A Blast from the Past

For this updated classic, Jensen melds supercar performance with stunning 60s design.

By Ghaith Madadha

With a sound as dramatic as its moody 1960’s Italian aesthetics, the Interceptor R Supercharged erupted to life with a mighty booming crack of thunder that seemed to shake Jensen International Automotive’s (JIA) Oxfordshire headquarters to its foundations. The Interceptor R, a re-engineered and rebuilt revival of an iconic British classic for those in the know, soon settled into a resonant burble.

The Interceptor R, which was thoroughly re-mastered and extensively updated for daily contemporary use, is a luxurious brute with robustly reliable modern driveline and electrics, rather than a delicate garage diva.

The original 1966-76 Jensen Interceptor, which was design by Carrozzeria Touring of Milan, powered by big displacement V8 American muscle, and British-engineered and crafted, was a master class in understated sophistication, indulgent luxury, and dramatically assertive presence.

It has been resurrected by JIA since its foundation in 2010 with a timelessly stylish design, rising value, and sturdy hybrid twin-beam and monocoque construction, making it an ideal comeback candidate.

NSK

The Interceptor R transformation begins with a completely stripped down, repaired, seam sealed, primed, and painted 1969-76 donor shell. It is then fitted with new electrics and wiring looms, and a rugged easily maintained modern General Motors LS3 6.2-liter V8 engine, of similar character and in lieu of the Interceptor’s original 6.3 and 7.4-liter cast-iron Chrysler V8s. Sharing a similar compact OHV design to fit under the low-slung bonnet, the Interceptor R’s engine, however, features lighter aluminum construction.

Positioned slightly further back for improved weight distribution, the Interceptor R’s standard naturally-aspirated engine develops 429 BHP, and a meatier 556 BHP at 6100 rpm, and 551 lb/ft torque at 3800 rpm in Supercharged guise, as tested. It is brutally effective, lunging with electrifying urgency from standstill when rear-driven through a responsively smooth 6-speed automatic gearbox. It blasts through 0-100 km/h in 3.8 seconds and tops out at 280 km/h.

Replacing the original rear live axle with independent lower wishbone rear suspension for independent wheel travel, the Interceptor R features improved ride refinement and handling, while revised springs and bushes provide enhanced connectedness, responsiveness, and refinement. It is balanced, well-controlled, and grippy through corners, and features a limited-slip differential, varying power distribution for improved cornering agility and traction. Meatier steering provides good road feel and tidy turn-in and modern brakes prove very effective. However, tall steering ratio and original brake servo assistance require more input than modern cars.

Jensen's interior

The Interceptor R is unpretentiously dramatic, stylishly uncomplicated and predatory, with a slinky low waistline, wraparound glass hatch, deep-set quad headlights and an indulgent long bonnet. Subtle alterations include wire mesh grille and side vents, re-chromed bumpers, wider exhaust tips, deeper air dam, halogen headlights, and tasteful modern electric mirrors. To accommodate modern brakes, bespoke replica 17-inch, rather than 15-inch, alloy wheels, 245/45 R17 front and 255/45 R17 rear tires improve road-holding, braking, stability, and handling without sacrificing comfort.

the Interceptor R is available with bespoke choice of solid, metallic, or pearlescent paint outside, while its classy and airy cabin provides good visibility. With a hint of the exotic, it features new leather-lined carpets, slim period-style steering wheel, refurbished double-stitch leather upholstered seats, and bonded windscreen for improved refinement and reduced wind noise.

Financially backed by Sir Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse, JIA only produces up to six cars annually. The Supercharged version, which is built to preference, receives a new driver-focused JIA-designed dashboard from 2015—rather than the refurbished original—with vertical emphasis, clear chrome-ringed pod-like instruments, and metal-gated buttons. JIA also offer technologically modern, but classic period style A/C, stereo and optional satnav.

Specifications

Gearbox: 6-speed auto, RWD, limited-slip differential

Power, BHP (PS) [kW]: 556 (564) [415] @6100 rpm

Torque lb/ft (Nm): 551 (747) @3800 rpm

0-100 km/h: 3.8 seconds

Top speed: 280 km/h

Length: 4700 mm

Width: 1700 mm

Height: 1250 mm

Wheelbase: 2670 mm

Weight: 1600 kg

Suspension, F/R: Double / lower wishbones, adjustable dampers

Brake discs, (calipers) F/R: Ventilated discs / discs, (6-/1-piston)

Tires, F/R: 245/45R17 / 255/45R17