A phenomenal amount of interest in classic cars a few years ago, caused much to be published and prices to escalate beyond belief.
This was at a time when an Aston Martin Zagato, racing car (that never won a race), sold for over a million and a half pounds. An ‘E’ type Jaguar commanded as much as £90,000 for what was a mass produced car (and so many were made in the 12 years of production). It is not so surprising that many enthusiasts were unable to afford an interesting classic. Since those heady days the situation has changed dramatically, the recession, resulted in more sensible prices for most classic cars. Dailyjaguar.com
However, even when prices were rather ridiculous, there was a remarkable, distinctive, car of the early ’60s that was overlooked, available at a very reasonable cost, and still is undervalued.
Hand built, with very few maintenance problems, and best of all no body rust to worry about! It is one, of very few classic cars, that can actually be used as a daily form of transport – I had been driving one for well over 25 years and now my son still uses it.
I am referring to Jensen cars of the early ’60s, designed by Eric Neale, and made at the time when Richard and Alan Jensen owned the company. Particularly, the Jensen CV8 (this is the model before the Interceptor) with the huge 6 litre V8 engine and the 541S.
The CV8 was the fastest four-seater car of all in 1965, and I drove my special one off version, commissioned by Hardy Amies, every day until I emigrated from the UK a few years ago. The other favourite is the classic British thoroughbred the 541. Especially, the last model made prior to the CV8, with the 4 litre straight six Austin Princes engine, particularly the manual drive version of the Jensen 541S.
Classic Car Show Awards
For so many years these Jensen cars have not been expensive by comparison with any other classics of the period. Very strange really when one considers that, at most of the important classic car shows in the past, Jensen won all the best awards.
Up against all the well known prestigious makes, the Jensen Owners Club, together with Dave Horton’s famous CV8, have won; ‘Car of the show’, or ‘Best of the master class’ and ‘Best club stand’ and so on. There can hardly be a worthwhile classic car award that has not been won by a Jensen!
These awards are not really so surprising as the Jensen brothers based at West Bromwich made extremely fine hand built cars. They were also pioneers; the first to provide disc brakes all round; first with four wheel drive (on a CV8); one of the first to use the wind tunnel for body design.
They were also well known and respected for their advanced ideas on safety. The 541S was the first car with seat belts, as standard, they also provided very soft padded areas above and below the dashboard. Door handles, and window winders, were all in recessed panels out of harms way.
They won the silver medal for coach work at Earls Court, and with the 541R, in 1957 according to tests by ‘The Autocar’ they had produced the fastest four seater car of the day.
Over the years their glass fibre and polyester resin coach work has stood up to the test of time remarkably well.
Service and maintenance of these cars proves a lot easier, than with many other classics, and this statement applies to some of the more modern cars. There is a very enthusiastic owners club that provides valuable technical information. Most spare parts are also not too difficult to find through the Jensen Owners Club. The chassis is built like a tank and the glass fibre body cuts out all those rust problems.
The well proven straight six 4 litre engine is in a class of it’s own, set with triple SU large carburettors and linked to the Jaguar Moss 4 speed synchromesh gearbox, with overdrive, add to this, servo assisted Dunlop disc brakes all round. – Provides one hell of a lot of motor car!
The CV8 is an even more powerful car still, but not a British thoroughbred as it has a Chrysler V8 engine. There are certainly not many cars from the early ’60s that can still be used as a daily car some 35 years later.
I have not yet mentioned the luxurious interiors, but both of these models provide lavish leather arm chair comfort for four, but also with plenty of head room and leg space even in the back. A lockable glove compartment, a useful container under the central arm rest, a deep pocket either side of the rear seats for rolled up newspapers, as well as large pleated pockets, in the back of the front seats. The 541S front passenger seat folds completely up to allow far easier access into the rear than most other two door cars – even modern ones.
Both the 541S and the CV8, unlike many more modern fast cars, sensibly provide a very large boot space for luggage. I do feel that a lot of the modern fast car designs, fail to provide the head room and leg space for taller drivers, and completely fail to provide useful luggage space. As a family man these are some of the reasons why I favour the CV8.