Jensen heritage for the next generation
Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey – Jensen Motors Contract

Of all the contract work undertaken by Jensen Motors, it was the alliance with Austin that stands out in terms of the duration of the multiple Austin  contracts, and the sheer quantities of completed bodies that were rolling out of the Jensen factory.

It is no exaggeration to say that Jensen Motors might have ceased to exist by the later 1960s, if the Austin contracts had not been ongoing. It is also no exaggeration to say, that without the Austin contracts, there probably wouldn’t have been  a Jensen 541, or CV8, and most certainly, there wouldn’t have been the later Italian-designed Interceptors.

At the time the 541 & CV8 cars were being built, it was the Austin contracts that were paying most of the bills. The 541 and CV8 were pleasant deviations for the Jensen brothers, but barely profitable. The Museum looks at the lucrative Jensen Motors – Austin Healey contract.

 

AUSTIN HEALEY CONTRACTS

 

A relationship  between Jensen Motors  and Austin went back to the late 1940s, with the contract to build the bodies for the Austin A70 Hampshire pickup. This contract led in turn, for a contract to build the bodies for the Austin A40 Sports.

The two contracts overlapped slightly, with the A70 Hampshire pick-up contract coming to an end in 1951, and prototypes for the A40 Sports being finished in March 1950. Other small Austin contracts were also dealt with at the Jensen factory during the early 1950s, including various prototypes, such as the Austin A90 Atlantic.

In 1952, Austin Motors – under Leonard Lord’s ownership, Morris under Lord Nuffield’s ownership, merged to become the British Motor Corporation (BMC). The merger was masterminded by Lord, and he became Chairman of the new corporation.

By the end of spring, early summer 1952, Lord was looking for new designs for a sports car to take over from the A40 Sports. Richard Jensen was asked by Lord to provide designs.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Richard Jensen

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Eric Neale

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Leonard Lord

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jensen’s Chief Designer, Eric Neale came up with two designs, and from these, Lord picked one of them, and asked to see a prototype.

Now already the beginning of the summer, Lord asked if he could see the prototype by the time of the next London Motor Show, in October of that year. Quite an ask, but the car world was used to working on tight – come unrealistic – timescales.

At Jensen Motors, the game was on, and Neale’s approved design was translated into a series of working drawings, and through to completion of the prototype.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

One of two designs drawn by Neale as a proposed Austin sports car.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Neale design which Lord took a liking to. It was from this drawing that Jensen Motors started to prepare working drawings.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

One of a series of  Jensen Motors working drawings for the prototype sports car of 1952.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The prototype 1952 sports car. Parts delays, and failing to complete the car by the London Motor Show, led to Lord seeing the Donald Healey prototype, and going ahead with that. This photograph was taken at the Carter’s Green works in 1953.

 

All was going well, and then as the prototype was getting close to completion , there was unforeseen hold-ups. Lucas were running behind schedule supplying various electrical components, and Automotive Products had failed to supply brake parts in time. The unfinished car didn’t make it to the London Motor Show.

However, another prototype did. Donald Healey had also been building a prototype sports car, based on Austin mechanicals. The prototype was built in secrecy during 1952.

Donald Healey worked with the draughtsman, Barry Bilbie, to come up with a new chassis design. Bilbie would later join Jensen Motors as one of their chief chassis designers.

Meanwhile, Healey worked with Gerry Coker on the body styling. When Healey first mentioned the project to Coker, it seems Coker already had a design in his mind for a smallish sports car.

As well as coming up with the body styling, Coker was also instrumental in various other unique design  features, including a hinged windscreen.

Tickfords built up the body, which was sprayed ice blue. The prototype, named the ‘Healey 100’, was finished just in time for the Motor Show. This was the star attraction of the Healey stand.

Healey’s prototype gained prompt attention from Lord, who took an immediate liking for the car. A deal was struck between the two men, and it was agreed that the new car would be named the ‘Austin-Healey 100’.

