Jensen Interceptor buying guide

Jensen Interceptor Buying Tips
This advice is based on our experience of buying, owning and running an Interceptor. It is designed as a guide to help you choose the right car, but it is not intended as an exhaustive evaluation of the car. It assumes some prior knowledge of the models available. Our knowledge particularly relates to the 7.2 litre Mk3, which is the most common.

General
It is difficult to judge an Interceptor based on price alone. When buying an Interceptor a good general guide is to buy on bodywork and assume that some expenditure on mechanicals will be necessary. Resolving poor bodywork can be difficult to quantify. Fixing weak mechanicals is a more known quantity.

Engine
The 6.3 litre Chrysler is generally acknowledged to be the better engine, but was only fitted to Mk 1, Mk2 and early Mk3 cars. The Mk4 used a 5.9 litre Chrysler engine. Aficionados prize early Mk3s for their blend of engine and aesthetics. However either engine is strong, generally reliable, unstressed and simple to maintain. It should be smooth and silent with no knocking on start up. The main weaknesses tend to be:

Manifold gaskets at the cyclinder head: extreme under-bonnet heat tends to warp the contact. New gaskets do not repair the problem. The head needs to be shimmed flat. Approx. £150 per side

Service history: few Interceptors will have a complete service history. In general cars will either have covered high mileages or very low mileages. There are problems associated with either case. Check for regular oil changes and good maintainance - the engines can suffer from lack of use and don't suit a combination of cold starts and short runs. Check for valve and piston wear.

The engine is designed to run at extremely hot temperatures but the dashboard needle should stay in the cool area, even after long runs and traffic jams. Overheating is not a good sign.

The oil pressure should run at a minimum of 60psi at speed or 25psi at idle

Check all wires, pipes and tubes: due to the extreme uner-bonnet heat they can perish quickly, which leads to other problems. This is particularly an issue with electrical wiring.

A full engine rebuild will cost around £2,000 in parts and £3,000 in labour

The SP is rare, certainly desirable but not necessarily ideal as a first-time purchase due to the extra complexity. It is also relatively difficult to keep in tune.

The engine can be tuned and modified easily, although very few have been. A good improvement is a fuel injection conversion, which improves economy and driveability.

Transmission
The Torqueflite gearbox is strong, incredibly smooth and well matched to the lazy engine. A few Interceptors were supplied new with manual gearboxes but this car was made for an automatic.
A full gearbox rebuild will cost £500

The main problems are caused by oil leaks, which are quite normal for the car but if the levels are not monitored can lead to more serious problems due to wear.

The gearbox should change up and down very smoothly, almost imperceptibly. If it is worn the change into top in particular will be clunky.

The rear axle is also prone to leaks. Signs of excessive leaks clearly indicate problems.

The diff seal is particularly problematic because it uses a 'U' seal that is difficult to fit, leading to oil loss that needs monitored

Bodywork
Every Interceptor was built by hand and uses extensive lead loading. Consequently, what appears to be a simple repair can end up being very expensive.

Jensen had high standards so check for consistent panel fit.

However, Mark 1 and Mark 2 Interceptors are considered to be better quality, but all cars are finished to a high standard. Production of the Mark 3 was increased considerably and Jensen workers felt that quality suffered and some components were cheapened.

The sills are prone to rot - behind the stainless steel cover are inner and outer sills; the inner sill is impossible to inspect visually. Poke a screwdriver into the drainage holes at either end - it should not disappear more than 1.5 inches inside. Replacement of both sides costs £2,000.

Check the passenger footwell boxes, particularly along the leading edge

Check for corrosion around the base of the ear screen and around the hatch hinges. This area is very prone to rust and expensive to repair well - even light bubbling can mean removing the glass, which is difficult to refit well.

Check the fit of the windscreen, which is prone to leaks, leading to rot in the surround and in the footwells.

Other areas of rust: rear wheelarches, fuel filler flap and surround, front wheelarches, door bottoms

In certain areas the lead loading can react with the bodywork to cause rust from the inside. Check particularly around the C pillars and where any remedial work has been carried out, for example wheelarches.

The bonnet and wings can suffer from heat crazing caused by the under-bonnet heat
Check the condition of the front and rear bumpers - rechroming can be expensive

Interior
Interceptor interiors tend to be hard-wearing, although those on Mk3s are of lower quality and those with sheepskin inserts also tend to wear quickly. Interior specifications changed constantly and Jensen, like many small companies, tended to mix and match specifications to suit customers or stock availability.

