Quality. Class. Style. We discover the advantages of bagging the desirable and glamorous hand-made Jensen Interceptor...
Sit at the wheel of a MkI and you can’t help but be struck by how Italian the interior of the Interceptor is. There is a jet-set feel to the whole thing thanks to the toggle switches and rows of dials and circular air vents. In fact, it feels more like an aircraft than a car.
As beautiful as it is the MkI’s interior is also hard wearing thanks to the vinyl covering the GRP dashboard and transmission tunnel. MkIIs and IIIs changed to a less glamorous moulding, though it is apparently safer.
An Interceptor should bark into life, from cold, after a twist of the key and one prod of the throttle. If it doesn’t start easily, leave that car alone. Once moving you’ll be blown away by the addictive noise and colossal ability of this mid-1960s GT: imagine a 0-60 time of 6-7 seconds in a car from the late 1960s or early 1970s, when most traffic couldn’t crack the ton. These Jensens are just getting into their stride at the legal limit, so you have to watch your driving licence as well as the fuel gauge.
JENSEN INTERCEPTOR - MKII
Power (bhp@rpm) 325bhp@4600rpm
Torque (lb ft@rpm) 425lb ft@2800rpm
Top speed 137mph
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
BODYWORK & CHASSIS
Rust can be a major issue. It is at its most virulent around the edges of the front wings, sills, on the wheels and around the side vents behind the front wheels. Also carefully check the inner rear and front wings. Bonnets can go along their edges and doors are vulnerable all along the bottom of the frame. If there is fresh paintwork carefully inspect the quality of metalwork repairs or ask to see a photographic record of the resto work.
The Interceptor’s Chrysler engine produces extremely high temperatures which can be made worse by poor engine-bay ventilation. This excess heat can perish tubes and pipes. Pay particularly careful attention to electrical wiring which tends to suffer the most in the Interceptor’s inhospitable engine bay. Standard fans are just about up to the cooling job, but only if they are in good nick.
Be on the lookout for signs of general engine wear, and check the condition of the oil feed pipes between the engine and the filter which may have been strained by engine movement. On start-up listen for rattling bearings and hydraulic lifter noise which could indicate that the engine is in need of some attention.
The Chrysler Torqueflite automatic gearbox was effortless and highly rated in its day. It’s also tough so even now it isn’t the cause of too many Interceptorissues. That said it is still worth checking as a rebuild will set you back about £1200.
Oil leaks are fairly common and shouldn’t be a major issue if addressed. General maintenance consists of changing the oil and filter, plus adjusting the clutch bands. If this has been done regularly the gearbox should run smoothly and remain trouble-free.
If the car has been used sparingly condensation can form in the gearbox which causes brake bands to separate from backings and will eventually lead to loss of drive when the car is pressed. Check the colour of the gear oil – it should be clear red, not pink or burned dark. Check the stall speed as part of your buying inspection – the engine should sit at 1800-2000rpm.
Disc corrosion is a problem with cars that don’t see much use – check for dark spots on the surface of the discs which are a sign that brake efficiency is on the wane. Twin-master cylinders can sometimes have fluid-balance problems and you’ll want to make sure the fluid’s been changed regularly.
The weight of the V8 engine can causefront suspension wear. Bushes, springs and pivots can deteriorate and rear springs can sag, but the suspension is easy to work on, save for the weight of the hefty components. Parts can be sourced new, or used through members of the Jensen Owners Club.
A tatty Interceptor interior won’t be cheap to refurbish. The seats wear well, but should they need remedial work a high quality repair job could set you back £1000, while a complete new interior could cost up to £5000. Carpets are relatively cheap.
Who wouldn’t want a Jensen Interceptor? It’s the best-value glam GT car, it’s hand built and it’s rare. Your friends and family will love its exclusivity and the Jensen Owners Club is one of the friendliest around. Better still the power steering and auto gearbox make an Interceptor usable as a daily driver.
The engineering is simple which means only the most complicated jobs need placing with a specialist. It’s also worth considering how, if you’d bought one five years ago, you’d stand to have turned a profit during your ownership, helping offset the thirst for fuel. And it’s that fuel consumption question that might stop you owning an Interceptor.
The flipside? Shattering performance, although the choice between a Sunday drive in the Jensen, or using a more frugal car and actually having money left for a good lunch is a tough one.
Most telling? In period, the Jensen workers knew they were making a more stylish competitor car to compete against the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow.
The Interceptor is a luxury powerhouse that is quiet and comfortable in normal driving conditions. Combine this with classic styling and an elegant interior and the Interceptor is a great buy. As ever the real trick is to find a good one.
Beware cheap bargain-basement Interceptors that need work. A restoration will likely cost you more money than simply buying a good one in the first place.
If you plan on using this comfortable cruiser to cover any sort of serious mileage the fuel costs will be astronomical. Use a nice one sparingly and you’ll have a genuine handmade classic with star appeal and the potential of rewarding diligent ownership with continually rising values.