To cement the deal, before the public had access to the show, Coker quickly designed a new badge, and Lord had the firm of Wilmot-Breedon produce a new Austin-Healey 100′ badge overnight to go on the car.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Leonard Lord sitting in the new ‘Austin Healey 100’prototype alongside Donald Healey  at the 1952 London Motor Show. This prototype Healey 100 (designated Austin Healey 100, after the handshake agreement between Lord and Healey) was built by Tickfords, and was given the chassis  number J4001.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Lord talking with Healey. He took an instant liking to Healey’s prototype.

 

The Jensen – Austin Healey contract

 

News travelled quickly, and Eric Neale learnt about the Lord – Healey deal not long after it took place. He also learnt that that it seemed Lord was looking at the new Austin Healey 100 being built at Tickfords. But, they could only manage to produce  approximately 40 cars per week, far less than Lord was hoping for.

It seems slightly strange as to why Lord wouldn’t have asked Jensen first, about production of the new car. But, having hastily picked Healey’s car rather than the Jensen car, Lord possibly felt awkward.

Maybe this led to reticence on Lord’s part, in regard to asking Richard Jensen if he would build the bodies for a third parties design.

Outside of that, Healey’s prototype had been built up at Tickfords, so its also probable, Healey suggested to Lord that Tickfords could build the bodies.

Jensen historian, Keith Anderson,  interviewed Eric Neale in the 1980s. This is what Neale remembered,

“I immediately sought Richard Jensen, gave him the news, and knowing he had arranged to meet Leonard Lord on the Saturday, I asked him to suggest that Jensen Motors would produce 150 bodies a week in primer.”

Lord met with Richard Jensen at the Jensen stand on the Saturday. After Lord left, Richard Jensen mentioned to Neale that Lord had asked to see their sports prototype, before he committed to any contract. Lord was probably curious to see the Jensen prototype in any case, but also was keen to see the quality of the finished car.

Neale continues the story,

“Once back at West Bromwich, I obtained the undelivered parts myself, and we completed the car by the end of the following week. When Lord saw it, he was very impressed, and straight away confirmed that he would give Jensen Motors the body-building contract. We were then given full-size drawings from Healey at Warwick, and immediately set about designing our own layouts.”

Its easy to understand why the contract between Jensen Motors and Austin happened so swiftly. The two firms had a history of working together, the formalities were already in place.

The contract would start with batches of red oxide painted chassis being transported in batches from Longbridge to Jensen Motors. Once at Jensen Motors, the chassis would be built up as a completed body. The body and chassis painted in the specified colour scheme. Sound deadening and trim fitted in place, along with glass and chrome-work.

Jensen Motors even supplied the soft top hoods, which were manufactured and fitted to a body jig. But, before the production line of steel-bodied cars could start, Jensen Motors started work on an initial quantity of aluminium bodied pre-production cars.

 

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AUSTIN HEALEY 100 – BN1 BIRMABRIGHT ALUMNIUM PRE-PRODUCTION CARS

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 19 between late 1952 & 1953

 

With the Jensen – Austin contract in place, work started directly after the 1952 Motor Show. By November 1952, body production had been set-up at the Carter’s Green factory.

By January 1953, the first pre-production bodies were progressing. These were being completed in Birmabright aluminium alloy, as work for tooling to provide the steel panels was still ongoing.

Just a month later, in February 1953, the first three pre-production bodies were completed in left-hand-drive form, and transported to Healey’s Warwick factory for finishing. Once finished, they were immediately shipped out to the USA for publicity purposes.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Initial body and trim report from Healey to Jensen dated 23rd March 1953. Original document now held by the Warwick Public Records Office.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Document dated 5th May 1953 from Healey to Austin confirming completed bodies delivered from Jensen Motors. The Jensen batch and body numbers are given, along with the Austin chassis number.

 

Four other pre-production shells were built up as test specials, of which Donald Healey was intending to use three as racing cars, and one for record-breaking events. The three test specials racing cars were taken over to Le Mans to be raced.

From the point of receiving the lucrative BMC contract, the Jensen brothers asked Eric Neale to oversee a new extension to the Carter’s Green factory. This would be used to undertake the body construction of the new Austin Healey on a track system.

