Lotus Powered: 1973 Jensen Healey Mk I

The Jensen Healey was, at least in theory, equal to if not better in some areas as similar British cars of its era but it never quite took off as it should have. They’re somewhat rare to see today and the seller has this 1973 Jensen Healey Mark I listed here as a Barn Finds Classified. It’s located in Burley, Idaho and they’re asking $3,500 which seems like a good price. Jamie and Adam are our British vehicle experts, maybe they’ll chime in on this one!

The Jensen Healey was made for a handful of years beginning in 1972, in West Bromwich, England, just northwest of Birmingham which is just northwest of Coventry which is just northwest of Northampton which is northwest of London, etc., etc., etc. They’re sleek, sexy cars, there’s no argument about that. The bumpers didn’t help the look but that era was a bumper buzzkill for everyone all the way around. You can see that this car will require some new paint – unless a person likes the flat hood. Or, bonnet I should say. I actually don’t mind it and maybe some cool British graphic or pattern could be painted there rather than just painting it body color? Or not.

The company had a winner on their hands, relatively. The Jensen Healey was the best-selling car for Jensen Motors but they only sold a smidgen over 10,000 of them including just over 3,300 of the Mark I, or Mk I, models which were made for just over a year starting in July of 1972. The seller lists this car as #12404 so it was made toward the end of the run for Mk I cars in mid-1973. Another way to tell the early Mk I Healeys is the lack of a woodgrain dashboard. The seller doesn’t give too many good interior photos, unfortunately. They do show a few underside photos and it looks rock solid.

Other than a close-up photo of the gauges, this is the only other photo showing any portion of the interior which is unfortunate. Later cars had nice interiors with plenty of wood, a clock, and even optional air-conditioning. The seller says that this one needs a new soft top and frame and they don’t mention a hard top so we have to assume that there isn’t one. A hardtop adds $600 to the value according to Hagerty, which given the condition of this car might be somewhere between their $3,100 #4 fair condition value and their $7,300 #3 good condition value.

The engine should be a Lotus-sourced 907 which is a 2.0L twin-cam inline-four with 145 horsepower. The seller says that it runs well, has just over 59,000 miles on it, and has fairly new tires. Have any of you owned a Jensen Healey?

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Comments

  1. RMac

    That is the strangest air cleaner it looks like an exhaust muffler

    Like 5
    • Shaun

      Funnily enough air filters were also known as silencers, a lot of years ago.

    • Tim Engel

      It looks like a muffler because it is a muffler… for the intake. Unsilenced carb induction roar can be irritating to some owners, especially if they were expecting a more quiet, refined car. More sporty boy-racers usually like the roar. If you like a louder exhaust, then you probably like carb roar. That’s a sound fuel injection just can’t deliver as well.

  2. Howard A Member

    As a British roadster enthusiast, the Jensen-Healey was always like that quiet girl in HS, nobody gave her a chance, but BOY HOWDY, surprise! Same with the JH. Healey, a name many cherished, just this “Jensen” thing, and I heard they had dismal build quality. The motor, was one of the 1st belt driven cam jobs,( as opposed to their great chain driven ones) and consequently, one of the 1st “interference” motors, meaning, when the belt broke, and they did, belt technology not what it is today, ( not that I even trust them today and refuse to have a vehicle with a belt driven cam motor ever again) it was scrambled eggs, and I remember many that didn’t run for sale. I think they were cool cars, just introduced at a time when Americans interest, or more likely, patience, was wearing thin for British cars, and a shame, the JH roadster never had a chance.

    Like 3
    • tompdx Member

      Ferarri uses belt-driven cams … seem to work pretty well!

      Like 2
      • Solosolo Solosolo Member

        Harley Davidson has belt final drive and they seem to work o.k. as well.

        Like 1
    • Shaun

      The actual 1st production engine with belt driven camshafts was the Lampredi designed Fiat twin cam, 1964/5 if memory serves.

