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Aston Martin DBS vs Jensen Interceptor

Suave Sports Smoothies Published: 12th Oct 2012 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

What The Experts Say...

Jensen experts admit the car’s biggest problem, until recently, has been owners who have constantly cut corners when it comes to servicing and repairs – something that the average Aston owner just wouldn’t do. Martin Robey is all things Interceptors and remanufactures parts and panels plus has records of every one made. It’s time has come…

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This pair of prestige Brits demonstrate totally different approaches to achieve the same outcome. The Aston was created as a supercar in the Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini mould, effectively built from scratch in one factory with unique parts. The Jensen, on the other hand, followed the Bristol, Facel Vega and Gordon Keeble route by creating a supercar body styled by one of the world’s leading design houses. It was built by another and fitted out with proprietary parts including, like Bristol and Facel Vega, an engine and gearbox from Chrysler’s Canadian factory and other parts from more prosaic manufacturers, dare we say, even Ford.

The Aston was truly British with in-house styling by William Towns and a home-bred engine although that was developed by Pole, Tadec Marec although early DBSs had to make do with the DB6’s engine.

Having said that, like Bristol and Jensen, Aston Martin also utilised the excellent and tough Chrysler Torquefl ite automatic transmission.

The Interceptor and DBS were launched in the same year, the Jensen following the ugly duckling CV8 with its lion’s heart and the DBS succeeding the DB6, last of the line started by the gorgeous DB4 in 1958. Surprisingly, in view of the Aston’s true supercar credentials, the Jensen sold in much larger numbers.

The Aston inherited the twin cam 4-litre straight six from the DB6 as the much awaited 5.4-litre V8 wasn’t ready despite having been raced in 1967. In standard form, the six produced 282bhp and in Vantage tune, 325 horses, coincidentally the same as that claimed for the Chrysler V8 in the Jensen. In those days, power output claims involved a certain amount of exaggeration so who knows what they actually pumped out?

The Aston V8 quad-cam, all alloy lump followed in 1969 and while Aston Martin declined to quote power figures it was reckoned to develop 325bhp, the same as the Vantage six but with greater torque. The Webers of the Vantage gave way to Bosch fuel injection leaving the Jensen’s Chrysler mill way behind in terms of engineering sophistication.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but both these cars look expensive and would have been equally at home outside The Savoy or on the Croisette in Cannes yet can be bought for Southend-On-Sea money.

Which one to buy?

Pedigree chums

The answer to this question is probably budget dependent, not only in terms of purchase price but also running costs. Both these cars cost a fortune to restore so unless you are a highly skilled motor mechanic, panel beater, painter and coach trimmer, it is essential to buy a car in as good a condition as possible.

Despite being one of the less desirable Astons, a DBS is fast moving up the social ladder and will still cost twice as much as an Interceptor and will probably cost twice as much to run. Let’s face it, neither of these cars ranks as a low budget classic.

The DBS six-cylinder was available from 1967-1972 and was supplemented by the V8 in 1969 which also carried on until 1972 when Aston Martin was sold by David Brown to Company Developments Ltd who removed the DB initials creating the V8, also known as the Series 2. This can be easily recognised by the twin headlight grille shaped in the DB2-6 style. Little happened in 1974 /5 when few cars were made and in 1977 the V8’s lump was upgraded to 375bhp. A year later which brought not only the fastest V8 with 0-100

in 12.9 seconds and a 170 max, but also the gorgeous drophead Volante, now worth around £80,000+. The Series 5 coupé and Volante were launched in 1986 with a change back to fuel injection removing the need for the vulgar bonnet bulge.

In total around 899 sixes were made against 3300 V8s so apart from the fuel saving it is possible that, owing to rarity, the slower six might be a good punt as it provides entirely adequate performance and fine cruising capabilities.

The first V8 Jensen Interceptor, now known as the Mark1, used the Chrysler V8 and Torquefl ite auto box from the previous CV8 although a few manuals were made. The MkII came in 1969 with ventilated front discs, revised front and rear styling and a completely new, even higher quality interior with optional availability of air conditioning. The wheels, still Rostyles, were now 6x15 inches. The MkIII came in 1971 with cast alloy wheels, bigger front discs and from 1973 increased engine capacity to a massive 7212cc needed to offset increasing emissions regulations.

At the same time the fabulous SP was born with the same 7212cc engine but packing 385bhp and 490lbft of torque, thanks to a 10.3-1 compression ratio and three twin-choke carburettors. The result was 0-60 in 6.9 seconds, 100 in 16.8 and 145 mph top speed, impressive but no match for the later Aston V8 which can top 160mph – but does that really matter?

This car is arguably even more desirable than the Aston Volante and the Interceptor to have. Having hit heady price heights in the late 1980s, a decent Convertible can now be bought for around £40,000, half the price of a Volante.

At the end of the day it is likely that you either like Astons over Jensens or vice versa so the decision will be hinge on which version of your chosen make you
go for; there’s enough to be choosy, too.

What’s the best to drive?

It’s Aston, but only just

Aside from the innovative all-wheel drive FF, the Jensen and Aston are similar in concept and so to drive. They’re heavy with big engined GTs so it’s slow-in, fast-out cornering – with hopefully a lot of road room. The Aston’s suspension, thanks to the De Dion back end is more sophisticated so the DBS handles better in extremis but surely these lovely old classics shouldn’t be driven that hard but best saved for quick but relaxed cruising?

Economy, which can dip perilously close to 10mpg if really booted, discourages GTi chasing even though both cars – in their day at least – can give any modern hot hatch a run for their money in terms of pace if not in grip and agility. Having said that the DBS6 feels signifiantly more sedate than the meatier V8, especially in automatic form where a good V6 Capri could keep station with one!

If you’re not an auto fan it’s going to be tough going as most Astons and virtually every Interceptor made came with selfshifting. It’s a shared slushy American ‘box that made the cars smooth rather than sporty. All DBSs came with five-speeds in rare manual form but the heavy clutch action would do a lorry proud. The FF is no Audi Quattro. Agreed, grip and stability is there but, not unexpectedly, this system dating back to the 1950s, is coarse affair not unlike an original Range Rover.

Choosing a winner from this pair can be more down to matter of tastes. Both cruise nicely and their well appointed cockpits are great places to be. Both are fair four seaters but better suited as 2+2s although the hatch-backed Jensen is the more practical and usable.

Owning and running

Providing you are sufficiently well-heeled then either of these cars are easy to run thanks to excellent specialist, parts and owners club back-up. The Aston scores best here as you’d expect but there’s an increasing interest in Jensens (and not before time, too), a car which benefits from lots of proprietary parts, meaning it can be more easily maintained and repaired by an enthusiastic owner or general classic car workshop. That great hunk of old school Yank V8, while thirsty, is much cheaper and easier to keep, for starters.

It wasn’t that long ago that you could pick up a good DBS for ten grand but that fiure has quickly quadrupled. It’s only lately that Interceptors have started to rise in value and you can certainly pick up some good examples selling for Staglike money. It won’t stay like this forever though so if you want an Interceptor then don’t let the thought linger.

And The Winner Is...

There can be no winner unless money is no object here. If that is the case then a late V8 Vantage in pristine condition with access to a convenient specialist would probably be the best buy and cer tainly the most ‘old’ Aston Martin per pound currently available. It’s also a great investment and the envy – we hope – of your friends. Those same friends would surely be just as envious of a Jensen Interceptor – well we would be anyway. It’s rarer and just as good we feel. And a heck of a lot cheaper.

Classic Motoring

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