The son of a Russian banker has bought British sports car builder TVR for an undisclosed sum. The new owner plans to invest a large amount of cash to market TVR in the US and other markets.

The son of a Russian banker has bought British sports car builder TVR for an undisclosed sum. The new owner plans to invest a large amount of cash to market TVR in the US and other markets.


Nikolai Smolensky, the son of Alexander Smolensky, bought 100 per cent of the firm, TVR said on Tuesday.


"Plans for the future are to continue trading, invest heavily in new technology and production methods, and hence enhance the TVR brand to become a global player," TVR said in a statement.


His purchase of TVR, a tiny Blackpool-based firm regarded with great affection by British motoring fans, follows Chelsea's sale to oil tycoon Roman Abramovich and a spree on jewelled Faberge eggs by metals magnate Viktor Vekselberg.


In 1981, former North Sea oil engineer Peter Wheeler bought the firm but had been known to be mulling over the prospect of selling the company. The price of the deal has not been revealed but last published accounts for the firm showed a profit of about R4,5 million in 2002.


TVR produces around 1 000 cars a year but has a reputation far larger than its output and Wheeler, who will be staying on with the firm to oversee styling and engineering, was keen to ensure the new owner was a TVR fan, which Smolensky is said to be.


Marketing director Ben Samuelson said: "He's a mad keen motor racing enthusiast who's driven loads of TVRs."


Smolensky's father was the chairman of SBS-Agro, which was Russia's second largest retail bank until it failed in the country's 1998 financial crisis, owing more than R6,3 billion.


He was one of a handful of elite businessmen who acted as power brokers during Boris Yeltsin's presidency in the Nineties, but in May this year Forbes magazine said he was worth only R1,58 billion - which the elder Smolensky denied.


"The figure is incorrect, seriously understated," he said. "I was amazed: surely I didn't work so badly for the last 15 years?"