Try before you buy – 1974 Jensen Interceptor by Matt Nichols


1974 Jensen Interceptor Mk111

Supplied By

Graham Eason

Great Escape Classic Car Hire Tel: 01527 893733 Located

Suffolk, Dorset, Worcestershire, Shropshire and Yorkshire24 hr Hire Cost: £245.0048 hr Hire Cost

2 days, £445.00 (1 day – £245)

Additional 24 hours


Security Deposit

£750.00 (Not pre-charged to card) Having just spent the day with a 1974 Jensen Interceptor MK111 on a 250 mile circular route starting and ending in Worcestershire and taking in Bristol, Chepstow, Monmouth, Symonds Yat, Ross-on-Wye, Pershore, Evesham and Inkberrow, I feel strongly inclined to announce at every opportunity ‘This is your captain speaking, cabin crew please prepare the aircraft for take-off’. Because after the success of the day spent with the Alfa GTV I booked the Jensen, this time from Graham Eason at ‘Great Escape Classic Car Hire’ in order to compare driving one of the smallest 2+2 coupes from the 1970’s to one of the biggest. The Interceptor has also intrigued me from when I very first saw it appear in various films and as a lover of interior car designs I was smitten a long time back by the array of dials, vents and switches that expand its vast dashboard. Couple this to a 7.2 litre Chrysler engine and lazy 3 speed Torqueflite automatic gearbox and you get one car hero I just had to meet. The particular Jensen Interceptor we had did not disappoint either, except of course for the slight chink in otherwise near-perfect armoury, I am of course referring to the 14mpg we averaged, or to put it another way travelling 250 miles consumed £100 worth of fuel. So I won’t be mentioning the E-word again because we all know that it’s a conversation stopper in this company. The aircraft analogy I started with works best in describing the way the car launches, reminding me of take-off in a commercial airliner, from the great swell of power as the turbines start to roar, to the slight delay as engine noise translates into actual forward momentum followed by the feeling you get sat inside as the pace increases almost exponentially that by the time terminal speed is reached the sheer size and mass of the thing means absolutely nothing will stop it, truly awesome. In fact whilst driving along I found myself looking for situations where having just burbled through a town or village with the auto-box insisting on finding 3rd gear at just over tick-over, particularly in one case when sat behind an E-Type Jag at a set of traffic lights with the combination of very loud V12 and V8 engines meaning that passers by didn’t quite know what to do and ended up staring in disbelief with their mouths wide open. To then exit and on spotting the national speed limit signs either floor the throttle for the full kick-down experience of never ending thrust, or instead opt for the half throttle approach that keeps the box in 3rd gear to produce that lovely wobbly V8 sound as the engine purrs its way along before lifting again for the next corner or restricted speed area. Both equate to instant forgiveness of the Interceptor’s drink problem replaced instead by a new self-indulgent and potentially very expensive big-block V8 habit that is extremely intoxicating. I also got accustomed to having to firmly press the large double width brake pedal at times because even from the off as soon as you select D on the auto-box the engine wants to, and lets face has the necessary torque to, drag the whole car forwards at walking speed without even a tickle of the throttle pedal. This initially caught me out when getting off the drive particularly with very cold and ineffective brakes requiring a very firm press indeed, making me feel like someone trying to keep control of a fresh four or six horse stage coach eager to get going shouting things like ‘woooo’ and sloooo’ whilst pulling on the reins with all their might. On the move this scenario repeats itself as you approach junctions and roundabouts especially when shedding off the last 5-10mph when it’s not only the near 2 ton mass the all round disc brakes have to cope with but also the shove from the engine fighting to maintain forwards momentum. In the end I either just snicked it into neutral, or if on a slow roll 2nd or 1st gear which all proved to be good, rein-like solutions. Having tuned into both the acceleration and retardation aspects of this big coupe focus next shifted to understanding its handling capabilities and general road manners. I already knew it was big and heavy and as a marque came with absolutely zero motorsports history to hark back to, but the biggest surprise of all was just how well it dealt with corners whether one at a time or navigating left-right combos. Because the Jensen does it rather well, a credit to its 1950’s chassis design, meaning huge pleasure can be taken in placing it on the road with surprisingly low levels of under or over-steer despite the mass. In fact the only time things started to get a bit carried away were on stretches of road that caused the car to pitch front to back as the Panhard rod, acting on the live rear axle, oscillates the back of the car in a sideways arc as the weighty body bounces up and down. In these situations there is no choice but to lift and allow things to settle back down, although bump-steer aside the car was a pleasure to wind through the A and B roads of Worcestershire through to Wales and back again. It was definitely a memorable day with the only small gripe being the lack of cabin ventilation meaning if it rains, which it did, then things get steamed up despite the impressive maritime styled knobs located on the wide central console indicating temperature and fan speed options. Jensen and time have both helped resolve the problem to some extent with electric windows that don’t always close properly leaving an inch or two’s worth of fresh air to circulate and help maintain vision. That said we thoroughly enjoyed our time with the Interceptor and what really did it was a combination of the cosseting comfort and ride, overall look and feel, dashboard switches and dials, massive V8 under the long square bonnet and easy going auto-box hiding the devil that lurks inside that comes out to reap havoc every time you prod it hard enough with your right foot, quite superb. Matt Nichols

Verdict 1974 Jensen Interceptor MK111 Driving Ticks all the boxes as long as you stick to decent sized and relatively smooth A and B roads and can live with the 10-14mpg. Engine Gentle until aroused when it becomes the beast from hell with a V8 soundtrack that should be bottled and sold to every petrolhead in the land Performance 7,212cc V8 ohv four-barrel carburettor 300-330 bhp through the rear wheels 380 lb/ft torque at 3,000 rpm 3 speed Torqueflite automatic gearbox 1980 kg kerb weight 135 mph top speed 7.5 Secs 0-60 mph Brakes Brakes worked well, although keeping it in D wouldn’t let it drop below 5-10mph, whilst N, 1 and 2 all provided better options when crawling or coming to a stop. Handling Surprisingly good on fast flowing corners, but if the terrain gets bumpy so does the back of the car allowing the Panhard rod acting on the rear axle to start to affect the overall balance and steering. Desirability Looks the part although arguably because Jensen chose Chrysler over an in-house or British sourced motor residuals are nowhere near as strong as counterparts from the same era. We’d have one in a flash though. Pro’s Big beautiful 2+2 cruiser that stirs your sole with it’s excellent V8 motor, inspiring interior and cossetting ride and comfort. Con’s 10-14 mpg and if you’re in the market some potentially expensive maintenance tasks given both the tight fitting big block V8 and large expanse of leather inside. Overall 4/5

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