Jensen : The Interceptor makes a return

Carole Nash Classic Insurance Specialists

Jensen Interceptor R
Jensen Interceptor R

Oxfordshire-based manufacturer and restorer Jensen International Automotive Limited (JIA) has just commenced deliveries of the new Jensen Interceptor R. The Jensen Interceptor R is JIA’s modern interpretation of the much-loved British classic from the 1960s and 1970s.

Each Interceptor R is hand-built from an original donor car, refurbished and treated to modern specifications, boasting a GM Corvette LS3 V8 engine, independent rear suspension, brand-new transmission and braking systems and a luxurious new interior.

Jensen International Automotive has the financial backing and know-how of Carphone Warehouse’s Founder and Chairman, Charles Dunstone, who joined its Board of Directors last year. ‘Seeing the first Interceptor grand tourers of 2011 being delivered is a great way to start the year,’ said Tony Banham, JIA’s Managing Director.

‘Our current production facilities are capable of achieving quality levels completely unattainable only a couple of years ago. We have managed to produce a modern Jensen without compromising on its spirit or heritage.’

The new Jensen Interceptor R, powered by a 6.2-litre V8 producing 429bhp, can reach an estimated top speed of 160mph and hit 0-60mph in less than 4.5sec. Prices start from £105,000, with a five-month building schedule.

Keith Adams

Keith Adams

Editor and creator AROnline at AROnline
Created www.austin-rover.co.uk in 2001 and built it up to become the world's foremost reference source for all things BMC, Leyland and Rover Group, before renaming it AROnline in 2007.

Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...

Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.
Keith Adams

64 Comments

  1. It’s nice to see the Jensen Interceptor back again as the car still has a real presence about it.

    I hope that one day Jensen International Automotive will consider putting the fabulous S-V8 from the late Nineties back into production – the S-V8 came to an end rather early on in its production life, following the collapse of the company. I would also love to see the stillborn C-V8 concept unveiled in 1999 put into production.

  2. It’s great to see this car again – it brings back memories for me.

    Many years ago a customer turned up at our office in one – it was an old car even then. I’ll always remember it – a big car with an even bigger engine.

    That V8! What a wonderful noise. I was helping to load the car up just as he restarted it – I swear the ground was shaking. (LOL)

  3. I’m a fan of Jensens, especially the FF, but this version is STILL just an old car with new bits bolted to it.

  4. Jason King-tastic – the Interceptor should come with a free purple suit with flared kex, bry-nylon shirt, and cravat. LOL.

  5. Well, if Sue Lawley invited me on to a hypothetical Desert Island Cars and then asked which of the cars from my list I would choose if I had to choose one, this would be it.

  6. @DeLorean’s Accountant
    Exactly, and it also means that, for every one of these “new” cars, a classic has to be taken off the road, which is a shame. I think I’d be just as, if not more, excited about having a mint original version sitting in my garage!

  7. The Jensen Interceptor is still one of the best-looking cars ever put on the road. Hairdressers need not apply. None of this effeminate, Italian nonsense.

    This was my dream car when I was a teenager in the early 1970s – one I would aim for when I got older. Sadly, now, 40 years later, it’s still too expensive for me.

  8. @KC
    That’s because you, like me and most people born in the 60s, believed Tomorrow’s World when they told us that by 2000 we would all wear silver spandex, eat only pills and gunk from tubes, work two hours per day and, during our increased leisure time, drive any of our five cars or fly our helicopter. Sadly, it didn’t turn out exactly like that for me – I would be pleased to learn I was alone in this failure.

    The Interceptor, like most other Jensen’s, was 20 year old technology posing as the future of motoring. It was a great-looking car and achieved big performance simply by having lots of power. It was also two tons of inefficiency and was certainly not a good pointer to how the future would, or should, be.

    I suspect these refurbished cars, with an even bigger engine, will still fail to return double figure mpg. A car looking like that which can do 300 mph, whilst returning 50 mpg, would be a real step forward – this is just the 1950s polished up again.

  9. I love to hear this. I remember that, about 10 years back, I saw a rather rundown Interceptor MkIII – an extremely rare LHD example – at a local Suzuki Dealer. He was doing some service work on Aston Martins and Jaguars in his spare time.

    The leather was worn, the dash had a bunch of cracks, the interior was dirty and worn too, the brakes would barely work and the body condition was questionable but the engine was running smoothly and the transmission had just been overhauled in order to make it run.

    The Dealer offered the car to me at a really bargain price – less than 4000 DM. I rejected the offer as I already had a restoration project back then. Now, knowing how difficult it is to get a LHD Interceptor and at what premium rates those are sold here on the continent, I would love to kick my own b**t for missing the opportunity.

