David Hubbard's Vixen S3 LVX1762/4
Last updated - 04.12.2012
I bought it as a wreck from a guy in North London, way back in 1985. Stripped it bare.Totally rebuilt all the mechanicals and chassis. Stripped body back to gel coat, ground out all the cracks and resurfaced the fibreglass with glass matt and tissue. Then resprayed it in Bleu Celeste, a Citroen 2CV colour. Then it went into storage, before being shipped to my new home in New Zealand, where it was totally rewired and retrimmed in grey leather. Then I moved to Melbourne, so it caught me up again. It still runs a 711 Ford Kent engine, but with all the right bits to make it an Escort Mexico engine, with fully baffled big-wing sump. When it was set up on a dyno, here in Melbourne, they said it was the best crossflow engine they had ever worked on. As an aside. When you type in TVR Vixen, into Google, you will see me in my car, it's the first one you see. Pretty good eh? You should also be able to see the article that a freelance writer did, about me and my car, and it was published (a full page spread), in 'The Age' newspaper, one of Melbournes big daily papers. ************************************************************************* Fixin' for a Vixen The paint on David Hubbard's 1970 TVR S3 Vixen has, without putting too fine a point on it, seen better days. The blue-grey top coat has cracked into big, irregular, dry-lake shapes and the original lime green of the fibreglass body's gel coat is peeking through. It now looks like a jigsaw of a TVR Vixen, but David doesn't care. As an engineer (an engineering designer in the petrochemical industry, to be precise) David is all about function over form. He is, after all, the bloke who lovingly stripped the TVR to its last nut and bolt, rebuilt and detailed every mechanical component, and then painted the body by hand. With a brush. He is also the bloke who refused to let a small thing like moving to a new country - twice - stand in the way of his relationship with a car he'd always wanted to own. Nor was he willing to allow a life too busy to regularly work on the car deter him. As such, the car has, since he bought it in England in 1983, covered more kilometres in shipping containers than it has under its own steam. "It's actually my second TVR," says David, "but the first one was a very basic car. This one is a much better design. "I went looking for one because prices were bottoming out in the early '80s in Britain, but every one I looked at had something major wrong with it. Actually, they were all junk, with cracked chassis and who knows what. "So then I went looking for a wreck. Boy, did I find one." Found in north London, the Vixen was in a sorry state. "There was no engine, the gearbox was tied into place with rope and the chassis was very sad-looking," David recalls. "The guy selling it wanted to sell me a Lotus twin-cam engine to go with it but I didn't want a Lotus, so I let him stew over the weekend and finally he sold me just the car, less the motor. "I took it home, stripped it of every nut and bolt, jigged the chassis for straightness, sandblasted everything else. And then I hand painted it with a brush. "The mechanical aspects of a machine are far more important to me than the aesthetics. Yeah, I suppose you could say I'm a typical engineer." The initial rebuild of the car was finished in 1986 and took place during a period where David and family moved house and his third child was born. "Then I got a contract to work in New Zealand for one year and ended up staying four years. "The car followed me to New Zealand in a container with our furniture in '92." Of course, the car still wasn't entirely finished, so while it was resident in New Zealand, it was rewired and retrimmed with local leather. Then fate struck again and David moved to Australia. "I came to Australia in '93, but the car stayed in New Zealand for another couple of years. "It arrived here in 1996, I finished it off, it had an engineer's report done and was finally registered, for the first time since I'd owned it. "Actually, I had driven it before that - on a new trading estate in New Zealand. But even by then, I'd already owned it 11 years." So did the reality match the expectation? "It's a very 'mechanical' car. There are lots of rattles, noise, heat and a very mechanical feel. It's a race-car, actually." While the separate tube chassis is all TVR, including the double wishbones, David eventually settled on a Ford four-cylinder engine measuring 1700 cc and producing about 85 kW. But with just 800 kg to push along, performance is very respectable. And now with the teething problems (overheating and a lack of ventilation for the cabin) overcome, David uses the Vixen as a weekender. "It's like a safety valve, really. It's given me something to think about when I'm down. Some people take drugs and drink beer. I look after and drive my TVR." But would he ever consider another make or model as a means of letting off steam in something with a rear seat or maybe even a cabin heater? "No, never. There's too much of my life bound up in it. "I honestly can't think of another car I'd rather own. Nothing else would have the strange appeal that TVRs have held for me since I was about 12 years old. And you might as well tell (readers): Nobody need phone me up to buy it, 'cos it ain't for sale."
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