The Jensen Interceptor is the epitome of cool and now a British company is breathing new life into this classic car
Most customer conversations begin with, ‘when I was a lad’,” says Durran Heslop, head of client relations and marketing at Jensen International Automotive (JIA). “‘When I was a lad my dad, uncle, or boss, had an Interceptor and I’ve always wanted one’.
“That’s the usual line, but I think that’s true for all classic car owners – that they have some kind of resonance with their younger, former life, and it’s just that they are now in a position where they can afford to have the car they want.”
JIA’s typical customers for their Interceptor R and R Supercharged variants are usually successful captains of industry whose children have flown the nest, so now they find themselves looking to rekindle old flames from the past and perhaps pick up a sporty little number in the process.
“They are generally looking for a bespoke sports car, but quite subtle,” says Mr Heslop. “They want one that isn’t shouty, though, like a lot of the fabulous Italianate machines you can buy on the market today. Our Jensen’s are a fairly discerning gentleman’s choice, and they would more than likely be adding it to their collection. They love the look of the classic car, but they do not want the aggravation that goes with it.”
A lot of hard graft and research has gone into perfecting the products at JIA, eliminating the issues the Jensen marque originally had with reliability.
“The gentlemen owners of these vehicles can simply jump in them at the weekend and away they go”
“They had an appalling reliability record, even when they were new,” says Mr Heslop. “We now have modern engines with digital engine management, fuel injection, our own handmade wiring looms, modern relays and interconnectors.
“The cars are, as humanly possible, as reliable as a modern car. The gentlemen owners of these vehicles can simply jump in them at the weekend and away they go. I was speaking to a client this morning who was just preparing to drive his car from London to Scotland, which to me speaks volumes.”
Although the R and R Supercharged are the two models JIA market, each car is bespoke built, with no two cars ever leaving the shop the same.
“Everything from the body paint to the stitching on the leather and the pointers on the dials can be customised,” says Mr Heslop. “We’re doing one car at the moment that we’re putting rear air-conditioning inside and we’ve recently done one with adjustable, heated memory seats, but there’s never been anything so outlandish that we couldn’t work it into the final build.
“We normally start a build with a ‘dead’ Jensen, which generally find us – people look us up and say, ‘we’ve got a car we want to get rid of, are you interested?’ So, we go and take a look and say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. But they don’t need to run, they don’t need to have been on the road anytime recently – because we gut them and then start again.”
As part of the restorations, JIA include their own significant chassis modifications, which is what makes the finished cars a completely different machine to drive than the originals. They lose the live rear axle and install a tailor-made independent rear suspension set-up, which is derived from the classic Jaguar IRS.