  10. Is that JIA’s press picture? That’s flipping awful. I’ll do ’em some professional shots in exchange for a play with the car :).

  11. Isn’t that fabulous car in the photograph an Interceptor S produced by Cropredy Bridge Garage? It even says “S” on the grille badge…

  12. Mmm, hang on, it takes a moment for my head to catch up, but this Interceptor is just a restoration/modernisation. Companies have been doing that to Jaguar Mk2s, Porsche 356s, Morris Minor 1000s etc. for years. They should have bunged the PSA/Jaguar/Ford 3.0 twin turbo diesel in the car to make it relevant for daily use.


  13. KC :The Jensen Interceptor is still one of the best-looking cars ever put on the road. Hairdressers need not apply. None of this effeminate, Italian nonsense.

    LOL, the Interceptor was designed by Vignale, a coachbuilder and stylist from… Italy!

  14. The FF (anorak point: two sets of louvres in each wing) was one of the first cars in production with standard antilock brakes, based on aircraft technology and made by Maxaret.

    I had a friend at Uni’ whose dad was minted and restored a decrepit FF which he bought from an equally decrepit, retired actress who used it only to drive to local shops, wearing a voluminous fur coat in all seasons. Apparently, it was quite a strong car – it was hit up the back by a speeding Morris 1100, which became a pile of rust, but failed to break the Jensen’s rear window!

    David 3500, I too love the 1999 Jensen S-V8.

  15. I should, perhaps, explain the distinction between the Interceptor ‘S’ and ‘R’ designations.

    Jensen International Automotive Limited was formed in May 2010 and acquired the rights to carry on with the Interceptor ‘S’ project originally started by V Eight Ltd at Cropredy Bridge.

    We have subsequently completed, on behalf of a number of customers, cars started by V Eight which will continue to be designated ‘S’. However, we have also made continuous engineering and quality enhancements and have therefore recently decided to change the designation for all the future cars which we will build in their entirety to ‘R’.

    Hope this helps and thanks for all the positive comments.

  16. @David 3500
    @Ken Strachan
    I share your opinion of the Jensen S-V8 Roadster and, in fact, actually ordered one from Jensen Motors Limited back in March, 2000 but withdrew the order in March, 2001 because of (inter alia) a complete lack of communication about the project’s progress.

    I was, therefore, fortunately able to obtain a refund of my deposit before Jensen Holdings Limited, Jensen Motors Limited and Jensen Sales Limited all went into Administration. However, I continued to follow the story and had some contact with the Administrators at PKF in Liverpool.

    The Administrators sold 18 part-built S-V8s to SV Automotive Limited of Caterton in Oxfordshire – that company was also given a two year Licence to complete and sell them together with a five year Licence to service them and, apparently, the 20-23 delivered to customers by Jensen Motors Limited. See: The tragic tale of the Jensen S-V8, Tony Dron, Telegraph Motoring, 14th June, 2003.

    The remaining assets, which included the IPRs to the Jensen brand, the S-V8 and Interceptor model names plus CAD data and Supplier files etc, one S-V8 prototype (then painted red) and the C-V8 mock-up, were sold to a Swiss company called Switzerland Hyland Automotive Technologies AG in January, 2004.

    However, subsequent research suggested that the Swiss company concerned experienced financial problems and a quick check on the Intellectual Property Office’s website today reveals that Healey Automobile Consultants Limited (HAC) has applications pending in respect of the Community Trade Marks for the Jensen, Jensen-Healey and Interceptor names as well as the Jensen badge…

    Incidentally, while both the S-V8 and C-V8 were Registered Designs, the protection afforded by that registration expired in 2008 so a revival of the S-V8 might be technically possible.

    However, given the applications made to the IPO by HAC, any new Jensen or Jensen-Healey-badged roadster seems more likely to be based on the car which was reportedly being developed under the Joint Venture Agreement between HAC, HFI Automotive Limited and Nanjing Automobile (Group) Corporation (NAC) which was announced in June, 2007… See the Press Release issued by NAC on the 12th June, 2007. Interestingly, that Press Release no longer appears on either HFI Automotive Limited’s or MG Motor UK Limited’s websites…

  17. How many times has the Jensen Interceptor been resurrected now? Nevertheless, it is still a beautiful car with awesome presence and should now be able to keep up with more modern cars.

  18. I’ve only seen one or two in the metal but they have a certain presence about them.

    I remember Jeremy Clarkson mentioning how he once got the chance to drive one to Spain for a friend living out there and how many tanks of petrol it took (nine, I think).

