Jensen heritage for the next generation
Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Jensen P66 | Jensen’s Forgotten Interceptor

The sole surviving Jensen P66 Coupe, remains a left over dinosaur from Jensen’s pre-Italian heritage. Both the Coupe, and earlier Convertible P66 prototypes, are reminders of volatile times. It was the time when the Jensen boardroom remained divided, over the issue of Italian styling for their cars. The Museum takes up the incredible story of these two cars.

During 1964, Jensen Motors’ Chief Engineer & Designer, Eric Neale, had undertaken some design drawings for a convertible car, based on the Austin-Healey 3000. The drawings were well received by the two Jensen brothers, and Neale was given the go-ahead to build up a prototype, which was to be made ready for the 1965 Motor Show. This was the ill-fated Jensen P66.

With the Austin-Healey ending its run in 1967, Jensen Motors saw a possibility to provide a gap in the market. Work started on a prototype open top sports car, initially named the P66 (project 1966). The experimental chassis was JM/EXP/111 and work stated on the new design in late 1964.

The car had an aluminium body, with a chassis mounted differential with leaf springs. Dunlop disc brakes all around with tandem master cylinders. The engine unit was the Chrysler 383 V8 engine which was already being employed in the Jensen CV8, and this was likewise coupled with the Chrysler Torqueflite automatic transmission.

The car was rushed through to be made ready for its public launch at the 1965 Motor Show, in fact so rushed that the engine hadn’t been fitted. A sandbag was placed over the cross member to drop the front down appropriately. Everyone was on strict orders to keep the bonnet closed for the duration of the show.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The P66 ‘Interceptor’ displayed on the 1965 Motor Show show stand

Irrespective of being engineless, at least the P66 made it onto the stand. By which time it had been given the revived name ‘Interceptor’, and a credible price-tag of £2394. This was a massive £1,285 cheaper than the CV8. As Browning & Blunsden confirm in The Jensen-Healey Stories, this last minute, and unfinished car left the sales staff in a very awkward position. By pricing the new ‘Interceptor’ so much cheaper than the CV8, put the CV8 in a difficult, if not impossible sales position. On top of that a rumour was going around that there was going to be a new body going on the CV8 chassis.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The hastily produced brochure for the new Jensen (P66) Interceptor. The car wasn’t ready for photographing when the brochure was being made ready for printing, so an artist’s drawing had to do.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Lord Snowdon;an admirer of the Jensen brand; checks out the P66 ‘Interceptor’.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Sales card for the P66 Jensen ‘Interceptor’ attached to the windscreen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The icing on the cake was obviously the CV8 FF. As far as the motoring press were concerned, the P66 ‘Interceptor’ was completely overshadowed by Jensen’s ground breaking four-wheel-drive CV8 FF. In addition, the general feeling of the motoring press was that Eric Neale’s design looked dated in the extreme, particularly in regard to the flare lines around the wheel arches.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The P66 ‘Interceptor’ being made ready at the 1965 Motor Show Jensen stand.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

A frontal view of the P66 ‘Interceptor’ at the 1965 Motor Show.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That said, not everyone hated the design. A young John Hostler, a twenty year old editorial artist with Autocar magazine, rather liked the car. The P66 was one of the cars he was requested to make sketches of. As Hostler later reminisced to the author,

“the Motor Show sketches were always a mad panic on press day, we would rush around to complete as many as possible for the show issue. They were then quickly ‘inked’ in biro (no felt pens then), and rendered back at the studio. Sometimes time was so short that we ‘inked’ them on the tube back from Earls Court.”

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Hostler’s sketch of the P66 interior.

Hostler quickly finished two sketches of the P66, which were later used in an Autocar article about the P66.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Image showing the driver side of the P66 ‘Interceptor’.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Image showing the interior, taken from the passenger side. The automatic shift clearly evident.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The Jensen stand certainly created its fair share of interest at the Motor Show. However, how the company was going to translate that into sales, obviously hadn’t been properly discussed before the Motor Show took place. Staff could not take orders for the P66 ‘Interceptor’, since it was far from a production vehicle – much to the annoyance of DJ David Jacobs, who was keen to buy one.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

A photo session takes place on the Jensen stand, with a model at the wheel of the P66.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

An excellent view of the boot area to the P66 ‘Interceptor’.

