British motorsport outfit TWR returns as bespoke sports car maker

Volvo 850 BTCC racer cornering on two wheels

Volvo 850 BTCC racer is one of TWR’s best-known creations

Legendary firm, known for creating some of Britain’s best-known racers, vows to build “analogue” performance cars

Legendary British racing and automotive engineering business Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) is to return as a “world-class constructor of bespoke high-performance automobiles”.

Launched in Newbury, Berkshire by Fergus Walkinshaw, son of Tom, the new company will aim to channel the spirit, drive and ethos of the original Oxfordshire company.

It’s already working on a new project, previewed below, and has promised to reveal details soon. 

According to Walkinshaw, new TWR projects will “preserve and protect the analogue driving experience in a world where modern performance cars are governed by electronic systems”.

He also plans to “work with leading brands to help maximise the potential of their own products”. 

Darkened teaser of TWR's first car

Walkinshaw said he has already assembled a highly skilled technical team, scouring the performance and motorsport engineering businesses to find the right people, some of whom worked for TWR in its previous incarnation.

He claims “great pride” in bringing back the traditions and objectives espoused by his father. “Ever since the original TWR business closed its doors, I longed to find a way to continue the family legacy,” he said.

Walkinshaw has been associated with motorsport for more than a decade and has been building his new TWR company since 2020 with a business partner, John Kane.

The objective is “to build an engineering company that will make cars, rather than a car maker that does engineering”, he said. 

“There’s a big difference. We aim to build truly impressive and innovative automobiles, unconstrained by the rulebooks and the styling demands of OEMs.”

The original TWR business, founded in Kidlington in 1975, scored impressive successes in the road and racing business before folding in 2002 after what turned out to be an ill-advised association with the Arrows Formula 1 team.

Walkinshaw himself died in 2010 at 64 after a cancer battle. 

On the racing side, TWR became famous for early successful competition forays with the Mazda RX-7, Jaguar XJ-S, Holden Commodore (in Australia) and Volvo 850 estate, perhaps the most iconic BTCC racer ever.

TWR engineering teams brought the Aston Martin DB7, Volvo C70 and Renault Clio V6 road cars to life, too. 

Established in new headquarters at Leafield, the company also began tackling confidential engineering and design projects for a wide variety of clients.

Many famous designers and engineers built their careers through TWR projects, including Roger Silman, Ross Brawn, Tony Southgate and Ian Callum.  

Probably TWR’s biggest claim to fame were its Jaguar links. Walkinshaw’s team built a family of Group C sports racing cars in the later 1980s that won many WSCC events, including the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1988 and 1990.

A Jaguar Sport division was established in 1988 to produce modified versions of various Jaguar models, but its pinnacle was probably its XJR-15 and XJ220 supercars, built in the early 1990s at a new factory at Bloxham, Oxfordshire. 

Source: Autocar

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