Birmingham’s only supercar is such a glorious failure. Despite the factory losing more money than a Greek bank the Interceptor always stayed a twinkle in our eyes – this car was too handsome, too fast and too gloriously rock and roll to quietly fade away. New backers came and went, new models were launched and disappeared and the Jensen brand became a revolving door of optimistic enthusiasts who, between them over the years, spent millions trying to resurrect this amazing automotive folly. Launched in 1966 with its brilliant mix of Italian styling and V8 grunt and the first production car to have four-wheel drive in the shape of the Jensen FF, it was an instant hit and a huge favourite of the 60s TV and movie glitterati. Franks Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Lulu, Eric Morcombe (he had a heart attack in his) Cliff Richard and Henry Cooper all loved their Interceptors. Clever PR kept the brave new Midlands coupe on screen and in print – and for a while order books were full.
But a global fuel crisis and costly development of disasters like the Jensen Healey sucked up cash reserves like long strands of spaghetti. Bosses at Jensen ignored the warning signs and forged ahead with the SP (a six carb fuel guzzler than returned 12 mpg) a convertible version and even a coupe. Engines went from 6.2 to 7.2 the US market evaporated and sales slumped – but ever since the Interceptor has always fascinated us and now it’s a card-carrying classic. And rightly so too, because Interceptors make smooth riding, dramatic looking classics with a gorgeous V8 burble, which when roused, sounds like a kettledrum. Driving our Mk1 example round Canary Wharf at night was joyous with empty roads and plenty of opportunity to hear that thunderous exhaust note at full tilt. Compared to contemporary Italian supercars the Interceptor feels civilized, light on its feet and, if you sort out the cooling issues, unburstable.
Not long ago you could buy a decent car for £10,000 but they’ve risen sharply of late. Good ones now change hands for £20k plus and the very best are getting on for sixty grand. The rule with Interceptors is buy the best you can afford as restorations cost a fortune. The steel bodies can be very rusty and you could easily spend £100k making a bad car very good. In fact at today’s prices Interceptors are still very good value when you think what a restoration would cost. Then if you compare them to the prices of contemporary Astons and Ferraris they look downright cheap. My money would go on an early MK1 or MK 11 66-71 car because they look so pure with their chrome Rostyle wheels and quilted leather cabins with dainty toggle switches. But whichever model you go for the interceptor is going to be a solid gold investment that still has some appreciating do to. Oh, and it looks so agonizingly handsome you want to burst out cheering.