Some of our more clued-up readers — especially where obscure British marques are concerned — may be familiar with the Jensen marque. Although never a mass-market brand, Jensen did turn out a couple of relatively well-known offerings, especially the Interceptor, with its distinctive ‘goldfish bowl’ rear window and hulking Chrysler-sourced 7.2-litre V8 lurking under its expansive bonnet.
There was also the Healey — Jensen’s biggest seller to date — a lightweight, nimble-handling roadster conceived in the Lotus mould. However, the model most of you are unlikely to have heard of is the S-V8, and that’s because only 20 of them were built before the company went into receivership in 2002. Another 12 were screwed together from left-over parts after SV Automotive subsequently briefly resuscitated the Jensen brand, but that was it. Game over.
On paper, the ingredients for the S-V8 didn’t sound too bad. It packed a 4.6-litre 32-valve Ford Mustang V8 that packed 325bhp, which allegedly propelled the two-seat roadster to 100kph in around 5sec and a top speed of 260kph. There was also a purposeful growl spat out by the twin exhausts.
But that’s pretty much where the goodness ended as the S-V8’s steering and handling was less than confidence-inspiring, with the slightest movement of the steering wheel allegedly making the car wander alarmingly.
Then there was the fact that the styling — penned by Howard Guy and Gary Doy — was a downright weird mishmash of curves and sharp edges. But the outright deal-breaker was build quality that was abysmal even by British standards of the era. Wires were visible through the engine vents, the canvas roof didn’t seal properly and you could fit a finger in the panel gaps. The cabin was also trimmed in cheap and cheerless materials, and any upmarket pretensions were comprehensively scuttled by the Ford switchgear and components.
The UK motoring press still occasionally publishes ‘scoop’ stories about the Jensen brand being revived, but we feel the best bet sometimes is to let sleeping dogs lie.
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