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.
While the Interceptor offered impressive performance for its day, any petrolhead knows there’s always room for improvement. One American Jensen enthusiast felt just that, and in 2010, he delivered this 1970 Interceptor Coupe to Butch’s Custom Fabrication in Montana and charged them with creating the ultimate high-speed grand tourer, blending classic looks with modern performance and dependability. As a doctor in Montana, his vision for the Interceptor was that of a reliable high-speed car for chewing up miles between rural hospitals in a hurry. With that, the Hemiceptor was born.
As a basis for the project, the owner found a remarkably well-preserved original Interceptor coupe that had spent much of its life in Arizona. Interceptors are infamous for their susceptibility to corrosion, yet photos of the car in bare metal show it remarkably solid and rot-free. Only a small amount of structural metalwork was required to prepare the shell. After the body was media blasted and primed, the underside and interior surfaces were coated with Lizard Skin coating for sound and heat insulation.
To preserve the spirit of the original Interceptor, the owner selected a Mopar Performance Gen III 6.1 Hemi crate engine, rated for 425 horsepower in standard form. A manufacturing defect was discovered on the Dyno, so the engine was completely torn down, and rebuilt with new forged Wiseco 11:1 compression pistons, then balanced, blueprinted, and topped with a FAST 2.0 XFI engine management system. The builders suitably upgraded oiling, cooling, and engine accessories with proven, high-performance components. In its current conservative state of tune, 425 horsepower comes easily, with 475hp or more attainable with some simple tuning. The engine is mated to a 5-speed, electronically controlled, 722.6 automatic transmission, upgraded by Southern Hot Rods to withstand 800 horsepower.
Chassis upgrades are equally as extensive, with the front suspension consisting of tubular control arms on a custom subframe by Art Morrison Engineering, power rack-and-pinion steering, and adjustable coil-over dampers. A Factory Five independent setup is at the rear, again with coil-over dampers, heavy-duty anti-roll bars, and a new Ford 8.8-inch limited-slip differential. Giant 12- and 12.9-inch Wilwood discs front/rear provide impressive stopping power, assisted by a remote electric booster.
The body is finished in the distinctive shade of Champagne Grigio, a modern Lamborghini color that flatters the Interceptor’s clean, Italian-designed coachwork. Aside from some minor tweaks and a set of 17-inch Enkei wheels, the outward appearance is left standard. The Jensen’s grand touring character is assured, with the comfortable four-passenger cabin trimmed in lotus white leather with black accents on the door panels, console, and dash. The instruments use modern electronic internals with custom faces that mimic the original Jaeger dials, which preserve the period character. A classic Moto Lita steering wheel is affixed to an adjustable Ididit column, with updated switchgear and controls. Niceties like climate control and electric windows and locks are all present.
With more than $180,000 spent on parts alone, the quality of this build is undoubtedly impressive. Sadly, the gentleman who initially envisioned and commissioned the Hemiceptor passed away before it was completed, leaving Butch’s Custom Fabrication to finish the project. They certainly did him proud with a superb automobile that blends classic style with modern comfort and astonishing performance.
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