Walnut dashboards are attractive but tend to delaminate and are expensive to repair

Leather seats and interiors are relatively easy to source second-hand but retrims are expensive. Refurbishing a worn interior without replacement will cost around £1,000. A new interior will be £5,000 but this often isn't necessary.

Switchgear and dials are durable, although speedometer cables tend to wear (check for a dull hum)

Other
The GKN alloys fitted to Mk3s are attractive but tend to become porous and slightly misshaped. If this is the case they are very difficult to balance and will have plenty of weights attached. Replacements are now available.

Correct profile tyres cost around £200 each; however, GKN-shod Interceptors can be fitted with slightly different profile tyres at much lower cost.

The twin-pipe exhaust system is large and heavy and in multiple sections that often do not fit together particularly well. Check the fit and condition. A common design fault of the Interceptor is for (very light) exhaust fumes to be drawn into the cabin when the windows are partially open. Fitting marginally longer back pipes cures this problem.

Driving Experience
For most first-time Interceptor drivers the experience is a revelation. It is a long way from the basic, lazy, rolly-polly, big-engined luxo-barge that some expect. A well-sorted Interceptor is smooth, quiet, extremely refined and very easy to drive. The experience is much more modern than most expect and more sophisticated. It is also a very safe and secure car to drive.
A good Interceptor should hold the road firmly with little disruption over uneven surfaces. It will have good grip, take corners flat and precisely (at least at reasonable speeds) and the steering should be light but accurate. An Interceptor is easy to place correctly and control well on the road. Acceleration should be smooth, quiet and with a continuous flow of power from very low revs. If accelerating hard from a standstill the car should move off the line immediately without body movement or unnecessary wheelspin.

Finding One
We strongly recommend joining the friendly and helpful Jensen Owners Club (http://www.joc.org.uk/). It is a good place for advice and a good source of cars to buy, most of which are well-known to club officials. The website also has a good Forum. Jensen Interceptors are all unique and everyone has their own preferred specification. But unless you are very patient, it is likely that you will have to compromise your original Interceptor specification in order to buy a good car. There are plenty out there but, as with any classic, see a few, get a feel for the car and take as much advice as possible. When you find the car you want it's worth investing a few hundred pounds in an inspection.

Our Interceptor gets a lot of use and we have first-hand experience of the problems and pitfalls. We're not technical experts but we're happy to answer questions and offer advice and guidance. Please email jensen@greatescapecars.co.uk or phone 01527 893733 with any questions.

Why not try before you buy? Visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ to hire one of the only Jensen Interceptors available for self drive hire in the UK.

History of Jensen Cars

The Jensen brothers formed Jensen Motors and began coachbuilding cars and later trucks on other chassis in 1937. In the ‘60s the Jensen Interceptor dramatically changed the future of Jensen. Its development split the company and resulted in the resignation of the Jensen brothers and their chief stylist. They had argued for a cheap volume car to fill the factory; instead the Interceptor was an expensive low volume replacement for the luxury C-V8.

In 1970 Jensen was bought by Kjell Qvale, the company’s ebullient American distributor. His approach was simple – introduce the Jensen Healey, a replacement for the Austin Healey, to fill the factory and a niche in America. It went from design to production in less than two years.
But these grand plans ultimately failed. Jensen Healey sales never reached expected levels, due to quality problems and its typically fragile Lotus engine, which resulted in crippling warranty claims. Efforts to rapidly increase Interceptor production could not fill the void.

Qvale called in the receivers in May 1976. But that wasn’t the end of the Jensen Interceptor. Jensen Parts & Service Ltd survived the collapse and continued making a handful of Jensen Interceptor cars until the early 1990s.

In the late 1990s Qvale developed the luxury Qvale Mangusta sports car before selling the business to the post-BMW MG Rover. The basic underpinnings were used to create the monster MG XVR, a rather crude and expensive competitor to the Porsche 911.

Visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ to hire one of the only Jensen Interceptors available for self drive hire in the UK.

Jaguar XJ6 Model History

The Jaguar XJ6 was introduced in September 1968 and completely changed the Jaguar saloon car range. The car's impact is still felt by the company today. With the original Series 1 Jaguar XJ6 the Browns Lane company created a single range of cars to replace the Jaguar Mk2, S-Type, 420 and 420G. Jaguar's plan was to drop these cars within two years and focus its entire saloon car fortunes on the new car. So it had to be right.

