Fuelfed Member Featured in the Wall Street Journal


Below is a repost from that WSJ Article.

Those who participate in Fuelfed driving events will know John. Those at our famous Coffee and Classics throughout Chicagoland will recognize his green TVR. John was interviewed last fall by A.J. Blaine for the Wall Street Journal and he couldn’t be a better poster boy for TVR. What we can say is John LOVES to drive, and drive fast.

His Vintage British ‘Rocket Ship’ Is a Rare Find in the U.S.

By A.J. Baime

Photographs by Kevin Serna for The Wall Street Journal

John Shank of La Grange, Ill., 62, owner of the candy company The Chocolatier Inc., on his 1978 TVR 3000S, as told to A.J. Baime.

In the mid-1980s, I went to work in England, and while there I saw this brand of car I did not recognize. I remember asking people what it was. “That’s a TVR,” they’d say. To which I answered, “A TV—what?” I liked these cars so much that I did some reading.

TVR was founded in England in the late 1940s by a guy named Trevor Wilkinson. [Wilkinson originally named the company after himself—Trevcars Motors, which evolved into TVR.] The company had financial problems for years, but was known for building sports and racing cars in such small numbers that few ever left England. When I first saw TVRs in the 1980s, I had designs on buying one, particularly one of the so-called M series of cars of the 1970s. But I ended up getting married and moving back to the States, at which point I forgot all about the whole thing.

The company behind TVRs was founded in England in the late 1940s, and it still makes cars today.
TVR made 258 3000S cars over two years in the late 1970s.

In 2014, I was looking at a Hemmings magazine and saw an ad for a 1978 TVR 3000S. This was one of the M series cars that I had loved so much when I’d lived in England decades earlier. TVR had made this particular model for just two years, in 1978 and 1979—a total of 258. This was TVR’s first production convertible. According to the information I have (details can be difficult to nail down), the company built 67 cars with the steering wheel on the left-hand side and, of those, only 49 were cleared for the U.S. market. The ad in Hemmings was for one of those cars. I thought: What are the chances of that?

Ultimately, this 1978 TVR came up for auction, starting at $32,500. I put in a lowball bid for $6,000 less, figuring they would ignore me. The next thing I knew, I got a message: The car is yours! My wife is English, but still, she was upset when I told her. But when she saw the car, she warmed up to it.

It was not until I had the car in my possession that I learned more of its story. A previous owner in the U.S. had shipped the 3.0-liter Ford V-6 engine in the 1990s to a race shop in Oxford, England, where it was rebuilt to, basically, one step below a full racing engine. This previous owner had other high-performance modifications done, and the car came with all the receipts. He’d spent a fortune on it, and upped the horsepower considerably to about 220.

TVR made perhaps several dozen of these cars with the steering wheel on the left-hand side.
TVR used a Ford V-6 in this model. A previous owner of Mr. Shank’s car had its engine tuned for higher performance at a shop in Britain.

For years I’d driven old Volvos. These were pretty cars and well-engineered. But when I jumped in the TVR, it felt like a rocket ship. You step on the pedal and the thing flies. It drinks a lot of gas, but it handles like a race car.

I’ve since joined a car club called Fuelfed, which I think of as the premier sports-car club. When we have car shows, 150 or 200 cars show up—Alfa Romeos, Porsches, Ferraris, Lamborghinis. I show up with my car and, let me tell you, if there’s one other TVR there, it’s like finding two needles in the same haystack.

People ask me all the time: What kind of car is that? It’s the same question I asked the first time I saw a TVR, back in the ’80s. Every time I have the conversation, I feel like I’ve created a new TVR fan, just like me.

John (above) on the Fuelfed MotorGearo Rally in 2021

2 Responses to “Fuelfed Member Featured in the Wall Street Journal”

  1. Brent Gustafson Says:

    It’s been a pleasure, to first, be a fellow Volvo 1800 member of Chicago Volvo Clubs, and parking near he and John Tuteur in their matching blue metallic Volvo 1800E’s at FuelFed, now both sold, and both now with iconic British sports cars. They are the reason I joined FuelFed. Finally the joy of riding behind and in front of him at the 2018 MotorGearo on the roads of driftless SW Wisconsin. He’s always a friendly face greeting everyone to Sunday morning Coffee &
    Classics around Chicagoland. Congratulations John!

  2. Alan Gordon Says:

    Great story !! Alan

    Sent from my iPhone


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