The same situation applied to the CV8 FF, another car which staff could not give any time-frame on in regard to orders. This left just the standard CV8, and who was going to order one of these with a price tag far in excess of the new P66 ‘Interceptor’, and with rumours abounding that the CV8 was going to have a revised body. It had been a frustrating time for all involved.

Not long after the 1965 Motor Show, work started on a second P66 prototype. This car was being built to incorporate the lessons learnt from the first prototype P66. Experimental chassis JM/EXP/112 was fabricated, and the new aluminium shell had come off the drawing board as a fixed-top coupe. At this stage, the P66 was still being given a modicum of boardroom discussion, but that would soon end.

Jensen P66 | Jensen Museum

The completed P66 Coupe body shell at the Jensen factory . Photographed in late 1965.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Rear view of the completed P66 Coupe bodyshell.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Detail photograph showing the front indicator / sidelight, with incorporated ‘J’ logo.

Comments made by the motoring press in regard to dated design aspects of the P66 ‘Interceptor’ Convertible were taken on board. This left the new design a more clean and modern shape. This second prototype was also given the Chrysler 383 engine, but mated with the Chrysler 4-speed manual gearbox, rather than the Torqueflite automatic used on the Convertible. This may have also been due to adverse comments about an automatic box on a car of this type. The paint / trim specification was to be California sage paint with tan vinyl trim.

The P66 ‘Interceptor’ Convertible had been left in a corner of the factory until December 1965, at which time the car was registered for the road with the registration number ‘EEA 71C’. The CV8 FF was licensed at the same time as ‘EEA 72C’.

Len Fernley, the Company Secretary for Jensen Motors was explicit in telling the licensing authorities in West Bromwich, that car ‘EEA 71C’ will be driven only for the purposes of testing and will not be put to ordinary use as a works or director’s car. Undoubtedly, the road testing was going to be used to evaluate the drive-line and suspension for the second P66 prototype.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Front and side view of the P66 Convertible.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Rear end and side view of the P66 Convertible.

 

 

 

 

 

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

A curious publicity photograph of the P66 Convertible. Positioned across a motorway with traffic in the distance.

As the year rolled over to 1966, work was slowly taking shape to JM/EXP/112. However, it looked as though Brian Owen, Managing Director at Jensen Motors, along with Kevin Beattie, had won the boardroom fight against the Jensen brothers, and Eric Neale. The Owen & Beattie duo believed the way forward for the company was an Italian-designed CV8 body replacement.

Having managed to get John Boex of Norcros to side with Owen & Beattie, the future path was laid firmly towards Italy, and eventually to the P66 project being abandoned. The virtually finished JM/EXP/112 was pushed to a corner of the factory, and covered over. The rift between the two opposing sides of the boardroom, would lead Neale to retire in spring of 1966, the embittered Jensen brothers both retired not long after.

There was one last blow to be handed out to Neale, and the Jensen brothers before they left. The name ‘Interceptor’, which they had chosen to re-use for the P66 car, was hijacked by Owen & Beattie. The duo felt this to be an excellent name to use for the new CV8 body replacement. Hence, when the P66 Coupe was completed, it was devoid of the ‘Interceptor’ badges that had adorned the P66 Convertible.

By October of 1966, the P66 ‘Interceptor’ Convertible was largely broken up for spare parts, and its remains are believed to have been scrapped in early 1967.

The reasons for this first prototype being broken up is unclear, although it was fairly common practise at Jensen Motors for an experimental car to be broken up or re-used on another project. This would seem to make sense with the first P66 prototype. The car was probably used as an initial parts source for the second P66, and then the remains later scrapped.

A myth has perpetuated that one or both of the Jensen brothers were so annoyed with how they had been treated in the boardroom, that they ordered the P66 cars to be destroyed. According to the myth, the second prototype survived, since it was being used, and wasn’t in the factory at that time. This is probably one of those many romanticised motoring stories, which sounds much more appealing than the truth. That said, a letter dated 1989 from Alan Jensen to Mike Williams (who acquired the car in 1988) is interesting from what it doesn’t say. Williams had written to Alan Jensen in 1989, asking him if he had any recollections or comments to make about the P66. Jensen’s reply was short,

“In reply to your letter, I have no knowledge of the P66.”

