A Little Crusty: 1974 Jensen Interceptor Driveway Find

Jamie PalmerBy Jamie Palmer

Count me among the folks that really like Jensen Interceptors. I’ve tried the “just think, honey, it’s got four seats and a hatchback” argument several times with no success, so I doubt that I’ll ever end up with one (Cristina doesn’t care for the looks of the giant glass rear window). It doesn’t stop me looking at the Anglo-American hybrid with car lust, though. This particular one is, shall we say, metallurgically challenged, and is listed for sale here on eBay with a buy it now of $6,500 but bidding at just over $2,000. It’s located in Atlanta, Georgia; close enough to me that I twitched a little when I saw the location.

The seller tells us that they purchased the Jensen as a project but can only restore so many, and it’s “time to thin the herd.”  It looks like that’s not all that has been thinned–there is some pretty sketchy sheet metal showing on that roof. I’ll make a side observation here; in my limited experience, there are few cars in this world that rust more than Jensen Interceptors. The later Jensen-Healeys aren’t anywhere near as bad, but it’s worth noting that Volvo pulled P1800 production from Jensen due to body quality issues.

Although the chrome seems to be all here, it’s pretty corroded as well. This one will either have to go for less than the buy it now or be a labor of love. A lot of my projects don’t make fiscal sense anyway, so I can relate if you can see your dream car here. (silence) Ok, it’s just me then.

The interior will be an expensive proposition if you want it to be original in appearance and materials. However, it’s all hand-made, so if you are sharp with a commercial sewing machine, you can redo it yourself. And that Nardi steering wheel is lovely.

Back to more rust. This is the better looking picture of the underside of the car. Even with the makeshift exhaust repair (or homemade heat shield?) there’s a lot less rust showing on this side. Ultimately, the rust is probably the kiss of death for this project unless you are a good welder with some time on your hands.

Interceptors were always powered by Chrysler V8s, and it looks like this is the original one. In this case, the seller says it’s a 440 although most 1974’s seem to have 383s, so even though the Interceptor is heavy (GVWR of 4784 pounds!) it will move down the road. A magazine article once called the Interceptor the “Supersonic Express,” and while it won’t really break the speed of sound, 135 mph was attainable according to the factory. S0–can you see through the rust? And if not, has looking at this car whetted your appetite for a better example?

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  1. BMW4RunninTundra Member

    Seeing as I am in Atlanta during the week, I would be more that happy to look this vehicle over, if there are any out of state fellow BF’s interested.
    Is that bondo on the floor boards covering the rusted out floors?!?! I have never seen anything like that before!!! Also, I have never seen hoods or roofs rust, like these have! I know Jamie said they are notorious rusters but……………
    Again, if anybody wants me to look at this for them, just respond, and we will make contact.

  2. DavidC

    Working for Chrysler in the 70’s I worked on several of these. Really wonderful cars but you can find a nicer example to start with.

  3. Joe Haska

    You are exactly right about this car. I bought and sold 3 of these in the late 70’s, and drove them quite a bit. They were just a few years old then and somewhat exotic, if you call Chrysler engines, Lucas electrical and a Lear Jet stereo exotic. The prince of darkness caused most of the problem, but English engineering with U.S. drive train was also very challenging. Like you said this would have to be a labor of love, otherwise it would just be stupid to try and restore, a Jensen Interceptor in this condition!

  4. grant

    I don’t know if I could see through the rust, but I can see through the car…

  5. Oingo

    This is Christine’s brother, instead of self repairing like she does after she kills. He self destructs after each time you save him from the crusher.

  6. Tony S

    Run away! Run away!

  7. Steve

    I think the convertibles are much better looking (as it eliminates the back window) but are harder to find. You’d have to be good at rust repair to tackle this project, at any cost.

  8. Peter R

    I really like that Nardi steering wheel but after that it seems hopeless. The current bid is already too high.

  9. Larry B.

    Pretty sad. When I got mine it had only two tiny rust holes behind the rear wheels. Of course, it was 30+ years ago and a Texas car. It’s been inside ever since. I am not a fan of the convertible. It looks ok with the top up, which sort of defeats the purpose, but with it down(ish) it looks like a field marshal’s car.

  10. Leaf36

    I personally LOVE these, giant rear glass and all. This one would be a big project, probably not worth it.

  11. Bruce Best

    The metal work while extensive is nothing compared to the cost of getting the interior back to original condition. The interiors on these cars are massively expensive to renovate and truly great interior people have to me seemed much harder to find then good sheet metal workers and welders.

    I have only done very minor work on one of these but I do remember the sound both in the shop, coming down the road and going away. Some others come close but there is a deep rumbling that says I am a serious machine, I may be refined but if I wish I can be truly seriously fast in a straight line.

    I tend to like refined elegance no matter what the price of the car from the makers. The convertible 1966 Ford Galaxy is one like that, so is the Lincoln’s of the early 1960’s. This is just such a car. Simple, elegant and fast. Worth the effort on this one I do not know. I guess that is up to you but if you have been around them you understand the magic.

  12. Tom

    These cars were mostly folklore for me, growing up we heard of them, but no one in my neighborhood had ever seen one…I love the concept though…

  13. Scott

    One of my all time favorite cars. Have known a few who have owned them. Typical issues expected from a low volume hand built car.

    As a kid loved sitting in the back. The seats are pure luxury.

    One question has been in my head for years on these. Wonder if anyone here knows. These were high priced and as with so many other expensive when new cars they ended up with third and fourth owners that didn’t take care of them. Do single owner Interceptors suffer from the same rust issues as those usually found relegated to being under a tarp?

  14. JimmyJ

    My last name is Jensen and I’m a mopar guy so I’ve always had a soft spot for these…
    I’d buy one done instead of restoring cuz I don’t have the money,time or patience to tackle something like this.

  15. Brad

    I own an auto upholstery shop and I did a 74 Interceptor convertible once. The most overly upholstered cars I’ve ever worked on. Had to make a new wool headliner as their wasn’t a replacement available. Took 7 hides of leather and we didn’t do the front seats (they were already done). The rear door panels were 3 pieces each. There are even little leather “booties” that cover the seat tracks. As mentioned it’s a nightmare to do and expensive.

  16. Badhuis

    “it’s worth noting that Volvo pulled P1800 production from Jensen due to body quality issues”
    Not “pulled” but after agreeing to do that with Jensen. Jensen received the bodies from Pressed Steel in Scotland which were poor on the finish. Jensen was compensated from Volvo for this.

    Do not trust all that is written on Wikipedia.


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