• This 1972 Jensen Interceptor Mk III, a mix of European design and American horsepower, is up for auction on Bring a Trailer.
• Jensen combined Italian design, British touring-car ride, and American V-8s for a unique grand tourer.
• Bidding is open until Saturday, April 23, with the current bid sitting at $1972 with four days to go.
It’s worth buying a Jensen for the name alone. “Jensen Interceptor Mark III.” It sounds like a fighter jet, not a grand touring car from the ’70s. If that’s not enough appeal for you, how about the conversation starter of pulling up in a car that’s got Italian style, a herd’s worth of English leather, and power from an American muscle-car mill? This 1972 Jensen Interceptor Mark III is currently up for sale on Bring a Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos—in an auction ending this weekend.
If you aren’t familiar with Jensen, the Interceptor belongs to the same club as the De Tomaso Pantera, or the Iso Grifo, one of those quirky small-volume car builders that combined European styling with American powerplants in the mid 20th century. Jensen started using American V-8s in the 1930s, but is best known for its ’60s and ’70s cars. The Interceptor Mk I came out in 1966, with a body designed by Carrozzeria Touring in Milan—the same styling house that did the Aston Martin DB5—and was built by another Italian coachbuilder, Vignale. The earlier cars used a Chrysler 383 V-8, but this later 1972 Mk III gets the biggest Mopar big-block, 440 cubic inches. Just as it would be in a Dodge Charger or Chrysler New Yorker, the V-8 is backed by a 727 three-speed automatic transmission. Jensen uses its own chassis and suspension, but we noticed the shift knob in the burlwood console looks awfully similar to one you’d find in a 1970 Challenger, so Mopar fans can assume they’ll find themselves right at home inside.
The Mark III came out in 1971, with only a few changes from the previous design. The headlight bezels are more detailed, it got a wheel redesign, and it unfortunately lost the more attractive earlier three-spoke steering wheel. Not a problem, you can buy this car and replace the steering wheel. You’ll have to do a fair amount of interior work on this Jensen if you want it to be show quality. The wood is peeling, the leather is cracked, power antenna, air horns, and radio are inoperative, and the power windows work only intermittently. Some of those things are easier repairs than others. The seller says the window motors are Chrysler units which would make sourcing easy, but the Jensen famously required the hides of seven unlucky cows to make its luxurious seats and door panels, so unless you own a tannery, plan on shelling out for the interior resto.
The exterior of an Interceptor is like a bubble-backed Barracuda and an Aston Martin had a baby. It’s a car with a great stance, elegant enough to roll up at a snooty hotel, but intimidating if it’s coming up fast in your rear view—and with a 440 under the hood, it could be. The Jensen 440s were not as high horsepower as their American siblings, but reviews of the Jensen praised its torque and—something the American muscle cars rarely heard—its handling. The powertrain in this car could use some tuning up. The sellers replaced the carburetor, as the car had been sitting since 2007, but the plug wires look elderly, the yellow Accel coil is definitely retro, the seller warns that the aftermarket cooling fans have not been hooked up, and everything leaks. None of the mechanical issues would be insurmountable to anyone with prior Chrysler experience, which is one of the pluses of these Euro/U.S. mashups.
The biggest downers on this example of Interceptor are the rust and the aftermarket sunroof. There’s a fair amount of surface rust on the body, although it’s hard to know how far it goes, and underneath the exhaust is completely eaten through. The good parts are, the wasp nest in the back—free wasps!—no, kidding, those are bad. The good bits are the mostly complete interior, the original alloy wheels, and an overall good-running car. We say this based on the video of the seller doing donuts in it. This is a rare machine. Jensen made fewer than 2245 Mark IIIs, and that’s the most of any Jensen model. If this was our buy, we’d replace the aftermarket side mirrors with the cool original chrome ones, fix the mechanical issues, respray the car in burgundy, and then throw a blanket over the bad seat and drive around feeling fancy and picking on unsuspecting small-block muscle cars.