Jensen


The History of Jensen

   

Jensen Motors, Ltd was a British manufacturer of sports cars and commercial vehicles, based in West Bromwich (in the West Midlands west of Birmingham).
Jensen began as a small coachbuilding firm run by brothers Richard and Allan Jensen; they bought out the body works of W.J. Smiths & Sons where they worked after the owner's death and renamed it Jensen Motors in 1934. They built exclusive customised bodies for standard cars produced by several manufacturers of the day including Morris, Singer, Standard, and Wolseley. In 1934 they were commissioned by American film actor Clark Gable to design and build a car for him based on a Ford V-8 chassis. The resultant car won them much acclaim and stimulated huge interest in their work including a deal with Ford to produce a run of Jensen-Fords with Jensen bodywork on a Ford chassis. In 1934 they also started to design their first true production car under the name White Lady. This evolved into the Jensen S-type which went into production in 1935.
In the late 1930s Jensen diversified into the production of commercial vehicles under the marque JNSN, including the manufacture of a series of innovotive lightweight trucks, built with aluminium alloys, for the Reynolds Tube Company and the prototype for the articulated Jen-Tug which went into production in the late 1940s.
During World War II Jensen concentrated on the war effort and produced components for military vehicles including the turrets for tanks, and on the production of specialised ambulances and fire-engines.
Production of cars ceased over the war years, but by 1946 a new vehicle was offered, the Jensen PW (a luxury saloon). Few were produced since raw materials were still in short supply. Also in 1946 body designer Eric Neale joined the company from Wolseley and his first project was the more modern coupe which followed in 1950, named the Interceptor, which was built until 1957. In 1955, Jensen started production of Neale's masterpiece, the 541, which used the then-revolutionary material of fiberglass for its bodywork. The 541 was replaced by another Neale design, the CV8 in 1962, which replaced the Austin-sourced straight-6 of the previous cars with a 6 litre American Chrysler V8. This large engine in such a lightweight car made the Jensen one of the fastest four-seaters of the time.
For its replacement, the Interceptor (launched in 1966), Jensen turned to the Italian coachbuilder, Carrozzeria Touring, for the body design, and to steel for the material. The bodyshells themselves were built by Vignale of Italy and later by Jensen. The same 383 cu in (6.3 L) Chrysler wedge-head powerplant was used in the earlier cars with the later cars moving to the 440 cu in (7.2 L) in engine. The Interceptor was offered in fastback, convertible and (rare) coupé versions. The fastback was by far the most popular with its large, curving wrap-around rear window that doubled as a tailgate.
Related to the Interceptor was another car, the Jensen FF, the letters standing for Ferguson Formula, Ferguson Research being the inventor of the full-time all wheel drive system adopted, the first on a production sports car. Also featured was the Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock braking system in one of the first uses of ABS in a production car. Outwardly, the only differences from the Interceptor were four extra inches of length (all ahead of the windscreen) and a second row of air vents behind the front wheels. The small number of 320 FFs were constructed, and production ceased in 1971.
The company had come under the control of the Norcros Group in 1959 and following disagreements Alan and Richard Jensen resigned in 1966. The American car distributor Kjell Qvale became the majority shareholder in 1970 and brought in Donald Healey as chairman.
Jensen Motors ceased trading in May 1976. Two new companies: Jensen Special Products (JSP) and Jensen Parts & Service Limited (JP&S) were created to pick up the pieces of Jensen Motors. JSP was created as a specialist engineering and design company from Jensen's development department. JP&S was created to provide parts and service to the existing Jensen customer base. Both JSP and JP&S were bought by a holding company, Britcar Holdings. In 1982 JP&S, with the rights to use the Jensen brand names, was sold to Ian Orford who put the Interceptor back into production as the Mk IV.
Jensen Parts and Service was renamed Jensen Cars Ltd and 11 cars were made before the company was sold to Unicorn Holdings of Stockport and a Mk V Interceptor was proposed but never materialised although a few more Mk IVs were built.  A revival in 2001 was short lived. By the end of 2002 production on their only model - the  S-V8 - had ceased.
A revival in 2001 was short lived. By the end of 2002 production on their only model - the £40,000 S-V8 - had ceased[6].

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