JENSON INTERCEPTOR

10 Unusual Jensen Interceptor facts and tips. Ten things you need to know about… The Jensen Interceptor – an executive grand tourer that’s still attracting fans. The good news is that Interceptors are at long last being appreciated as true classics. The bad news is that they cost a fortune to run and prices for these V8 powered Grand Tourers are accelerating fast. Words Andrew Everett.


THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT… THE JENSEN INTERCEPTOR

For so long undervalued – the Jensen Interceptor fell in with cars like the Triumph Stag and Reliant Scimitar inasmuch that they became a bit unfashionable and either unreliable or cost a fortune to run. The Interceptor with its Chrysler V8 was horrific on fuel – you won’t see much more than 10mpg overall, 12 if you’re lucky and 15 on a long run. That made them dodgy used cars in the ‘Seventies when they got old and ropey and in the ‘Eighties, they were worth buttons, with very few cars being properly maintained. They sort of had a blip in the late ‘Eighties when all kinds of rubbish was dredged up and ‘restored’, fell out of bed again in the ‘Nineties and it’s only quite recently that they’ve begun to be worth proper money and thus worth restoring. Good cars start at around £40,000 with the all-wheel drive FF’s starting at around £60,000 and prices for minters can stretch to over £100,000 for these now very desirable models. The days when these were being sold for £10,000 are now long gone.

As a car, the Interceptor is a big old thing with a lot of torque from that Chrysler unit, it was always better than anything Ford or GM made, allied to a superb three-speed automatic. Convertible models appeared in 1974 and sold in the low hundreds but a lot of the Interceptor’s appeal is in the styling with that huge, wrap round rear screen.

DID YOU KNOW? 10 FACTS ABOUT YOUR CLASSIC

  1. The Interceptor was a pretty expensive car when new, but not outrageously so. When it arrived in 1966, the 6.3 litre, 140 mph car was priced at £3700 when an Aston DB6 cost £5000, an Iso Rivolta £5250 and a Gordon Keeble £4000. However, the Elephant in the room was the 4.2 litre Jaguar E-Type FHC at just £2100 with similar on-paper performance but not as effortless as the Jensen.
  2. When the Mark III appeared in 1971, the price difference was even more marked. By this time, the Interceptor was packing 7.2 litres from the latest Chrysler V8 although it gave less power and more torque. A 135mph top speed was similar to before but in 1974, the price of £7100 was still £1500 less than a BMW 3.0CSi E9 and £2500 less than the Aston Martin V8.
  3. Original production lasted 10 years, from 1966 to 1976. Jensen went bust in 1975 with the last original cars being built early the following year to use up stocks of parts. In 1989 an attempt was made to re-launch the car as a Mark IV and four years and 36 cars later, the company again went bust. The Interceptor was revived again in 2010, but this time completely rebuilding existing cars rather than produced brand new ones.
  4. Whilst most Interceptors used the Chrysler Torque-flite three-speed automatic, there were a few manual gearbox versions – but only 22 Series I cars. The Series II and III were virtually all automatics, although there was talk of a special build manual or two being produced – true or false? These days, you can convert to manual using either an expensive modern six-speed unit or an old Chrysler A-833 OD overdrive box.
  5. The original Interceptors were built by Vignale in Italy, but they required so much remedial work on arrival at the Jensen factory that the company later took production fully in house. This was ironic when Jensen lost the contract to build the original Volvo P1800 Coupé due to build quality problems. Certainly, the West Bromwich cars were decently built, but not always without paint quality issues.
  6. The Interceptor originally used the king pin type front suspension from the CV8 but this was changed to a new system with telescopic dampers and wishbones as well as revised Girling brakes replacing the original Dunlop types, plus radial tyres and standard power steering (at last). These modifications took place in mid-1969, around three months before the much-improved Interceptor MkII was launched.
  7. The Interceptor SP was launched in late 1971 as a higher performance model to compete with the Aston Martin V8 Vantage. The 7.2 litre engine featured three twinchoke carburettors to develop 385bhp, this giving a 6.9 second 0-60 time and 145mph top speed. Not quite Aston Vantage fast but useful enough. Wider GKN alloy wheels, vinyl roof and bonnet louvres marked out the SP.
  8. However… The 1971 Interceptor MkIII also gained the new wheels and vinyl roof shortly after, meaning that you need to be sure an SP is the real thing and not a Series III with the six-pack carbs bolted on. Despite this, the Series III became the best selling of all the Interceptor models, with over 3400 cars leaving the West Bromwich factory between 1971 and 1976.
  9. The FF was the four-wheel drive model that ran alongside the Interceptor to 1971, being replaced by the Interceptor SP after 320 were built. Looking similar to the Interceptor, the FF had a four-inch longer wheelbase, a different chassis as well as different wings to accommodate the longer wheelbase. The vast majority were Series I and II cars, with the short run Series III being incredibly rare.
  10. One of the most famous Interceptors, the 1967 MkI registered 13SDV met it’s end in 2017. Unused since 1990, this blue Vignale built car sat outside the owners house in Leicestershire for 27 years and became something of a landmark. Sadly, when the time came for it to be sold it was so rotten that when it was moved, it literally broke apart and fell to bits. Will this car ever live again?