Likewise, the Longbridge factory was also gearing themselves up to accept the finished bodies from Jensen ready for final finishing.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Jensen-bodied Austin Healey pre-production car number 14. This car has the initial Jensen pre-production batch number of JM 4134, and the body number of 14. The Austin chassis number is 134373. The above image taken in 1964 shows the car at the Wetherley Hillclimb, Pennsylvania.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Pre-production Austin Healey body number 14 photographed in 2020 in polished aluminium livery.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Jensen batch / body plate, along with Austin chassis plates for pre-production car 14.

 

The pre-production cars had a Jensen Motors batch & body number identification plate attached to the bulkhead of each car. This was prefixed ‘JM’. The ‘JM’ prefix was dropped on production cars.

To date, the reason isn’t known, but it was possibly a direction from Austin, preferring that the identity of Jensen Motors, as the coach builders, remained out of the equation. Certainly, the Jensen name was kept out of all marketing material.

A total of 19 pre-production prototypes were completed, by which time the steel panels were ready for the production cars.

 

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AUSTIN HEALEY 100 – BN1 -PRODUCTION CARS

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 10,030 between 1953 & 1955

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Sales brochure illustration of the new Austin-Healey ‘100-Six’.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Sales brochure illustration of the new Austin-Healey ‘100-Six’, with hood up.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Contract

The first production Austin Healey with Jensen body number 24, and Austin chassis number 138031. The car is photographed outside the Automotive Hall of Fame in Dearborn, Michigan in 2004. This was for the induction of Donald Healey to the Hall of Fame. This first production car was said to be finished in late June 1953. However, the car was taken to the Engineering Department at Longbridge, where they undertook further drawings for the car.   It was not ex-works until mid-July 1953. The car was completed in Healey blue metallic, with a blue trim and grey piping.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Jensen batch / body plate, along with the Austin chassis plates from the first production Austin Healey 100 BN1. The car survives today. Jensen Motors gave this initial batch of production cars, their batch code ‘4136’, along with the stamped body number ’24’. Once production was underway, the ‘JM’ prefix to the batch number was dropped. If Jensen Motors decided to drop the prefix, or if Austin asked for it to be removed isn’t known.

 

With the pre-production bodies finished and transported to Warwick, it was time to start on the first production batch. It s believed that the initial batches of chassis delivered to Jensen Motors was still small, and this seems to fall in line with their batch numbering. Typically, the bodies were not necessarily finished in numerical order. Pre-Production Austin Healey specialist, Blair Harber, tells us more,

“When the bodies were delivered to Austin at Longbridge, and the Healey plant in Warwick, they came in batches that were numbered.   However, in assembly they did not necessarily use them in an order that Jensen made them.

For instance, the car with Jensen’s body number ’24’ was delivered along with car bodies ’21’ to ’23’ as well, but ’24’ happened be the body picked to be used as the first production car.  Out of interest, body ’20’ was the last one sent to Warwick.”

For Jensen Motors, the unique identifying batch / body number was important. The batch number could be quickly checked with their records to show exactly when that batch of chassis arrived from Longbridge, and likewise the unique body number would allow Jensen Motors to check exactly when that body was being built up.

If for any reason Austin had an issue with a car, or a batch of cars, Jensen Motors were in a position to know exactly which batch of chassis had been used, and when. Likewise, their body number would allow them to identify a given body, or batch of bodies.

Had it transpired there was a paint issue, or something not fitting properly, Jensen Motors could quickly work out exactly when it would have occurred, and who might be responsible.

However, inspection would generally pick up on anything like this before the bodies left the factory. Certainly there seems to be very few complaints that have come to light on the Jensen- Austin – Healey contract. Unlike the Volvo P1800 contract, but that’s another story.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Austin Healey 100 front section being seam-welded in one of the body jigs at Jensen Motors.

