For automobile enthusiasts in the 1960s and 70s, the term “hybrid” had a rather different meaning than it does today. In fact, hybrids of the 1970s were pretty much the polar opposite of the high-tech fuel sipping eco-mobiles we see all over today’s roads. A hybrid of the 60s and 70s combined coachbuilt European style and handling with the unsophisticated but undoubtedly effective grunt of an American V8 drivetrain. Many great cars were built on this formula, some more successful than others. Early trend-setters included Facel Vega, Bristol, Monteverdi and Iso Rivolta. Lesser known cars such as the Momo Mirage and DeTomaso Longchamp carried the torch against the likes of Aston Martin and Ferrari. But perhaps one of the most examples of this hybrid formula was the Jensen Interceptor.
Built in original form between 1966 and 1976 (though several attempts to revive the model were made later), the Interceptor combined a British chassis with a Carrozzeria Touring-designed body, and big, thumping Chrysler V8 power. Jensen was no stranger to building American powered cars, having a long relationship with Chrysler thanks to the fiberglass CV8. With the new Interceptor, Jensen’s traditional fiberglass body was eschewed for steel and mated to a steel chassis featuring independent front suspension and a traditional Salisbury rear diff. Chrysler’s proven 383 cubic inch V8 powered the first series, but for 1971, the big-block 440 cubic inch unit was chosen for its superior power and torque ratings. All cars were fitted the bullet-proof Torque-Flite automatic transmission, though a manual could be had on the earliest examples. Customers could opt for the four-seat coupe with its distinct wrap-around rear glass, or for an equally elegant four-seat cabriolet. Whichever body style was selected, buyers were treated to a sumptuous, leather-lined cabin with aircraft-inspired switchgear, as was de rigueur for the time. While certainly not a lithe sports car, the Interceptor was no-doubt a proper GT thanks to the endless torque from the massive MoPar 440 and exceptional ride and handling characteristics. The style was very distinct and unlike some of the other “hybrids” of the period, unmistakable as anything but a Jensen Interceptor. Today, these fabulous GT cars are highly desirable for their excellent road manners, ease of service and exotic good looks. Comparable to a contemporary Aston Martin in terms of luxury and performance, the Interceptor can deliver today’s enthusiasts many of the same thrills at a fraction of the cost.
Our featured 1975 Interceptor III Convertible is a late-production convertible with all of the engineering and design refinements that make it one of the best driving and most desirable of the range. Finished in striking red over tan, it is unusually flashy yet still retains an air of elegance and sophisticated style. This high-quality Interceptor has been treated to extensive restoration and refurbishment and it presents in beautiful condition. The red paint is excellent and the body is laser-straight with crisp body lines and excellent panel fit. It is very well detailed with correct, restored GKN alloy wheels and lovely restored brightwork. These late Interceptors have fabulous cabins and this example is no exception with seemingly endless swathes of tan leather in excellent order. Likewise the wool carpets have been restored as well as the beautiful burl walnut trim. A very nice Moto-Lita three-spoke wood wheel has been fitted and the stereo system upgraded to modern components. The tan Everflex convertible top is in excellent condition and operates smoothly at the touch of a switch and a leather top boot keeps things tidy when the top is down. In proper drophead coupe tradition, the top is fully lined and insulated to ensure quiet and comfortable top-up motoring.
The engine bay is pleasingly well-detailed, and while showing some moderate use, remains clean and tidy with plenty of evidence of careful maintenance. The prominent air cleaner has been painted red to match the bodywork and the car retains its proper original Jenesen-branded alloy valve covers.
With a quality restoration and well-sorted mechanicals, this Interceptor III is ready for enjoyment on the road. When compared to its contemporaries it also represents an amazing value. This is a proper Italian designed, British-built GT car with loads of luxury and the added bonus of relative ease of service, thumping performance, and real exclusivity.