    Most were fitted with an automatic box so that must dent the mpg figures even more.

    Incidentally, as well as the FF, there were also the SP with 330hp from the 7.2 litre Chrysler engine and the short-lived convertible, which must be very rare.

  19. I know this is off-topic but I have a suggestion regarding this page and the photos attached to some of the articles.

    The Jensen image placed at the top of this article is a 3054px × 2036px sized image scaled to 600px × 400px. This is very bad web practice – it makes the page very slow to load for all of us, eats up your bandwidth (and that costs you a lot more on your hosting).

    This may also have an adverse effect on Google spiders which will also rate this page less highly than it would have done otherwise. You really need to resize the images prior to uploading them. A great article and a lovely picture!

  20. This is what I have been advocating for a long time. A perfectly acceptable car upgraded with modern engine/electronics/suspension etc. It doesn’t detract from the fact the car is a classic and it’s not only better for the environment because the car’s still being driven, it’s also cleaner and more efficient than it could ever be with its original engine etc. and, importantly, it’s SAFER.

    Someone mentioned the 7.2 litre engine – I suspect that this was the 440 motor, which is almost as tunable as the 3.5 V8 – witness the 440 6-Pack that was offered as an option way back and which, with a little development and a few hours of dyno time, could be fuel injected…

    The possibilities are endless – and they are all ignored because customers are conned into the fact that new is always better… it just isn’t.

  21. Oh, and in response to the person who wailed that a classic car is being taken off the road…

    Tatra introduced the T603 in 1956 – this featured a 2.5 litre aircooled V8 in the boot, all wheel disc brakes, stir and praycolumn shift transmission and 3 headlights (including a central one that rotated with the steering). It was updated twice before it was replaced – and those cars that were returned to the factory for service or repair “were upgraded to the present spec” as a matter of course – up to and including new engines. They were are and always will be Tatra 603s.

    I would suggest that, if the people concerned in this venture were building a new Interceptor from the ground up and selling to people who have the original, on the basis that they would then miraculously want to junk the car they have probably spent years looking after or restoring, then you’d have reason to wail – and I would wail right along with you – but they aren’t.

    What this company is doing is merely an extension of their current service – nothing more than a top to tail, stem to stern refit. Just like the HMS Barham – it’s still an Interceptor – it’s just that cute little bunnies don’t get gassed as you drive past and you won’t need to have the GDP of a middling African nation in order to fill it up with fuel…

    I would, to be honest, be all in favour of a diesel version – a nice chipped Cummins V8 from the current Dodge Ram for example – all the tyre screaming with twice the MPG.

  22. An interesting comment from Clive Goldthorp – the HAC/HFI agreement with NAC should have spawned a new Healey and Austin-Healey.

    MG Motor UK have not given any details recently – is there another Project Kimber waiting in the wings?

  23. @Jemma
    Loving the Ram suggestion :-). Funny you should mention Tatra as the T613 was, of course, another Vignale creation and a beautifully angular one at that :-).

    Jon.

  24. @Jemma
    A Jensen Interceptor with a diesel engine is not a Jensen Interceptor – if you want an economical daily driver then get a Mondeo or something! That’s not what a car like this is supposed to be.

  25. @Jemma
    No, that is just wrong. Diesels are a compromise and this car is not.

    Hopefully, engines like the Fiat TwinAir will see off diesel and allow us to live in a world free from old smokers (although I will admit to driving a diesel myself).

  26. @Ianto
    I somewhat agree with Jemma’s point. A V8 Diesel could be a neat side option for a classic sportscar. However, I strongly disagree with her suggestion about using a Cummins engine.

    There are numerous V8s with more power and less truck-like behaviour on the market. Take the M-B 629: a 4.0 Litre V8 with 320 horses and 730 Nm torque. It should be easy to beef that one up to 400 horses and 1000 Nm torque – if you have ever driven a current S-Class, you’ll know that this is the right engine for a Gentleman’s express like the Interceptor R.

  27. Dean Beedell :
    I know this is off-topic but I have a suggestion regarding this page and the photos attached to some of the articles.
    The Jensen image placed at the top of this article is a 3054px × 2036px sized image scaled to 600px × 400px. This is very bad web practice – it makes the page very slow to load for all of us, eats up your bandwidth (and that costs you a lot more on your hosting).

    My comment is about the full-size version – the composition is fine, but it’s not actually in focus anywhere – the fringing, distortion and apparent low resolving power of the lens suggest it was shot on a mobile phone or cheap compact.