 

By May 1953, work was going well, and by the end of that month, Jensen Motors had completed 100 bodies. These were swiftly transported over to Longbridge. As autumn followed, production figures had increased dramatically, with over 350 bodies completed.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey 100s receiving final assembly at the Longbridge factory. This image is often mis-described as having been taken at the Jensen factory.

Meanwhile, as Jensen Motors was gearing-up to increase production of body-completed Austin Healeys, the Development Department continued to work on the Austin Healey project behind the scenes. One of the jobs taken on by Development was to undertake Wind Tunnel tests on a completed car.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Copy of the Wind Tunnel tests of 24th July 1953. This was Eric Neale’s copy.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Wind Tunnel test of 24th July 1953,  showing windscreen in up and down positions, and windscreen, side screens and hood up.

 

The tests found the rectangular platform to be unstreamlined, and Jensen suggested to Austin that a more oval platform would be better. Tests also found that the air-flow approaching the front of the car divided at bumper level, part of which went under the car, and the rest hitting just above bumper line. As such, Jensen suggested a change of grille design, which incorporated more of the slotted grille at the bottom just above the bumper.

Typically there was wind resistance both with the windscreen up or down (obviously more with the windscreen up). Jensen suggested that a hard-topped version of the car could be made to go faster than an open model.

Finally there was an issue with brake cooling. Apparently because of the unusual construction of the wheels, in which the spokes are offset in the rim, meant that the main air stream did not touch the brake drums. Jensen concluded that additional brake cooling could be best arranged by ducting air from the radiator intake, so it is directed through the wheel spokes.

Some of these suggestions were put in place on later models. But meanwhile, the Austin Healey 100 had been taken on positively by the motor trade and buying public, and so, by the end of 1953, Jensen Motors received a firm contract to build another 2,500 bodies.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Early right-hand-drive production Austin Healey BN1 finished in Healey Grey. This car, with Austin chassis number BN1-145421, and with Jensen body number 400 (according to the Belgium owner). The car was registered to the Donald Healey Corporation in 1953, and assigned the number ‘OAC 381’.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

This left-hand-drive 1955 Austin-Healey 100 BN1 was sold new to Arkansas, USA. The specification was Reno Red with black trim and red piping. The owner died in 1957, and the car was laid up in a barn for 52 years showing a mileage of just 14,331. The car was sold by the family in 2007, and was brought to the Netherlands. Austin chassis number BN1-L/222889.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The well preserved black and red piped trim.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Image showing the rear of the car. It remains on its original Reno Red paint to this day (2021).

 

When the factory re-opened in January 1954, they started a night-shift system at Carter’s Green to handle the new contract. No less than 500 bodies were completed that month with the night-shift in place.

It was this new and large contract that led to the Jensen brothers making the decision to have a new and much larger factory built. A site at Kelvin Way, West Bromwich, was found, and work started to build the new factory.

While the Austin Healey 100 – BN1 contract continued, the Austin Healey test Specials at Le Mans had created additional interest in the car.  And this interest led Donald Healey to put forward a so-called Le Mans package as an optional version for Austin Healey BN1 buyers.

 

Austin Healey BN1 body and trim colour specification

Colour                                                              Trim                                   Trim piping

Healey Grey                                                          Blue                                       Lt Blue Grey

Coronet Cream Red, Blue                                  Red,                                       Lt Blue Grey

Gunmetal Grey                                                     Red                                        Red

Black                                                                       Off White, Green, Red      Black, Green, Red

Healey Blue                                                           Blue                                       Lt Blue Grey

Old English White                                                Red, Black, Blue, Green   Red, White, Lt Blue Grey, Green

Spruce Green                                                        Green, Black                       Green, White

Carmine Red                                                         Red, Black                            Red

Florida Green                                                        Black                                      White

Reno Red                                                               Red, Black                            Red

White / Black                                                        Black                                      White

Reno Red / Black                                                  Red                                        Red

Healey Blue / White                                             Blue                                       Lt Blue Grey

Black / Reno Red                                                  Red                                        Red

Florida Green / White                                         Black                                      White

 

Examples of known Jensen batch / body  numbers, along with Austin Healey BN1 chassis number

 

Example 1 car completed July 1953 

Jensen Batch Number –  4136

Jensen Body Number – 24

Austin Chassis Number. – BN1 -138031

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Healey Blue Metallic

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Blue trim with grey piping

Notes: First production car ex-works mid-July 1953

 

Example 2 car completed July 1954 (Right-hand-drive)

Jensen Batch Number –  ?

