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    Metal gurus at work

    CAR: #1968-Jensen-Interceptor / #1968 / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen

    OWNER: JAMES ELLIOTT

    My Jensen had been with the chaps at Autostilo (www.autostilo. co.uk) for a couple of months when I received that call. It might be a good time to pop up to Potters Bar and have a look, they said. Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, my natural reaction to this was fear and the thought that it could prove very expensive. On the way up there, however, I started to rationalise this a bit and found two positive needles in the haystack of uncertainty.

    The first was that a fair bit of progress must have been made, otherwise why bother getting me up there? The second was that it probably meant the car was going to be at its absolute worst because, if I were a bodywork guy, that s when I would want the owner to see it, the better to appreciate the work done thereafter. Hence, things can only get better.
    On my arrival, I was kind of impressed to see the Jensen up in the air on a two-post ramp, because it meant that the sills must be rather stronger than I had previously suspected.

    It turns out I was right on both fronts. Some good progress had been made, but some grisly discoveries had been unearthed, too, horrors which, to be fair, Massimos and Paolos initial inspection and the suspect bubbling on both A-pillars had led them to expect.

    First, the progress. I had sourced most of the panels that were needed from Jason Lawrence down at Rejen, specifically the front and rear lower valances and both rear wheelarch repair sections. Actually, Jason only had one of the arch sections in stock, but I know that Andy Brooks at Richard Appleyard Jensen has an offside item that I will try and prise out of his grasp. Apart from both lower doorskins, these are precisely the same panels that were repaired or replaced when I briefly last had the funds for bodywork, nearly nine years ago.

    The front valance is on and the rear is off awaiting the new item, plus the rear nearside arch is done. Apart from the offside arch, there remains some general tidying and some less visible welding to be done - plus those A-pillars and a proper sill inspection - before we can even think about paint.

    So completion is a long way off, but I have to say that I am delighted with the quality of work I have seen so far and I can hardly wait to get the Jensen back. I’ll just have to be patient; right now the front valance is probably the strongest part of the car!

    Clockwise from right: Tiny Fiat has needed even more metal than hefty Jensen; new front valance; old offside rear arch not so good; new nearside one ready for rubbing-down.
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    Man & Machine - 35-year love affair Joel Mutton bought his Jensen Interceptor when he was 14

    Posted in Cars on Wednesday, 24 April 2019

    Man & Machine A 35-year love affair Joel Mutton bought his Interceptor when he was 14. Words and photography Paul Hardiman.

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    The Specialist. The increasingly collectible Jensen Interceptor has found a sympathetic home in Wiltshire. Words Martin Buckley. Photography James Mann.

    / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen-FF / #Jensen / #West-Brom-Support / #Pale-Classics-Ltd

    Paul Lewis started #Pale-Classics in 2012, following a career in the RAF as a Flight Engineer on Hercules, 727s and Tristars. (The name ‘Pale’, in case you were wondering, is derived from the first two letters of the founder’s Christian and surnames.) The passion for old cars, however, came long before the aeroplanes. “I restored an MGB when I was 15,” says Lewis. “My dad had a sheet-metal business in Oldham and he let me use a corner of his workshop.”

    Today, as a former chairman of the Jensen Owners’ Club, Lewis is closely associated with Interceptors. At home, wife Lisa runs an Interceptor (and a Volvo Amazon), but Lewis sold his own III to focus on a rebuild of a MkI that, like the cobbler’s boots, has had to take a back seat to customer cars. There are seven or eight Jensens on site in the modern Chippenham workshop, including a four-wheel-drive FF, a ‘Six Pack’ SP and a glorious Interceptor III in Cerise, the end product of a £100,000 restoration that neatly illustrates the amount of detail work – and money – people are now willing to plough into these once-undervalued cars.

    While Lewis would have to accept that he is a Jensen specialist, in some ways he prefers to see Pale Classics, which is situated 10 mins from junction 17 of the M4, as a one-stop shop for all things 1960s and ’70s, but with an emphasis on big GT cars.

