Why America Banned The TVR Tuscan

The United States imports a whole lot of cars. Per World's Top Exports, the U.S. is far and away the most prolific buyer of foreign cars, and foreign models have been the most popular cars in the country since 2000. With imported cars playing such an important role in the American market, it can come as a surprise when a model is banned from sale in the United States. 

One of the most perplexing examples of this phenomenon is the TVR Tuscan Speed Six. The early 2000s homage to the classic '60s British sports car had every element that makes American motorheads drool: supercar specs, including a 0 to 60 acceleration speed under 4 seconds and a fearsome 180+ miles per hour top speed married to head-turning European style and a halfway achievable price tag (via TVR Car Club). At an intended American MSRP of $75,000, the Tuscan Speed Six could outperform Ferrari 360s and Porsche 911 Turbos stickered at twice its price.

Certainly, U.S. drivers have never been shy about showing interest in their foreign favorites, banned or not. Thus far, however, the Tuscan Speed Six hasn't benefited from that kind of buyer interest. What went wrong? What did TVR miss that cost the British automaker the lucrative U.S. market?

TVR wasn't a fan of safety features

Like its original, the TVR Tuscan Speed Six was first and foremost a racing car, given the barest of facelifts to make it road-legal. The Mark I Tuscan shipped in small numbers to serious drivers and even had its own one-model racing series (via Top Gear). TVR wanted to bring the same "racer on the road" experience to the global market and threw out every part of the car that didn't serve that goal.

TVR built the Tuscan of fiberglass over a tubular steel frame, making the body light and stiff but fragile even by the gossamer standards of supercar peers, according to GAUK Motors. The engineers took off the pop-up headlights to reduce drag, severely reducing visibility. There was no traction control and anti-lock brakes (via Car Magazine). As late as 2006, the car didn't even ship with a driver's-side airbag.

With so many significant safety shortfalls, only a massive redesign could have allowed the Tuscan Speed Six to ever touch American tarmac. As TVR went bankrupt in 2006 and has not brought a new car to market since, that redesign is likely unforthcoming. Devoted American collectors of British bruisers will have to wait for the model to quality under the NHTSA's 25-year rule before taking the Tuscan for a spin.