Chrysler 383 Powered: 1970 Jensen MK II Interceptor

The average person hearing these words: “Jensen Interceptor Saloon” may reflexively have that person thinking of a pint of Bulmers cider in front of them at an upscale, intergalactic dark wood pub. No, so sorry, we are instead referring to the British-made 1970 Jensen MK II Interceptor Saloon shown here, now for sale in Encino, California for $16,995 here on craigslist.  Tip of the bowler to Ikey Heyman for coming up with this interesting, true barn find tip.

Really puzzling that Jensen made only 1,128 MK II Interceptors: why is there not a bull rush to Encino to grab up this rarest specimen?  The car nicknamed the “Gentleman’s Express” was a modestly expensive yet impressive looking saloon that was the victim of being made at the wrong time—a 4,000-pound car that’s not exactly a sports car (0-60 in 7 seconds–meh), not exactly a family sedan (must be sweltering hot in the “way back” most of the time), suffering from lousy gas mileage (10—no mistake, TEN mpg) at the exact wrong time when there were petrol shortages and skyrocketing prices. There’s interesting reading on these cars found in Hagerty’s collection of articles, one particularly interesting one is entitled “Elegant and Powerful, Why Aren’t 1966-76 Jensen Interceptors Worth More?”   Inquiring minds must know the answer to this.  One sentence in the article stands out such that it might just make you spit out your Bulmers: “[T]he . . .cars were fearful rusters. . .[w]heel arches, floors, and hatch surrounds are vulnerable.” [One issue with the car . . .] “connects electric faults with sudden conflagration, which led to the company fitting fire extinguishers.”  “Sudden conflagration,” akin to “spontaneous combustion,” i.e. “fire, fire, fire?”  Something not so good in a touring saloon—perhaps worth a look into, what say, old chaps?  As to our subject car, look very closely at the rear hatch: The well color coordinated duct tape/leak sealant leads one to think about “hatch surround vulnerability.”

The interior is tip-top English style: lots of very tasteful gauges, a smashingly James Bond-ish steering wheel, lots of Apollo-11-ish rocker switches, understated interior appointments and cushy, newly installed leather seats and rugs.  Clever air conditioning ducts amid the gauges–mind you in 1970, A/C was still optional in many cars. This Jensen has only 95,160 miles on it, and she has clear title. Dig the Sky-and-Sunshine 70s California license plate in the last photo—no idea if it is real or for show.

Well, since the last time you saw a Jensen engine compartment, which was . . .never. . .here’s the look beneath the front-tilting bonnet.  If it looks somewhat familiar save the “Jensen” name style on the valve covers, you are right-ee-oh if you were thinking Chrysler 383.  This one produced 335 horsepower in the 1970 model, connected to a 3-speed Torqueflite A727 automatic.  Jensens were mostly manufactured with Chrysler powerplants; when the 1970s regulations detuned most engines including the 383, Jensen then rightly chose to go all-in for the 440 cubic inch Chrysler engine for 1971 and later model year cars.  Brilliant–a petrol shortage, guys!  Nevertheless, this car and its genuine scarcity may someday have pundits calling this an “exotic” or “rarely seen” collectible car much like other brands where familiarity may be a tad thin like Tucker, Talbot, Bricklin, or Chenard & Walker. May well be in the next century, so,  ‘til then, pip, pip, enjoy a few “shaken, not stirred,” and Cheers! [Let’s hear about obscure cars in the comments.]

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Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    This is kind of like the Bricklin I pass on the side of
    Highway 220,at a used car lot – I like to see it,but would
    never think of buying one.

    Like 2
    • JP

      Yeah, but if you’re considering an Interceptor this is the one to get. No dumbed-down, detuned engine, and if it’s been in CA its whole life, not much, if any, rust either. Plus the price is very reasonable.

      Like 4
  2. gbvette62

    I have to disagree that the car didn’t sell well because it came out at the wrong time. The Interceptor came out in the mid 60’s, and the Series II was introduced in 70. Most V8 powered cars in 70 didn’t do much better than 10 mpg either, and gas was easy to come by and still cheap at .29 a gallon. The “oil crisis” didn’t hit until 73, and by then the Series II had been replaced by the Series III, which sold about 4500 copies.

    I don’t think it sold well because it really wasn’t intended too. The Interceptor was a low volume vehicle, that wasn’t widely available. Many of the cars it competed with, like the BMW 3.0CS/CSi, were also low volume. The size, weight and fuel mileage of the Interceptor was comparable to the cars it competed with, while it’s performance was a little better in most cases. Why they’re not popular today, or worth more, who knows. Maybe it’s because of their somewhat quirky styling, or parts availability, or maybe it’s just because many people have never heard of, or seen one before?

