Obscure Muscle from the Past: The Jensen Interceptor

Here is another one of my curve-ball postings about an Obscure Muscle Car you may have never though was a Muscle Car. I’m here to try and convince you that it is. Let’s find out if the Jensen Interceptor is indeed an Obscure Muscle Car

While it could be argued that the featured car is actually more of a grand touring car in the tradition of a Jaguar, I will submit evidence that it is more of a gentleman’s muscle car because of one simple feature: the engine. Yes, what we have here in a fast, powerful, and luxurious coupe that happens to be built in the UK, with a big old Chrysler 383 or 440.

The Jensen Interceptor was built in the United Kingdom by Jensen Motors between 1966 and 1976. The Interceptor name had been used previously by Jensen for an earlier car made between 1950 and 1957. The design of the Interceptor was designed by an outside firm, Carrozzeria Touring of Italy, rather than the in-house staff. The early bodies were Italian-built, by Vignale, before production by Jensen themselves began at their facility.

The engine was a Chrysler 383 c.i. V-8, with optional manual or TorqueFlite automatic transmissions driving the rear wheels. Power from the 383 was initially 325 horsepower. Zero to sixty took 7.1 seconds – an excellent time for 1966 – with a 135 mph top speed. The Birmingham factory produced about 600 of these Interceptors per year. Jensen offered the larger 440 in late 1971, with a traditional 4 bbl. carburetor. The SP (Six-Pack) model of 1971–73 offered 3×2-bbl carburetors; only 232 were built and had the distinction of being the most powerful car ever to have been made by Jensen 390 HP.

The Mark II was announced in October 1969, revised frontal styling and vented disc brakes. The Mark III of 1971 had revised seats, fully-cast alloy wheels plus some other improvements. The Mark III was divided to G-, H- and J-series, depending on the production years. The “J” version of Interceptor III was the most luxurious Jensen built. The Interceptor was briefly re-introduced in the 1980s as the Series 4 (S4), as a low-volume ’specialist’ motor car in much the same way Bristol continue to market and manufacture their cars. Though the body remained essentially the same, a newer, so called ‘cleaner’, engine was used (the Chrysler 360) and the interior slightly re-designed with the addition of ’sports’ front seats as opposed to the armchair style of the earlier models.

Read the rest of this posting at CarDomain.com, and be sure to read some of the readers comments to see how they felt. And while you’re at it, take a look at my latest CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car postings.

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  1. tonyola Avatar

    The Jensen Interceptor is not a muscle car. If so, then the Iso, Gordon Keeble, Facel-Vega, post-406 Bristol, DeTomaso, and Monteverdi would all have to be considered muscle cars too by virtue of their American engines. Almost all of the cars I listed were Grand Touring cars – powerful, comfortable cars designed to carry two people (maybe four on occasion) across Europe in smooth speed and style. The reason American engines were used was to save these companies the cost of developing their own V8s or V12s for fast and effortless driving, not to make them dragstrip specials or racing stars.

    1. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

      In the sixties, they were commonly called hybrids…

  2. highmileage_v1 Avatar

    I have to agree, the Jensen is more the "steel fist, velvet glove" approach to motoring. Regardless, I have always liked the Jensen. Nothing like a B or RB block to make your Grand Tourer tour.

  3. longrooffan Avatar

    Italian design, British build quality, MOPAR power. Who could want more? How about all wheel drive?
    Yeah, that's it.

  4. CptSevere Avatar

    I've seen a few of these in person and they are impressive cars.

    1. Mechanically Inept Avatar

      I saw one in traffic a couple years ago, and it was really cool. Unfortunately, I was going the other direction, so it was one of those "what is that car there?" moments. Once I realized it was an Interceptor, I was gone. Very cool car, though.

  5. AteUpWithMotor Avatar

    The history of the Interceptor and its FF derivative:http://ateupwithmotor.com/sports-cars-and-muscle-
    The FF was essentially the same car, but with the Formula Ferguson system — full-time 4WD and Dunlop Maxaret ABS.
    Again, I am very dubious about the idea of calling anything with a largish V8 engine a muscle car. The Interceptor was a GT, not an American-style Supercar, Mopar engine or not.

    1. CHARLES KIRKBY Avatar

      Have a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5t_RZAcjd3o – not a muscle car by any means, and as before "iron fist velvet glove" – but in thier virgin form they are amazing.!!!….. I hope you can enjoy this as much as I did!!!! – by the way, VALLETTS GRAND PRIX 2011 NOW DESTINED FOR MAY 20, 21 – YOU MUST TRY TO COME, FAR BETTER THAN MONACO !!!!!!

  6. muthalovin Avatar

    From the photos, I think they are impressive. It is now a goal to see one in person.

  7. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    I'm not sure I agree with expanding the definition of "Muscle Car" to include almost all powerful cars with mediocre handling.
    That said, Jensens rule. I'd seriously consider picking up a pretty beat one and rebuilding it as I saw fit (as opposed to properly restoring it).

    1. Mechanically Inept Avatar

      I'm a big fan of the restomod. Old cars look much better than new cars, but new cars are much better, ya know, cars. Unless it's something really rare, there's no reason not to add a touch of modern goodness to your classic.

  8. ZomBee Racer Avatar

    I've always regarded these as the British approach to the Plymouth GTX concept, er maybe vice versa.
    At first I wanted to say definitely a Muscle-Car, but then I got to thinking and realized not only would it be a disservice to the Grand Tourer tradition, but how underrated and overlooked most GT cars are in general. Kind of a reverse Pavlov response to the lack of the word muscle.
    I therefore resolve to start referring to the classic Gran Turismos as those "Muscular" Grand Tourers.
    Meh, not quite the same. Also, once you use or say the word muscle a half dozen times, it starts to sound really weird.

  9. Tim Odell Avatar
    Tim Odell

    Kinda depends.
    In my mind, a lot of the appeal of the classic is lost if it gets too modern. I'm a big fan of building the best car you can with "in-period" upgrades. For example, my Falcon just got 4 piston front discs, but they're made with parts that were OEM on Mustangs just a couple of years later.
    Mostly, my problem with "restomod" is that in my mind it's associated with really, really tasteless upgrades that tend to look dated within a couple of years of their installation. I see too many rides at car shows that look like they're straight out of 1997.

  10. nofrillls Avatar

    As rare as you'd think these cars are, I see them here and there. I saw one parked n the street in Boston, circa 1999 (parked near a UR Quattro, no less), one at a Starbucks in San Diego, circa 2005, then another one last year, rotting in the back of a used car lot in Orange County. All were shooting brakes.

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