Friday, February 12, 2010

1966 Griffith 400 - "Not For The Timid"

As I've said in other posts, I'm pretty happy being the age I am. Sometimes though, I wish I were just a little older so I could have experienced cars like this one when they were new. (The sad thing is, I was alive and living not too far from Griffith's shop on Long Island when this car was built. I was just way too young to know that or do anything about it - Maybe I could have gotten Griffith to tweak my bicycle!)

Jack Griffith owned a shop that specialized in servicing high end imports owned by high end customers. Legend has it that one day, just for fun, Griffith decided to see if a Ford V8 from an AC Cobra fit into a TVR Grantura. It didn't quite fit, but the idea was planted in Griffith's mind.

Griffith convinced TVR to supply him with drivetrain-less Granturas. (It most likely wasn't too tough to convince TVR to do this. They needed the money.) With a few (often crude) modifications to the frame, the Ford engine fit and the Griffith was born.

The first Griffith, called the 200, was an insane car. 0-60 came in around 5 seconds. The suspension pick up points and spring damper rates were changed, but the rest of the car was pretty much stock Grantura. Handling was said to be, uh, "exciting". Reliability and build quality of these early Griffiths was said to be terrible.

This car is a Griffith 400. The body received a slight restyle and the build quality of these cars was vastly improved. It was still a blindingly fast car that could be a handful to drive.

This car may be as close as you'll get to driving a new Griffith 400 in 2010. The seller has owned this car for 37 years. It has just 3,843 miles on it. It's not 100% stock or original. It has some race history and the mandatory modifications that go along with that, but it's street legal and has a valid New York registration. It also has Jack Griffith's signature on the dashboard.

The seller describes this car as "not for the timid, extremely fast".

Imagine what it must have been like to see a row of these sitting in Griffith's shop and being able to take one for a test drive. The mixed emotions of awe, joy and terror would still be with you today.

Located in East Islip, Long Island, NY, click here to see the eBay listing.

No comments: