The Speed 12 was TVR turned up to 11

by Antony Ingram
20 March 2023 2 min read
The Speed 12 was TVR turned up to 11
Photos: Silverstone Auctions

A V12-powered, race-bred but road-registered British supercar? Why does that sound familiar? If the first thing that springs to mind is the Aston Martin Valkyrie, then allow us to remind you of another, from more than two decades ago: the TVR Cerbera Speed 12.

And if you’ve missed out on putting your name down for a Valkryie, the good news is that you’ve still got a chance on the Trevor, as it’s coming up for sale with Silverstone Auctions this May.

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A glorious dose of Peter Wheeler-era TVR lunacy, from an era that really wasn’t short of madness, the car being offered for sale is the only Cerbera Speed 12 built by TVR for road use.

It stemmed from a vehicle dubbed Project 7/12 that debuted at the 1996 British motor show in Birmingham, which was later renamed simply “Speed 12” and, if you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember it as a bonus vehicle in the TOCA 2 videogame.

TVR Speed 12

The idea behind the project was to get TVR at the sharp end of the grid in international GT1 sports car racing – this being the era of spectacular machines like the McLaren F1 longtail, Porsche 911 GT1, and Mercedes CLK GTR – and just as it wasn’t afraid to outpunch them on the road, TVR clearly had no qualms about challenging the biggest names in motorsport on track, either.

Nor about building its own V12 engine, a 7.7-litre unit based on the design of the Cerbera Speed Six’s inline six (itself a TVR design – could you imagine such a small company building its own engine today?). As David Vivian of Evo magazine wrote in 2010, the story goes that the V12 was so powerful ‘it snapped the input shaft of the 1000bhp-rated dyno’, so TVR measured each bank of cylinders separately and came up with a rough output of 960bhp.

The road car today doesn’t make quite that much, Evo‘s John Barker actually driving it in 2005, at which time an 880bhp output was quoted. Today, Silverstone Auctions lists it with a figure of 840bhp, but basically this is an 800bhp-plus car with a kerb weight of under a metric tonne (thanks to carbon/kevlar bodywork), so the real output and result performance is comfortably ‘plenty’.

Alternatively, you could call it ‘too much even for the boss’. The story goes, Wheeler himself took a prototype for a drive one night, and when returning to the factory the next day, ‘declared it too powerful and wild for the road’. Knowing what Wheeler was prepared to let loose unto the public from TVR’s production range, it does make you wonder quite how mad the Speed 12 would have been as a road car.

That declaration put paid to any chance at a run of production models, but the race car did have a short career, primarily in the national GT2 class, even winning a handful of races in the British GT Championship, driven by the likes of ex-Tuscan racers Ian McKellar Jnr and Bobby Verdon-Roe.

The Cerbera Speed 12 will be offered by Silverstone Auctions at the Supercar Fest Sale of Iconic and Classic Cars at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire, on Saturday, May 20. There’s no reserve, and while it’s unlikely to be cheap, what price can you put on a British V12 supercar that’s rarer, and certainly scarier, than an Aston Martin Valkyrie?

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