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Jensen Interceptor set to return

Interceptor interpretation: The 21st Century Jensen Interceptor is no retro show pony but a thoroughly modern take on the classic of the 1960 and 70s.

Swiss Jensen brand owner selects UK firm to build new Interceptor at old Jag plant

Jensen logo21 Sep 2011

FIRST came the born-again Beetle, then the Mini and Fiat 500 but now another retro legend is about be revived: The Jensen Interceptor, a four-seat grand tourer that was originally produced between 1966 and 1976.

The car’s completed design is claimed to have already gained “significant customer interest” and a public unveiling is planned for late 2012, with first deliveries in 2014 from a new facility to be built on the site of Jaguar’s old Browns Lane factory in Coventry, UK.

Unlike most other retro cars on sale, which are relatively affordable, the re-interpreted Interceptor promises “ultra-exclusivity”, with a chassis and hand-crafted body made from aluminium.

No technical details have yet been announced but the supplied sketches reveal a thoroughly modern interpretation of the V8-powered original, but with a longer, lower, sleeker look.

Rather than succumbing to the nostalgic styling trend, the designers of the new Interceptor appear to have imagined what the model would be like had it stayed in production and gone through four decades of development.

99 center imageLeft: New Jensen Interceptor. Below: Original Jensen Interceptor restored by Jensen International Automotive.

The Interceptor’s signature wrap-around rear windscreen is present and correct, as are the quad headlamps, slatted radiator grille, long bonnet, gill-style vents behind the front wheelarches and chrome Jensen badges on the C-pillars – but otherwise it is a fresh design likely to interest would-be Aston Martin and Maserati buyers.

Owner of the Jensen and Interceptor brands, Healey Sports Cars Switzerland Ltd, (HSCS) appointed Coventry-based CPP Global Holdings – a coachbuilder, which as GoAuto reported in February, is in the process of acquiring the Spyker sportscar business from the Victor Muller-led holding company that also owns struggling Swedish brand Saab.

In what has been a busy year for CPP, having also acquired Bowler, which builds “all-terrain supercars”, formed a joint venture with the Italian design studio that operates the Zagato brand (under license from the Zagato family) and signed an agreement to purchase and redevelop the former Browns Lane Jaguar factory.

HSCS director Liam Cardiff described CPP as “the perfect partner to revive the iconic Jensen Interceptor.”“With the Jensen design team integrated into an organisation with much greater resources and broader expertise, our dream of seeing the Jensen and Interceptor badges once again adorning the bonnets of beautiful, modern, British-built GT cars has come closer to reality.”

CPP founder and co-owner Brendan O’Toole, who began his career restoring classic British sportscars, said he is excited for the company to be taking the lead role in reviving the Jensen brand and that the project is at an “advanced stage”.

“The Jensen design team has respected and honoured the great heritage and attributes of the original Interceptor, while injecting a contemporary edge and advanced technologies that will ensure it appeals to the passionate, discerning motoring enthusiast of today.” In addition to building Spyker – and now Jensen – cars, CPP also performs vehicle adaptations and has carried out prototype work luxury brands including Aston Martin and Rolls Royce, plus the production of Geneva show cars including the Bentley Brooklands.

CPP – which stands for Coventry Prototype Panels – is part-owned by Russian billionaire Vladimir Antonov, who previously held a 29.3 per cent stake in Spyker but was forced to sell his 4.6 million shares to Tenaci Capital BC (an equity firm owned by Victor Muller) – because otherwise GM refused to sell Saab to the Dutch company.

The original Interceptor was built about 40km from the forthcoming Coventry facility at West Bromwich, with a Chrysler V8 powering the rear wheels.

The FF version was a technical marvel at the time, pioneering all-wheel drive in a production passenger car and also featuring advanced features including anti-lock brakes and traction control.

Since 2010 a British company, Jensen International Automotive, has been rebuilding original interceptors from the ground up with modern components – such as the 6.2-litre Corvette engine also used in Australian-built HSVs – and plans to produce a maximum of 18 cars per year, priced from around £100,000 ($A153,000).

Until the new Interceptor comes along in 2014, the similarly-intentioned Ferrari FF – the first of which are due Down Under early next year – serves as a kind of spiritual successor.

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