Perhaps old wounds had never healed, and although it is most doubtful that the Jensen brothers ordered the destruction of the first P66, it is evident that the entire P66 saga had left a sour taste.

On 29th December 1966, Wyndham Powell, as Assistant Sales Manager (at that time) stated in writing to the West Bromwich licensing department,

“Reference EEA 71C – We enclose herewith the Registration Disc in respect of the above vehicle, and would be grateful for a refund against the un-expired portion”.

In fact a discussion took place about the P66 Coupe in November 1966, which led to Owen stating in a memorandum dated 24th November to Graves, Beattie, Fernley and Thompson, that the company had too many Works cars on the go, and the P66 should remain unlicensed and uninsured.

Strangely, there was a swift turn-a-round on Owen’s part, when, just a couple of weeks later in December, it was decided to make JM/EXP/112 ready for the road. In January 1967. the finished car was licensed for road use, and given the registration number ‘JEA 578E’.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The P66 Coupe photographed shortly after it had been licensed.

Owen used the car himself for a short while. It’s only conjecture, but perhaps the conversation about this interesting ‘dead’ car in the corner of the factory, led Owen to think it might be quite fun to drive the car himself. Owen was superseded as Managing Director, by Carl Duerr. After Owen left, Richard Graves took over the P66 Coupe as a daily driver for a while, later commenting on what a pleasant car it was to drive.

The P66 (JM/EXP/112) was retained by Jensen Motors until November 1968. During October, Jensen Motors were contacted by Tony Good from Good Relations. He had a possible buyer for the Jensen P66.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The P66 Coupe photographed in late 1968. The photograph was probably taken when it was brought down to London for collection by Good. By this time the latest black on white /yellow registration plates have replaced the silver on black version.

The possible buyer was John Atkins, a dentist from Canterbury. Atkins was an old friend of Good’s, and also happened to be his dentist. The two men met up socially on a regular basis, and Atkins was always interested to hear what was going on at Jensen Motors.

It was during a dinner one evening, that Good mentioned about the prototype P66, which Jensen Motors was going to sell. Apparently, Atkins immediately said he would be interested in purchasing the car, and asked Good if he could arrange for him to have loan of the car for a weekend.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Tony Good.

Good arranged for the P66 to be brought down to London, for him to pick up and take to Canterbury during November 1968.

Once in Canterbury, Atkins had loan of the car. He was impressed with the P66, and was keen to buy.

Correspondence went backwards and forwards between the factory and Atkins, with the factory keen to make Atkins aware that he would be buying a prototype car, to which absolutely no warranty or guarantee would be given.

A letter sent to Atkins by Richard Graves on the 29th November mentioned the prototype had cost the company in excess of £9000 to build, but they would be willing to sell the car to Atkins for the sum of £1400. A bargain, as Graves mentions towards the end of the letter.

Atkins agreed to purchase the car for the £1400 without warranty or guarantee. The subject of spare parts had been previously brought up. This was a prototype car, and it was made clear to Atkins that many of the parts were unique to this car, particularly in regard to body panels.

Graves realised they still had the remains of the first P66 prototype, and this might be an ideal opportunity to divest themselves of what otherwise might be scrap. The outcome was a list of parts including items such as doors, upper front wings, glass, along with some of the black trim, various suspension parts, the ‘bundle’ of which were offered to Atkins at £110. Atkins agreed to buy the entire batch of spares as well.

Jensen Motors sent out the invoice to Atkins on the 12th December 1968, making the point of stating on the invoice, “as seen tried and approved.”

Atkins kept the P66 Coupe for a couple of years, and thoroughly enjoyed the car during that time. Well, one must add the caveat, that he enjoyed the car most of the time. Atkins, enjoyment was marred by one Achilles heel, which he remembered in detail,

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Atkins re-united with his old P66 for a photo-session organised by Chapman in 2015.

