1959 Jensen 541R
Jensen began as a small coachbuilding firm run by brothers Richard and Allan Jensen; they bought out the body works of W.J. Smiths & Sons where they worked after the owner’s death and renamed it Jensen Motors in 1934. They built exclusive customised bodies for standard cars produced by several manufacturers of the day including Morris, Singer, Standard and Wolseley. In 1934 they were commissioned by American film actor Clark Gable to design and build a car for him based on a Ford V-8 chassis. The resultant car won them much acclaim and stimulated huge interest in their work including a deal with Ford to produce a run of Jensen ords with Jensen bodywork on a Ford chassis. In 1934 they also started to design their first true production car under the name White Lady. This evolved into the Jensen S Type which went into production in 1935.
1938 Jensen 3.5 litre
Production of cars ceased over the war years, but by 1946 a new vehicle was offered, the Jensen PW a luxury saloon). Few were produced since raw materials were still in short supply. Also in 1946 body designer Eric Neale joined the company from Wolseley and his first project was the more modern coupe which followed in 1950, named the Interceptor, which was built until 1957. In 1955, Jensen started production of Neale’s masterpiece, the 541, which used the then-revolutionary material of fibreglass for its bodywork. The 541 was replaced by another Neale design, the CV8 in 1962, which replaced the Austin-sourced stright 6 of the previous cars with a 6 litre American Chrysler V8. This large engine in such a lightweight car made the Jensen one of the fastest four-seaters of the time.
For its replacement, the Interceptor (launched in 1966), Jensen turned to the Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Touring, for the body design, and to steel for the material. The bodyshells themselves were built by Vignale of Italy and later by Jensen. The same 383 cu in (6.3 L) Chrysler wedge-head powerplant was used in the earlier cars with the later cars moving to the 440 cu in (7.2 L) in engine. The Interceptor was offered in fastback, convertible and (rare) coupé versions. The fastback was by far the most popular with its large, curving wrap-around rear window that doubled as a tailgate.
1965 Jensen CV8
Related to the Interceptor was another car, the Jensen FF, the letters standing for Ferguson Formula, Fergusson Research being the inventor of the full-time all wheel drive system adopted, the first on a production sports car. Also featured was the Dunlop Maxaret anti lock braking system in one of the first uses of ABS in a production car. Outwardly, the only differences from the Interceptor were four extra inches of length (all ahead of the windscreen) and a second row of air vents behind the front wheels. The small number of 320 FFs were constructed, and production ceased in 1971.
1970 Jensen FF
Jensen was also involved in the production of the following:
Austin A40 Sports (over 4000 manufactured from 1951-1953)
Austin Healey 100 (built the bodies between 1952 to 1966)
Volvo P1800 Coupe
Keith Anderson (1998). Jensen & Jensen-Healey. Sutton Publishing.