Anglo-Italian-American! 1974 Jensen Interceptor

Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

Combine Italian styling, British interior and detailing, and a honking great big American V8, and you have what should have been a recipe for success. While the Jensen Interceptor has its aficionados, most folks don’t even know what one is! This one is up for sale here on eBay with no reserve, and bidding that started at $5,000 has quickly jumped to $7,000 as I write. It’s located in Guilford, Connecticut. 

The seller tells us that the car was driven up until the mid 1990s despite the 1985 plate, as the owner was the police captain (!) of Clinton, Connecticut. They acquired the car last year and have recently been able to get it running, although not well and the brakes are bad. Amazingly for an Interceptor, the only rust is said to be in front of one wheel. I have contemplated purchasing several Interceptors and have yet to find any that were under $20,000 that weren’t either ravaged by rust or had interiors that looked like they lost a battle with an angry wolverine!

The seller is generous with under car shots as well, showing how solid this car actually is (and how plebian the rear suspension is!) Don’t worry about the oil leakage–those of us who are British car enthusiasts are used to the “factory rustproofing system.”

Here’s a close up of that rusty spot the seller was talking about. Thankfully, it’s low enough (and there’s a nearby body crease) that you  should be able to fabricate a patch for it yourself out of sheet metal and weld it into place. Please, please don’t just stick body filler in that hole!

Some dye and leather conditioner would probably make the interior at least usable again, and I think that weatherstripping in the right of the picture is readily available as it was used on a lot of other cars as well (it’s called furflex if I’m right). Even the wood, which is usually pretty awful, doesn’t look that bad. This is an Interceptor III, which I’ve been told is generally considered the best of the breed.

According to this site, in 1974 the Interceptor III got a Chrysler-sourced 383 cubic inch V8, and based on the Jensen valve covers still being there, this is the original engine. The seller states that they were able to get the car to run and move after installing a new starter, rebuilding the Thermoquad carburetor, flushing all the fluids and installing some new fuel lines and a fuel pump. Now they want to pass it on to someone new. Are you the right quirky individual that appreciates one of the largest rear windows ever and the Italian-Anglo-American combination? Let us know if you happen to be the high bidder on this neat coupe!

 

Get Daily Email Updates:

Comments

  1. Jay M

    Um, sure have a lot of carbon blowing up thru that rebuilt carb.
    And look at those plug wires.
    I think someone needs to perform a proper tuneup.
    I’ve revived a few with MSD parts and a properly tuned 1406 Edelbrock or even a Holley 650 carb.
    Night and day difference in power and driveability.

    0
  2. madbrit

    The really rare model was the FF. That was the Ferguson Four Wheel Drive equipped model.

    0
    • Stewart

      And Maxarret antilock brakes as used on the VC-10

      0
  3. Dolphin Dolphin Staff

    British car fans called the Jensen Interceptor ‘the Gentleman’s Express’. I knew a couple of fellows from the UK who really wanted one of these, partly because of the status….and also because they said the ladies really liked them. The body was beautifully designed for that time by Touring, altho the fishbowl rear glass might have been an acquired taste.

    The earlier Interceptors had a fiberglas body, but these later model Interceptors have a steel body, and the evidence for that is in a couple of the photos of rusty panels on this car. Given how rare these are, and how hard it can be to R&R rare designer bodies, it can end up being very pricey to fix this body. Then there’s the interior that needs leather and some sorting of what look like some serious electrical problems.

    These coupes are the cheapest of these ’70s Interceptors, the others being 4-WD and ‘drophead coupe’ models. The SCM Guide says the median auction price paid recently for coupes has been about $24K, and I’m guessing that once you win this auction and pay for it there won’t be enough money from a $24K pot to fix the car up so that it will bring a $24K bid at auction. Best to spend the money to buy a better one.

