1974 Jensen Interceptor 7.2 from Australia and New Zealand

Summary:

Fine, well built, relaxed, fast tourer, with a lot of cachet

Faults:

So what has gone wrong with the Interceptor!

Well for a start, the car has not overheated at any time. Now whether or not this is due to the car having been bought from the beginning with a louvred bonnet and the correct spec for the under bonnet hoses, I'm not sure, but the problems have not been there!

Had a bit of a **moment** with the passenger side electric window, but that seemed to self cure after a few days or so.

One reversing lamp went out at 35,000km, but that's the usual wear and tear I guess.

I always made sure the engine was well maintained at the scheduled service intervals, and the coolant had a fresh, clear color in it, iron engine or not! These are THIRSTY, make no mistake on that!

I fitted a new seal to the rear hatch at 85,000km.

At approx. 130,000km, the rear springs were sagged by an inch or so, and so I replaced them with factory spec parts.

I also had replaced ALL the Armstrong shocks with gas Gabriels at an earlier stage of ownership.

All instrumentation continued to work flawlessly, as it had done even at high miles, including the excellent Kienzle German clock.

Seats were leather food treated at 80,000km, after they had become a mite dry in the heat of the day, in the car park.

All told, it's been good and reliable transport over its tenure.

General Comments:

These were and are a bullishly stylish, strong, rakish, raffish, refined, and very capable car in good condition, or even heaven forbid, running on only seven cylinders, which thankfully has not happened to me, since I maintained the hand built automobile as it were meant to be, as stated among the original factory literature.

She was bought and registered in January 1975, a Brienz blue Interceptor III with Everflex roof covering and oatmeal hides within, along with an eight track cartridge player by Radiomobile+, fog lamps and whitewall tyres, which I latterly replaced by 215/70 section Bridgestones at about 40,000 miles.

OK, well she has never been anywhere near to good on the fuel consumption, let's get this out of the way quickly, as at 10 MPG on a good day, it doesn't get that much worse on that regard.

But what she does with the fuel so quickly, she makes up for in other areas, by being smooth, turbine-like, and & a powerful performance statement, all delivered within the hushed confines of a very well sealed against road intrusions, interior atmosphere.

This chassis was rustproofed from new, and it took a long, long time for ANY corrosion to show through!! Some panels are double skinned in addition, and at 4300 lbs dry, this is NOT a light car by any stretch.

These cars are very well & solidly built. As such, it is VERY unusual indeed to have serious chassis rot, even in high mile 15 year olds, run on salted roads.

The substantial separate chassis was welded to the coach built steel Vignale body, and the resulting structure is resoundingly free of rattles or squeaks.

The six and a half inch rim GKNs on these COULD so easily have been 7 and a half, allowing a much broader range of tyre choice.

Likewise, the fuel tank, although it has a low fuel warning lamp, at 20 gallons is a little meagre when you consider you get at best, about right on 200 miles range on a tankful.

The standard alloys though, as well as the rest of the car, are imbued with undeniably handsome good looks, and work well enough for the clientele targeted by these designs, that of the successful exec in a hurry.

It is not really a woman's car, though a surprising many have been driven as such by wives using them as shopping cars!! The wonderfully strong and smoothest of high performing auto 727 trans & responsive Adwest power steering, makes them particularly easy for women to place & acclimate to.

A fast wind starter motor is probably a sensible mod, as is a high output alternator and thermo cutout switch for your fans - that on the standard car happens automatically according to under bonnet temperatures, and the fans will sometimes run for an extended spell when you have switched off and alighted the car, soaking the heat out of the engine.

With three widely spaced ratios, some 287 BHP DIN in standard trim, plus a whole slug of 380 lbs ft torque entering the plot at a mere 2800 revs, these are a very relaxed car to drive in any conditions; city, country, you name it, and they have a town - country setting on the horn switch, and this applies even on long torturous mountain climbs.

Fast touring at a steady 90-110-120 mph is an absolute doddle on well made continental roads, at relatively small throttle openings.

Indeed, and if you aren't in a whole hurry, the Interceptor III must be among the most effortless cars to drive anywhere, anytime, in virtually any circumstance. But let me just stress here, so if you are ever inextricably entranced and captivated by one - easy to do - you'll need to know for sure these are not actually bred to be sports cars, either big or small.

Deploy one as it's intended, as a GT, and it will serve you remarkably well on the road.

The trick or technique is this! It's take it slower into the tight turns, and then use the mighty torque to power out more quickly! Otherwise you could end up in a bit of a pickle, especially in the wet! And they are not an easy car to regain control of, if ever they are gotten out of shape.

Having said that though, they will, despite their considerable inertia, hold the road and grip very well on the right tyres.

With a primitive live axle rear, located laterally only by a short panhard rod and a Birmingham sourced Salisbury diff in 2.88 touring if you can get it, the car is then good for near enough 140 mph in the standard Thermoquad 4 barrel carburettor form I had, & not the six barrel SP variant, which is supposedly faster again. with the factory advertising claiming 150 mph speed.

