Use the menus to the right to learn more about the individual models of Jensen motor cars, or see below for the history of the company.
The Model Registrars (see menu to the right) are at your service with model info, vehicle history (if known by the JOC) and technical advice.
Please let them know which car you own to keep the club's records up to date.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF JENSEN
Alan and Richard Jensen had started modifying cars – with great success – as teenagers. Their talents led them to join a local coach building firm, W.J. Smith and Sons in West Bromwich as directors in 1932. Over the next few years the brothers produced special bodies on many chassis, including Austin 7, Standard 9, Standard Avon, Morris 8, AJS, Wolseley Hornet, Barclay 10, Morris Minor Special, Singer, MG Midget J2, Triumph 12-6, Ford Mistral, Star Cornet and BSA.
1934 the name was changed to Jensen Motors Ltd. and some very impressive cars were produced using Ford V8 chassis. These cars were known as Jensen-Fords. In 1936 the Jensen Brothers began to produce their own cars and were intimately involved in the design, production and development of all subsequent models until they left the company 30 years later. The S-Type Jensen was produced between 1936 and 1941; it usually had a modified Ford V8 engine with improved performance and was available as a Saloon, Tourer or Drop-Head. Some of these cars were entered in rallies, both at home and overseas. Approx. 50 S-Types were built.
1938 production of the longer H-Type began. The engine was a Nash straight 8 and independent front suspension was introduced. Saloon, Tourer, Drop-Head and Fixed-Head Coupe bodies were available. 14 H-Types had been built when production ended in 1945, including one car fitted with Lincoln V12 engine. It was also in 1938 that Jensen Motors started to produce revolutionary commercial vehicles using high-strength light alloys. JNSN lorries and trucks and Jen-Tugs were the main source of revenue for the company for many years. Car building recommenced after the war. Between 1946 and 1952 approx. 18 of the PW model were produced. Most were 4 door saloons but perhaps two Drop-Head Coupes were made. The first few cars were built with a Meadows straight 8 engine but reliability issues led to these cars having the engines replaced with Nash Units. Some of these were replaced again by Austin 4 litre (Sheerline) engines. Later PWs had the Austin engines fitted as standard. A small side venture was the production of a short run (3) of ‘woodie’ bodies on Alvis TA14 chassis.
1950 saw the introduction of the Interceptor. Available as a saloon or convertible and driven by the same Austin 4 litre engine, 88 of these cars were built. One of the later convertibles was owned from new by Sir Benjamin Britten.
1951 Jensen began assembly of the Austin A40 sports (to many eyes a smaller version of the Jensen Interceptor) Approx. 4002 were built, most of which were exported. Jensen also won the contract to build the Austin Healey 100; Production started in 1952 and by 1967 when American federal legislation sealed its fate approx. 74,000 of the Austin Healey variants had been built.
1953 Jensen announced the 541. The 4 litre Austin engine was used again but with a fibreglass body – the first production 4 seater to be constructed in this way. The car had a top speed of 112mph. Amongst many celebrity owners were Brian Rix and Tommy Sopwith. 226 cars were built between 1955 and 1959, of which 53 were the De Luxe Model. 541 De Luxe production had begun in 1956, it was the first production car to have disc brakes on all four wheels.
1956 the Kelvin Way factory opened bringing an end to 20 years of Jensen vehicle production at the old Carters Green premises.
1957 saw the announcement of the 541R, an improved variant of the 541. Production between 1958 and 1960 resulted in 193 cars built. In 1959 contracts were agreed to build Austin Champ. Between 1960 and 1963 the final 541 model, the 541S, was produced. Most were fitted with the Rolls Royce auto gearbox. In total 127 were built. One car, minus engine, was supplied to Donald Healey, a Chevrolet V8 was installed.
1960 a contract was signed to paint, trim and assemble Volvo P1800 body shells, the venture was not a success but the premature ending of the project resulted in a large compensation payment for Jensen Motors
1962 a new model, the CV8, was produced. It had a new chassis, with a fibreglass body and a 5.9 litre Chrysler V8 engine. This had the reputation as the fastest full 4 seater of its day. All cars were fitted with the Chrysler Torque Flite auto gearbox. 68 cars were built.
1962 saw the Sunbeam Tiger go into production. By 1967 approx. 7000 had been built.
1963 the Mk 11 version of the CV8 was introduced. The first 50 cars retained the 5.9 litre engine but thereafter a 6.3 litre was fitted. By the end of production in 1965, 250 cars had been built; 7 of which had a manual gearbox. Celebrity owners included Susan Maughan, Hardy Amies (one of two cars with special pigskin interior designed by him) and New World Pictures – the car that was used in the TV series ‘The Baron’
1965 the CV8 Mk 111 came along. The car was mechanically similar to the Mk 11, 181 cars were built including 2 manual gearbox cars.