    0
    • Stewart

      The interceptor never had a fibreglass body, they were all steel. The CV8 was the last fibreglass Jensen

      0
    • Dolphin Dolphin Staff

      Yes you are right. The 541 and also the C-V8 had fiberglas bodies (C-V8 doors were aluminium I believe). I mixed the older cars up with the later one. Thanks for the correction.

      0
  4. Nick

    Looks like a good one. My 74 had a 440. I would think the factory sunroof is rare.

    0
  5. Larry Brantingham

    Beginning in ’72, Interceptors got the 440. It was intended to compensate for the drop in power caused by the emission controls that were introduced in that year. The rust that’s shown doesn’t look bad, but I try to avoid cars from the north – like above the Red River….
    I think you’d have to say that the Interceptor was a success. At 6600 units, it sold far more than any previous Jensen. The underpinnings might look old fashioned today, but remember that the car came out in ’66 and the chassis was based on the CV8 of 1962. Ferrari got its first IRS street car in 64, Aston Martin made the live axle DB6 until ’71 and Maserati the Indy until ’75, so at the time it wasn’t hopelessly out of date. Besides, it worked pretty well; a 4000lb car can tolerate a bit more unsprung weight.

    Jensen made the fiberglass 541 and CV8, but the Interceptor was steel from the start, having been designed by Touring and initially built by Vignale.

    0
  6. Scott

    A friend had one of these, prone to rust, typical hand built fitment issues, electrical gremlins, and the 440 drank like a jet fighter.

    Doesn’t matter.

    There is not a bad seat in the house. Drive it or relax in the back and you are in style, old broken in leather chair type of style. Have always wanted one of my own.

    0
  7. Joe Haska

    I had three of these in the late 70’s and I sold them all to people in Anchorage Alaska (long Story) I drove them all from Denver to Seattle. Very comfortable and fast. High lights Lear 8 track stereos, Chrysler V-8, and of course the best of all ” prince of darkness Lucas Electrics”. I never had to but I don’t think you could change the starter with out pulling the engine, They were not very old then, and still most people didn’t know what they were, FUN TIMES!

    0
  8. KeithK

    I want one of these so badly I swear I can smell fish and chips,spaghetti,and cheeseburgers from here. Sadly ,like the rest of you, the budget will not allow and playing with other people’s money only means heart break when the financiers expect a profit. I’ll just close the the computer ,try to forget I saw this and drown my sorrows in bangers and mash.

    0
    • Dave Wright

      Don’t forget the mushey peas (ug……)

      0
  9. leiniedude

    Cool looking rig. Just curios, what’s up with the wipers ? I cant imagine they were parked at that position from the factory. To bad about the Craigs List photos.

    0
  10. Howard A Member

    Through out history ( automotive history, anyway) several foreign cars with American motors have shown up. All pretty cool. This was one of them. While I never cared for the styling ( as if I could afford one on a MGB salary) it had all the right stuff. We NEVER saw these in the midwest, but every British car enthusiast knew they existed. Great find. And please, no more leaky oil British car jokes. It’s simply not true and a form of abuse. 🙂

    0
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Howard…I’ve owned 42 British cars…no joke…and I love them dearly. But the cork and paper gaskets used in most do have a tendency to leak…a lot. Believe me…it’s why I keep all the large pieces of cardboard that come into the household–to try to keep the garage floors a little cleaner.

      I will say that some modern gasket substitutes are working better, and there’s a nice closet industry here in the US producing silcone reusable valve cover gaskets that WORK!

      0
  11. Brakeservo

    Having worked for a Jensen dealer back when these were new, I’ve probably driven more than most people have even seen. The sunroofs are after market, the 440 and Torqueflyte correct and oil leakage no different than any other Mopar of the period. Biggest problem is electrical fires – for good reason an extinguisher in the boot on the right side was standard. EVERY Interceptor we sold caught fire at least once. But a far superior car to the Jensen Healey. Brakes and steering essentially Jaguar and they handled like an old British roadster and I mean that in the best possible way – would much rather drive a Jensen with its inherent precision than any Chrysler product of the same time.

