By on August 28, 2018

The Jensen Interceptor brought together American power and British design and craftsmanship in a rare heavyweight sports-luxury liftback.

The company even made a few of them into convertibles, like today’s Rare Ride.

Jensen first used the Interceptor name post-WWII, on a two-door luxury model offered in three different bodystyles. And it was a very low-production affair — between 1950 and 1957, the company produced just 88 examples. After almost a decade of dormancy, Jensen started work on a second series of Interceptor cars, this time as a successor to its coupe-only CV8 model. The new Interceptor II went on sale for the 1966 model year in two-door, four-seat liftback format.

In a change of pace for the small British manufacturer, Jensen turned away from its traditional fiberglass construction in favor of steel body panels. Though the design looks quintessentially British, it was actually outsourced to Carrozzeria Touring in Italy. The earliest examples were also built in Italy after Jensen outsourced construction to Vignale. Later, production moved back to England.

For the entire Interceptor run, Jensen turned to Chrysler for firepower. The first examples off the line contained a 383 Golden Commando V8. Sporting 335 gross horsepower, the Golden Commando was employed through 1970. At that point, Chrysler de-tuned it to 250 horsepower in order to handle unleaded gasoline, before switching to the 440 V8 variants for 1971. Chrysler dropped the more powerful 440 3-carb for 1972, and again de-tuned the remaining 2-carb engine to 280 horsepower. Jensen stuck with the 440 through the rest of the model’s production. In 1976, the muscular Interceptor ended its run with 255 net horsepower. Very few Interceptor owners chose manual transmissions; the vast majority opted for the three-speed TorqueFlite. This is luxury grand touring.

As the years wore on, Jensen updated the Interceptor here and there. Cosmetic changes came with Mark II nomenclature in 1969, along with a revised American-spec interior and optional air conditioning. 1971 brought the Mark III, with further revised exterior trim, and standard air conditioning.

The cabriolet version, introduced for ’74, was intended for luxurious American customers. Jensen made some considerable body modifications before sending the topless coupe across the ocean. Expensive and obscure, just 267 convertibles were sold worldwide. The rareness of the cabriolet is bested only by the Coupe version. Available between 1975 and 1976 (when Jensen became insolvent), only 60 examples rolled out of the factory. The Coupe was made by adding a roof onto the convertible version — no more liftback greenhouse.

Today’s Rare Ride is a black-on-black, American-market cabriolet. The dealer did a great job showcasing the excellent-condition ragtop in photos, perhaps justifying their $69,988 asking price. And all that Chrysler underneath means you can have your Jensen serviced at the local muscle car shop.

[Images: seller]

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32 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1975 Jensen Interceptor Convertible – A Very British Chrysler...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    The Coupe was made by adding a roof onto the convertible version

    Given that a convertible generally has greater bracing etc the coupes must have been fairly stout.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Very good write-up, Corey. I always thought these were beautiful cars, but was unaware that they were Mopars under the skin

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    In the 1970’s one of our shop teachers had a Jensen. Not new, probably about 4 to 5 years old at the time. Not sure how he afforded it. It always seemed to have one problem or another to work on. But we were all quite envious.

    One of my favourite sketches on ‘classic’ Top Gear was The Interceptors.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I really love this car! Beautiful and simple interior with a classic british look.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    And they’ll toss in the Fifth Dimension eight track for free!

    https://dealeraccelerate-all.s3.amazonaws.com/volo/images/1/7/1/6/2/17162/391614a7a3dfb5_hd_1975-jensen-interceptor-iii.jpg

    VERY cool vehicles.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I remember an interesting story about these, back in 1975 or sometime there after Cher bought one and complained that due to her dyslexia she was unable to read the digital clock, she could only tell time on an analog clock, but according to the pictures this came with an analog clock. Maybe sometime after they switched to digital

  • avatar
    tonyola

    That tall top stack spoils the lines with the top down. Here’s a clearer look. But it’s still a beauty compared to the awful Coupe.
    http://anthonygodin.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/IMG_2452.jpg

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    Arthur Dailey nailed it. I can’t see an Interceptor without thinking of the Top Gear ‘classic’ guys in “The Interceptors” bit!

    One thing I miss about Top Gear ‘classic’ is that it gave me an appreciation for stuff we don’t or didn’t get in the US. These cars are fascinating to me for British style with American power. And, the apparent kit-car build quality mentioned by Clarkson in the Interceptor episode explains why they’re rare indeed, besides the price.

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    Wow! I’ve seen a couple of these at Mecum. Imagine ripping around jolly old England with that original Commando motor. And is there any possible cooler model name? I just hope it doesn’t have Lucas electrics.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    160mph speedometer… internet sources suggest near 140 top speed. I bet a few of them got pretty close to the 160 on the dial though.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    Jensen has an interesting story. They–I believe it was two brothers–were mostly coach builders for other marques; notably Austin-Healey and, I believe the Volvo 1800 body was built by Jensen. IIRC, Donald Healey was on the Jensen board at one time, and may have been CEO for a while. That collaboration resulted in the Jensen-Healey, which could have been a good little roadster but was rushed into production before issues with the powerplant were ironed out (sound familiar?).

  • avatar
    seanx37

    I can’t be the only one thinking restomod with a Hellcat, can I?

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      The Hellcat is a very tall motor, but the regular 6.4 from the SRT would probably fit, as would a number of 440 crate motors and would probably work with the 727 better. Not sure the 8 speed would fit, they are long. Personally I would put some kit in the 440 and drop an a833 or 5/6 speed conversion behind the engine.

      Do these come with Lucas electronics?

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    The good old Jensen Interceptor garage shelf. Seriously the hatch version must have the highest percentage of dead cars sitting in a garage with crap piled high on them of any car I’ve seen. Several houses ago a guy down the street had one in his garage that you could just see the nose when the garage door was open. Many years ago I had a customer that had one in his garage again piled high with crap. The person who lived across the street from my MIL’s old house also had one in his garage, though at one point he did uncover it and roll it out in the driveway. Of course it went back in the garage and ended up with crap piled all over it again.

  • avatar

    Nice looking vehicle and good article! Thanks, Corey. My dad had a Coronet 500 (65??) with a 383 in it. As a kid I thought that was mighty cool. At that time I was more into drag racing so the “bigger” displacement translated into “faster” quarter mile times.

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