1967 Jensen Interceptor (Vignale) Experimental
Like many British sporting car manufacturers, the Jensen story is an interesting one. Brothers Alan and Richard Jensen were ‘car guys’ and in the 1920’s and 1930’s they were heavily involved in coachbuilding , both as a hobby and profession. In 1931 the Jensen brothers went to work for coachbuilder WJ Smith & Sons in West Bromwich, building bodies for sports cars, which was ultimately the birth of Jensen Motors. In 1934 Smith died and the Jensen brothers took a controlling interest in the business, which was renamed as Jensen Motors Limited.
Jensen Motors built customised bodies for manufacturers including Morris, Singer, Standard, Wolseley and even Ford. The work with Ford evolved into Jensen’s first production car, the S-Type, built from 1935 through until 1941. Jensen diversified into building commercial vehicles in the late 1930’s and this business thrived during the second World War.
In 1946 Jensen restarted building cars, however, production of its new model the PW (only 20 examples built from 1946 – 1952) and later the Interceptor (only 88 examples built from 1950 – 1957) was very sporadic. Jensen introduced the 541 at the London Motor Show in October 1953. Today the Jensen 541 is recognised as Jensen’s first ‘real production car’. Built on a steel chassis with a fibreglass body and aluminium doors, the 541 was powered by a 4.0 litre 6 cylinder engine. In 1962 Jensen wedged a Chrysler V8 under the bonnet and with other improvements the Jensen C-V8 was born. The Jensen C-V8 was successful with circa 500 examples built from 1962 – 1966 and back then it was one of the fastest 4 seater GT cars in the world.
The C-V8 really put Jensen on the world map and they turned to Carrozzeria Touring in Italy to design its new model, the Interceptor. Jensen opted for a traditional steel body but continued the relationship with Chrysler and the new Interceptor was powered by a 383 cubic inch V8. The car was to be built in Italy by Vignale, however, that relationship was short lived and Jensen soon took production back in house to their West Bromwich factory. The Jensen Interceptor went on to become one of the most recognisable and most successful sporting cars ever built. In total circa 6,700 Jensen Interceptors were built over 10 years of production between 1966 and 1976. The Interceptor evolved from the original Vignale bodied Mark I (estimated 60 RHD & 32 LHD cars built) to the Jensen built Mark I (932 cars built), the Mark II (1,128 cars built) – which was introduced in late 1969 to comply with US safety & emission requirements and the Mark III (3,743 cars built) – introduced in 1971 which had different engine options. Jensen also offered the Interceptor as a four wheel drive and this model, known as the FF, was ‘years ahead of its time’ and a fabulous offering for the company. Jensen also offered the Interceptor as a convertible targeting the lucrative American market. In addition to the production numbers above Jensen built 327 FF’s from 1967 – 1971 and 512 Convertibles from 1973 – 1976.
The first Jensen Interceptor prototype was built on a C-V8 chassis. This car was used as a development mule and then sold in 1971. It was subsequently crashed and written off.
They also built two experimental chassis’ – JM/EXP/115 and JM/EXP/116 – in 1966. JM/EXP/115 was renumbered as 115/2495 and this car was to become a press demonstrator. JM/EXP/116 was renumbered to 115/2496, however, based on the information from various books and the history file it looks like experimental chassis 115/2496 (JM/EXP/116) was not sent to Vignale together with 115/2495 (JM/EXP/115). It appears as if the chassis remained in the UK, to be used by the engineering department for testing and wasn’t sent to Vignale to be bodied until sometime early in 1967. This car was eventually registered in the UK as JOV 402E, sold to a private buyer and subsequently exported to Australia.
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale one of the most significant Jensen Interceptors built – chassis number 115/2496.
Accompanying this car is a folder with in excess of 100 pages of correspondence between Norcros Limited (the owners of Jensen Motors), Jensen Motors, Mary Tancred (Smith) & Graeme Smith (the first owners of the car), service records and other documentation which makes fascinating reading. Mary Tancred (Smith), daughter of Henry Tancred who was the founder and chairman of Tancred Bros Industries Ltd a publicly listed company and one of Australia’s largest wholesale butchering firms, first expressed interest in buying a new Jensen FF following its debut at the Earls Court (London) Motor Show held in October 1966. Interestingly, Jensen was reluctant to sell her an FF because they wanted to sell the first 50 cars into the home market in case there were any issues arising from the complex Ferguson Formula 4 wheel drive system. Miss Tancred was convinced to purchase an ‘ordinary’ Interceptor and she placed an order on 30th January 1967 for a ‘crystal blue’ Interceptor with a blue interior. She wanted to personally collect the car from Jensen in late April / early May, use it on her honeymoon to travel around the UK/Europe and then have it shipped to Australia in September 1967.
Mr & Mrs Smith paid £3069/8/3 for their new Jensen Interceptor, which included delivery to the Berkeley Hotel in Piccadilly where they were staying. Unfortunately the Smiths were not happy with their new car which was immediately handed back to Jensen with a significant list of defects. Some of the more significant defects were quickly rectified and the Smiths were able to take the car on their honeymoon. They certainly did get to use and enjoy the car prior to it being shipped to Australia. Jensen carried out an 8,000 mile service at 7,965 miles on the 9th August 1967. The car was subsequently shipped to Sydney, Australia. Once the car arrived in Australia the Smiths continued to report problems, many of which were most likely attributable to the poor build quality at Vignale.
There is a two page article in the April 1968 issue of Motor Manual magazine which is understood to be this car, being the first example imported into Australia.
The subsequent early history of this car is not known, however, it has passed through two owners in south-east Queensland since 1996 before being acquired by the current owner in 2016. The history of the car is documented on various Jensen Owner’s Forums, including the UK Club site.
This Jensen Interceptor has been off the road for many years and it is in need of restoration. The current owner advises that he started the engine when he first acquired the car, but it has not been run for many years. The car is a perfect restoration project as it looks to be essentially complete and generally in good condition. The body looks to be in reasonably good condition with some rust in the usual places. Importantly the chassis looks to be solid. All of the exterior trim, the bright work and the glass look to be intact and in good condition. The car is currently sitting on later 7” wheels, however, a set of 5” original wheels will be fitted to the car when sold.
The interior of the car is presentable and importantly it looks to be complete. The car has been photographed with the original horn button missing, however, this does accompany the car. You will immediately notice that the front of the seats have been retrimmed in a blue velour, though the original vinyl remains on the back and sides of the seats.
Today the odometer reads 54,700 miles.
Over the last five years or so the value of Jensen Interceptors has skyrocketed. There is strong interest in the Interceptor Mark I and particularly the early Vignale bodied cars of which very few survive.
We are excited to bring to market this very special Jensen Interceptor.
- JM/EXP/116 (renumbered as 115/2496) is one of two experimental Jensen Interceptor chassis’ built.
- this is an extremely rare Vignale bodied Jensen Interceptor.
- well documented in Jensen literature.
- whilst a restoration project, the car is essentially complete and it was driven as recently as 4 years ago.
- an exciting opportunity to purchase one of the most significant Jensen Interceptors ever built and own a unique piece of Jensen history.
Price – Enquire
- Jensen Interceptor
- 54,700 miles