    0
  12. RJ

    ‘Jensen Interceptor. I had one. Handled like a school bus.’ – as said by Coach (Ian McShane) in 2008’s ‘Death Race’.

    0
    • Brakeservo

      I think you’re quoting a piece of fiction, those are not the words of one who has actually driven one.

      0
  13. Dan h

    Got to re-assemble not one but two Interceptor convertibles! A ’73 and ’74, both with 440’s. Neat cars and you really start to appreciate the craftsmanship when putting them back together. But man, that Lucas wiring can be challenging!! Thank god I had complete wiring schematics!
    One had fresh paint and new interior by Bill Dunn. It fetched $42k and was sent to the Netherlands where it was sold for $70k. The other was more of a driver but still fetched $24k.

    0
    • Brakeservo

      The wiring is what burns and starts fires in these cars.

      0
  14. HeadMaster1

    Someday I will have one of these…..someday

    0
  15. Rolf Poncho 455

    How to get a British car not to leak oil and look good
    Italian styled British car American motor what a combination

    0
  16. madbrit

    It’s funny to read the comments about the oil leaks when the major leaking parts are American……… LOL.

    0
  17. Mike Burnett

    The youngest Interceptor is now over 40 years old and many are still on original gaskets. Change them for modern silicone ones and they should not leak, but don’t forget the crankshaft end float gaskets. My brother had one of these in superb condition but was getting just 6MPG from it, and that’s an English gallon, which is larger than a US gallon. Was this normal? I wondered if it was a faulty engine/carburettor, but as my brother and I lived in different countries I was unable to offer my assistance. He sold it a few months after purchase due to the poor fuel consumption and high insurance cost. Beautiful car though. Personally, I preferred the CV8 which had a superb (and expensive to restore ) interior and an exterior that was at once ugly and beautiful. As for the electrical problems, over the years, with possibly hundreds of classic and vintage cars going through my hands, I have found that if the wiring has had problems or been modified (which usually means there had been problems), the best answer in the long run is to purchase a workshop manual intended for restorers (in the UK Haynes and Autobooks used to be available) and a complete wiring loom. A complete replacement, with modern wires that have higher standard insulation, would take me about 8 hours’ hard work with the workshop doors closed to avoid friends dropping by for lengthy coffee breaks and a ‘chat’. The last one I did was on a Mercedes 190SL (actually one main loom and two smaller ones) which took a little longer but the result is satisfying. I can recommend a company in England called Autosparks who can do left hand drive looms as well, and they are happy to post them overseas.

    0
    • Brakeservo

      Wiring in an Interceptor is prone to problems such as shorting and fires because each car was wired up by hand with no standard wiring harness or loom having been available. For instance, depending on how he felt, the guy doing the wiring might one day use a blue wire for the tail lights and run it down the right side of the vehicle. The next day and next car he might use a brown or red wire for the tail lights and run it down the left side of the car, or maybe he’d use yet another colour for the car after that and run it down the center of the car. Can you see what a headache this creates for someone who has to fix wiring issues afterwards? Now 40+ years later, someone may have created a standard wiring pattern, but such did not exist when the cars were new.

      0
  18. John vreeland

    Can anyone confirm they were prone to overheating if say for example you were parked with a high school girl friend when new? Her fathers car!

    0
    • madbrit

      Are you sure it was just the car that was overheating?……. LOL.

      0
  19. John vreeland

    All

    0
  20. leiniedude

    Sold for $14,350.00. 33 bids. Seems like a pretty good deal to me.

    0
  21. rich voss

    I find it a bit odd that the seller mentions the work he did to get it running AND driving, yet takes a photo with the left front tire flat. AND all the electrical wiring and switchery just hanging over the accelerator. Yep, still sold. Also feel that for the day AND the torque of that 440, a solid rear axle and leaf springs were the best bet. For the guy that never saw them in the MidWest, we sure had them in Chicagoland back then….

    0

Leave A Comment

Rules: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Click here to list your car for sale.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.