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Jensen Interceptor

Jensen Interceptor Published: 26th Feb 2018 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jensen Interceptor
Jensen Interceptor
Jensen Interceptor
Jensen Interceptor
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Has any connoisseur classic supercar represented such great value for money?

Why you may fancy one

With the V8 pace and brawn of an Aston, more exclusivity than most Ferraris topped by levels of prestige only a Rolls can provide, the Jensen Interceptor is several classics rolled in one and yet are so affordable. Until fairly recently, all have been dirt cheap to buy and for no good apparent reason at all. This ‘Birmingham Ferrari’ (as it became known) was nearly as expensive as an Aston and approaching double the price of an E-type 2+2 when it was new. Yet, as classics, these other Brits are valued so much more – over ten fold in the case of a DB6. It beggars belief and if you fancy a challenge you can pick a decent one up in the region of £30K – TR6 money in other words – and with good specialist support, the Jensen is almost as easy to own and repair as the Triumph.
History

1966 At launch, the Interceptor packed a 6.3-litre Chrysler V8 from the C-V8. Styling was by Touring, with assistance from Vignale, the latter also building the earliest cars.

1967 However, the following year, Jensen had taken this latter task in-house, in a bid to improve pretty disappointing quality control and also contain costs. The advanced FF with anti-lock brakes and four-wheel drive is also announced, beating Audi’s Quattro into production by 14 years.

1969 Jensen announces a MkII Interceptor, Changes include a reprofiled nose, stronger brakes, but importantly new front suspension sporting telescopic rather than lever arm dampers topped by standard power steering.

1971 Mk III sees SP (six-pack, six carbs) taking over from the fickle 4x4 FF as Jensen’s flagship. While the regular Mk3 produced 300bhp, the beefier SP generates a prodigious 385bhp. A wonderfully quirky lifestyle version wearing ‘Director’ badges was also offered. Claimed to be the work of one of the QE2 ocean liner’s designers, it boasted a built-in typewriter (located in the glovebox), a radio-telephone and a TV!

1972 Launched in the US market a year earlier a 7.2-litre V8 replaces the sharper feeling 6.3. Air-conditioning and Sundym glass arrives that summer.

1973 The fuel crisis of ’73 led to the demise of the SP, then, in 1975, Jensen called in the receivers; the following year it ceased trading. In the meantime though, during 1974, there was a final curtain call, with the introduction of an Interceptor convertible.

1983 Interceptor S4 is the rarest of all with sporadic production soldiering on for a decade. Just 14 examples of this car were made, including open and closed versions.

Driving

With a minimum of 6.3-litres of American iron under the bonnet, the Interceptor demolishes the longest of journeys with its long-legged cruising abilities and standard Torqueflite auto ’box – although 23 Mk1s were built with a four-speed manual. Make no mistake, Jensens were seriously quick in their day, hitting 60 in 6.4 seconds beating E-types and DBS6s.

The Interceptor was way ahead of its time and over half a century on, doesn’t feel terribly dated. With a big, lazy V8 sitting under that aircraft carrier-style bonnet (385bhp on the 7.2-litre SP models), this Jensen can still hold its own with any of today’s GTi cars. What is equally impressive is the torque figure of well over 400lbft at under 3000rpm, which only today’s biggest diesels can match. The Interceptor boasts surprisingly agile handling making an Aston feel a bit lorry like in comparison (so road tests said-ed) although, the FF is a fairly crude 4x4 feeling like old-school Range Rover, rather than Audi Quattro. Overall, any well sorted Jensen gem is a deeply satisfying experience that’s on par with any rival.

Best models

Some like the earliest 6.3-litre models for their sharper engine that were also unhindered by emission equipment (a bit like the Jag 3.8/4.2 argument) plus there’s the option of a manual gearbox, but the later cars boast many more advantages. The SP is a marvellous monster but so are the fuel returns – but, there again, the same can be said for any E-type V12 or Aston. Condition counts above all else as there’s a lot of dross around so beware, but a number of Jensen experts warn against going for a FF unless you really want one although it’s sturdy enough if unrefined system. If you hook up with a late 7.2 and feel disappointed with the performance, bear in mind the compression ratio was lowered and as a result power dropped from 305bhp to 280bhp.

Prices

When you consider Interceptors cost 50 per cent more than a Jaguar E-type when new, and only around 20 per cent less than a DB6, it’s amazing how moderate the values continue to be for all Jensens, although ten grand Interceptors are a thing of the past – unless you fancy tackling a discarded project. Good goers will relieve you of at least three times this and nice examples perhaps £40,000 minimum.

Excepting the odd notchback Interceptor Coupé where values are currently riding high, due to their sheer rarity and novelty, it’s the FF which has seen the biggest gain with values, on average, 60 per cent above Interceptor and more in line with the Convertibles meaning well over 100 grand for a fine FF.

Verdict

A unique blend of power, prestige exclusivity, style and now investment potential, Interceptors will be one of the prime buys of 2018. Not cheap to run plus many have been bodged due to historically low values but you can easily pay more for a go faster Escort Mk1 – for goodness sake!

Five top faults

1. INFATUATION Average cars, let alone projects are guaranteed to be money pits, especially where bodywork is concerned. If you can, try to drive a few to gauge the standard as cars will greatly vary.

2. ROT The bodywork is hugely rot-prone as is the chassis. Key areas to check include the beams that run down either side of the car; proper sill repairs can easily run to more than £2000 apiece.

3. ENGINE Overheating is not uncommon; make sure that the thermostatic fans cut in. If it runs too cool, then has the thermostat been removed to mask problems (shades of the Stag)? Cracked exhaust manifolds are pretty common; they cost about £200 per bank to replace – uprated ones available.

4. TRANSMISSION Chrysler Torqueflite auto is extremely strong. Feel for any jerkiness on the move; expect to pay around £1200 for an exchange rebuilt box – four-speed upgrade is worth considering.

5. FF Transmission and Dunlop brakes are specific. By and large, chassis tube rot isn’t a major issue; however FF ones, mounted on the outer edge, also act as vacuum chambers for the brakes…



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