Classic Cars

Unique of the Week: 1976 Jensen Interceptor Coupe

It has an American V8 under the hood and an Italian-designed body, yet the UK-built Jensen Interceptor perished before its time.

Despite the country's wonderful motoring history, many UK-based automakers didn't find success. Sure there’s Morgan, but it’s a niche company and even Jaguar Land Rover is now owned by India-based Tata. Although there have been some sincere attempts to revitalize some of them, brands like Triumph, TVR and Jensen have been resigned to the history books. The latter of these, Jensen, was first founded back in 1934 as a small coachbuilding firm.
Following World War II, the company began to build sports cars such as the CV8, a four-seat GT car built from 1962 until 1966. Despite Jensen’s success in the coachbuilding business (it was even hired by actor Clark Gable to build him a car based on a Ford V8 chassis), the company continued its quest into the road car business. In 1966, it launched the CV8’s replacement, the Interceptor. The hand-built Interceptor had a steel body instead of fiberglass, which Jensen had used in the past. With a body designed by Italian firm Carrozzeria Touring and a Chrysler 6.3-liter V8 engine under the hood, on paper the car looked to be a winning package.
The engine produced around 250 horsepower and was paired with a four-speed manual transmission and later a three-speed automatic. By 1971, another V8 became available, a 7.2-liter unit that was good for up to 330 horsepower. However, that higher output engine was available for the ‘71 model year only and it wasn’t long after this when things began to go sour for Jensen despite decent sales and giving the Interceptor regular styling updates. The company had changed ownership several years earlier and even its founders, brothers Alan and Richard Jensen, resigned due to disagreements with the new owners.
In 1970, a guy named Kjell Qvale became the majority shareholder and although he made some sincere efforts, the automaker finally folded in 1976. Before that happened, more than 6,400 Interceptors had been built and were available in various body styles that included a hatchback, coupe and convertible. All three had two doors with seating for four. It was sad news that yet another British automaker had failed, especially one that was building an Italian designed GT car with American V8 power. Efforts have been made fairly recently to revive Jensen, but so far they’ve proven unsuccessful.
It’s not too hard to find a used Interceptor these days but this one that’s for sale on eBay is actually quite rare. Not only was it built in the company’s final year of existence, but it’s also not a standard coupe. Instead, this one was built about a month into Jensen’s bankruptcy and features a coachbuild hard top that looks like a raised convertible roof. Just 46 examples had this feature, thus making it more attractive for collectors. This car has been fairly well maintained despite having a little over 90,000 miles on the odometer. It currently has a top bid of just over $25k but the reserve has yet to be met.

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