FORD RS OWNERS CLUB

Emma Balaam is living the dream. She’s the hub of operations for the RS Owners Club and proud owner of an immaculate Mk1 Ford Escort Mexico.

Mk1 Escort Mexico

Ford: it’s a family thing

“I’ve always been into cars, though it’s been something that has ramped up,” admits Emma before elaborating. “My Dad used to work for Ford – he was at Dagenham for 45 years – so that seed was sown pretty early on. My fondest memories are being picked up from school by my grandparents in their yellow 1100L Mk1 Escort.

 Things got really interesting when I settled down and got married…

“As I got older I had lots of cars on Ford Options [a finance deal Ford once offered]. Nothing sporty or anything, Ka and Fiesta, not ‘classic’ stuff. It was never really a major passion, I was just a casual fan of the brand.

“Things got really interesting when I settled down and got married,” explains Emma. “My partner had a lot of cars; he’s been in the RSOC [Ford RS Owners Club] for 27 years now. My passion for cars grew alongside his existing interest; it comes from the support of two people sharing a passion. If you’re both into something, it becomes that much more fulfilling.”

Mk1 Escort Mexico

The hot hatches cometh

Soon after they married, Emma got her own RS. And it was a corker: a car that is highly coveted these days.

“My first RS was an Escort RS1600i,” she beams. “It was a restoration project for me and my husband to dive into, but it never came to fruition.”

As so often happens, life got in the way and the RS took a back seat as new babies and car restorations seldom go hand in hand.

“I never drove it!” she exclaims. “It was nearly finished, but with a baby and the expensive restoration, it had to go. I just wanted something I could get into and drive, so we sold the RS1600i to someone who could give it the time and attention it deserved.”

That wasn’t the end of the RS dream though, as the proceeds from the RS1600i went towards buying another Escort. This time it was a Mk6 RS2000 4×4 – again, a car whose rarity makes it very sought after. But rarity wasn’t going to stop Emma from driving it. People carriers be damned, Emma was going to use the RS2000 as much as possible. It became her trusty daily driver, shuttling her and the family around.

Driver with Mk1 Escort Mexico

The RS Owners Club

Emma now works as the club administrator for the RSOC.

“I saw an advert for the role in the club’s magazine Rallye News and thought ‘this sounds interesting’. I made the calls, got the interviews and got the job. It was less money than my previous job at a bank, but I wanted something that reflected my passion, something that was a hobby, too. I’ve been here 10 years now and I love it. It’s like a family.

“The club is international, so I’m dealing with all kinds of people,” she says, her passion evident in her voice as she explains. “There’s so much variety in my day-to-day work. We could be organising shows, or helping people track down hard-to-find parts, or just talking about the cars they own. Whatever it is, it’s good to be at the hub of something people regard so highly. It’s not just a job, it’s a passion and a privilege.”

However running something so vast has its challenges.

“My summers –  especially leading up to National Day at Donington – are crazy. There are so many events to keep me on my toes. Other people have their day jobs as well as their voluntary roles but I’m the only employee so I get involved with everything.”

Mk1 Escort Mexico Features

Why Ford?

Ask others this question and they’ll need a moment to ponder. Not Emma.

“It’s the history, and the look of the cars,” she states with vigour. “For most people, there was a Ford in the family at some point – that’s what brings people in, the history and the heritage.

“The Mk3 Focus RS has a year’s waiting list now; that’s because of all these people who grew up with the brand. People desire the brand so there will always be people who live for Ford – and I’m one of them.

“A lot of people are catching up to their dreams,” she adds. “Many people couldn’t have them when they were younger due to cost or insurance, but they can afford them now. They’ve set up their lives with partners, kids and houses, but they can now get the car they always wanted. They can re-live their youth and their family can be a part of it too. And in so doing, another generation of RS and Ford fans is created.”

