Today’s Nice Price or No Dice Jensen Interceptor can rightfully be described as an English drawing room on wheels with an American bouncer at the door. Let’s see what it might reasonably cost to enter this club.
There’s plenty of debate to be had over whether it’s better to buy a top-of-the-line cheap car or a bare-bones edition of an expensive one. We needn’t delve into that discussion as you all made your opinions well known in both comments and voting on yesterday’s $8,800 2004 VW Passat W8. That top-of-the-heap edition of VW’s family car couldn’t pass muster, not even with its rare six-speed stick. Ultimately, the 83 percent No Dice loss showed you all thought something cheaper would suffice.
The opening scene of the 1949 film Twelve O’Clock High has retired U.S. Army Air officer Harvey Stovall—ably played by Dean Jagger, who won a Best Actor Oscar for the role—thanking the staff of a London haberdashery for taking two hours to sell him the “perfect hat.” The British have long taken pride in such acts, producing and promoting many such accouterments of the preferred lifestyle. This fact is evidenced by today’s 1974 Jensen Interceptor, which, despite its American-sourced drivetrain, is both as thoroughly British and equally as elegant as a Savile Row suit.
The car’s builder, Jensen Motors, was founded by brothers Alan and Richard Jensen in 1934. Initially, the company focused on commissioned bodies for other auto manufacturers, and for individuals. One of the latter, a Ford-based special commissioned in 1934 by Clark Gable, garnered the company significant press. Jensen’s flexibility allowed it to successfully pivot to wartime production during WWII, producing military trucks and tank parts, and then again to building grand touring cars shortly after the war’s end.
The Interceptor was the last of these grand touring models. Jensen had long suffered financial issues, and by 1976 that insolvency finally caught up with the carmaker, ending production and shuttering the West Bromwich factory. Several attempts have been made in the intervening years to revive both Jensen and the Interceptor, but to date, none has proven sustainable.
This leaves cars like this 1974 Coupe to be enjoyed by historians and enthusiasts alike. This one sports elegant black paint over a biscuit interior swathed in Connolly Leather which is accompanied by a bit of burlwood along with rich deep-pile wool carpets.
The iconic Vignale-designed bodywork appears to be in top-notch condition and carries all its factory brightwork. The aftermarket additions of a cow catcher-style front air dam and Minilite alloy wheels add to the car’s uniqueness, but it would be nice to have the original and handsome five-spoke alloys under the car. At least those Minilites wear new Nexen blackwalls. The ad says the paint was redone over the original burgundy in 1977 by a prior owner who was apparently a candy bar tycoon. I think these cars look amazing in either color.
According to the ad, the Chrysler-sourced 440 CID V8 sports the “Six Pack” induction system. That was not a factory option from Jensen in ‘74 and so it is probably a later retrofit, but is still a pretty sweet setup to have. The original Mopar Six Pack was comprised of three two-barrel Holley 2300 carbs on a riser intake. The seller says this car has Mancini carbs in place of the expected Holleys. With the factory Six Pack, the 440 would make somewhere around 330 horsepower which, with only about 3,600 pounds to move around, made the Interceptor reasonably quick for its era.
Along with the trio of two barrels, this Mopar mill also has custom heat-wrapped headers and is serviced by an increased-capacity aluminum radiator with two electric fans. The rest of the drivetrain is comprised of a 727 Torqueflite 3-speed automatic and a Salisbury rear end.
Per the seller, the only issue is that the A/C system is still R12 and needs to be updated to R134. The drivetrain doesn’t sit particularly far back in the frame, but it does demand a fairly wide center tunnel which results in particularly narrow footwells and one of the narrowest brake pedals you’re likely to find.
As fun as all that might sound, the mechanicals are matched with an interior that coddles rather than constrains. There’s leather galore in here, as well as an era-appropriate AM/FM/8-track stereo. A fun fact is that, while the two back seats are mostly for show only, having almost zero legroom, the Interceptor was one of the earliest cars to offer shoulder belts for the rear seat passengers.
Another unique feature of the car is the amazing all-glass hatch in the back. It covers the boot, which has a hard cover under the glass so it’s otherwise inaccessible.
The mileage is a reasonable 52,500 barrel rolls and the car is being offered with a clean title and current tags. What should such a classic in this condition reasonably expect to draw in a sale?
The seller is asking $29,900 for the car and claims it to be under-market in the hopes of a quick sale. Do you think that at that price it will sell lickety-split? Or, for that much is this Interceptor going to miss the target?
H/T to Don R. for the hookup!
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