30 May 2016 Last updated

Classic corner

Jensen Interceptor: Still a super cool classic

By Imran Malik
Added 15:29 | May 30, 2013
  • Source:Supplied picture

Boasting exotic Italian looks, an American heart and a built-in-Britain tag, the Jensen Interceptor was far more than just a toy for the rich and famous, writes Imran Malik

I couldn’t wait to watch the latest Fast and the Furious sequel last weekend and it wasn’t just because I have a huge crush on Gina Carano. The producers of the franchise filmed most of it back home in the UK and representing the country in the adrenaline-fuelled part 6, was a MkI 1970 Mexico blue Ford Escort RS2000 and more importantly, a 1973 gunmetal grey Jensen Interceptor. Boasting a fabulous mix of Italian looks, American muscle and good old British know-how, the Jensen Interceptor, launched in 1966, was one heck of a car.

Before this beauty came along, Jensen, an eccentric sporting name, built equally eccentrically styled coupés for playboys and plutocrats. But these cars were in need of a radical makeover to appeal more to the late Sixties generation and so Kevin Beattie, Jensen’s MD, met Carlo Anderloni of Touring Superleggera in Milan to pen a new GT. He came up with a handsomely chiselled design featuring a long bonnet, raked windscreen and round rear. Sixty cars were produced by Vignale in Turin before production was brought to West Bromwich, in Britain. When the new Interceptor was rolled out, it was a massive hit.

Powered by a Chrysler V8 and mated to either a four-speed manual or Torqueflite three-speed automatic transmission meant that it had power to burn. Starting off as a 6.2-litre in the MkI and rising to 7.2 litres in the MkIII, the Interceptor was the car to be seen in — and with a topless version added to the line-up, nobody was going to miss you.

The cabin was as luxurious as could be and boasted all sorts of mod cons. But make no mistake; turn the key and you’d be met with a thunderous growl. This was a 272bhp muscle car with an ominous Detroit iron soundtrack. Its heart was American but its driving dynamics definitely came from Europe; the Interceptor handled very well without leaning too heavily in the corners — even though it had a leaf-sprung live rear axle — while the servo assistance steering was precise and offered good feedback too. It was at the top of its game when the carmaker fell victim to the fuel crisis that hit Britain in 1976 and production came to an end. Nobody wanted a big thirsty V8 during those hard times and things haven’t changed much now. More than 6,000 units were built and clean, low mileage examples can fetch up to Dh250,000 today — worth every penny.

It’s worth checking out the movie for this car alone where it drifts, burns rubber and rumbles in all its glory. You’ll definitely want one, but keep your eyes off Gina please.

She’s spoken for.