In West Bromwich, Staffordshire lived two brothers named Richard and Allan Jensen. In the 1930's they began building a reputation through their custom bodies and auto styling. Near the end of the decade they had begun building cars, mainly fitting large power plants in small vehicles, giving them impressive power-to-weight ratios. They are best remembered for building bodies for the Volvo P1800, Sunbeam Tiger, and Austin-Healey.
Designs from several Italian Companies were studied, with the Touring design selected. The Vignale was then commissioned to build the bodies. The 2-plus-2 coupe had the engine placed in the front and powered the rear wheels. The rear of the vehicle could hold 2 passengers, but there was limited leg-room. It was original offered only as a hard-top model.
The Interceptor was introduced to the public at the 1966 Earls Court Motor Show in London. It was powered by an Austin 4.0 liter, inline-six cylinder engine. Later, a Chrysler V-8 engine was placed in the front giving the vehicle an identity crisis. It was designed and built by Italian companies, used a English chassis and powered by an American power-plant.
In 1967, 180 examples were produced. In 1969, it was exported to other countries and in 1973, its best year, produced 1,166 examples. Throughout its 10-year life span, which began in 1967 and continued through 1976, over 6380 examples were produced.
A four-wheel drive Interceptor FF with anti-lock brakes were some of the technological achievements of this production car.
Various versions of the Interceptor were powered by a Nash twin-ignition eight-cylinder engines. The Jensen brothers even experimented with 440 cubic-inch American engines. A few were created with a 440 Six Pack and dubbed the Interceptor SP. A small number featured a 426 cubic-inch Hemi engine.
The Jensen Company was facing increasing competition and production costs and ceased production of the Interceptor
By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2007
The 'Italian Car' Jensen Interceptor was debuted at the October 1966 Earls Court Motor Show alongside the 4-wheel drive FF. Touring of Milan penned the original design, which was taken to Vignale of Turin who had the resources to produce the car in much higher numbers than Touring. By October of 1966 fully trimmed and painted body-shells were sent to Italy for assembly at the Kelvin Way Factory in West Bromwich, near Birmingham, UK. A hand-built sporting GT-class car, the steel body-shelled Interceptor was produced by Jensen Motors from 1966 through 1976. From 1950 until 1957 the Interceptor name had been used previously by Jensen at the Carters Green factory. The original model sported glass-reinforced plastic and was designed in-house unlike the newer model. Vignale in Italy built the original cars, but before long the contract was terminated for not meeting the quality standards required by Jensen and the company became producing the cars themselves at the West Bromwich factory.
The Interceptor was powered by Chrysler V8 engines beginning with the 6276 cc with optional manual or TorqueFlite automatic transmissions that drove the rear wheels in a conventional Salisbury rear axle through a limited slip differential. Producing 335 hp SAE gross or 270 hp SAE net was the 383 c.i. in 1970. Only producing 250 hp SAE net in 1971, this engine was detuned by Chrysler for use with regular gas only and the automotive company chose instead to the use the 440 c.i. Chrysler engine for 1971. Two available offerings for 1971 were two 440 c.i. engines, one with a 4-barrel carb producing 305 hp SAE net, and the other with three 2-barrel carbs producing 330 SAE net, only available in 1971. Holding the distinct honor of being the most powerful Jensen built car, only 232 Interceptors were made with the impressive 440 Six Pak. The 440 c.i. engine with three 2-barrel carbs weren't available for 1972 and the 440 c.i. engine still available was detuned to 280 SAE net. Through 1976 Chrysler continued to offer a high performance 440 c.i. engine when it only pumped 255 hp SAE net.
Some felt the Interceptor sported styling cues reminiscent of the Brasinca Uirapuru. The Interceptor sports a unique curving wrap-around rear window doubling as a tailgate like the Uirapuru. The sleek Interceptor featured front seats that reclined, electric windows, a wood rimmed steering wheel, and an electric clock, reversing lights and a radio with twin speakers. The interior of the car was stylish and obviously Italian, the likes of which had never been found before in the traditionally British Jensen. From September of 1968 power steering became a standard feature.
In the fall of 1969, Jensen announced the introduction of the Mark II. This second generation arrived on the scene with updated styling around the front grill, front bumper and headlamps. The dashboard was completely restyled and new ventilated disc brakes replaced the previous un-ventilated discs. The front suspension was redesigned replacing the king-pin type that was carried over from the C-V8 with independent, coil sprung, ball jointed wishbones, and telescopic type dampers replacing the lever arm ones. Girling triple piston calipers replaced twin piston Dunlop calipers front and rear which improved the braking. Radial tires were added.
Yet another revamp was introduced in 1971 with the Mark III. The third generation introduced an updated bumper treatment, a revised front grille and headlamp finishers. The seats were also updates and optional fully cast alloy wheels along with some other slight updates. This year Jensen introduced the 7.2-liter 440ci engine, which replaced the 6.3-liter 383ci engine. Depending on the production year the Mark III Interceptor was divided to G-, H-, J-series.
Unfortunately rough times were in store for the Jensen Motor Company with the onset of the worldwide recession. By 1975 a receiving company was called in to manage the wind-down and liquidation of Jensen Motors. In 1976 production of the Interceptor ceased.
In the late 1980s a group of investors re-launched the Interceptor as the Series 4 (S4). A low-volume hand built model, the Interceptor was marketed in a similar way to Bristol with a heft price tag around 70,000 GBP. The body was basically unchanged from the Mark III models, but featured a smaller Chrysler supplied 360 cubic inch engine which produced around 230 hp with more modern controls to reduce emissions comparatively.
The inside of the S4 Interceptor was revamped moderately and added modern 'sport' front seats in place of the armchair style of previous models. The dashboard was much more modern and featured updated electronics.
In 1990 the current Jensen owner sold the company to an engineering company believing that they were in a better position to manufacture the car. The Interceptor lasted until 1993 with around 36 models built. Development was begun on a series 5 (S5) Interceptor before once again receivers were called in, and the Jensen Company was once again liquidated.
Over the years several variants were produced of the glossy Interceptor. In 1974 a convertible model with a power soft top was launched and a total of 267 models were produced. Though it was aimed at the American market, the convertible was also sold in Europe. A Coupé version was produced in extremely limited numbers of just 60 models produced. The Coupé's design was inspired by the convertible and lacked the distinctive Interceptor rear window.
The 1967 Jensen FF (Ferguson Formula) was one of the first production vehicles with four-wheel drive. At the time of its launch, the FF was incredibly innovative and came with traction control and Dunlop Maxaret mechanical anti-lock brakes. 320 Jensen FFs were produced during its production span, 195 of them Mark I, 110 Mark II, and 15 Mark III. Quoted as sporting 'drag-strip' performance, the FF was five inches longer than the Interceptor and looked nearly identical to it. The FF used the extra length to feature an additional side vent ahead of the doors on the front flanks, and an extension to and extra swage line in the front edge of the front fender.
Housed at Cropredy Bridge, a Jensen specialist rebuilds original Interceptors by using modern mechanisms, with a GM supplied 5.7-liter engine and transmission. Jensen International Automotive was established in May of 2010. Charles Dunstone, Carphone Warehouse founder and chairman, who joined the board of directors, financially backed the company. The Jensen International Automotive Company took over the incomplete production of a small number of Jensen Interceptor Ss, which had been started under a previous company. This production was run parallel with JIA's own production of the Jensen Interceptor R. Delivery of the Interceptor R began in 2011 at the Oxfordshire-based manufacturer and restorer. Sources:
By Jessica Donaldson