Solid British Classic: 1974 Jensen-Healey

If you’re the sort of person that is on the lookout for a classic British convertible sports car, then a car like this 1974 Jensen-Healey is well worth a look. While the Mk I version was built in lower numbers, the Mk II version managed to eliminate the vast majority of the quality control issues that plagued the earlier cars. This 1974 model, which is located in Stafford Springs, Connecticut, looks like it is a potentially good car, and it is listed for sale here on eBay if you are serious about the ownership experience. Bidding has reached a mere $3,201, and staggeringly, with the reserve now met, this is a car that is set to go off to a new home.

The early Jensen-Healey’s were plagued with innumerable problems, and it is really hard to say which of these was the worst. Rust would feature pretty high on the list, and it wasn’t an uncommon sight to see early Mk I versions beginning to sag in the middle as they succumbed to this problem. By the Mk II, many of these problems had been addressed, but they can still experience problems. This particular car looks like it has avoided this, as there are no external signs of drama, and the consistent panel gaps tend to indicate that the car is structurally okay. The owner does supply a photo of the car up on a lift, and I must say that it does look clean. This particular Healey is fitted with the factory soft-top, and while it is in good condition, the rear window will need to be replaced. As a bonus, the car also comes with the factory hardtop, which was one of the very few optional extras that a prospective owner could order from the factory.

While the photo might be blurry, it does reveal an interior that has survived the last 45-years fairly well. The owner says that the leather on the seats is soft and supple, and it does look rather inviting. The early Mk I cars had interiors that were pretty austere, finished mainly in black, but the Mk II brought a touch of color and luxury to the table. In addition to the leather upholstery, the cars received timber trim, some being real, and some being artificial. It is hard to tell the condition of this, but what we can see of the interior doesn’t indicate that there is anything much to be concerned about.

It looks like everything under the hood of the Healey is basically standard, which is not a bad thing. When the original Jensen-Healey was under development, several different engine options were considered. After assessing a number of options, the company settled on a contract with Lotus to supply their great little 1,973cc Lotus 907 engine, which produces 144hp. For the American market, this engine wears dual Zenith Stromberg carburetors to ensure that it complies with US emissions regulations. The transmission in this Healey is a bit of a bonus because it carries the 5-speed close-ratio Getrag transmission. The little Jensen-Healey hasn’t been on the road since 2017, but the owner does start the car on a regular basis to ensure that everything is okay. The owner also supplies this YouTube video of the car driving, which I believe was only shot over the past few days. It’s short and sweet, and you have to allow for the fact that it has music dubbed over it, so you don’t actually hear the car running.

If this Jensen-Healey was a Mk I, I would be treating it with some trepidation. The fact that it is a Mk II makes the world of difference, and being one of the cars that features the 5-speed transmission makes it even better. When a Jensen-Healey has been well maintained, they are an enjoyable car to drive, and the combination of decent horsepower and light weight makes them particularly rewarding to drive on twisting roads. If you have always harbored the desire to own a British sports car, this is one that is really worth a look.

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Comments

  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    When these first appeared in the car mags back in the day my first thought was “DUDE! Don’t be doing Qualuudes when you’re designing a car like this!”
    Yes it’s a drivers car and a fun one at that, not a showpiece, but dang!-It makes a TEMPO look good!

    Like 3
    • Red Racer

      This is considered a ’74-3/4 due to the rubber “5 mph bumpers” and then the 5 speed. From chassis # 18320-18950(630 total) they had the rubber bumpers but the 4 spd. from Chrysler, U.K. (all imports for ’74-1/2 had to have 5 mph bumpers). After chassis 18950 was the much more desirable 5 spd before the ’75 air pump cars, which greatly robbed them of power.
      The 4 spd. tm. is nice, being fully synchrod, but the 5 spd. Gettrag is almost bullet proof(i’ve rebuilt 20+ 4spd, but have yet needed to rebuild a 5spd). The final tm gear for both is 1:1, but the 4 spd had a 3.73 rear end vs. a 3.45 for the Gettrag.
      This car has replaced the master cylinder with a TR6(same bores) and has the “leaky” foam RAM air filters(replace).
      Also, the hardtop is NOT a factory(very desirable with a rear window defroster) but the aftermarket SNUG top..
      Being a monocoque chassis makes the car light but check for rust on the floorboards where the seats are and the lower fenders, front & rear, near where the doors are ; they can/will rust from the inside out, so if you see paint bubbling it’s too late to POR/KBS/MASTERCOAT

