Street-Spotted: Jensen Interceptor

Just like with the Aston Martin DBS, Interceptor values have remained very tame for decades, until recently.

For a country that was once crazy about British sports cars, it takes some effort to spot the Jensen Interceptor today. For a good span of time in the 1960s and 1970s, Jensen was a small automaker doing a really good impression of a midsize automaker, fielding competitors to cars from Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, among others. But all of its cars were hand-built, and for a while the Interceptor was the archetypal “gentleman’s express,” pairing a big American engine with a bespoke Italian suit and British luxury flair. It was the best of three worlds, really.

Of course, the company dates back to well before the Interceptor appeared on the scene, all the way back to the 1930s when two brothers named Allan and Richard Jensen took advantage of the availability of Ford V8 engines to create their first sports cars. Still, the company remained relatively unknown until the Interceptor debuted in 1966, replacing the adventurously-styled CV8 model with a far more handsome body styled by Touring and assembled by Vignale.

The 2+2 offered a big cabin, a short front overhang and an impressively executed rear glass hatch. The design and proportions were pretty close to ideal — it’s difficult to improve upon the existing individual elements — while a beefy 6.3-liter Chrysler engine good for 325 hp and 425 lb-ft of torque provided reliable power. Later on, the Interceptor received even more liters, upgrading to a 7.2-liter Mopar-tuned V8, but even in 6.3-liter flavor the coupe was really a muscle car with an elegant, expensive interior. Jensen had seemingly hit the jackpot.

 

Styled by Touring, the early examples were built in Italy by Vignale.

Produced in three very similar looking iterations from 1966 until 1976, the Interceptor is still surprisingly affordable today despite their values having doubled over the past decade, as if collectors have suddenly remembered that these are handmade British performance luxury cars, after all. Just over a thousand Mk I cars were made between 1966 and 1969, and they are identifiable by the body-colored headlight surrounds. The early cars are the most valuable, relatively speaking, because they were still built at the Vignale factory in Italy before production moved to England.

Mk II cars, such as the one we spotted, were produced between 1969 and 1971 — 1,128 examples of this version rolled out of the factory. The third series is the most plentiful with 4,255 cars built from 1971 until 1976. Thankfully, there are badges on the side of the left side of the grille that actually say which Series a particular car belongs to, so if you have good eyes you can impress your friends simply by reading the badge from a distance. In all, just over 7,100 examples rolled out of the factory during ten years of production — easily the company’s most successful era when it came to output, but also one fraught with financial ups and downs.

 

Values for the Interceptor have been stagnant until this decade, but they still have some way to go.

Of that total a little under 500 convertibles were produced late in the production run, but the most valuable variant was the FF, which offered four-wheel drive. These are easily distinguishable by two vertical slats in the front fenders instead of one.

Has the Interceptor’s time finally arrived?

Values have been creeping up over the past decade — all versions have roughly doubled value since the start of the decade — but not enough. These coupes seemed perpetually stuck in the same limbo that had seen Aston Martin DBS cars from same era draw only lukewarm collector interest for decades. To be fair, DBS values have also risen over the past decade as collectors have sought to smash model stereotypes in search of greener pastures in which to park their money or make a few bucks, but there is still a feeling in the market that Interceptors are undervalued, as they check all the right boxes.

 

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