1965 also saw the P66 prototype being shown. Two cars, one hard top and one convertible were built. The convertible was subsequently broken up but the hard top survives. The P66 was not intended to replace the CV8, it was a two seater sports car. The Jensen brothers had started development of a four wheel drive version of the CV8, known as the CV8 FF, it was shown alongside the P66 (which would have been known as Interceptor) at the 1965 Earl’s Court Motor show.
1966 was a momentous year for Jensen Motors, it saw the introduction of the Interceptor that we know and love and the groundbreaking FF but as these bodies had been designed and produced without the approval of the Jensen Brothers they felt obliged to resign from the company. The Interceptor had the same chassis as the CV8 with a steel body that had been designed by Touring of Milan. Touring were unable to produce prototypes in the time available so Vignale were given the job. Vignale produced the first few bodies but production was soon switched to West Bromwich. The FF was the first production car to have four wheel drive and anti-lock brakes (Dunlop maxaret system) and in 1967 it was awarded ‘Car of the Year’. It was distinguished from the Interceptor by its extra vent on the front wings, a different bonnet and on early cars, a brushed stainless steel roof. The FF is 3 inches longer that the Interceptor, the extra length being in front of the windscreen to accommodate the four wheel drive unit. Between 1966 and 1969 1024 Interceptors were built, 23 of which had manual gearboxes. Celebrity owners included Mike and Bernie Winters, Henry Cooper, Ian Hendry, Jack Nicklaus and Cliff Richard. 195 Mk 1 FF’s were built between 1966 and 1969, among the many celebrity owners were Tony Jacklin and Ginger Baker. One early car was sold to Porsche Cars.
1969 the Mk 11 Interceptor was introduced. 1128 were built. It was the fastest of the various Interceptors, thanks to its E series engine. Between 1969 and 1971, 110 Mk 11 FF’s were built.
1971 saw the introduction of the SP with 7.2 litre with 3 x dual barrel carbs (six pack) giving 50 more BHP that the 7.2 used later in the Mk 111. 232 cars were built.
1971 also was the introduction of the Mk 111 Interceptor, initially with 6.3 litre engine – H series. Later cars had the 7.2 litre – J series engine. 1975/76 cars had a walnut dash. When production ceased in 1976, 4255 Mk 111’s (of all types) had been built. The FF was also upgraded to Mk 111 specification in 1971. Only 15 were built, all with 6.3 litre engines.
1972 produced the Jensen Healey. Using Vauxhall Magnum suspension and braking systems with a Lotus 1973cc engine and steel body, top speed was 120 mph and handling was true British Sports Car. The cars reputation was tarnished by many early problems caused by lack of proper development prior to sales launch. Despite this, 3356 Mk 1 cars were built.
1973 a facelift Mk 11 version was introduced.
1974 a Getrag 5 speed gearbox replaced the 4 speed Chrysler unit. A total of 7142 Mk 11 cars were built.
1974 also saw the Interceptor Convertible introduced. 456 were built.
1975 production of the Jensen GT started, most cars were trimmed in cord, but a few were trimmed in leather and even fewer in a blue patterned cloth. 509 cars were built.
1976 the Jensen Factory and contents were liquidated. Jensen Parts and Service Ltd was set up in one small corner of the Kelvin Way Factory to keep Jensen’s on the road. The company proved so successful that in 1983 Ian Orford decided to re-start small scale production of the Interceptor. Between 1983 and 1992, 14 cars were built.
|Number Produced||of which Left Hand Drive|
|541 S||1960- 1963||127||-|
|CV8 Mk 1||1962-1963||69||-|
|CV8 Mk 2||1963-1965||250||8|
|CV8 Mk 3||1965-1966||181||2|
|Interceptor 111 Series 4||1973-1976||1205||609|
|FF Mk 1||1966-1969||195||-|
|FF Mk 2||1969-1971||110||-|
|FF Mk 3||1971-1971||15||-|
|Jensen-Healey Mk 1||1972-1973||3357||2070|
|Jensen-Healey Mk 2||1973-1975||7146||5952|
The production figures above are collated from information provided by Richard Calver.
For more information about the various Jensen models please see Richard's website
The club can also recommend his All The Models book which includes details of every model built by Jensen including sub contract work (Austin-Healey, Sunbeam Tiger, Volvo etc)
The book is available soft-bound or hard-bound from the club shop here
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