  2. lc

    Always liked the Jensen Healeys. The Mk1 has sweet bumpers but the later-day Mk2 has really drivability. A real 70’s jet setters car for the masses!!! I’d be on the lookout for a set of twin-throat Dell’Orto DHLAs, just in case:) Aside from that… a martini, a tux and beautiful woman completes the picture.

    Like 3
    • ccrvtt

      A martini, a tux, and a beautiful woman completes any picture…

      Like 3
  3. ccrvtt

    A martini, a tux, and a beautiful woman completes any picture…

  4. Dennis Marth

    As to the styling, as I recall it was warmly received at the time. The front end is vaguely Lotus-ish, but the rear end is a direct copy of the 1968 Fiat 124 Coupe. But there was little coming to the US that was new and interesting from the UK at that time and there was high hope for this car.

    Alas, it was always a race between rust and failure with the Jensen-Healey.

    Like 1
  5. AnalogMan

    I owned one of these when I was in college (but then, I’ve had over 100 cars in over 45 years of driving…).

    They were not common even back when they were new. I bought a 1973 when it was 4 years old for about the same price as a MGB was going for back then. I was attracted to it mostly because it was different. MG’s and Triumph’s were everywhere, but you wouldn’t see yourself coming down the road in a Jensen-Healy. They didn’t sell particularly well at the time. They were expensive compared to their peers, and the styling was considered somewhat of a disappointment at the time. People were expecting the next coming of the Austin-Healy 3000, and this just didn’t quite do it.

    They were somewhat more sophisticated compared to other British iron. A bit more comfortable and with more features than a contemporary MBG, but nowhere near a Jaguar. The true gem of the car was the Lotus engine, which was worlds more refined, powerful, and fun than other comparable British black smithery. It was as smooth as warm butter, and sounded amazing, that spine-tingling goose bump raising canvas-ripping sound that the tractor-derived engines of other British cars just couldn’t match.

    I used to pick up the love-of-my-life, breathtakingly model-beautiful and also unbelievably genius intelligent and way out of my league girlfriend (did I say she was drop-dead gorgeous?) in that car after school. She asked that I do a drive-by her school so that her friends could hear the smooth ‘European’ sound of the engine as I blasted past. Of course, I was all too happy to oblige. Her mother raised her eyebrows to the moon when she saw me pull up in a bright blue little sports car. It didn’t convey the respectable, practical persona she wanted for her daughter (my other vehicle at the time was a 1966 Harley chopper, she really loved me when I bought that).

    The build quality was about the same as other British iron, which is to say, disheartening. It needed constant tinkering and sorting out of problems. I remember the top making use of massive amounts of velcro, which would come undone at highway speeds. It made high speed drives in the rain especially fun, particularly at night. But then, that’s part of the British sports car experience.

    To own one today, you would also probably never see another one at your local Cars & Coffee. I imagine parts availability is probably much more difficult than MGBs or Triumphs, with some parts likely now unobtanium.

    Like 4
  6. TimM

    Really cool little car with a low reserve that’s already met!! Looks like a good fun ride!!

  7. Mark Epperson Member

    In the process of finishing a 1973. Love the way this car handles and if you keep the revs above 4000 it is very competent and fun. Rust in the passenger floor and third gear had to be replaced but other than those it is a cheap entry to some really fun driving.

    Like 1
  8. Duff

    Sadly, the 5-speed gearbox is a bit of a disappointment in this case. The final drive ratio ends up being nearly identical to the 4-speed. It just takes longer to get there. Which is why the “e-ticket ride” is to convert to the Supra 5-speed giving you a true “overdrive” transmission.

    Like 1

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