A classic Anglo/American sports car, almost forgotten

 

The original Jensen Interceptor / joc.org.uk

The original Jensen Interceptor / joc.org.uk

The Jensen Interceptor came in two phases; Jensen made the original Interceptor between 1950 and 1957 at the Carter’s Green factory in West Bromwich in the north of England. The newly established Jensen Motors then built another high-powered sports car between 1966 and 1976 at the Kelvin Way factory.

The first model had used fibre-glass a great deal in the 1950s model, but the later model returned to a steel pressed body-shell, with a new design by the Italian firm Carrozzeria Touring. The 1950s model was also Italian designed and built (by Vignale) until Jensen began production themselves with some faint but subtle modifications.

The Chrysler V8 engine provided the shattering power of the Interceptor, a monster of over 6000 CCs with an automatic transmission driving the rear wheels. There is a world of difference between the design of the 50s model and Mark Two made in the 60s/70s. Both the more modern version and the original have their fans worldwide. In the 1980s the car was re-introduced as the Series 4. The car was still hand-made, still used a Chrysler engine but a smaller version of 5.9 litres, more modern controls to reduce carbon emissions and differently designed front seats

From 1988 another engineering company took control and built approximately thirty-six cars until 1993 when the receivers were summoned. With the disappearance of Jensen and other highly luxurious motors like Bristol, Britain lost the rich man’s gran turismo market  until it was strongly encouraged again by the success of Aston Martin, and the phenomenal triumph of German-owned Bentley with their Continental. Both Bentley and Aston Martin have full order books, but poor Jensen did not make it, though the Interceptor was a very fine sports saloon (and convertible if you wanted it) indeed, and it does not deserve to have been (almost) forgotten.

‘Almost forgotten’ but not quite – in 2010 Jensen International Automotive was founded presenting the brand-new Interceptor R; the factory is now based in Oxfordshire.

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