    That’s absolutely fine as an illustration of the car from a “wow, look at this awesome car” perspective, but is pretty shocking when a few hundred quid (depending on the enthusiasm and distances involved – I wasn’t joking about doing some shots in exchange for a go in the car) would see the images match the technical competence and quality I’d hope the car is being built to.

    Oh, and yeah, the header image should be a smaller one linking to a fullsize, but it takes time to do that if WP isn’t handling it automatically and blog Editors (and real Editors) have lives and work to get on with – a good Press Release should anticipate that and include 500, 604 (Facebook’s older optimised resolution) and full-size images.

  28. @Dean Beedell
    Thanks for the pointers – up until the arrival of the WordPress system, it was and is something I was very keen to do on the HTML side of things.

    However, when I found that WordPress defaults to opening on clicking, I figured people would like to see full-sized images while looking at the scaled version on the page. I’m easy either way…

  29. @Richard Kilpatrick
    Your point about Press Releases struck a cord with me. I wonder whether Newspress might invite their Clients to use, say, three or four standard sizes for any photographs accompanying Press Releases. I am certainly all for anything which makes my role as AROnline’s News/Sub-Editor easier!

  30. Ah, if I had the money…

    I’d want one with the current 4.4litre Diesel V8 as found in the Range Rover. I expect the performance of said engine would p*ss all over the current offering and be slightly more economical too! I reckon that, if a Range Rover can manage 30mpg, an Interceptor ought to be better.

    Need to start saving…

    Chris.

  31. Keith Adams :
    However, when I found that WordPress defaults to opening on clicking, I figured people would like to see full-sized images while looking at the scaled version on the page. I’m easy either way…

    There are some plugins/Lightbox tools that handle generation of thumbnails, but you need to upload via the dashboard rather than just chucking stuff in a directory AFAIK (I’m no expert, just used to what my own WP sites do) – a slower workflow if you’re used to HTML and FTP building of sites!

  32. @Wilko
    I considered fitting a Peugeot diesel to one of my Humbers at one point – exactly the same power and torque and much better fuel economy.

    Sports cars are about power to weight ratio – a sports car can be powered by a diesel, witness some of the Le Mans cars. An attitude of no diesel sports cars is very closed minded.

    My dad has an M-B C320 estate with a 230hp diesel engine – he’s someone who enjoys his driving and he swears by it…

    Finally, as regards the Cummins engines, the modern ones are as good as, if not better than, the M-B offerings and I know that of which I speak – there’s a reason why Chrysler got shot of them as soon as they could.

  33. Jemma :@Wilko
    I considered fitting a Peugeot diesel to one of my Humbers at one point – exactly the same power and torque and much better fuel economy. .

    It may be the same power on paper but it’s delivered in a completely different way. I think that, if you want better economy with the same driving characteristics, an LPG conversion is the way to go…

  34. A friend of mine has a rare Interceptor Coupe without the bubble glass hatch.

    You feel like you are sitting in a light aircraft with all the switches and dials but the best bit is the fantastic, thumping great big lump of Detroit’s finest under the bonnet! Why stick a diesel under the bonnet and ruin its character? Why not stick some ‘Cossie’ spoiler on the back at the same time and ruin its timeless beauty?

    Sorry, I like the odd tweak here and there to make a car slightly more drivable for modern traffic, even LPG is a good option, but a Diesel engine, errrrrr NO!!!!

  35. Scoth :
    It’s a car for the rich, not for today’s fuel prices. Mind you, if it had a modern diesel…

    It costs £110,000 or so. I’m not entirely sure that putting a diesel in it is going to make it a car for the not-rich…

    Anyway, once again, in response to the comments on LPG, LPG is not more economical. It is simply not currently taxed at the same level. All it would take is for the Government to see it as a significant road fuel and apply an appropriate duty for the cost-driven, economy-in-a-big-car mindset to be wiped out and the few people who use it for the environmental credentials to be paying more for a marginally less efficient and significantly less convenient fuel.

    FWIW, a modern, fuel-injected V8 in a good state of tune will deliver reasonable economy as long as it’s not spending ages idling in traffic – which really isn’t the environment to be driving that car anyway. Even my Jeep’s old straight six gives me 28mpg on the motorway for a 1600Kg brick-shaped lump with 4WD; my Mercedes SL500 gave 33mpg at motorway speeds (despite having 113,000 miles, 32 valves, 300+bhp and an ageing 4-speed slushbox). It gave 9-13mpg in urban driving, but that’s what small cars, bicycles, buses and so forth are for.

