I really can’t be bothered with old cars that are stiff in the joints or creak, rattle and break down. It’s not a fashionable view, but there you are. After a lifetime testing cars straight out of the factory, carefully prepared by press departments, that is how I like them. Patina is all very well but the only way we can understand old cars is with thoroughgoing complete renovations. Proper restorations, which bring them back to what they were when new, are instructive.
Take this beautiful tangerine Jensen SP restored by owner Phil Hayes. Preserved on blocks for 17 years, it was brought back from Kent to Cheshire four years ago to win silver at a Jensen Owners’ Club concours. A star of the NEC Classic Car Show it has still only done 47,000 miles and following my recent Jensen item, Phil kindly sent photographs showing how splendid it is. Refurbished, he says as a labour of love, he has good reason to be proud; the before-and-after pictures of the engine show how much work must have gone into it.
This Jensen was important, a transformation from the uncouth CV8 of 1962. Vignale’s elegant Interceptor, introduced in 1967, still looks good today. It was a welcome change from bulgy glass reinforced plastic to sleek shapely steel. Along with cars like the Aston Martin DB4 of 1958-1963 the Jensen showed up-market British cars could be stylish. Alas it proved prone to rust, but preserved beautifully as in this case, it reminds us what a triumph it was. Penalty of the 7212cc V8 is fuel consumption I described at the time as like the bath running out. I went to the press launch where the FF was demonstrated on wet grass banks. Sixteen years ahead of the Audi Quattro, this was a refined four wheel drive car with automatic transmission, Powr-Lok diff, Dunlop Maxeret anti-lock brakes, a 4in longer wheelbase and two extractor vents on the side.