Introduced in 1981, the 280i came with the Ford 2.8 liter V6 Cologne engine. The transmission, front brakes and much of the suspension was also from the Ford parts bin. (Differential and rear brakes are from Jaguar.) Its 0-60 time was in the 8 second range and it had a top speed of 130 MPH. The bodies were made of fiberglass and sat on a tubular steel chassis. The 280i was available in coupe and convertible form.
TVR never seemd to be able to settle on a name for this car and during its production it was known as the Tasmin, the Tasmin 280i and just 280i. (And, just to confuse us further, TVR also offered a Tasmin with a 2.0 liter Ford 4 cylinder engine in it, known as the Tasmin 200i.) TVR also offered a V8 version of this car, using the Rover aluminum 3.5 liter engine, called the 350i. (Which is a car I really want to own someday.)
TVR stopped selling cars in the US in 1987, although they remained in business for another 20 years or so and produced some very impressive cars including the Chimaera, Cerbera and Tuscan.
In July of 2004 TVR was sold to 24 year old Russian businessman, Nikolay Smolensky. (Nope, that not a typo... the new owner of TVR was 24 years old. When I was 24 I would have been very, very happy just owning a TVR car. This guy bought the whole company!) Things didn't go quite as planned and TVR was moved, split up, shut down and re-opened numerous times. It got very confusing, with TVR essentially becoming 3+ companies. In 2007 it was in bankruptcy. No cars have been produced since 2006. According to a June 6, 2013 report, Smolensky (who was the high bidder at the bankruptcy auction and, essentially, bought his own company back at pennies on the dollar) had sold his entire ownership of TVR to Les Edgar, a British businessman who was previously involved with TVR. Edgar says his company has "a lot of plans" for the sports car brand, and "won't make the mistakes that have been made in the past." So far, not much has happened.
This 280i appears to be a good, easy project. If you take care of the horn, wiper, headlight, brakes and the transmission linkage, you could drive it as is. It needs a spare tire. (My friends make fun of me for checking the air in my spare each time I check the air in the tires, but a few weeks ago I hit one of the million moon-crater sized potholes that winters in New England always create, and ruined a rim on my Saab. I was very happy to have a working spare tire, even if it was just a donut.) Everything else that needs to be repaired could be done while you use it. (Unless you plan on re-doing the body. But that's what winter is for, right?)
Located in Elkhorn, WI, click here to see the eBay listing.