Under the dynamic leadership of Sir William Lyons, Jaguar designed a car that reflected its heritage but moved the saloon car game on considerably. Jaguar buyers wanted space, pace and grace. They wanted class and pedigree. They chose a Jaguar because it was more youthful and stylish than a Rover. The Jaguar MK2, S-Type and 420 appealed to them and gave buyers choice, but multiple models meant costly production implications for Jaguar. By 1968 the Mk2, S-Type and 420 looked dated and archaic and were dynamically outclassed by their rivals. The S-Type and 420 also seemed to have lost the focus and all-round excellence that the Mk2 had originally delivered.

Jaguar conceived the XJ6 was a replacement for all of these cars in order to simplify its production line and focus its product offering. The XJ6 had to excel in every one of the main areas that mattered to customers - looks, comfort, space and handling. It is a reflection of the single-minded approach of Sir William Lyons that Jaguar succeeded and produced a car that, even 40 years on, is very difficult to fault in any respect. A good XJ6 is smooth, quiet, beautiful, spacious and a joy to drive.

Jaguar XJ6 Series 1
The Jaguar XJ6 was launched in 1968 with two engine sizes - 2.8 litre and 4.2 litre - which were both based on the venerable straight six XK engine used in the E Type. It wasn't a clean sheet design because under the skin Jaguar cleverly used the ultra-smooth suspension, plus the engine and drivetrain, from the 420G - components that were proven and ahead of the market.
In October 1969 Jaguar introduced Daimler variants of the XJ6 models - Daimler Sovereign, Daimler Double Six, Daimler Double Six Vanden Plas - which were essentially the same car with a Daimler grille and higher equipment levels.

In October 1972 Jaguar slotted its new 5.3 litre V12 engine into the XJ6 to create the XJ12, at the same time adding a long wheelbase version of the car with 4.2 litre (XJ6L) and 5.3 litre (XJ12L) engines. The long wheelbase added 4 inches to rear lengroom and gave Jaguar a car that appealed to previous buyers of its 420G behemoth.

The appeal of the Series 1 to enthusiasts now is down to its purity of design and its relative rarity. It was also built before British Leyland began influencing Jaguar activities so product quality is considered to be better.

By the time the Series 1 was replaced by the Series 2 in September 1973. 98,527 cars had been produced.

Jaguar XJ6 Series 2
The XJ6 Series 2 was developed to meet USA Federal Safety laws concerning bumper height. Jaguar lifted the front bumper and shortened the grille to create a front end that has become synonymous with Jaguars for the last four decades. The heating and ventilation system and the interior were also improved.

In May 1975 Jaguar introduced the two-door coupe version (XJ6C and XJ12C) to broaden the range and compete with European competition from Mercedes and BMW. It was a remarkable achievement to create a beautiful and distinctive pillarless coupe from a standard saloon car. But the coupe was never particularly popular and was deleted after two years in November 1977.
In April 1975 Jaguar replaced the sluggish 2.8 litre variant with a 3.4 litre version of the XK straight six to increase power and performance.

In 1973 Jaguar standardised production around the long wheelbase version of the car and all future versions used this platform.

The Series 2 was the most prolific Jaguar XJ6 version and introduced a design style that is still current. For many an early Series 2 represents the best blend of design purity, quality and reliability. The quality of 1975-on cars reduced continuously under British Leyland control and the cars became more complex and unreliable.

The Jaguar XJ6 Series 2 was replaced in March 1979 by the Series 3. 127,078 cars were produced.

Jaguar XJ6 Series 3
For the XJ6 Series 3 Jaguar got the botox out. By 1979 the car was 11 years old and starting to show its age - several competitors had launched and replaced cars over the same period - so Jaguar turned to Pininfarina for a major face-lift. Retaining the XJ6 floorplan and basic style, the Italian styling house increased the roofline and glasshouse area, particularly for rear seat passengers, generally smoothed off the styling and integrated modern plastic bumpers. The chrome door handles were replaced with flush plastic handles and the overall effect was considered quite successful.

The model range was slimmed down to 4.2, 3.4 and 5.3 V12 variants and the car stayed in production until 1987 when it was replaced by the XJ40. 177,243 Series 3 cars were made.
The Jaguar XJ6 Series 3 is the most modern, comfortable and refined version of the car. However product quality was very patchy throughout its lifetime and good cars are now rare.

On its 40th anniversary the Jaguar XJ6 is finally available for self drive hire. Visit http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk/ to find out how you can now drive the only XJ6 available for self drive hire in the UK.