Han’s Early Jensen Interceptor

1951 Jensen Interceptor

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We had such a great time reading about Han K’s Jensen 541, that when he offered to share another one of his projects with us, we jumped at the chance to see what he has been working on. We knew he was a Jensen nut, but we had no idea how much he loves these rare sport cars until we saw his 1951 Jensen Interceptor. We could ramble on and on about all the hard work he puts into his Jensens, but we would rather let you guys enjoy the experience from Han himself. Read his story right after the break!

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Image Source: British-Steel.org

The guys at BarnFinds kindly offered me the opportunity to share with you my Jensen 541 barn find adventure. Here is another one that you may want to read about. Many people know the Chrysler 383 and later 440 powered Jensen Interceptor; easily recognizable by the large bulbous rear hatch. What you may not know is that the name Interceptor was used earlier by Jensen for a 4/5 seater alloy bodied tourer, available in both convertible and saloon form. This model, of which only 88 were hand built by the West Bromwich factory, was available from 1948 till 1957. It resembles the little A40 Sports that Jensen also built for Austin. Not surprisingly as Austin’s Leonard Lord liked the Interceptor’s styling so much that he contracted Jensen to design and build alloy bodies for their new sports model. A few thousand of these were shipped to the US, but only a few Interceptors made it to these shores. An interesting fact is that this Jensen already had a fiberglass roof and trunklid. (As an aside: Did you know that Jensen Motors Ltd. built the Austin Healey bodies, Sunbeam Tigers, and the first 6000 Volvo P 1800’s?)

Early Jensen Interceptor

Back to the Jensen, aficionados named these the ‘early’ Interceptor. When I was in the US for a Jensen club meeting I heard rumors about a left hand drive 1951 ‘early’ Interceptor Saloon sitting in a barn in McMinneville, Oregon among several Citroens and some more Jensens. Knowing that only 3 of these left hand drive cars were built triggered my interest. After some detective work, I located the owner –a then 85 year old gentleman – and had an hour long conversation with him on the phone. It became clear to him that I was a genuine Jensen enthusiast and this resulted in me becoming the new owner!  Amazingly the man was only the second owner and he had driven the car for several years till the engine was worn out and he put it in his barn awaiting an engine overhaul. He never got around to doing it and worse even, he said the title was missing and the engine was thrown away when moving after a divorce.  He told me he looked everywhere, but had been unable to find the paperwork for the car. Anyway, I do not scare easily -see my Jensen 541 story for proof – so I arranged for collection and shipping of this ultra-rare car to Rotterdam after having seen only one small photograph and hearing what the old man told me.

Interceptor in Han's shop

I was pleasantly surprised when the car arrived; it was rock solid with only minor surface rust on the chassis. The gearbox, dashboard, heater core, radiator and more were in the trunk and the car was complete, although it had a Ford (?) front bumper and the Austin 6 cylinder 4 liter engine and its ancillaries were missing. The reason for the latter is another story, so the man told me… it has to do with his divorce, the ex-wife claiming the car and the engine ending as a boat anchor in the San Francisco Bay! The leather interior, carpets, door panels and headliner were completely shot. Apparently the car had been exposed to the elements during the time when the ex-wife had custody of it. Anyhow, he got the car back some years after the divorce and stored it in a barn at his new home in Oregon. Interestingly when first seeing the car ‘in the flesh’ I noticed that a trailer hitch was fitted as well as an auxiliary gas tank with separate filler in the rear fender similar to Jaguars. Later I found documents under the seat for a boat and trailer, so that explained a lot. Also under the rear seat was the original California title which was believed to have gone lost, though half eaten by mice…

Jensen Parts Car

To me this was a relatively easy project compared to the Jensen 541 that I restored before. All it would need basically was a full overhaul of the suspension and steering, a new interior, a fresh paint job and of course an engine. So the hunt for an engine and all ancillaries was number 1 on the agenda. Lady Luck was on my side again, as I found a very, very rusty (even worse than the 541!) but mostly complete right hand drive 1954 Saloon that could be had for only 500 UK Pounds. Ideal for parts as it was way beyond restoration and ready to be scrapped. Just take a look at the photos. So I booked yet another ferry crossing to the UK, rented a trailer and hauled the rust bucket home. So now I had a complete engine as well as an original front bumper to replace the non-original one fitted.

Rusty Jensen

A couple of months were spent carefully removing all useable parts and alloy body panels from the donor car. Everything that could possibly be saved was taken off and stored because, like I said above, this is an extremely rare model. Of the 88 cars built less than 20 are known to survive, so you don’t throw away anything that may be of use to one of the other owners, do you? Of course I kept the engine and some more small bits and pieces, but everything else including the chassis and alloy body panels was sold off to ‘early’ Interceptor owners in England, Germany and Belgium helping them to keep theirs on the road.

Early Interceptor Project

Then my life took a huge change and I no longer had the time or the space to finish the restoration and I had to sell the unfinished Jensen. I would have preferred to show you all the finished result of my latest project, but I am pleased to report that I managed to find a good home for this rare car in Denmark. The new owner’s name? Mr. C. Jensen!