    The current seven-man team has worked on everything from Aston Martin DB7s (Pale offers an uprated rear subframe conversion) to Morris 8s and Facel Vegas, and they are as happy to change a light-bulb as they are to take on a full restoration.

    Dave Amor, Danny Williams and Pat Stuart tackle all things mechanical, while promising youngster Peter Griffin started with the firm as an apprentice and has recently been promoted to mechanic. Panel-beater/fabricator Dave Ward has his own purpose-built area set aside for welding and grinding an FF shell. As a general rule, bodywork and painting is farmed out (the choice of bodyshop depending on the customer’s budget) – although Ward can tackle the Interceptor’s notoriously rot-prone sills on site.

    Pale also has an in-house auto electrician who, when we visited, was retrofitting an 8-Track stereo unit upgraded to FM with a modern USB port. Lewis considers the big Jensens to be relatively easy to work on and the spares situation for them to be good, even the MkIs: “The only tricky panels are roofs – the tooling went missing years ago – and FF front wings. I could sell new FF wings for £5000 apiece.”

    Having taken voluntary redundancy from the RAF, Lewis took on the unit on Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate as a glorified ‘man cave’ at first, drifting into taking on jobs and hiring staff as a way of covering the rent. By then, Interceptors were already a way of life. When hunting for an E-type, Lewis rediscovered the Interceptor in one of its natural habitats – a Barons auction – and soon forgot about the Jaguar in favour of this quintessential Euro-American grand tourer, which had the rear seats he needed for his children.

    After that epiphany there was no turning back: before long, he and Lisa were both running IIIs as everyday cars.
    It sounds ruinous but, in a way, the logic is hard to fault: “I had recently bought a Lexus brand new and lost £16,000 on it after a couple of years’ motoring. I decided that it made more sense to run two 7-litre Jensens, on the basis that they were going to go up in value. Also, being collected from school in an Interceptor did wonders for the kids’ popularity.”

    Main: (l-r) Paul Lewis/Dave Amor with one Interceptor, while Peter Griffin polishes another and Andy Teare/ Danny Williams check SP’s wheel bearings. Below, l-r: Amor services V8; Griffin checks electrics; Dave Ward welds Jensen-FF inner wing.

    The knowledge
    Name Pale Classics Ltd
    Address Unit 9-10 Westpoint Business Park, Vincients Road, Bumpers Farm Industrial Estate, Chippenham, Wilts SN14 6RB
    Staff Seven Specialism All aspects of Jensen servicing, maintenance and restoration, with emphasis on the Interceptor and FF
    Price £50 per hour
    Tel 01249 657544
    Email info@paleclassics.co.uk
    Web www.paleclassics.co.uk
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    Car: #Jensen-Interceptor-III / #Jensen-Interceptor-MkIII / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen / #1974-Jensen-Interceptor

    Year: of manufacture #1974
    Recorded mileage 6606
    Asking: price £74,950
    Vendor: Cropredy Bridge Cars Ltd, Oxfordshire; 01295 758444; www.cropredybridge.com

    WHEN IT WAS NEW
    Price £6744.06
    Max power 330bhp
    Max torque 350lb ft
    0-60mph 7.2 secs
    Top speed 135mph
    Mpg 12


    This Interceptor is well known to Cropredy Bridge throughout the firm’s many incarnations and ownerships – bills with Cropredy go back to 1983 – and it has had plenty of recent fettling work there, on top of what was likely a fuller restoration in the past. Around £15k was spent through 2015-2016, including a repaint, an engine rebuild and various troubleshooting.

    It’s solid underneath, with lots of grease around the wishbone joints, new rear springs and good exhausts, mostly stainless-steel. The repaint is still very presentable, smooth and shiny, with just one bubble now showing on the bonnet. The chrome is slightly bloomed in places, and there’s a small nick in the roof vinyl in one corner of the sunroof aperture.

