Sunday, 8 August 2010

Jensen SP

Despite a fuel consumption like the bath running out, the Jensen SP was a glorious finale to a range of cars which, in seems, Charles Dunstone the Carphone Warehouse founder wants to revive. He has joined the board of Jensen International Automotive, according to The Sunday Telegraph, after investing in the company that aims to relaunch the Interceptor. I tested an SP in the 1970s. Its acceleration was swift yet its refinement so profound that I could take my elderly (and very cautious) father to 125mph without him realising. It had multi-choke carburettors with accelerator pumps that squirted neat petrol down their throats providing highly exciting speed along with single-figure mpg.
The 7.2litre 385bhp SP was made from 1971-1973 and reveals that SP meant the “Six-Pack” Chrysler engine that not very surprisingly failed its emissions tests in the United States and had to be discontinued. Jensen bought up Chrysler’s stock of the engines to make the 232 SPs, of which 216 were sold in Britain. The SP coincided with the opportunist Kjell Qvale’s arrival at a critical time for Jensen. Fifteen SPs were made with a tan vinyl roof, one of which, I recall, was the Jensen press car. I can’t remember the colour. Richard Calver would know.
Had to dig deep in the archives for a Jensen piece. This one does not refer to the SP. It comes from a freelance column of about 1971.
The works at West Bromwich prospered making Austin-Healeys and Sunbeam Tigers, and I remember how massively Jensens were made. They looked as if they would last for ever. If they were remanufactured with fuel injection and modern engine management systems they might be quite practical. They could even be made a bit lighter. At 36cwt (1829kg) the SP carried a lot of inertia. It handled well but was scarcely nimble.

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