60s GT Shoot Out

Aston Martin DB6 v’s Jensen Interceptor by Matt Nichols
Which of these do you secretly aspire to be, film star or rock star? Not sure, then consider this for a minute or two. Do you at times find yourself swanning around the house, curtains drawn of course, assuming the appropriate posture and delivering killer lines from your favourite films? Or instead do you sometimes wait until your other half is going out and then as soon as the door clicks shut, pump up the volume on the stereo and start playing along to a heavy metal band from a bygone era using the only instrument of choice, air guitar? Answer that and my work here is done, DB6 for budding Bond’s and an Interceptor for all you Motorhead, Judas Priest, Aerosmith and Whitesnake wannabes. The Aston is a handsome and smooth operator that is instantly recognisable as the carriage of secret agents everywhere, with the Jensen hiding its intoxicating and loud big block V8 habit beneath an otherwise classy looking 70’s frame.
First impressions
With all the changes at the rear of the car, the front of an Aston Martin DB6 is identical to the DB5 used on films like ‘Gold Finger’ and so as you approach the car for the first time in the metal I guarantee you will feel like the man himself. You’ll also most likely break into an involuntary smile and start jabbering nervously or unable to speak at all, pretty much the same as you were on your very first date, such is the aura surrounding this car. The Jensen on the other hand is cloaked in mystery as when it was new it came and went in what seemed like a heartbeat, even though in actual fact it was around much longer than its counterpart here. Interceptors are rare things, seldom viewed close up and your first thoughts are largely taken up absorbing its sheer size and wondering how they managed to make it with so little room in the back. Quickly followed by a moment of realisation that a beast lurks within, as the key is turned and 7.2 litres of American iron stirs itself into life. These two cars are like Roger Moore meeting Ted Nugent.
Sat inside
The DB6 is instantly recognisable from all the films it appeared in. You are required by law to prod every bit of it to test whether anything moves or opens to reveal launch mechanisms for rockets, the passenger seat ejector button, or the oil spray nozzles underneath the rear bumper. With everything pressed and tapped, sit inside and you realise the true age of this car in examining the binnacle directly in front of you that envelopes the main dials and switches. It would seem that the lines between aircraft and motor vehicle were still fuzzy when this interior was designed, as the DB6 has more than a whiff of Piper Cub about it immediately behind the distinctive and apparently inverted three spoke steering wheel. The Interceptor on the other hand has what appears to be an Italian supercar of the same era look to it, as all the dials along its wide dashboard are pointing directly at the driver. There is also an almost race car like steering wheel which is quite bizarre in a car that weighs in at nearly two metric tonnes. The differences are distinct and it’s the Jensen that really impresses, being much more Maranello than Midlands.
Engine and exhaust note
There can be only one winner here and as much as I love the subtlety of Aston’s very British straight six, accompanied by some traditional background transmission noises at low speeds, the Chrysler unit in the Jensen is a monster with more torque on tap at tickover than its all-round disc brakes can contain. The whole car rocks to the beat of the purposeful idle and when you do let go of the reigns and pull away the Torqueflite automatic gearbox quickly responds with two quick gear changes confirming what you probably already gathered, you only need one forward gear in this car, unless of course you plan to point it skywards and drive straight up to the moon, in which case it might just need to drop back down one ratio.
Out and about
This is where both cars confirm their true purpose in life as continental cruisers, being comfortable and relaxed places to be with several hours passing before you even consider taking a break. Both therefore prove that cruising is not the preserve of modern and up to date machinery and was available 40 years ago, it just came at a premium that’s all. In terms of differences then it’s more about preferences on how you prefer to pass through towns and villages. Choosing between an instantly recognisable star of the big screen, or as the overly loud rock star from that band, what were they called again, Jensen, oh that’s right.
Ownership prospects
One of these cars is going to set you back in the region of £100,000, the other in similar condition around a quarter of that, less if you shop around. One is a true thoroughbred and brings with it everything that means including servicing, maintenance and repairs. The other built in the UK in the 70’s and yes all that brings as well. The size of your purse and most likely cut of your cloth will ultimately determine which of these cars you buy, but the Jensen is not the poor relation by any means offering much of what the Aston does and in some ways more.
An Aston Martin DB6 with known history is a solid investment with values only likely to increase providing a superb cross country driving experience and a warm response from everyone who sees it, young and old. Jensen prices vary tremendously and with most having undergone some sort of major refurbishment quality depends on the wealth and generosity of the owner at the time. On the road an Interceptor is a truly awesome car and will suck you in with its mix of Anglo-Italian styling and American drag car soundtrack and performance.
1967 Aston Martin DB6
1974 Jensen Interceptor
Aston - Polished cruiser that only requires you to take a break every couple of hours
Jensen - Matches DB6 cruising ability with attitude when you stir the beast under the long bonnet into life
Aston Martin 3995cc in line six cylinder engine, with DOHC and Triple SU Carbs carried straight over from the DB5
Chrysler 7,212cc V8 OHV and four-barrel carburettor
Aston - brakes do require some adjustment and a very firm press indeed. Leaving more time and space is the safest option
Jensen - brakes work well right up to the point of actually stopping when the torque from the engine has to be overcome as well
Beautifully weighted once the front of the car has settled into corner, and so best enjoyed with a ‘slow in and fast out’ driving style
Surprisingly good on fast flowing corners, but if the terrain gets bumpy so can the back of the car allowing the Panhard rod acting on the rear axle to start to affect the overall balance and steering
This Aston is right up there no question, although purists still insist on a DB4 or DB5 and so they are where the really serious money is
Looks the part and with residuals nowhere near as strong as the Aston, much more accessible as well
Stunning classic British grand tourer that makes you feel like James Bond
Big beautiful cruiser that stirs your sole with it’s excellent V8 motor, inspiring interior and cossetting ride and comfort
Buying an Aston Martin DB6: With aluminium body panels and the unique Superleggera construction onto a spaceframe chassis it’s all about hidden horrors. Project cars have been known to require six figure investments to bring them back up to scratch Renting: None
Buying a Jensen Interceptor: Some potentially expensive maintenance tasks given both the tight fitting big block V8 and large expanse of leather inside. You also need to be mindful of poor repairs by previous owners lacking the necessary funds to do the job properly Renting: None