Jensen Body Number – 4686

Austin Chassis Number. – BN1 -159507

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – ?

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Black trim

Notes: Car sold to a Kenneth George Prince from Essex, UK on 11th August 1954

 

Example 3 car completed 1954

Jensen Batch Number- 5090

Jensen Body Number – 6182

Austin Chassis Number. – BN1 L – 221437

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Spruce Green

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Black trim

 

Example 4  car finished 11 Feb 1955 a few months before production moved to the BN2

Jensen Batch Number – 5211

Jensen Body Number –  7897

Austin Chassis Number – BN1/223805

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Carmine red

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Red trim

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Sales brochure for the Austin Healey 100 BN1.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Another sales brochure for the Austin Healey 100 BN1.

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AUSTIN HEALEY 100 – BN1 / BN2 -PRODUCTION CARS | ‘LE MANS PACKAGE’

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey BN2 with ‘Le Mans Package’. This car, with Jensen body 10421, and Austin chassis number BN2-L/228363, left the factory in Old English White, and with blue trim / white piping. The louvred bonnet with leather fastening is an immediate giveaway that a car has the ‘Le Mans Package’.

 

Following the Austin-Healey 100’s sensational debut at the 1952 Motor Show, the works had entered two mildly modified cars in the 1953 Le Mans 24-Hour Race. They finished in 12th and 14th places, quite an achievement for what were recognizably production sports cars.

It wasn’t long before Donald Healey was offering a ‘Le Mans’ bolt-on tuning kit offered through Austin-Healey dealers, by means of which private owners could bring their cars up to a specification approaching that of the works’ entries (likewise some kits were fitted at the factory).

The kit included a louvred bonnet with leather fastening, and silver finished wire wheels.  A pair of 1¾” SU HD6 carburettors, plus special inlet-manifold and cold air box, high-lift camshaft, stronger valve springs, and a distributor with alternative ignition advance curve. With the kit installed, power increased from the standard 90 to 100bhp.

From October 1955, an Austin Healey BN2 100M ‘Le Mans’ was offered. This car had all of the ‘Le Mans Package’, but with additional work to the engine and suspension.

 

Example car finished 9th September 1955 with ‘Le Mans Package’

Jensen Batch Number – ?

Jensen Body Number – 10421

Austin Chassis Number – BN2-L/228363

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Old English White

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Blue trim with white piping

Notes: Shipped to USA in October 1955

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AUSTIN HEALEY 100 TEST SPECIAL | RACE CARS

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 3 in 1953

 

Four of the pre-production aluminium shells were built up as test specials, of which Donald Healey was intending to use three as racing cars, and one for record-breaking events. Healey received these Test Specials in something like March 1953.

They were the follow-on batch, after the first three pre-production units had been quickly finished off as left-hand-drive cars, and shipped over to America for publicity work.

Once at Healey’s Warwick factory, the test specials were carefully built up to competition specification. Three of the four cars would be used as race cars, and the fourth would be used for endurance and speed record breaking events.

The three test Specials race cars, were painted at Jensen Motors in a pale metallic green, and were given Austin chassis numbers,

1- SPL 224B – Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘5’ – registered for road use as NOJ 391. The car used in the Mille Miglia & le Mans

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

SPL 224B (Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘6’ ) registered for road use as NOJ 391, next to SPL 226B (Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘7’ ) registered for road use as NOJ 393. Photographed in 1954 during the time Healey was using them for racing events.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

SPL 225B (Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘7’ ) registered for road use as NOJ 392. The car photographed racing with the registration plates removed.

 

2- SPL 225B – Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘6’. Registered for road use as NOJ 392. Car used in the Mille Miglia, and later as a test car with Girling brakes.

