What’s it like to drive a 1976 JENSEN INTERCEPTOR?
Sandy Bettlelman’s JENSEN is a rare find, indeed
In most of our heads, rare cars command high prices. I see that every time I head to an auction. But, the truth is that if you love your car, it’s priceless. And that is certainly true when it comes to Sandy Bettelman and his 1976 Jensen Interceptor convertible. And why it’s this week’s Ride of the Week.
When I go to shows — and I go a lot — I invariably run into people wanting to show me their cars. And it’s cool because I love talking to people that love talking about their rides. And I’m grateful that I get to meet so many people. Although my favorite is always the one with four wheels, I’ve always been partial to the Jensen Interceptor.
Being retired, Sandy gets to do much of the same thing. He has several cars including an Audi RB and a Bentley GT. But, as cool as those cars are, this Jensen is something else. Why?
According to Sandy, Jensen bought their powertrains from Chrysler. A 440 cu. in. V8 with the 727 Torqueflite transmission. His car is totally stock, but the convertible was the most glamorous of the Jensen lineup in 1974. It was the most prestigious of the cars for the West Bromich England car builder dating back to the ’30s.
“I bought the car in 1988 from the original owner,” said Sandy. “I found it sitting in a driveway two blocks from where I lived and it had not been moved for two years. I bought it because of its beauty and how scarce it is. In 1976 they built only 52 convertibles. Mine came off the line in March and the factory closed in May.”
But back in the ’70s, futurism was a very strange and unique notion. Films like “Barbarella,” “Zardoz” and “Logan’s Run” with groovy futures were in. And TV shows like “U.F.O.,” “Space 1999” and “Thunderbirds” were getting weirder by the minute.
The Interceptor was right out of their future language. It would have been something that the Persuaders drove or James Bond. An elegant and groovy tune built from English heritage.
Now, Sandy only uses this car for shows or cruises with the top down, but he has a funny story to boot.
“The car is well known around beach towns. At a show inland, a woman came up to the car and read the badge on the hood that says ‘Jensen.’ She turned to me and asked, ‘Who makes Jensen?’ To which I responded ‘Jensen.’”
Its powerful and elegant interior is classic, yet there’s almost a feeling that you’re in a concept car from a future that never came. It’s a vision ahead of its time, but in a parallel universe. And the fact that the company disappeared in 1976, right at the bicentennial is almost ethereal in it’s nature.
Did these guys ever really exist? Well, parallel future or not, this car is in league with the Tucker Torpedo, Avanti and visions of futures gone. If you’re trying to get your head around what I’m saying, it’s more of a feeling and can only be explained by taking a walk through GM Top Secret Motorama Vault for the ’50s. Yes, I’ve seen it, and it’s wonderful.
“I love to cruise with the top down up PCH through Malibu … along the beach on warm days,” concludes Sandy. A fitting statement to being resolved that no matter how universally unique this car is, it’s purpose is the same as all of them.
To bring joy to a world of car lovers. The highest purpose a car can have and why this Jensen Interceptor is this week’s Ride of the Week.More »