Man & Machine – 35-year love affair Joel Mutton bought his Jensen Interceptor when he was 14


How many 14-year olds own an Interceptor? And how many of those bought them with their own money? Well-known and flamboyantly dressed Oxford motor trader (ret’d) Joel Mutton did, 35 years ago, raising the £500 from selling sweets, fizzy drinks and lighters (don’t ask) at school: ‘It was all I had.’ The balance, which would have made Arthur Daley proud, was a sack of spuds and a fake fur coat.

Mutton is old-school motor trade, joining the family business that his dad set up – Swan Motor Centre in Cowley, Oxford – at 15, though he’d sold his first car, a Skoda, aged 12 while helping out on Saturdays. He and father Colin sold the business in 2017 ‘because it just wasn’t fun any more’, after Joel had personally ‘moved on’ an estimated 7000 motors.

On top of that, there were the 30-odd that he accumulated for himself. They include the 1959 Mk1 Jaguar that his father gave him when he was seven (having taken it in part-exchange for a Triumph Vitesse), which means that Mutton has owned it for an impressive 42 years. Sadly, those cars – including a Jensen-Healey still with running-in sticker on the windscreen, a Clan Crusader, a ZAZ 968M and a near-perfect Marina 1.8 TC Coupé – are to be auctioned by West Oxfordshire Motor Auctions (woma.co.uk) on 20 July. But the Jensen’s going nowhere.

‘I’d been a bit obsessed with them since I was 12. I collected all the brochures and road tests, which I’ve still got, and became hooked. A local butcher had bought this one for its registration 4 MKE – it was Beluga metallic grey then, he also had a yellow one – and he let me buy it.’

‘This one’ being a MkII, meaning it’s a West Bromwich-built car with slightly updated detail styling including a raised front bumper, but still fitted with the full-strength Chrysler 383 (6276cc) engine before it was detuned and Jensen changed to the 440 for 1971. ‘It’s chassis 13, the 1969 Earls Court Motor Show car and Carlton Hotel dealer launch car, so it’s the same year as me. It was in a bit of disrepair – well, they all were then, they were just cheap, big old cars.

‘I went to the 1984 NEC Motor Show and saw Jensen’s Series 4 there, so after that I had it repainted in the same Reef blue – which isn’t really me because I’m usually a stickler for originality. For the same reason I kept it on the GKN alloys it came on. I’ve still got them somewhere, though now it’s on the proper painted Rostyles. The registration came off a Margrave Wood & Pickett Mini that I bought from John Asprey, the jeweller, in 1985 – W&P had 20, 30 and 40 MAR on their demonstrators. ‘At first I used it quite a lot, but I’ve never been very far because I’ve always worried about it breaking down. It’s had two or three gearboxes as they were always going… then, of course, other cars came along and I accumulated so many that none of them got used. I ended up running around in a little Bedford Rascal, which is great fun. So I’m thinning out the collection, which might induce me to use some of the ones I’ve still got, like the Jensen, a bit more.’

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