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1967 Griffith Series 600 Coupe

1967 Griffith Series 600 Coupe


The Griffith 600 belongs to an unrepeatable automotive era. It is the kind of car that will never happen again. Its history is convoluted and confusing, fraught with financial difficulty and ultimate failure. But the Griffith 600 represents a moment of undiluted possibility when, before government regulations and fuel crises transformed the industry, founding an independent company to produce exotic automobiles really was an attainable dream.

Of course, attaining that dream was never easy. Jack Griffith, like so many hopefuls before him, learned that lesson the hard way with his Griffith 600. Griffith sold painfully few examples of this car before his company's inevitable collapse. His ambitious sports car, though, existed as a swan song of the pre-giant-rubber-bumper days. Exotic, handsome, and genuinely fast, the Griffith 600 stood as living, driving proof that, once upon a time, automotive dreams really could come true.

Jack Griffith was not alone in his endeavors, as the birth of the Griffith 600 intertwined tightly with the histories of two other small carmakers: TVR and Intermeccanica. That said, Griffith was alone in feeling the effects of his project's failure; TVR went on to relative success as the maker of tiny but potent fiberglass sports cars, and Intermeccanica continued as a builder of cars of its own design and later as a producer of high quality replicas. Regardless of its commercial failure, the Griffith 600 was a captivating automobile and the details of its hectic past are worth recounting.

The story of the Griffith car company begins with TVR. A Brit named Trevor Wilkinson built his first automobile in 1947 and went on to produce some very fine—and often very strange—sports cars under his distinctive brand name, which he derived from three of the letters in his first name: TreVoR. By the 1960s, TVR was producing its first real production model, the Grantura. This diminutive coupe with fiberglass bodywork and steel backbone chassis was a balanced and capable car for discerning drivers. It proved plenty fast for British roads, even when powered by tiny four-cylinder engines brought in from various manufacturers.

Very little driving in America, though, was done on roads similar to those in Britain for which the TVR Grantura was intended. The Grantura was not underpowered by anyone's standards, but certainly the car lacked the sort of torque and effortless propulsion favored by American drivers for their wide-open, straight-to-the-horizon highways.

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