    There are a few upgrades including new fans, plus Fosseway Performance brakes, Spax adjustable dampers and H4 headlights, plus 17in alloys shod with Westlake SV308s. The spare is the standard size, bearing an older Michelin. Inside, the leather – possibly original and recently cleaned – is only lightly creased, and the door cards are in good shape. The headlining is smart, the carpets slightly grubby. The eyeball vent nozzles still have their chrome and there’s a newish Moto-Lita wheel. The vast ‘goldfish-bowl’ hatch has good seals and operates easily, under which we find good boot carpet and tools.

    At the other end, the 7.2-litre Chrysler V8 shows no obvious leaks and the oil is fairly clean, though the transmission fluid is a bit old and discoloured. It starts easily and drives well, with a light touch to the steering making it feel younger and smaller than it really is. The gearchanges are smooth, it tracks and brakes straight, and it’s plenty fast enough if you tramp on it. The oil-pressure gauge shows a healthy 50psi at 3000rpm, with the temperature gauge registering in the middle of the dial, and the fans cut in readily when you stop.

    Inevitably, not quite everything works: the electric roof does, but the clock and left window don’t, and the air-con tries its best – you can hear the compressor engaging, at least. It’ll be sold with both windows working and a fresh MoT.

    SUMMARY EXTERIOR

    New paint; 17in alloys
    INTERIOR Decent leather and good headlining
    MECHANICALS Motor refreshed; new brakes and springs
    VALUE 7/10

    For Ongoing fettling; drives well
    Against Air-con not working

    SHOULD I BUY IT?
    Not cheap for an Interceptor, but still much more affordable than a DBS, and this example appears to have been well looked after.
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    Jensen intervention
    CAR: #1968-Jensen-Interceptor / #1968 / #Jensen-Interceptor / #Jensen

    OWNER: JAMES ELLIOTT

    It all started when we were preparing for the Octane Tour to the Concours of Elegance at Hampton Court last autumn. Mark Dixon announced that he would be doing it in a lovely new Bentley, not his Mustang because it wasn’t in good enough condition, this took me aback because Mark’s Mustang is a minter compared to either of my current classics.

    Maybe Mark was just saying that to warn me off using the Jensen - until then it had never crossed my mind not to - and potentially embarrassing us in front of our readers. Or maybe not, but either way it really made me aware of the depressing state of my cars and their unsuitability for ‘official’ occasions, those frilly-knicker arches and all the other bodily shortcomings were suddenly and hugely amplified in my mind.

    To be fair, the bodywork was last looked at eight years ago and I guess that in my mind it was just too soon to need to revisit it to this degree. So I had been ‘driving around’ the issues for years. Of course, much-used, all-season cars are always going to deteriorate more than classics tucked up in a garage and wrapped in blankets over winter, but there is only one thing worse than using your classic at will, that is not being able to use it, and I was damned if I was going to have a car that was mechanically sound, but which I felt compelled to leave at home for purely aesthetic reasons.

    So I started casting my net for someone I trusted to make the Jensen great again, there are loads of those, but when we added the filters of doing it on my terms and to my budget, the playing field thinned rather.

    Good pal Tom Cribb recommended Massimo Olimpis Autostilo (01707 658723), which had been looking after Tom’s many Alfas for years. We contrived a visit so they could check out the car and I could check them out, and we all got on like a house on fire. Of course they desperately wanted to do a proper body-off restoration, but I insisted that this time around the best I could stretch to was to make it solid and presentable. Of course there are degrees of presentable and, such is the work Autostilo carries out when broke Jensen owners aren’t forcing them to compromise, I sensed these guys would be near the top end.

    We arranged a second visit for a proper on-ramp inspection, and agreed an initial price exclusive of undiscovered nasties. I wish I could fund a full resto, but I can’t. Neither can I jettison the Jensen. So, watch this space...
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