For the well-off car enthusiast in the late 1960s, there was no shortage of stylish, high-performance grand tourers available to them. Aston Martin, Ferrari, or Maserati may have been the obvious choices, but their exotic engines required specialized and costly maintenance. A Jaguar might have seemed too commonplace for some customers, a Rolls-Royce too ostentatious, and a Citroen SM too complex. But quietly nestled somewhere in the middle of all those options were Jensen of West Bromwich, England, with their Italian designed, American powered, and British engineered Interceptor. Evolved from the glassfibre-bodied CV-8, the Interceptor was extensively redesigned with stylish new steel bodywork penned by Carrozzeria Touring. Like the CV-8 before it, the Interceptor had Chrysler V8 engines stuffed under the bonnet, which gave the Interceptor exotic car performance and near-bulletproof reliability.
While the body was designed in Italy by Touring, Jensen built all Interceptor shells (save the first few) in their British factory. The shape was crisp and muscular, with understated aggression. Initially, Jensen only offered the 2+2 ‘saloon’ with its distinctive fish-bowl rear hatch, though a convertible followed in 1974. All Jensen Interceptors were lavishly appointed with leather upholstery, wool carpet, wood trim comfort, and plenty of equipment to ensure occupants arrived at their destination unflustered.
As Interceptor production rolled into the mid-1970s, the company experienced financial problems as sales struggled to recover after the fuel crisis. Jensen used up their supply of saloon shells, so company owner Kjell Qvale devised a plan to use the remaining convertible bodies and convert them into a new hardtop coupe, which debuted in prototype form at the 1975 Earls Court Motor Show. The body was a standard Jensen Convertible shell, adapted with permanent hard top that featured a tinted glass “targa bar” and was wrapped in padded vinyl, as was de rigueur for the mid-70s. Jensens subcontracted production of the tops to Panther cars, who also handled the fitting and final assembly. In these latter days of Jensen Cars, record-keeping was spotty at best, but marque expert Richard Calver has extensively researched these cars, coming up with 46 known examples, making them among the rarest of all Interceptor variants.
Of the 46 known survivors, this 1976 Interceptor Coupe is likely one of the best. It has been in the care of one passionate marque enthusiast since 1986 and has enjoyed no-expense-spared care and maintenance since its high-level restoration. Presented in a striking shade of Nevis blue with a beige roof, it is beautifully detailed and superbly finished inside and out. Documents show the body was treated to a bare-metal respray in 2007, including removing all glass, trim, and the engine. The paintwork remains in superb condition, with straight, crisp panels and high-quality finish work all around. Exterior trim and brightwork are also in excellent order, restored, or replaced as necessary during the restoration. Likewise, the top has been totally overhauled and retrimmed in the proper vinyl and retains the original dark tinted glass banding.
Few cars of this side of a Rolls Silver Shadow compare to the Jensen Interceptor for outright luxury. The front seats are remarkably comfortable, with plenty of room for taller drivers, with the addition of occasional rear seats and a generously sized boot. This car boasts gorgeous parchment leather seats with diamond-stitched inserts, contrasting navy piping, and navy carpets. Diamond stitching repeats on the door panels, and the dash is covered in charcoal leather. Switches, controls, and instruments are in excellent order, and the audio system is updated with a modern Alpine head unit and speakers. All the interior work is finished to a high standard and is presented in concours-quality condition.
Mechanically, no expense has been spared in its maintenance and upkeep. The correct-spec 440 cubic-inch Chrysler V8 was entirely rebuilt in 2012 and updated with a new comp cam, MSD distributor, new pistons, bearings, valves, and stainless hardware. While upgraded for better performance, the engine is properly detailed with correct Jensen valve covers, factory-type air cleaner, and other accessories. The few apparent updates include a high-efficiency Sanden a/c compressor and an updated radiator and cooling fan assembly. Looking beneath, the undercarriage is fully detailed, with stainless exhaust, rebuilt brakes, and suspension components.
A Jensen Coupe in any form is a rare sighting, and this car’s superb restoration makes it even more of a standout. Few have received such enthusiastic care and attention, and its outstanding quality was recognized with invitations to several prestigious events, including the Eyes on Design Concours and St. Johns Concours. It remains in impeccable order and will undoubtedly put a smile on any Jensen enthusiast’s face.
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