British cars and honkin' big American V8s go together like peas and carrots, but today's 440-powered Nice Price or Crack Pipe Jensen Interceptor is rough enough that you might just lose your appetite.
No, no, thirty five thousand times no. There was no way, no matter how few miles where on it, that anybody was willing to pay anywhere near the asking on yesterday's '99 BMW M3. That car was more Bayerische Motoren Warten than Bayerische Motoren Werke, - its low mileage and a high price equating to a decisive 70% Crack Pipe loss despite the emergency supply of backwards caps stuffed in the boot.
Today's contender is also a touring coupe with a powerful engine, although it comes from the other side of the channel, and doesn't appear to have been owned by the anal retentive chef. Jensen introduced the Interceptor in 1966, as a replacement for their CV8. The company at the time was assembling the bodies for the Sunbeam Alpine and Austin Healey 3000 so there wasn't much time left over to spend on making the Interceptor right. Hence, despite its sexy Carrozzeria Touring body and Chrysler 383 V8 power, the car started to gain a reputation for being less than the sum of its parts - mostly because many of those parts rapidly fell off them.
By the time this 1974 Interceptor Series III was built, San Francisco auto importer Kjell Qvale had taken majority share in Jensen Motors and had everyone in the company sitting up straight and not talking during class. Actually, there's a significant difference in the last of the Interceptors from the first, primarily in the build quality, but neither that, not Qvale's management could save the company from poor exchange rates, the gas crisis, English labor strikes, and hell, a plague of frogs for all I know. Before the company went tits-up in '76, they did manage to crank out a few cars, and as smog controls emmasculated the 383 it was replaced with the bigger 440 V8, rocking 330 bhp. That massive motor is bolted to a Torqueflite 727 which sends power back to a dana rear end in the middle of a leaf sprung and Panhard rodded live axle. Up front are coils and wishbones, and the whole thing weighs in at about 3,600-lbs.
The Touring (actually, the final design was handled by Vignale) body is noteworthy for its iconic wrap-around glass hatch/bootlid out back, and long deck covering the Mopar madness up front. The body on this San Diego car looks to be pretty free of rust, but suffers some bumps and bruises, most notably the wrinkles in the door panel. The front bumper also looks to be missing, which could be expensive, but it's otherwise complete and in not bad shape - trust me, there's lots worse. The paint will need a respray, and what is that color anyway,collie poo? Starbucks mocha smegma? I don't know, but sometimes I think every third car built in the ‘70s was painted some shade of Fruit of the Loom skidmark.
Inside it's much worse where the tight confines (remarkably so in a car stretching over 15 feet in length) have not benefitted from the seller's claim that since 2002 it was stored inside. The seats, a mixture of slutty red leather and used-to-be-a-sheeplook like extras from the driving dead. Another age-related issue is the center console - real wood of course - which is also on a path to zombification. On the plus side, everything seems to be there, and I'd rather have to pay for the tuck and roll than try and track down some bespoke trim piece from the Nixon era.
Underhood, things are not much better, the brake reservoir having colapsed like Tori Spelling's boob job, and everything is covered in a patina of gotta' fix that. But again, it's not as bad as it looks and the seller claims that after flushing out the old gas, he was able to start it, and thinks it's totally drivable - onto a trailer.
Driving it onto your trailer gets you a rare (3,365 built) and reasonably quick (zero to sixty in 6.5 seconds) touring car that can boast not only an engine from Chrysler, but also door handles- shared with the Plymouth Cricket! The Interceptor additionally shares the Union Jack GT stage with such ‘70s luminaries as the Bristol 411, Aston Martin V8 and Jaaaag V12 E-type, pretty good company with which to keep. Of course many of those these days sit in the nose bleed seats price-wise while the Jensen remains reasonably obtainable. This one - which admittedly needs some work - has an asking price of $3,500, making it especially obtainable. That's about a quarter of what a reasonably nice one would set you back, and any Interceptor would be a hit at either British Car shows or Mopar events.
So what do you think, is this San Diego storage survivor (love the oil drip pan under it in the pics) worth that $3,500 investment in British stiff upper lipism? Or, is that too much to have to be constantly telling people - it's a Jensen, a JENSEN!
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