We are sorry to hear that Han wasn’t able to finish this Jensen, as we have no doubt he would have done a spectacular job, but we are glad he found a new home for it. With any luck, life will permit him to take on many more projects like this one that he will share with us. We want to thank Han for sharing his story and we wish him the best!

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  1. Mathieu Belanger

    Another great and so much interesting story, thank you very much mr Han!

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  2. DolphinMember

    You are a very brave man, Han. I guess with the Jensen passion that you have, and their small production numbers, you need to be brave.

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  3. rancho bella

    Holy Smokes…………and I though I was passionate about Lotus……………Han, you are making me look like an amateur :)

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    • rancho bella

      I would also like to compliment Josh on calling this a “sport car”.
      If anyone remembers, Carroll Shelby called them sport cars.
      I reckon he would know……………………

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    • DolphinMember

      I remember that too. The one and only time I met him, at the April 1963 New York auto show, he referred to the Cobra he was standing next to as a ‘sport car’. It was the #12 car that Phil Hill drove to 1st place in class at Sebring a couple of months previously.

      Some sport car.

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  4. paul

    Well Han you don’t scare easily, that’s for sure… I like the part of the story that says you sold it to guy by the name of Mr C Jensen! I guess that is about as good a home as it get’s.

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  5. Duane Kennen

    I am now restoring one of the 13 known 541S Manual transmission cars. You may have seen it on BAT in November of 2010. It is close to getting paint now. Glad to see another Jensen fan.
    I had one of the two left hand drive CV8 cars but the challenge to restore was to much for me (you would have easily taken it on) so I sold it to a friend in Kentucky.
    Please feel free to email for Jensen talk.

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    • Elizabeth

      @Duane Kennen

      I hope you will share your story and pics here! I got a major soft spot for Jensen’s.

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    • Han

      Hi Duane, I would love to get in touch with you. How can we Exchange email addresses?
      In2014 the 60th anniversary of the 541 model will be celebrated. The 541S of course was the last of the series, but also it was the car of which the chassis for the famous Jensen FF was based on!
      Anyone interested in Jensen might want to take a peek at our club website, of which I was president for 6 years. www,jensenholland.nl. Many links to other Jensen related sites to be found here too. Are you familiar to the British Jensen site? http://Www.joc.org.uk they have a Special 541 section as well and a very good forum.

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    • Han

      Duane, I searched BAT november 2010 but cannot find you post. Only mention of a 541 R, which is of course is totally different.

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  6. Elizabeth

    Han K,
    Thanks so much for sharing your work with us.
    What an amazing labor of love!
    I love seeing all the pics from the scary start to the perfection you created.
    Best wishes to you!

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  7. geomechs geomechsMember

    Han. Thanks for sharing this story as well. I admire your dedication to the brand and wish you well with future projects.

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  8. DT

    weird seeing a british car ,with california plates, in Rotterdam.those yellow plates are from 1956,then in 1963 California went to the black plates

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  9. Duane Kennen

    What year was it you purchased the Jensen Inter, in Oregon?

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    • Han

      Hi, I visited the Jensen Nationals East in 2004 where I heard about the Interceptor. It took Almost a year negotiating and arranging shipping. Then I stored the car for another year and a half before having time to start working on it. I bought the parts car in the UK in 2008 and In 2010 the car went to Denmark. I was told it has been brought to Poland for a full professional restoration, but I have lost track unfortunately.

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  10. Duane Kennen

    Search BAT …..Sorry state: Jensen………and it will come up. I believe it originally posted Nov. 3, 2010. Read the comments, some of them are quite humorous. Though if you did not really know what the history and rarity of this car was you would be curious why any one would buy it.

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    • Duane Kennen

      My last comment on the BAT posting has my email for direct contact.

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  11. jim s

    great story and find. you do have a love for jensens

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  12. Gene Park

    I’ve had the privilege of visiting Forest at his home and his storage in McMinnville a couple of times. Forest is also a fan of Corvairs. At his home he had a Citroen TA, an early model 2cv and a motorhome powered by a Corvair engine.
    At his storage faulty there were two DA, an Ami 6 and 6 cylinder TA policier, and Panhard Dyan. Outrside the shed there was a poor old Panhard were someone had inserted a VW engine,
    I have pictures, but don’t know how to upload them

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  13. Brian

    I hate when life gets in the way and project cars have to be sold! I have had it happen several times and these cars are permanently on my list of regrets. It’s good to know that the car found a good home. It calms the regret!

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  14. Han Kamp

    Having lost track of the car for years – still regretting having to sell it – I found its present location in Poland. Unfortunately also the present owner is not able to restore
    her. I am now trying to help him find a new owner who hopefully has the cash, skill and time to finally get her back on the road…

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  15. Arthur

    I wonder if the chassis of that rusty Jensen could have been salvaged. If so, It might have served as the basis for a custom coachbuild project, either a duplicate Jensen body or a brand new design.

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