“That car was unbelievably quick, and on more than one occasion, the rear differential would break away from the mountings, which really wasn’t fun. Even worse, the car had to be taken off to a specialist garage, and they would replace all the mountings. Each time that work took place; and I can tell you it was a few times; it cost me £150. That was a fair amount of money back in the late 1960s.”

Atkins was quick to mention, that the Achilles heel alone would probably not have led him to sell the P66. The family were moving house at the time, and they were looking at ways of pulling in money, and saving money. The running costs of the P66 were perceived as being just a bit too high, and with some gentle pushing by his wife, Atkins agreed to place the P66 up for sale.

Michael Bennett, who also lived in Canterbury, heard about the Jensen P66 being for sale. He contacted Atkins and came over for a viewing. He liked the car, and agreed to buy it immediately. Atkins mentioned to the author that even at the point of sale, he had reservations about selling the car. Atkins asked Bennett if he would agree to give him first option if he wanted to sell the P66 in the future. Bennett pledged to give Atkins first option, and with that the sale of the P66 was concluded.

Bennett was to later recall that Atkins told him there was a batch of spare parts which went with the car. Outside of his occupation as a dentist, Atkins also ran his father’s farm. Bennett later described being taken by Atkins to a sort of chicken-run, to collect the parts, and mentioned they weren’t in very impressive condition.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Some of the parts from the scrapped P66 Convertible. The photograph was taken by Chapman in 2015.

Some years later in 1976, Bennett decided to sell the P66. It seems that for whatever reason, he didn’t give Atkins the chance of buying the car back. Instead, the P66 was placed with Bonhams, to be entered into their forthcoming auction held at Alexandra Palace, London.

Although Bennett had high expectations from the auction, there was only one bidder for the car. The lone bidder was Dr Herbert Knapp from the USA. He had heard about the unique Jensen coming up at auction, and was particularly interested, as he collected prototype cars. Knapp flew over especially, and was later to comment that he wondered if he would able to afford the P66 if bidding became too overheated. However, as luck would have it, Knapp was the only bidder. Bidding past the reserve, Knapp’s final bid was accepted, and the gavel came down to a relieved bidder.

Knapp hadn’t initially realised, but along with the car came three wood crates full of spare parts for the P66. These were all the parts from the original P66 Convertible that Atkins had acquired back in 1968. The car and crates were shipped back to the USA. Suitably proud of his new possession, Knapp even  exhibited the P66 at the 1978 New York Motor Show.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The P66 Coupe at the 1978 New York Motor Show. It is thought the girl was Knapp’s young wife

There is a grey period between 1978 and 1988 where it is difficult to unravel the true facts concerning ownership. The next registered owner after Knapp, was a Scott Beskin from New Jersey. The P66 was registered in the State of New Jersey with the number, ‘274 NMY’. He remembers owning the P66 and believes Knapp didn’t own the car for very long before he bought it. Beskin went on to say,

“I cannot recall my exact dates of ownership, but here is my history of the car. When I was a practicing attorney I used a doctor for examinations and court testimony. He was in his 60s when he approached me and had just married his 30 something nurse. He took her on a honeymoon to England and while there, they went to an auto auction.

Most of the bidders where Arabs and wanted the Rolls and Bentleys. As a gag they threw a bid at the P66 and because of the big 383 engine the locals also were not bidding. They won the car on the cheap and had it sent back to the US with a huge crate that contained a vast amount of the parts from the disassembled white convertible. Once he had it back here he actually displayed it at the big New York auto show.

The car was just to much for his new bride to handle,so he decided to sell it. He knew I liked British cars as I had  a Jaguar Mark 9 and a 1976 first year XJS at the time. My wife did not want me to buy yet another car unless I sold the Mark 9. I sold it and bought the Jensen for $7000. The car was great fun and very fast and a lot of people thought it was a Triumph and were shocked when the big V8 left them in the dust. The problem was the car was always troubled with hydraulic failures and if I got caught in the rain, water got into the fuel through the top loading gas filler.

After a few years I was approached by the secretary of a New Jersey Jensen club,that someone wanted to buy it and ship it back to England to restore and show. They as I recall had several CV8s. I think I sold it for $10,000 together with the crate of convertible parts.”

