Updated: Jul 5, 2020
What’s the best car in the world? Now there’s a question which has caused many a lively pub debate since Rolls Royce decided the title was theirs over a hundred years ago.
And everyone has a different take on the answer, because everyone has a different set of criteria to apply to the question. Is it the most charismatic, celebrated and beautiful car out there? If so, many would argue that the title belongs to something like the Ferrari 250 GTO; an exquisite blend of elegance and engineering which hypnotises passers-by and has a provenance second to none. But the best car in the world? A 250 is totally impractical, too valuable to park anywhere, noisy and temperamental. Is the best car in the world something you can’t actually use? Not unless you’re judging it as an artwork.
So maybe the best car in the world is something practical and usable - something with
adequate comfort, sufficient space, bulletproof reliability and perhaps a hint of environmental responsibility? I can see the argument in that, but the logical conclusion from this direction of thought is that something like a Kia Cee’d is the pinnacle of automotive achievement, or maybe even, heaven forbid, the Toyota Prius. And I don’t want to live in a world where the Prius is the best we can do. Just no.
Because the best car in the world should combine the two bases. It should be reliable yet charismatic. It should be comfortable yet quick. It should be something with the upsides of owning an exotic, but without the downsides which go with it. It should provide an emotional connection. And it should be something you learn from; something which enriches your life not only with smiles, but also through education, by providing an accessible means of learning how cars work, rather than hiding behind plastic engine shielding and diagnostic ports.
And you know what? I’ve just described the TVR Chimaera, because it hits the sweet spots on so many levels. From crossing rocky deserts to making a stir outside a wine bar, it can do it all. It has the space and comfort to work as a grand tourer, but also the lightness and precision needed for track use. It’s tough enough to circle the globe, and simple enough to fix if you do have an issue. It’s stylish enough to turn heads, yet subtle enough to leave outside Tesco without a worry. And it’s cheap enough that many people can work up to a place in their lives where they can afford one. It’s an achievable dream.
The Pub2Pub Expedition wasn’t the first time I’ve done a big trip in a sports car. I’ve previously crossed Africa in a Porsche, and Asia in a Corvette. And despite these two marques being famed for making tough sports cars, the TVR suffered from fewer issues than either of them. It was also more comfortable than either, and generated a more positive response too. On top of this, it proved the most charismatic, and the most fun to drive. And it’s not just other sports cars it has beat. On my various trips, I’ve met Land Rovers making similar journeys which have needed replacement gearboxes shipped out within a month of setting off. I’ve seen Toyota Land Cruisers whose hub bolts have sheared, stranding them in the same deserts I’ve driven through. I’ve met Defenders which have been on their third head gasket by the time they’ve made it from England to China. The TVR had none of these issues. Weighing little more than a tonne, every impact and every hill puts a fraction of the strain on its mechanicals when compared to a heavy 4x4. Even as an overland vehicle, it excels – after all, ours did 27,000 miles without a breakdown.
So there you have it. The perfect blend of speed, comfort, charisma, space, affordability and durability, all wrapped up in a timeless body. The TVR Chimaera is, in fact, the best car in the world. Who'd have thought it?!