So fast it may cause death - the TVR Speed 12
No, that’s not a joke.
Forgotten car stories and stories of how certain cars came to be are always interesting. All the little twists and turns leading up to the big final goal of mass production - I could read them for hours. And because I do read them for hours, I know quite a few of them. So today I’m going to recount the story of a deathtrap sports car that would’ve been the fastest car ever made... by quite some margin.
A shot from the back.
To trace this TVRs origins, we must put ourselves in the time of 1997. Everybody was anticipating the turn of the new millenium (which is going perfectly well so far...) and the top speed war of the 90s was coming to a close. Ferrari had lead the charge with their 201mph F40, Jaguar and Bugatti had come along with their 217 and 218mph supercars, and McLaren had raged war on the industry with their 240mph F1. Then along comes a little plastic sports car maker in England called TVR, and they decide that what they want to do - to really put themselves on the map - is create the undisputed fastest car in the world.
The main idea for the Speed 12 (or Project 7/12) was to be not only blisteringly fast but a platform for the GT1 racer that would be based off of it - you can see said GT1 racer below. We don’t know how much power the 7.7L V12 would’ve had - but we DO know that it was enough to break a dyno machine (or rolling road, if you prefer to call it that) rated at a maximum of 1000 horsepower. We also know, due to the TVR-iness off it, that it would’ve presumably weighed in at less than 1000kg, meaning that the power-to-weight ratio would’ve been off the scale.
A GT1 racecar based on the Speed 12.
So why was this speed demon never made? Well, here’s the interesting if not a bit concerning part. The TVR CEO at the time, Mr Peter Wheeler, apparently decided to make a prototype for a drive home one night, and the story goes that the very next morning, the project was cancelled. In the words of Mr Wheeler himself, it was just too powerful. This being a TVR, it had absolutely no driving aids whatsoever, which meant no power steering, or ABS, or anti-lock brakes, or traction control. The only thing in the cabin to tame the immense speed of this beast... was you. And this would supposedly not go down well.
It turns out that if you drive (or rather, drove) a Speed 12, you would end up SCARED TO DEATH. Actually dead. After this revelation, the executives at TVR decided it best to cancel the project - as they really didn’t want to be seen as murderers - and dismantled all the prototypes. All the prototypes, as far as I’m aware, except three. These three were detuned, given a factory bodykit to improve downforce, rebadged as the Cerbera Speed 12, and sold off to very wealthy clients. The detuning and aero kit failed to make a dent in the extreme performance, but did at least help the car point in the right direction and not kill the driver in the process.
One of the three examples of the Cerbera Speed 12
And that’s the story of the fastest car in the world that never was. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning about this fantastic little car, and mildly liked my less-than-ideal story telling skills. This has been a nice change from Top 5 lists, so I might try and do this more often. Until then, though... do what you want, I don’t care. Just don’t die driving a Speed 12.