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Bulges and Muscle: The Jensen C-V8

Chris Haining June 20, 2016 Car Shows, Cars You Should Know 20 Comments

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It must be over-exposure to Interceptors that has numbed my brain to such an extent that I’d forgotten about the forerunner that iconic glassbacked bruiser. Indeed took a good few seconds before my brain had parsed what, exactly, it was being confronted by.

Of course, I proclaimed to myself. It’s a Jensen. A C-V8; the brutal follow-up to the 541. Pleased to re-acquaint myself with it, I spent the next ten minutes walking around it and drinking in all those details that I had, shamefully, forgotten all about.

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There was a time at the beginning of the ‘sixties when the ‘Chinese eye’ headlamp arrangement was all the range. See also the Gordon Keeble GT and the Bentley Continental S3 for further examples of this strangely of-its-time styling affectation.

I would say it looks rather purposeful on this application, though, lending the front end an aggressive snarl to it while maintaining headlamps which are high enough from the ground to offer a half-decent spray of light.

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The latent potency beneath the bonnet is hinted at by the hungry-looking scoop above the carburettors, and confirmed by the two big, heavy breathing exhaust pipes out back. But what are they attached to?

Running an online UK Government road-tax check shows engine capacity at 6276cc, meaning that we’re looking at one of Chrysler’s 383ci V8s, which were rated in this application at 330bhp, though this was probably a gross measurement taken at the flywheel in a zero gravity vacuum. It was certainly enough to make the C-V8 one of the most rapid British cars of its era.

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And one which, though you could never call it beautiful, carries an aggressive, raffish swagger that I find most appealing.

(All images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2016)

  • Lokki

    I love this car. I can imagine myself in a nice Harris tweed jacket snarling down the M-1 pulling the ton on my way to meet Samantha at the country house. I blow past that oily bugger, Bond, toddling along in the slow lane in that Aston of his. He’s too slick by half, that bloke, and he has plans to try his luck with Samantha. Tough luck old bean; I’ll at the old place and have two drinks in her before you even get there.

    • Alff

      IRL, if your inadequately cooled precursor to a slightly less inadequately engineered British American hybrid delivers you at the appointed moment and all goes according to plan, all you would have accomplished is to soften up the defenses for the indefatigable missile of 007. He is Bond, after all.

    • It’s a real shame we don’t award COTD here.

  • longrooffan

    Sweet ride. Could this be an American version of the Jenson?

    http://www.oldcarsweekly.com/car-of-the-week/car_of_the_week_1961_chrysler_300g

    • I like this one better.

      • Alff

        I like the Chrysler better. It’s sure of what it is supposed to be. The Jensen is attractive, but a bit confused. It’s the Taylor Swift of exotics.

        • Vairship

          It’s sure of what it is supposed to be.
          A Batmobile? 😉

    • It does have some common themes going on, that’s for sure. I always preferred the 300F though.

    • karonetwentyc

      I’d be more inclined towards the Studebaker Golden Hawk as the American equivalent.

  • Alff

    What is the door in front of the hood scoop for?

    • I wondered that too. I would have asked the guy but was worried that I’d find the answer disappointing.

      • Alff

        After seeing Mike’s video, I”ll bet you wish you’d asked for a demonstration.

    • Borkwagen

      By the location, I’m guessing radiator fluid, either refilling or checking.

    • Locking cover for the rather elegant hood release, as demonstrated at the nine-second point:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TD8eANl5U7Y

      • Alff

        Good to know. I can think of a couple of reasons not to put the fuel filler there. Cooling and spontaneous, unintentional heating.

  • 1977ChevyTruck

    “over-exposure to Interceptors”

    You lucky Brits have it too good!

    I have been a loyal subject to Her Majesty for my entire life, and what have I gotten for it?

    A mere glimpse of two Jensen Interceptors (one the weekend before last) and not a single other model by that great marque!

  • outback_ute

    I’d much rather have a C-V8 than an Interceptor, not that the Interceptor is ugly, but the C-V8 styling is so much more individual.

    There has been one running in the Targa Tasmania for what seems like forever that regularly contends for the classic handicap win, which shows they can be made to perform well too.

    • Rover 1

      Austin Westminster front and rear suspension, a fibreglass body and a 383. They should be quick.

      A 5 x 5″ PCD does somewhat limit wheel choice to Rover and Pontiac though.

      But that’s still more choice than the owners of the lovely Gordon Keeble have with it’s Dunlop centre fix alloys shared with the MGA Twincam. (Except not shared, as they are an inch wider, only 99 sets made)

      Worth the hassle to have Giugiaro’s first road car design to make production.

      IMHO much better looking than the odd CV8

      https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3777/10758840606_9f6203e267_b.jpg