    For something really different, look into the Interceptor FF, a slightly longer all wheel drive version. The FF (for Ferguson Formula) used an all wheel drive system developed for the car by the British company Ferguson LTD. Only a few hundred FF’s were made, and it was never offered in the US.

    Personally I’ve always been a fan of Jensens, the Interceptor and especially the Jensen Healey.

    Like 20
  3. Mike Hawke

    There was nothing meh about the acceleration provided by the 383 in my 1971 Interceptor. And it was much more pleasing to the ear than that blender sound in many modern motors.

    I would recommend buying the best you can find. It’s not a car to restore cheaply. Let someone else spend the big bucks and time. This particular car looks like a money pit.

    Like 9
  4. Fahrvergnugen Farhvergnugen Member

    Love these cars. Perfect car for the Cali climate and lack of road salt.

    Never seen duct tape used as a window gasket, but if it keeps the elements out until a replacement can be found, then chin chin to the seller!

    Like 2
    • Turbo

      you lost me at chin chin

  5. Carnut

    Farhvergnugen read the whole posting on Craigslist seller is a flipper who buys them..last line of his ad spells it all out.. he’s just flipping.. buy put some lip stick on them (tape).. does it run? yes it runs in the lot (meaning it was started).. does it go in gear? brakes work? is it safe? who knows – who cares seller just wants to make some money and move on.. buyer beware on these ads..

    Like 2
  6. BG in AK

    The continuous fake English comments are more than a little annoying when describing a classic car. Better saved for movie night with fake english actors playing fake english spies.

    These cars were special in that they were never meant for the every day driver. No regular guy could afford them. Executives, rich playboys, movie and sports celebrities could. They bought them because they were rare, expensive and exclusive. That being said, they were still a dream car for many people in the home market.
    Beautiful and unusual, they were more reliable than some other offerings in the UK from other manufacturers. The power plant was bulletproof & exceptional.

    If there was one near my location, I would be driving there through the snow & ice to see it. Quirky design – perhaps. Gorgeous – for sure, at least to my eyes. Remember, some people liked the Pontiac Aztek.

    Thanks for finding the car and the automotive details.

    Like 6
  7. Maestro1 Member

    I always liked these cars and got close to buying a convertible version (used)
    in California and didn’t do it because they dealer refused to come down in price. The car was overpriced.
    Some independent parts dealers (Kip) have parts for these cars. Also try Moss Motors and have them put you together with a supplier they may know.
    I agree on the Jensen FF. Very hard to find. They are great cars in general. No, you won’t get gas mileage. It’s not a consideration here. Use the car on the weekends.

  8. JolietJake Member

    Didn’t Barn Finds just feature this same car about two weeks ago? I recognize the duct tape work on the back hatch, and that passenger side sure looks like it was hit with a spraycan . It was also in Encino. Not posted comments from before, homes

  9. ClassicCarFan

    Sorry to sound negative… (and you can delete/ban this comment if you choose) but I have to agree with “BG in AK” that this accompanying write-up is poor. Stop trying so hard to be witty and trotting out silly stereotypes, maybe do a little more background research so you understand the subject car better.

    The Jensen Interceptor is not an obscure car. It was a limited production model but will be familiar enough to any classic car enthusiast and I would imagine t o 99% of the readers of this site. It was never was intended to be a pure sports car nor a family sedan. It is a “Grand Tourer”, high performance luxury two-door coupe of a style that was popular particularly in the sixties when this care was originally launched.

    As others have pointed out, it was never meant to be produced in large number, the Jensen works would not have had the capacity to handle that. Acceleration of 0-60 in 7 seconds back in 1971 was pretty exceptional even if not in the elite super-car bracket. The Arab oil crisis didn’t happen until 1973 and realistically, most people who were wealthy enough to be buying a Jensen Interceptor new could probably afford to put fuel in it.

    Like 2
  10. Mike Tarutis Staff

    Thanks for the comments, guys, well taken.

  11. Jon Thollander

    I just bought this. the body work will be extensive,the engine turns, but not fired yet due to a poor battery I’m hoping . wish me luck. Was on my bucket list to own one . See what happens . Hope I can make it a driver fast and furiously ..

  12. Graham Osley

    Bought my Series 11 in 1978. An amazing car that was expensive to drive and maintain but I loved every minute behind the wheel. It would do over 140mph when taken past the 5,100 redline. The 383 10:1 engine would literally sing and the scenery would become a blur….In normal traffic it was a luxurious cocoon with a foreboding rumble to all around. James Bonds car is in the car park they would mutter, yet would line up to get a lift at the drop of a hat. Life was fun in those days.

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