Mk1 Escort Mexico Front

Emma’s Mk1 Escort Mexico

The RS2000 is a great machine, but Emma yearned for something older, something with a bit more heritage and, fundamentally, something more personal.

“I wanted a Mk1 really,” she says. “But something sporty like a Mexico. I went to see one for sale and bought it on the spot. It’s Sebring Red and completely factory standard, apart from electronic ignition, which gives me a bit more confidence in the car.

“I wanted one because of the memories of riding in one as a kid. Then there’s the shape: I adore it, it’s just a beautiful thing to look at. I’d have it in my living room if I could! But then we’d get into an argument about having the husband’s Mk2 in there, too…

We got home at 4am, so it was obvious some work needed to be done

“Modern cars are all so similar,” she continues – in her element. “The Mk1 comes from a time when cars were different. You bought them on their looks as much as for their specification. And mine looks incredible. From the Cibie lights on the front to the ‘Ford’ lettering on the back, it’s just beautiful, it’s delicious!”

But the path of love is never smooth…

“I bought it from a collector who didn’t really drive it. It had been looked after – the body is amazing – but mechanically it wasn’t great. A friend drove it back for me, with me in the passenger seat. We got home at 4am, so it was obvious some work needed to be done.”

The Escort simply wasn’t happy under its own steam after being holed up in a private collection for so long. Emma didn’t trust it on the road as it was, and so the real work began.

Every time I put fuel in it or pop to the shop, I end up in full-blown conversation with a stranger about it

“In the end I did get the engine rebuilt,” she explains. “I wasn’t keen to drive it at first – I just didn’t trust it. I do now though. In fact, I love it even more now; I smile from ear-to-ear when I drive it. I’m like a kid in a sweet shop; the smell, the feel, the noise of that engine – it’s magical. “Driving it makes you wish there were more clear roads to enjoy. Living near the M25 isn’t ideal, but when I do get out on the road it’s an absolute joy. There’s no other car like it.”

And it’s clear other people are enjoying the car too.

“Every time I put fuel in it or pop to the shop, I end up in full-blown conversation with a stranger about it. That’d fill your life if you drove it every day!”

It’s clear that Emma is passionate about her work and her stunning Escort Mexico. But will Emma and her Mexican friend always be together?

“People ask if I’d sell it, but the answer is always no. No way. She’ll be with us for many, many years.”

Emma’s classic car advice

  • Get out there and enjoy it. These cars should be celebrated, so never miss an opportunity to get out for a drive.
  • Join a club: “It makes finding parts easier, plus there’s so much going on like meets and events. You’ll get more out of your car”.
  • Be confident. Spend the time and money to make the car how you want it. You want to enjoy it, not be worried every time you turn the key.

NEW CAR?

So you want to buy a car? Excellent! But a car is one of the most significant purchases in your life, and one you want to make sure get right.

Whether it’s a commuter, an extension of your personality, or for work, the options available are more plentiful and varied than ever before.

To make sure you get the right car for the right price, research and preparation is key.

Here are 11 questions you should answer before you take the plunge.


What do I want?

Wants, as you know, are different to needs.

Luxury and next-generation technology is on a lot of people’s lists, but a basic A-to-B car is often more realistic. Digital radio might be nice, but FM can suffice to save a few bucks. Do you need a built-in sat-nav if other devices do the job?

Cars come with all manner of options these days. Work out what’s crucial and what’s a sweetener.

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What do I actually need?

Think about the core features you require from the car and the type of driving you’ll be doing with it and then ask big questions.

Is it for the family? Is it for work? Is it to take you to the shops and back? Will it tow the caravan? Is it cheap to run and maintain? Is it all of the above? Does it need to be?


What is my budget?

If you think smart and do your research, you should be able to land the car you want for the right price. You may hear of a brand-new sedan being sold at a base price of $40,000 but to get everything you want the costs can blow out by thousands.

Instead, a car that costs a bit more and comes with everything as standard may be a better and cheaper option for you.


What finance do I need?

Is this a trade? Do you have the cash in the bank or do you need to get a loan? Should you lease it? What finance does the car company offer and is that a cheaper package deal?

Get the calculator out and see where you stand financially. And before you enter a dealership and get ready to seal the deal, work out how you’re going to pay for the car and have it ready to go.


How long am I keeping this car?