      Like 1
      • Mike Hawke

        1966 for Fiat….same year as the Pontiac OHC 6

        Like 1
    • Tim Engel

      The timing belt is reliable IF it’s well maintained. Just about every 907 timing belt failure has a back-story behind it. A story of neglect. Owners used to modern extended-maintenance cars tend to forget, or never new that vintage cars were designed with proper maintenance in mind. It’s not an option. You keep up ahead of the maintenance schedule or the problems that result are your fault. If you have a problem with that, then don’t buy a vintage car. In the case of the Lotus engine, that’s complicated by the fact that mechanics who really know the engine are few and far between.

      Like 1
  3. bobhess bobhess Member

    Only familiar with two cars, both of which had continual engine problems. One came apart when the timing belt broke and the other had continual leaks of all sorts of fluids. Never got hooked up on the overall design as it looks like two different people did the front and rear of the car. When you look at cars like Porsche, Alpha Romeo, etc. of the same era the JH just didn’t match up.

    Like 5
  4. rextreme Member

    Great styling ; just needs a modern engine…

    • peter badenoch

      Jensen-Healey final styling was by William Towns who (ex Rootes and Rover) was best known for the Aston Martin Bulldog and the 1980’s Lagonda four door.

  5. Steve Clinton

    “The Jensen Healey was equal to…similar British cars of its era…”
    Correct, I had a friend who owned one; it spent more time in the shop than on the road!

  6. Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

    Sort of interesting cars. Potentially great engine, decent drive train, very poor build quality, dissolving metal panels, tacky interior, and body design by committee. If you know what you’re doing and can maintain that Lotus engine, keep salt and moisture far from it, it was a fun car to drive. The instance vehicle could be a decent starting point at the price for a knowledgeable person IFAOIF there is no rust.

    Like 1
  7. Ed Casala

    Is that a muffler used on the intake for an air cleaner? Go the Mini route and drop in a Honda drive train, and double the hp to the rear wheels. Fun and reliable!

  8. Howie Mueler

    I knew i guy that had one, not mint but he drove it every day, as a joke i offered him $500, he said yes and i bought it, and just sold it right away. This does have the original wheels. Not bad for the price.

    Like 2
  9. Mark Member

    I owned a 73, great handling, great performance when the revs were kept above 4000 and I thought it looked great. The only problem with these is the rust. Especially the floor pans, rockers and trunk. Need a lot of preventative maintenance and you have a hell of a ride. Kinda like a pioneer Honda 2000.

    Like 1
  10. Darryl Fling

    There was a great fascinating write up years ago about the Jensen Healey. And it explains why the final product was sorely lacking. It was originally designed with for a Ford ( English ) V6, different gearbox, different suspension/brakes etc. And basically all of the parts got yanked by their builders. It is a miracle they got built at all. If not for the clout of Donald Healey, and Jensen being desperate for something to build to keep their doors open. And the Lotus motor had zero miles on it, as it was still in the development stage. So Donald begged Colin for the motors ( as he had no motor at all yet, and was supposed to be producing cars ) Colin refused knowing there would be lots of issues with it. And only after Donald begged some more and promised there would be no comebacks to Lotus. And accepted full liability on every motor. And had to sign a sold as is. And hold harmless agreement. And Colin figured that the Jensen Healey would provide him with all the test miles for his new motor. And the poor Jensen Healey buyers had no idea, they were basically being the test mules for a brand new motor under development.
    Unfortunately it really had a negative impact on the reputation of Jensen, Donald Healey, and Lotus. And did no favors to the entire British car industry as a whole.

    Like 5
  11. Mike

    I had a 1973 Jensen Healey in my younger days, 40 years ago! It was a cool little car! If I remember, the radiator fan was plastic, I broke one of the blades hitting a curb!

  12. John

    Had a good friend who had a number of these, along with a Jensen GT and a very nice Interceptor. These weren’t bad cars, they had flaws and required maintenance, like most of these type of cars do. Neglect and rust are the biggest problems. He never had any real issues with the engines (just remember to replace that “T” fitting in the fuel lines with a metal one), I drove the GT and it was comparable to an MG or something in that class.

  13. Michael Clegg

    Too bad he won’t answer buyer inquiries. I told him I’m interested twice now, but no reply.

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