During Beskin’s ownership, he had a set of wire wheels fitted, and then later on had the car painted white. This was due to the fact his other cars had been painted white, and he fancied the idea of both his XJS and the P66 being the same colour. So, although we have no set dates of sale by Knapp, and purchase by Beskin, we can asume that at somepoint in the early to middle 1980s, Beskin owned the car. Not long after Beskin’s purchase, Knapp had died. In fact it is just possible that Beskin’s memory is incorrect, and that he purchased the car directly after Knapp’s death.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The P66 Coupe photographed by Beskin in the middle 1980s, by which time he had installed wire wheels. Not long after this time, Beskin would have the car painted white. Note the original black on white registration plate, still on the car from the time Atkin’s purchased it.

Beskin’s memory is that he was contacted by an owner’s club member about the possible sale of the P66. This was undoubtedly true, although he had placed an advert offering the car for sale. The advert mentioned that the unique P66 had only covered around 20,000 miles, and the asking price was $17,500.

The New Jersey-based Jensen enthusiast, Mike Lotwis, had noticed the advert for the P66 Coupe being offered for sale. During a conversation with the UK-based Jensen specialist, Dave Horton, Lotwis mentioned about the P66. Immediately interested, Horton contacted the seller and purchased the car. The car was shipped over to the UK, arriving at Liverpool docks in August 1988.

Even some of the spare parts from the first prototype remained with the car, although by this time parts, such as the P66 Convertible’s black trim were long gone. If these parts went missing in the USA, or were discarded by Bennett when he obtained them isn’t known. Horton picked up the car from Liverpool docks and took it to Jensen Cars Ltd at West Bromwich, where some re-commissioning was going to be undertaken.

Mike Williams owned a manual Jensen Interceptor, and had always admired the P66 prototype from images he had seen in books. During 1988, Williams was delivering his Interceptor to Jensen Cars Ltd for some servicing work. Ian Orford, the Managing Director of Jensen Cars Ltd, noticed Williams and came over to speak with him. As the conversation developed, Orford mentioned to Williams that they had a very interesting Jensen in, which Williams might like to see. To Williams’ amazement he was taken over to one of the bays in the factory, and was confronted with the P66 prototype.

According to Williams, he was quite shocked to see the P66, as he wasn’t aware of the car’s survival. Orford went on to say the car was with them for inspection and re-commission work and would be for sale. Williams’ response was immediate, he wanted to buy the car. Orford told Williams that the car was owned by the Jensen specialist, Dave Horton, and that the asking price was £15,000. He immediately agreed to buy the car at the asking price of £15,000, and full payment was made in November 1988.

Once under Williams’ possession, he set about trying to retrieve the original registration number, ‘JEA 578E’ from the DVLC. This was not going to be as easy a quest as he thought, since the car had been exported to the USA before the DVLC went over to a fully computerised system.

By 1988, they had no reference to ‘JEA 578E’ being assigned to the P66. Proof was required, and Ian Orford, the Managing Director of Jensen Cars Ltd, personally furnished the DVLC with a letter outlining that the P66 was originally assigned the registration number ‘JEA 578E’. Even that wasn’t enough, and with further assistance from Orford, the original P66 factory file was found, and the entire contents copied for the DVLC.

It took until February 1989 before the DVLC reluctantly agreed to re-assign the registration number ‘JEA 578E’ to the P66. Their letter to Williams, dated 3.2.1989, states,

“Because of the very special place your Jensen has in British Motor history it has been decided very exceptionally for the vehicle to be registered under the number JEA 578E. This will of course be subject to satisfactory inspection of the vehicle.”

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The P66 photographed in 1992, at which time the car was still white. Some time later, the car was re-sprayed back to its original colour of California Sage.

The P66 remained at Jensen Cars Ltd, where they had been instructed to undertake some restoration & recommissioing work.

Initial work started in December 1988, and carried through to April 1990. The completed P66 had cost Williams a further £5000 in restoration costs.

Later in the 1990s, Williams had the P66 repainted back to its original Californian Sage colour. Once back with Williams, the P66 remained under his custodianship through to March 2013.