Whether you’re the kind of person who upgrades cars every few years or plan on keeping the new ride in the family for years to come, servicing, long-term warranties and resale value are factors to consider.

Is it worth spending a little more today to save a heap down the line for your needs?

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Auto or manual? Petrol, diesel, hybrid or electric?

This is for the purists out there – even though it’s increasingly a question you don’t even get the chance to ask. Know the answer before you get too attached to models that don’t have the option.

Likewise, what sort of fuel best suits your needs? Petrol, diesel, hybrid or even all-electric? These should be considered.


What sort of maintenance and insurance can I afford?

In an era of capped price servicing and multi-year/100,000 kilometre warranties, you need to know what works best for your car and budget, and what sort of protections you have.

Will the service costs meet your budget? Does the insurance premium go up or down because of your lifestyle? Go online and get some quotes and toggle the options.


Where should I go?

Your local dealer is the most logical option, but it’s worth looking throughout your region to see what else is around.

Establishing a relationship with the right dealer and service department could be worth hundreds over the life of your car.


How many cars should I test?

Once you have narrowed down your focus to what you think ticks the most boxes, head to the dealers and arrange a test drive.

Try to book the car for 24 hours if you can so it’s thoroughly tested. If you have five candidates on your list, test all five. If it’s more or less, so be it.

Even if the second car you drive feels like the right one, it’s not worth writing the others off. Confirmation by trying a few more never hurts. And knowledge of rival products could be a boon when negotiating.

Subaru Essendon Dealership - 1st July 2016


Does the car have a roadworthy certificate?

This may seem like an obvious question with an obvious answer when talking about new cars, but unless your new car has never been registered, it will require a roadworthy certificate.

This applies to second hand cars, as well as ex-demos. Most dealers will – as a default – ensure the car has a current RWC, but it’s worth a question just for peace of mind.


How do I get the best deal?

Research and a little bit of timing can do you some favours here. Check out CarAdvice regularly for the latest news and reviews.

If you’re absolutely certain what you want and aren’t fussed on timing or particular options, time can be your friend. As the calendar year ticks over, dealers will often sell cars built the previous year for a discount or with extras included in the price.

Otherwise it’s worth thinking about your negotiating skills. You may not be able to talk down the price of a car given its margins, but if you can get a discount on servicing, options or spares, you’re still saving money.

And, let’s face it, who doesn’t love landing a good deal?

HOW TO CHANGE WIPER BLADES

Why replace a wiper blade?

It goes without saying that drivers need to be able to clearly see the road ahead to remain safe on the road. For a car to be in roadworthy condition, and pass its annual MOT test (if more than three-years old) it must have windscreen wipers, which should be correctly secured and in good working condition.

Given that the UK and rain go together like the Queen and Buckingham Palace, Britain’s drivers rely on their cars’ windscreen wipers. On average, the UK has 131 days a year with rainfall of 1mm or more. However, in parts of Wales, that rises to 160 days, and in Scotland it can be as high as 220 days a year.

Over time and use, the effectiveness of wiper blades deteriorates. This can lead to a smearing effect of water, which obscures the view through the windscreen. That can cause a car to fail its MOT.

Even if drivers don’t live in a rainy climate, a car’s wiper blades should be replaced roughly every 12 months because the rubber gradually perishes when it’s exposed to sunlight or cold temperatures and its wiping performance worsens.

New wipers are easy to fit, relatively affordable and ensure good visibility in bad weather, so they’re a wise investment.

This task requires no experience and only basic tools, and can be completed in a matter of minutes.

How will I know when to replace wiper blades?

The first and most obvious sign that windscreen wipers need replacing is when they begin to smear or leave streaks of water across the glass. Other telltales signs during operation include a juddering effect as they pass over the glass, or unusual noises — as they should be silent.

Every month, give the wiper blades a clean (see below) and then run your fingertips along the edge of the rubber blade, feeling for any tears or cuts. It’s important to remember to check the operation and condition of the rear wiper blade too.

Cost of new wiper blades and which does my car need?

Wiper blades can be bought from most car care stores, garages or ordered online. It’s often cheaper to buy them online, using sites such as halfords.com, wiperblades.co.ukor eurocarparts.com. Prices start from roughly £5 for a single wiper, and £14 for a pair.

These sites make it easy to choose the correct fitment wipers for their car, by using a vehicle registration search tool. However, before buying the wipers, take a moment to go to your car and remove an existing wiper blade.

This should be simple to do – see basic guide below – but as all cars are different, you can also check the vehicle handbook or look up instructions for your specific car at haynes.com/ondemand. There may even be a video tutorial.