If you get the shorter 3:07; 1 ratio diff (a far more common fitting), you'll find your acceleration figures come down into the mid seven second range from about 8.2 on the longer geared diff., and correspondingly your top speed will be 129 mph or so.

This car also will, within a spacious cu ft clam shell windowed boot, carry a considerable amount of luggage, without having to fold a seat forward, and moreover it doesn't need to come into the view of passers by, because you have a well trimmed and stoutly formed removable shelf on top, to take care of that possibility.

These cars are a strict four seater, so don't try to cram that many people in that you can't get them out again, because you won't.

The spare tyre winds down from underneath the rear of the car, in a cage on a screw pillar, with a handle provided.

The front double wishbone suspension on these has a fine geometry, which will keep the car level on fast bends when entered quickly.

Headlamp strength at night is wonderful, with four powerful quartz halogen 220 watt beams on main, with 140 metre plus penetration, but then reducing to two lamps, the cutoff is rather sudden - an antiquated aluminium floor mounted plunger dips the lamps.

The brakes are fine on this car, with dual circuitry servo assist and four wheel Girling ventilated discs with two pot calipers all round.

These cars are also rather surprisingly, despite their vin odinaire propriety underpinnings; near enough roll free on fast sweepers to be most entertaining, IF only the road surfaces are tolerably smooth on the carriageway. Push the car hard on a bumpy surface however, and the car will hop, lurch and generally become a bit of a handful, & the Power Lok limited slip diff at times needs to be watched in the wet, for it can allow the car, under quite moderate acceleration, to snake without warning.

These stipulations, are I realise, based on purely subjective experience with the car over a long period of tenure, on a variety of roads and in differing conditions, & you understand I can only relay what I HAVE found - you may experience differently on different roads with different tyres and suspension settings. Just allow though, that these findings are with the standard car, NOT one which has been modified in any shape or form, as some have been.

I'll also warn you here that modifying any car, especially a bespoke one such as this is, will dramatically lower your return on it come sale time, to the point you may not believe, so it's best to keep them as factory fresh as possible, all things considered.

OK, so now I'm going to end this evaluation by concluding for you that we have here a striking, stylish, powerful, well built, fast tourer, of capacious and relaxing nature, that should appeal to both sexes, and shall be a joy to drive for those with some basic automotive know how.

I think that's both a fair enough & comprehensive assessment right now, so good luck with your prospective purchase, and ease on down the road in style!!

My parting shot to you is to have it thoroughly rustproofed in ALL sections of the bodywork, and choose one with a thorough service record and a louvred bonnet! Cheerio!!

With many regards, yours Rushton IV.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 29th February, 2012

29th Feb 2012, 23:07

One of the most comprehensive reviews on this site! Well done :)

6th Apr 2014, 03:45

Yes, absolutely fantastic review!

1974 Jensen Interceptor III J -Series 7.2 litre from UK and Ireland

Summary:

A fascinating, stylish and relatively cheap and unloved '70s GT car

Faults:

Distributor failed.

Leather on driver's seat beginning to crack.

Minor electrical gremlins (since sorted)

General Comments:

Very silky and torquey 7.2 litre V8.

Excellent visibility all round.

Characterful interior with lots of dials.

Good handling and ride on motorways and A roads.

Ludicrously thirsty.

The big V8 runs hot in the cramped engine bay, but overheating problems can easily be addressed. Big challenge is to reduce ambient temperature in engine bay. Ceramic-coated headers are an expensive possibility. A louvred bonnet helps. Can cook dinner in the engine bay after a run on a hot day.

Electrical system quite complex and needs to be checked thoroughly before contemplating purchase.

Raffish styling, beautiful to some, awkward to others.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 24th December, 2005

30th Dec 2005, 08:14

I agree with the sentiments expressed. As the owner of a '72 Mk3 the car has all the attributes of a similarly aged Aston Martin, but at a far less cost of ownership. It can be easily maintained by the owner and all parts are obtainable, especially the American drive train parts. Just make sure you get one that isn't rusted or been poorly restored. Extensive rust on these cars is an expensive problem to rectify. In summary a very usable super GT in the classic mould.

25th Jan 2011, 06:23

I have owned a 73 for 20 years. It is not a perfect car, but with effort can be dramatically improved. A redeeming quality is that the engine is still raced, and therefore new upgrades are still being introduced and are relatively inexpensive. A new Holley 650 CFM carburetor runs beautifully, and a new MSD ignition control and distributor totally eliminate starting and running gremlins. Upgrade the alternator to 100 amps and change out the fans to 4 smaller fans to double the airflow at a reasonable power demand, add a thermal switch and allow a pair of fans to run until the engine cools, and the heat issues go away. Then enjoy the ride and the sound of the pipes! You can always build horsepower to over 400 hp if you crave speed.