Well known Jensen enthusiast, Derek Chapman, had already owned various Jensen cars, including a CV8 and an early Interceptor Convertible.

In 2011, Chapman was made redundant, and the outcome of his redundancy was a moderately large cash payout. Like Williams before him, Chapman had always been interested in the ill-fated P66. In November 2011, both Williams and Chapman were attending the NEC Classic Car Show with Jensen cars. It was at this event that Chapman approached the subject of the P66 to Williams, asking if he might be willing to sell it.

As Chapman later recounted, “this was a one off opportunity for me to buy a relatively valuable car such as the P66”. Williams wasn’t interested to sell, but made it clear to Chapman, that if he were to consider selling the car, that he would be more than happy to let Chapman know.

The time would come, as in 2013, Chapman was informed via a third party, that Williams would consider selling the P66. In March 2013, Chapman became the next custodian of the world’s only Jensen P66 ‘Interceptor’.

Once purchased, Chapman checked the car over, and believed it to be in generally good order. However, after attending several events during 2013, various problems manifested themselves. Chapman takes up the story,

“Firstly, the rear brakes would intermittently bind on badly. Secondly, though the engine generally ran very well, it would sometimes stall for no obvious reason and then be difficult to start. Thirdly, the speedometer would stop working intermittently, then suddenly start again. The handbrake was virtually useless and finally, though I was able to get it through its next MOT in April 2013, I had a problem with the rear nearside wheel bearing, which was loose and would not adjust.”

A decision was made to do a complete rebuild of all the running gear. Everything was removed, including the prop shaft, all components were cleaned and painted. During the strip down, Chapman found two missing parts. One was a major spacer behind the rear nearside wheel bearings (hence being unable to adjust that bearing!) and the other was that a handbrake pad was missing. This, and the fact that the front cable adjuster was seized up was why the handbrake barely worked.

All new bearings, oil seals, universal joints, differential mounts and front ball joints were fitted. New brake discs were fitted all round and new pads. The rear brake pipes had been incorrectly routed, so all new pipes were fitted as well as a set of Hye-Dra-Cyl solid stainless steel brake cylinders front and rear.

The car then went back on the road for a short while and all seemed to be well. However, then Chapman decided to tidy-up the engine bay, although, this ended up being a renovation, not a mere tidy-up. Chapman takes up the story again,

“initially I planned on leaving the front bodywork in place, as it was all in good order. I hoisted the 383 Chrysler engine out first, leaving the gearbox in place as it’s impossible to remove the two at the same time. I mounted the engine on a stand and started to remove all the ancillaries to leave a “short” engine. On removing the left cylinder head, I discovered a score in No. 1 bore. My heart sank, as the engine had generally been running well, so this was unexpected. Well, the short engine subsequently went off to Hauser Racing, with the heads, for a rebore and rebuild. Fortunately, it was only necessary to take it to 20 thou oversize to remove the score.”

“While the engine was away, I removed the gearbox, which went away to A1 gearboxes in St Neots for rebuild, and I then removed everything else from the engine bay to start the clean up. This included the heater and fan, brake servo and master cylinder and pedal-box. It wasn’t long before I started to find some nasty rust in the footwell areas, was well hidden when everything was still in the engine bay. As I started to cut this away, I realized that the only way I could ensure it was all removed and repaired properly was to remove all the front bodywork. I didn’t want to respray the car as the paint was too good to justify this, so the panels were carefully removed and stored away safely.”

“I removed a significant amount of rotten metal, some of which was from earlier repairs, until I was back to good solid metal. I then had a number of pieces specially made up by my local sheet metal workers and started to re fabricate the original shapes until everything was back as it should be. The main chassis tubes were strong and free from any visible rust, but to ensure that any rust on the inside was held at bay, I jacked up the front of the car and filled the right tube completely with old engine oil. This ensured it was coated from top to bottom over its entire length. I then lowered the front and drained it all out before repeating the process with the left tube.”

