Some classic cars rumble along in our peripheral vision year after year, never quite attaining decent values or real attention. One such car, which has always tended to rumble along more than most, is the Jensen Interceptor.
Despite costing more than an Aston Martin DB6 when new and more than twice that of an E Type, Interceptor values have not so much trailed these two cars as stuck rigidly to terra firma like so much discarded chewing gum. All that has begun to change. A car you could easily buy for £10,000 a decade ago is now scratching at the door of £70,000.
The reasons why Interceptor values have taken so long to ascend aren’t hard to see. Jensen, in a bid to out-run bankruptcy, churned out a lot of Interceptors – over 6,000 compared to the few hundred cars Aston tended to build of each model. And they weren’t always built very well – the combination of corner-cutting and hand-building meant that the Interceptor gained a reputation for being unreliable and also costly to restore. It didn’t help either that despite its movie-star looks, the Jensen’s most famous client wasn’t James Bond but Cliff Richard.
And yet, the Interceptor has remained one of those cars that people of a certain age adore. The car’s opulence, svelte style and ridiculous 7.2 litre V8 engine mean it’s always stayed on car enthusiasts’ radar. At Great Escape Cars we know just how strong that affection is – an Interceptor was one of the first two cars we added to our fleet and, 12 years on, remains one of our top 5 most popular cars. Such nostalgia hasn’t, until recently, translated into high values. Despite various efforts to rejuvenate the Jensen brand and create ‘new’ evolutions of the original car, you could still pick up a decent Interceptor for under £15,000 until as recently as a couple of years ago.
Not so now. Accelerating values for similar British classics like the E Type as well as Aston DB6s and V8s seems to have had a trickle down effect on the Jensen. After all, if you can no longer afford an Aston there are few British grand tourers of the 70s that deliver a similar experience quite as well as the Interceptor. In fact, anyone who’s driven both cars might reasonably argue that the Jensen is by far the better car.
I have been fortunate enough, not through deep pockets but by my unusual choice of business, to drive several Jensens as well as the car’s contemporaries from Jaguar and Aston. While the E Type isn’t quite in the same category, a straight comparison between a DB6 or V8 and an Interceptor is revealing. Factor out the Bond connection and the Astons, lovely as they are, are simply big, heavy tanks with Jaguar switchgear. A DB6 is certainly special, but it is not a great car. The same goes for the V8.
The Jensen arguably looks better and certainly drives much better than comparable Astons. A well sorted Interceptor handles neatly, rides not unlike a Jaguar saloon and is supremely comfortable. All that is before you get to the thumping Chrysler V8 that burbles better than anything that has every burbled before or since.
There are other reasons to like the Interceptor too. Where the Aston has a hand built engine full of specialist parts, the Jensen has a big lump of Detroit iron. It’s simple, solid and durable. Tales of Jensen unreliability are more symptomatic of poor original build quality and low-cost repairs typical of a low-cost car than anything intrinsic to the vehicle. It certainly took a couple of years to achieve but my own Jensen now covers 10,000 miles a year virtually fault-free.
Elsewhere a lot of the components and running gear are from common British Leyland models. And while the Jensen certainly rots, rendering a restoration not for the faint hearted, it is cheaper to do than an Aston because Jensen specialists don’t charge Aston prices.
So, it would seem, like many good things, the days of cheap Interceptors are over. If you already own one, you’ll be smiling. If you wanted to own one, perhaps less so. Which is why at Great Escape Cars we think hiring one makes even more sense. Apart from avoiding the purchase price, you also get the chance to hand back the keys and let someone else deal with the maintenance.
There are now four simple ways to hire our Jensen. You can opt for traditional daily car hire, which starts at £299. Or try one of our Classic Tasters, which puts you behind the wheel for £59. And finally we run road trips, where you can put the Jensen up against several other classics on a great day out. Find out more at http://www.greatescapecars.co.uk or call 01527 893733.
In the meantime, we restored this Jensen this year and it’s just been valued at £70,000. Here’s its story.