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Jensen Healey

Jensen Healey Published: 11th Jan 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jensen Healey
Jensen Healey
Jensen Healey
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On paper this mix of famous names had it all but it didn’t work out that way. Now the Healey for the 1970s is the one to watch

Donald Healey’s replacement for his big beefy sports car for the 1970s couldn’t have been more different, which was one of the many reasons for its rapid demise.

That’s a shame because the sophisticated Jensen-Healey had a lot to offer the thick end of 50 years ago, not least being the British answer to the Alfa Romeo Spider. Healey’s idea for his new sports car was right on the money for the more conservative 1970s where a lucrative US market had been crying out for a new British sportster for years.

Now that the faults and under development which plagued the car when new has been eradicated, this mix of some of the best names in sports cars has finally made a great recipe and we can foresee the J-H shooting up in values – and it’s already started. If it wasn’t for the build and reliability issues, plus Jensen folding in 1976, then the J-H would have become one of the best British sports cars ever we reckon.

Dates to remember

1972 The Jensen-Healey was intended to make its eagerly awaited début at the 1971 Earls Court Motor Show, but it didn’t arrive until spring of the following year with prices jacked up from the anticipated £1500 to almost £1900.

1973 The earliest Jensen- Healeys were riddled with major problems – many of which originated from the all new Lotus engine, which Jensen’s rather naive owner, Qvale, bought sans warranties. This led to a hastily developed MkII before the year’s end with an improved engine (smoother, more durable) saddled to a Getrag five-speed gearbox. To identify the new J-H, a body decorate strip was added along with a plusher better sound-proofed cabin.

1975 All change as the Healey link is dropped for the new more upmarket coupé styled Jensen GT. To assist sales of this upmarket spin off, the original convertible was discontinued in December. Production was wound up in 1976 after only 473 GTs had been built, more than half of which were exported to America. Of the 10,453 Roadsters made, 7709 went to the States too.

Buying advice

The bad news is that many cars were badly kept due to their low values. But the good news is that this is changing and the spares situation is improving all the time. Robey (who bought up all Jensen tooling and stock of parts), Rejen, Cropredey Bridge and Appleyard have much of what you need and this includes interior trim. The Jensen- Healey Preservation Society is a great site to start with.

Rust is a big problem however, and replacement panels aren’t MGB cheap. The footwells are a notorious area, especially the corners, for rot. Another serious rust area is the front subframe which, along with rotten floors, may render the car beyond saving – J-Hs may be going up in value at last but they aren’t that rare or precious just yet so do the sums carefully. Mechanically, it’s a much easier situation and that once troubled Lotus lump became reliable and long lived in later S4 Esprits. Suspension is HC Viva so no big issues here.

What makes this classic so special to drive and own in 2019?

We stand by our remark about the Jensen-Healey being potentially one of t he best post war British sports cars. The cabin was for starters, one of the most comfortable and ergonomic around with a fine driving position and ample space for two – a shame that the hood design was so poor, spoiling the touring pleasures. As a sports car, the J-H was slated for being too soft (like a TR7) but there’s no shortage of improvements (try US websites) and power from a sorted Lotus engine was TR6-beating even if it;s a bit rough and ready supplying it.

Best buys & prices

With rising residuals comes properly restored cars – some with £30K bills, although you won’t see such lofty values for some years; bank on in the region of half this for a fine specimen and half again for an average car with projects around £4000. It’s largely immaterial whether it’s a Mk1 or Mk2 as condition is the main factor and besides, many early versions have been uprated. With GTs however their rarity means it’s a case of what you can get and they usually command slightly higher prices.

From £6500 target price £9500

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