Classic 1971 Jensen Interceptor Review Dec 29, 2016 by Cedric (Driver Weekly)
The Jensen Interceptor is a British classic car, somewhat lesser known than its contemporaries. The second incarnation of the Interceptor from 1966-1976 was a modernized vision of a Grand Touring sports car. Hand built in West Bromwich, England at the Kelvin Way Factory, the Interceptor was a striking combination of Italian style, British luxury, and American power with a Chrysler V8 under the hood.
Although the Interceptor was first released in an earlier form from 1950 to 1957 with body panels fabricated from glass-reinforced plastic, the second iteration introduced in 1966 had a steel body with clean lines and a low beltline. The steel body was firmer and more responsive. At the same time, Jensen wanted a new car with Italian style and received a series of proposals from Italian designers. Carozzeria Touring designed the body after a fastback coupe but were unable to complete the prototypes. The first models were built by Vignale In Milan based on the Jensen CV-8 but with new styling. After that, Jensen took over production and made a few subtle modifications. The large rear window was a wrap-around that brings to mind the Plymouth Barracuda of that era, although others have compared it to the Brasinca Uirapuru. This large rear window also acted as a tailgate.
The Interceptor was a fastback coupe with a luxurious glass fishbowl and upscale interior. The Mark I was offered from 1966 to 1969. Jensen introduced the Interceptor Mark II in October of 1969. The company modified the headlight styling, rear lights, front bumper, and grille. To meet United States regulations, the interior underwent major revisions. Air conditioning was added as an option. It had slimmer but higher bumpers, flatter overriders, and no chrome trim around the rear lights, and chrome-plated Rostyle wheels. The Mark III was introduced in 1971 with subtle changes to the grille and bumper, and it was equipped with standard air conditioning. The Mark III represented the pinnacle of Jensen’s automotive development. The fit-and-finish was improved, and interior increased in comfort. The car had hood louvers, cast headlight surrounds, and GKN alloy wheels. The driver could open the rear tailgate with a button on the driver’s side door. The seats were newly styled, as well as the dashboard that incorporated a glove box and a center console. Buyers received leather-covered bucket seats, woodgrain trim, carpeting.
Chrysler V8 engines were used for the Interceptors beginning with the 273ci Chrysler LA Series V8 and the larger 383ci Chrysler RB Series V8. When Chrysler detuned this engine to handle regular gas, it dropped the horsepower significantly. Therefore, Jensen upgraded to the 440ci in 1971. This 440 engine came in two different configurations: one with a four-barrel carburetor that upgraded the engine to 305 horsepower, and one with a “Six Pack,” or 3-2-barrel carburetors. This configuration was the hottest car ever built by Jensen. In 1972, Chrysler discontinued the 440 “Six Pack,” and dumbed down the other 440 to put out a mere 280 horsepower. By 1976 it was further detuned to 255 horsepower. The most powerful versions are considered with the original 383ci V8 and the tuned 440ci. Collectors will have a hard time finding the rare, tuned engines but other models and parts are widely available for the Mark III.
Despite the unique combination of style, luxury, and muscle, the Interceptor was discontinued in 1976. Jensen was a small competitor to larger companies such as Aston Martin, Porsche, and Jaguar. Dwindling sales during a recession forced the company into receivership, and the original Interceptors were discontinued.