History of the 1971 - 1973 Jensen Interceptor
The Jensen Interceptor is a sports car built by Jensen Motors of West Bromwich between 1966 and 1976. Offered with a variety of engines, most Interceptors were in the hatchback configuration, but a small number of convertibles and sports coupes (based on the convertible) were built. The Jensen Interceptor has a front engine, rear wheel drive layout and was aimed at the grand touring market in the UK and beyond. The British market was also offered the four-wheel drive ‘FF’ (Ferguson Formula) from 1967.
Before the Interceptor, Jensen had been producing a line of bespoke GTs like the 541R and the CV8, and producing bodies for companies as diverse as Volvo and Sunbeam. By the mid-1960s, the CV8 had run its course and Jensen turned to Carrozzeria Touring of Milan to style its successor. The result was an undeniably handsome car from most angles with a distinctive panoramic rear window.
The first Interceptor bodies were built by Vignale, but soon Jensen took production in-house. Powered at first by a Chrysler V-8 6276cc (383ci) engine, in 1971 this increased to 7200cc (440ci). For 1971 alone, 232 cars were offered with this larger engine fitted with three, two-barrel carburettors producing 330bhp -- the most powerful car Jensen ever created. These ‘Six Pack’ cars are identified with a small ‘SP’ on the front grille.
The Jensen Interceptor range is split in to three. The Mark I Interceptor, from 1966 to 1969, had a very high specification as standard, including electric front windows, radio with twin speakers, wood-rim steering wheel, large reclining leather seats and a polished walnut dashboard. A Torqueflite automatic gearbox was fitted to most Interceptors, with an optional (and very rare) manual gearbox being fitted to some early cars. The rear seats afforded some level of comfort to rear passengers.
In 1969, the Interceptor Mark II was revealed, with slightly amended lights and bumpers, plus a substantially altered interior. In 1971 the Mark III was unveiled- again the grille and bumper were changed, as were the seats.
In 1974 a convertible was offered, aimed at the American market but also available in Europe. The following year a small number of coupes were built, lacking the panoramic window.
In 1967 the Jensen FF was announced to the home market, offering four-wheel drive and an early anti-lock braking system (Dunlop Mazaret). Using a slightly longer (2769mm) wheelbase, all but one of the Jensen FF cars used the same 6277cc V-8 as the Interceptor, (the other experimental car was fitted with a 7-litre Chrysler Hemi). The FF and the Interceptor look very similar, but the FF has twin air intakes on the front wing behind the front wheel arch (the Interceptor has a single intake). It is rumoured that a very small number of FF cars were fitted with the ‘Six Pack’ engine configuration.
Today Jensen Interceptors and FF models are desirable collectors cars. The latter demands the highest values, followed by SP models. There is a strong enthusiast following and active owners’ club who provide support to those maintaining and restoring their cars. Factory parts are still available at a cost, as are Chrysler engine parts.
Period alternatives to the Jensen Interceptor include the Jaguar E-Type FHC, the Bristol 410 and 411, and the Porsche 911.