Tips for caring for wiper blades

Some drivers reports that even brand new wiper blades can leave smears, or judder across glass. A suggested cure for this, from wiperblades.co.uk, is to wipe the rubber blade with paper towel or cloth damped using malt vinegar, or neat windscreen washer fluid.

Over time, it’s a good idea to clean your wiper blades when washing your car. Lift them proud of the windscreen, then wash the rubber blades with a wet sponge or microfibre mitt or towel. This will remove the dirt that accumulates around the base of the rubber blade.

Alternatively, at a petrol station take some paper towels and wet them, before wiping them along the rubber blade. This is also an ideal location to top-up the windscreen washer fluid, taking care to use the appropriate dilution of washer fluid and water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

When returning to the car after rain has stopped, before starting the car make sure the wipers are switched off, or else they will drag across the dry windscreen, which is abrasive to the rubber. In freezing conditions make sure the wipers aren’t stuck to the windshield or rear screen before use, as this could tear the rubber blade or cause damage to the wiper motor unit.

How to change a windscreen wiper blade

Work time

  • Around 5 mins

Tools required (optional)

  • Flat-head screwdriver

Parts that you may need

  • Replacement wiper blades

Changing a wiper blade: step-by-step

  1. For wiper arms with a retaining clip: lift the arm from the glass, swing the blade so it is at a right angle to the arm and press the central lever within the fastening mechanism to release the wiper blade from the arm. In some instances, a screwdriver may help to release the fastening clip.
  2. For wiper arms without a retaining clip: lift the arm from the glass, swing the blade so it is at a right angle to the arm and simply pull the blade free from the arm.
  3. Replace with the new wiper blade, and check they are fastened securely.

CHANGING A HEADLIGHT

When driving at night or traveling in inclement weather conditions like fog, snow and rain, you count on your headlights to lead the way. Having two properly functioning headlights is paramount to your safety on the road. Driving with one of your headlights out not only cuts down on your field of view but it reduces your visibility to other drivers.

Don’t put yourself or your passengers in jeopardy by driving with just one headlight. If you have a burned out headlight bulb, the time to take action is now. Grab a Champion headlight bulb, follow the instructions in this installation guide and in no time you’ll have two headlights shining brightly down the highway.

Designed to deliver reliable performance, your vehicle will shine bright when you use Champion headlights. From factory-replacement headlights to HID and premium headlights, you can count on Champion to light the way.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step One

Determining how to access the headlight bulb is easily the most challenging part of the job. While it seems like you should be able to just pop the bulb out, often times you have to remove other parts just to get to the bulb.

On most vehicles, you reach the headlight bulb through the engine compartment. Open the hood and look for the headlight sitting in a bulb holder. Also check your owner’s manual for information on the best way to get to the headlight bulb and what parts you might have to remove to reach it.

Step Two

Assess how to remove the old bulb. On some vehicles, the bulb is secured in the headlight assembly by a wire assembly while other cars have the bulb positioned directed into the headlight assembly. Once you know how the bulb is held in the housing, you’ll know how to remove it.

At this point, you’ll also be able to determine what tools you’ll need to complete the job. Many headlight bulbs can be removed without tools, but some do required the use of a flathead or Phillips screwdriver.

If there are power wires connected to the back of the bulb, remove them. There might also be a dust cover that you need to remove from the back of the headlight. There could also be a clip(s) that holds the bulb in place.

Step Three

Remove the bulb by holding the bulb housing and pulling it out. On some bulbs, you might have to use a twisting motion to remove it. Use a gentle touch when doing this so you don’t risk breaking the bulb.

Step Four

Before installing the new bulb, clean it with an alcohol wipe or by using rubbing alcohol and a lint-free cloth.

Grasping the new bulb by the housing, line it up with the open socket and insert it. Avoid touching the bulb, the oil from your skin can leave a hot spot that may cause it to burn out faster. You may consider wearing gloves to avoid this issue.

Reverse the process you used to remove the old bulb. Attach any wires or clips and replace the dust cover on if necessary. Put the headlight housing back in the frame. Replace any additional parts that you had to remove to gain access to the headlight bulb.

Step Five

Start up your vehicle and turn on the headlights to ensure that the new headlight is working properly. Also take time to check the aim of the headlights. If your lights aren’t aligned correctly, they may not be focused on the road – where you need the light to shine brightly. If they seem to be out of alignment, consult your owner’s manual for tips on correcting it.