“Meanwhile, since everything was out of the engine-bay area, it also gave me a chance to have it properly sprayed in California sage paint. With the gearbox overhauled, I also decided to fit a new flywheel as the old one had heat stress cracks on it, along with a complete new diaphragm clutch assembly and mostly new components on the clutch lever assembly, since these had been badly repaired in the past. The engine was back from its rebuild with new pistons and camshaft, a new set of rockers and a modified higher flow pick up for the oil, so after fitting the new oil pump, water pump and housing, heads and rockers etc, it was time to hoist everything in place.”

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The engine-bay to the P66 Coupe.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Passenger side view of the P66 engine-bay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I then turned my attention to fitting the heater system and ducting in place, followed by the rebuilt Servo and Master Cylinder. There are also two footwell vents operated by cables from the dashboard. These had been completely disconnected and the holes in the dashboard used for a fan override and incorrect bonnet release. Again, everything has been put back to how it should be and the duct flaps all work correctly now.”

Eventually, Chapman was able to refit the front body panels and, with a very small amount of paint on the joints, everything looked as good as new.

The windscreen had a chip in it, and this was directly in the driver’s line of vision. So Chapman decided to source a new screen. Although costly, Pilkington Glass agreed to build new tooling to make a new windscreen.

Doing all this work had necessitated removing quite a lot of the interior for access, so Chapman started work on this area, first, removing the entire dashboard which was made of ABS. There were a couple of cracks in this which he wanted to repair. This was going to be tricky since he could not add thickness to the outer surface where the top covering would go. Or indeed, the bottom surface where it mounted to a steel frame. Chapman resorted to a technique learnt during his old RC Model flying days, where ABS can be softened with ‘Solarlac Thinners’. This method allowed a bond of fine glass fibre cloth to the outer surface. Once the solvent had evaporated, the cloth was stuck into the surface and already quite strong. A thin coating of resin was all that was then needed to add much more strength, but virtually no extra thickness

With a complete new wiring harness behind the dashboard and on the forward section of the car, Chapman was ready to refit the dashboard. Of course, no harness is available for the P66, so each wire was laid in one at a time before sending it all off to Autosparks to be woven

The rear seats and side panels were in a poor state, mainly due to the fact that the plywood behind these had delaminated badly. Chapman carefully removed all the original covering and used what was left to make up new plywood pieces which were then treated with varnish to hopefully prevent future de-lamination. He was then able to refit all the original covering and mount it all back in the car, even using most of the original screw holes. The drivers seat also needed work, being very careful to keep all the original vinyl upholstery

Finally, a replacement set of carpets were made. Unfortunately, when the P66 underwent some refurbishment at Jensen Parts & Service, they had thrown out all the original carpets. They mentioned to the then owner, Williams, that they could not match anywhere near the original, and said black would probably look best. Williams agreed.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

The interior as sympathetically renovated by Chapman.

Having removed all the interior carpets, Chapman found two original bits of carpet, glued up to the underneath of the dash. This was extremely lucky, as firstly, it allowed him to source a carpet material very close to the original, but more than that, it meant original samples had survived, allowing an owner in the future to achieve an even closer match, if that became possible.

Being retired, Chapman was able to work on the P66 virtually every day. The restoration work had taken almost 18 months and was completed in Spring 2015.

Jensen P66 | Jensen's Forgotten Interceptor

Derek Chapman driving the P66 Coupe in 2015.

Since the restoration, Chapman has won “Car Of Show” at the NEC Classic Car Show in November 2015, and was invited to show the car in the “Cartier Style Et Luxe” at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed in June 2016.Jensen P66 | Joe Macari

It was during Chapman’s attendance at some of these events that the discussion of the car’s value raised it’s head, and figures of £200,000 plus being banded around.

This life-changing amount of money led Chapman to place the car on consignment sale with the well-known London-based company, Joe Macari.

As at spring 2017, the P66 was for sale within Macari’s showroom at £249,950.

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: John Atkins, Scott Beskin, Derek Chapman, Tony Good OBE, John Hostler, Han Kamp, John Page, Mike Williams.

COPYRIGHTS: All images and text copyright of The Jensen Museum | Derek Chapman

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: If you have any additional information, please contact us at archive@jensenmuseum.org or telephone on: +1694-781354