  36. I saw a feature on the Interceptor in the Mail on Sunday’s LIVE magazine supplement last week. Great to see it’s back! Sadly, it’s out of my price range but it feels good to “drool” over pictures of it. I remember Dinky made a die-cast model of it in the 1960s (or was it the FF version?) – I can afford one of those…

  37. @Wilko
    Yes, but the Humber is a 6 speed from the shop, or can be made into an 8 speed transmission – so it can adjust to the lower RPM top end and the better torque at low revs…

    The biggest improvement would be fitting a decent 2.5 litre diesel to the Humber Hawk – 80bhp to move a small stately home doesn’t make for good performance!

  38. I have always been a great fan of the Jensen Interceptor and was really pleased to see a company about to start manufacturing them again.

    However, if they’re restored from a donor car, there must be a very limited number which can be produced. The Jensen was never a mass-market car so any donors they find must be about 40yrs old.

    I don’t think I would like to invest in this venture with the cost of tooling, the increasing cost of commodities and a finite (very finite) source of supply.

    Best of luck to Jensen International Automotive Limited – I think they’ll need it!

  39. @Jemma
    I reckon that, if you fitted any Cummins diesel engine to the Interceptor, you would also need to fit an adblue tank and catalyst with injector – all Cummins engines require adblue to meet EU standard IV/V emmissions and that stuff is highly corrosive and expensive. It is currently knocking around £2 a litre.

    Another point is that Cummins reliability is slipping badly and failure rates at very low miles are common. I’ve had a Cummins engine kill itself at less than 2000 miles…

    Big BMW and Mercedes-Benz diesels are smooth and quiet, can be tweaked to produce silly horsepower and are smaller and lighter than a Cummins lump. A BMW or Mercedes diesel would therefore be more suited to the Jensen as they are car engines and not truck-based.

  40. @Ianto
    I’m not defending diesel here – just questioning why making a diesel Jensen Interceptor would negate the “Car for the Rich” aspect of it :D.

  41. Agree with most- diesel in an Interceptor is just wrong on so many levels. Like most old classic cars it is a bit of a ‘curiosity’- I’m not adverse to a few tweaks here and there, but not changing the whole character of the thing to save a few MPG- its not a car for commuting in, after all.

    The sounds that a car makes (old cars anyway- most modern cars sound much the same) is as important as the way it drives. The bovine ‘lowing’ of a Morris Minor(with that characteristic ‘fruit fart’ on the over-run), the bassy burble of an MGB, or the sewing machine noise of a 2CV are intrinsicly part of the car’s ‘soul’- which would largely be lost if the engines of those cars were replaced with a modern 4 cylinder engine and exhaust system from VW or Ford.

  42. We seem to have two distinct generation issues here.
    There are those of us who are old enough to remember Jensens properly – I owned for some thirty years a Jensen bodied Austin A40 Sports – and still regard Eric Niels designs and the later Vignale work to be some of the most perfect styling for the industry.
    There is also the younger set who clearly don’t appreciate cars from the earlier period – and appear besotted by something to do with fuel consumption! When will these people realise that driving pleasure is all that really matters to some of us – my V6 Alfa Spyder gives me a brilliant 26mpg and so much pleasure from the styling to the sound to the acceleration – it is worth every penny! If you can’t afford the fuel and kid yourself that your diesel turbo pocket rocket thingy is giving you what you want – then so be it, but don’t criticise those of us who appreciate the finer things in life.

  43. I have had my 1974 Jensen Interceptor Ser III for 20 years now. Yes, it is a thirsty beast. However, I always say that fun and economy do not belong in the same sentence. Whenever I take the car out for a spin it is still a headturner. My new Ford Escape has a 3.0L engine (which is not even half of my 7.0L Chrysler engine)and the mileage is only 14 mpg compared to my Jensen’s 10 mpg under the same conditions of driving)
    I would not exchange my Jensen for any of todays buble looking modern cars. As has been said before by other replies, the car has class and style.

    I have so far in twenty years have received 20 car show awards.8-)

  44. The Interceptor is easily one of the best looking cats in history, I fitted mine with a 7 litre Mercedes Benz V12,now its uncatchable

  45. Were other potent engines considered for the Jensen 541S to Jensen Interceptor apart from Chrysler or Chevrolet V8s, particularly British built engines?

    Given Jensen’s own links with BMC and BMC’s own links with Rolls-Royce, it is surprising that the 4-litre FB60 / G60 Inline-6 and Rolls-Royce L-Series V8 (albeit latter tuned-up for power rather then refinement) engines were not investigated.

  46. Car needs a multi valve 4 cam engine,ideally an M119 Mercedes Benz 5 litre engine,or the 6 litre version from an SL60,these engines are possibly the best ever produced anywhere.

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