit-farming machine in GT4. Which I’m currently playing for the first time ever. I was surprised that TVRs are so… drivable in GT4. They were impossible to drive in GT2.
I remember watching one of these come down the Hanger straight at Silverstone (I can’t remember if it was a video, or if I was actually there, it’s that long ago), and the noise was unbelievable.
It genuinely sounded like the Devil himself was trying to climb out of the exhausts: a fiery, throat-ripping, limb-tearing roar that made all other piston engines sound like poodles whimpering.
And please let Chris Harris review it!
That would be a first class hedge hunter in my enthusiastically incapable hands.
Peter Wheeler was a character. Also a legend, but mostly a character.
I would love to see an interview done by Autopian – print, podcast or otherwise – with folks who had enough interaction with the guy, because supposedly he was quite fun to interact with at times. I think Metcalfe spoke with him a fair bit, also Catchpole and Harris. Every time I hear a story about Peter Wheeler, it’s always good for a laugh.
I love that his dog helped design the Chimaera.
I learned to respect TVR through video games. It never went straight after a corner and it would snap around quick with just a little too much throttle.
These characteristics made me want one! Such a delightfully over-powered, heavily unbalanced, tiny, lightweight car. It’s perfect for hooning and random acts of jackassery.
One? I want 2, I know for sure I will wreck 1.
The car was a fuckin handful in GT2 and when I could keep it on the track I knew I had practiced enough. The 1000 hp supra was easier to drive 😛
Damn I would hoon the shit out of this thing…
It follows much of the formula for what I want in a car. Light-weight 2-seater with an absurd amount of power fits most of what I’m after, and where it does so, it does so to a nicely absurd degree.
What is sad is that it will likely end up in some wealthy collector’s garage, never to be hooned or even raced again. What a tragic waste that would be.
Steel engine block is cool. Haven’t heard of that before.
IIRC (and it makes sense), they did that because it was an in-house design and welding steel blocks for low volume was affordable vs traditional casting. Wheeler apparently REALLY wanted them to have their own engines. A very interesting guy.
So 2000lbs lighter than a Demon 170, same power on pump gas, no blower to overheat. Must be a beast.
And note that, without a wing, a long enough gearvox ratio and a pair of adamantium balls, this thing will rip thru 250+ mph no problem
Even with the adamantium balls, I’d still recommend military-grade underwear too.
Probably my favorite car to drive on Forza Horizon 5. Its a barn find and it does 240 mph, 275 with a good tune.
I remember poring through C&D looking for their occasional updates on this car.
Sure, we have 1000hp electric sedans now, but they’re not close to the hp/wt ratio. Just an insane vehicle.
Are you sure that isn’t a Dodge Viper with a body kit?
That would be the Bristol Fighter.
Lol. Way too small the car is 50% engine and 100% insane.