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Jensen Healey

Jensen Healey Published: 22nd May 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jensen Healey
Jensen Healey
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Why should I buy one?

With its amalgamation of famous names, not least Lotus who provided the power, the Jensen-Healey is an intriguing and yet overlooked classic that will surely come good soon. No other British sports classic offers so many prestigious names for so little money and they are similarly low cost to own. We’re not saying that the J-H is a direct rival to the iconic Elan, or that it will ever be (although were priced pretty similar when new), but as an individualistic alternative to an MGB, TR and even Alfa Spider (which is more similar in make up) they certainly have much merit and, like its bigger Interceptor brothers, will become a “Why didn’t I buy one when I had the chance” classic.

What can I get?

You are looking at two derivatives made over four short years from 1972, the original Roadster and then the later sports hatch GT, which saw out Jensen’s production by 1976. Number-wise, there are more Roadsters (10,926 made and 7700 went to the States) than the GTs, which were only in production for a year to be fair (473 built). The original Jensen-Healey was a bit of a rough diamond and it lasted only two years, before a much needed cosmetic and mechanical revamp took place, the most important changes being an improved and more durable Lotus 2-litre engine. The MkII also featured more refinement thanks to better soundproofing. A Getrag five-speed gearbox replaced the previous four-speed Sunbeam Rapier H120 unit. The rather delightful sportshatch, simply called the Jensen GT (Healey had walked away by this time), is very luxurious, in the Interceptor mould and all feel right from the moment you strap yourself in, being completely different to, say an MGB or TR, let alone Big Healey due to a modern, comfortable cockpit.

What are they like to drive?

Well, forget any notions of it being ground breaking, like the Elan was; instead it’s a logical evolution of what you might expect the TR6 should have become.

The Vauxhall Magnum suspension was better than many back then, even if the J-H is regarded too soft for an out-and-out sports car. With that infamous 2-litre, Lotus 16-valve unit, performance was equally up to scratch for its era even though its 140bhp is no advance over the Elan’s earlier Ford Twin Cam Elan; later MkIIs are better in this respect as is the lustier 2.2-litre used by Lotus from 1980 which can be retro-fitted. The early J-Hs featured a rather slick, if suspect, Rapier four-speed gearbox, which has a nicer action than the later heavy-handed, if superior, Getrag unit, boasting that useful added cruising ratio.

What are they like to live with?

With owners fast cottoning on to the Jensen’s increasing values, some are prepared to spend sizeable sums on theirs to make good – we’ve heard of up to 30 grand on restorations! The general price for a good example is around £6000-£9000. The rarer, more upmarket GT, which makes a great alternative to an MGB GT or Scimitar GTE, is probably worth up to £2000 more. Projects can still be bought for not much more than £1500 depending upon condition. A parts bin make up, like the Lotus, means even cheaper spares although Rapier transmissions are becoming scarce, as are certain body parts although support otherwise, from Martin Robey and Rejen, is superb.

We reckon

No one is pretending this pair are direct rivals – what you have to ask instead is whether a Elan is worth double or three times that of a J-H: Lotus lovers will say yes in a flash – but the Jensen-Healey is a creditable and much cheaper alternative to a TR6 as well as a sleeper that we should wake up to – fast!



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