3- SPL 226B  – Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘7’. Registered for road use as NOJ 393. Car used for Le Mans.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

SPL 226B (Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘7’ ) registered for road use as NOJ 393. The car was involved in the infamous crash at the 1955 Le Mans, that changed motor-racing. The car only sustained a small amount of damage, and survives to this day.

 

The fourth car (also painted light metallic green at Jensen Motors), with Austin chassis number SPL 227B (Jensen batch number 4079, body number ‘8’) remained unregistered since it was only ever destined to be transported or shipped for speed record breaking and endurance events.

 

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AUSTIN HEALEY 100 – TEST SPECIAL | ENDURANCE CAR

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 1 in 1953

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Austin Healey 100 test Special | Endurance Car photographed in 1953.

 

Of the four pre-production aluminium shells, which were built up as test specials, Donald Healey had one of them fitted out with to be used for record breaking attempts.

This car was Austin Healey chassis SPL 227B (Jensen batch code 4079, body number ‘8’). Additional work undertaken by Jensen Motors included the fitting of rear wheel spats, an aluminium tonneau cover, and footwell air ducts. As with the Test Special race cars, this endurance car was painted the requested light metallic green at Jensen Motors.

The engine had a special Weslake designed cylinder head, which gave an engine output of 131 bhp. The first endurance record was on the Bonneville Salt Flats, where Healey was trying to cover 3000 miles in 24 hours. The car achieved an average speed of 142 miles per hour, but a conrod broke on hour 17.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Test Special | Endurance Car photographed on the Bonneville Salt Flats in August 1954.

 

Back at Healey’s Warwick factory, the car was re-worked, and the engine now had an output of 142bhp. On the exterior, it now had a set of alloy wheels. Healey took the car back out to the Bonneville Salt Flats in August 1954.

This time the car completed the 24 hour  run and achieved new records for time and distance. One of the new records was achieving one hour at an average speed of 156mph.

Back at Warwick, after the successes of the 1954 endurance runs at Bonneville, the car was re-worked again, in preparation for another run, due to take place in 1956.

Meanwhile, aerodynamic testing had taken place at Austin, and this led to Healey asking Jensen Motors to undertake revised bodywork to the car. This included a new streamlined nose, along with tail sections, which had been designed by Healey’s design man, Gerry Cocker.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Donald Healey stands next to the re-worked Test Special | Endurance Car, now named the Endurance Streamliner.

 

The engine was changed for a six-cylinder unit with an output of 164bhp. Healey managed to get Carol Shelby, and Roy Jackson-Moore, on board to drive the car. At the Bonneville Salt Flats in August 1956, the car had a cylinder head failure after six hours, but had lapped at 153mph.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Roy Jackson-Moore behind the wheel of the Endurance Streamliner

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Endurance Streamliner with (left to right) Carol Shelby, Roy Jackson-Moore, and Donald Healey.

 

This endurance streamliner was the centre piece of Donald Healey’s stand at the Earl’s Court Motor Show of October 1956. The body was later scrapped due to extreme salt corrosion.

 

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AUSTIN HEALEY 100 – BN2

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 4604 between 1955 & 1956

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Brochure for the Austin Healey 3000 MK.II.

 

Work on the new Jensen Motors factory at Kelvin Way had started in 1954, and by 1955, a part of the factory was already built and set up to continue the Austin Healey contract work.

Back in 1954, Jensen Motors had been asked to undertake a body modification process to a BN1 shell. This would be the BN2. There was a variety of changes between the initial BN1 car and the BN2, which would supersede it.

The same Austin 2660cc 90 bhp engine was going to be used, but this would be mated with the new Austin four-speed overdrive transmission. Jensen’s body modifications included altered front wings, along with cabin changes.

Production of the new BN2 model started in August 1955, and carried through into 1956. The BN2 model was relatively short lived, and production would come to an end in 1956, with no less than 4604 bodies having been completed and transported to Longbridge.

 

 

Austin Healey BN2 body and trim colour specification

 

Colour                                                              Trim                                   Trim piping

Healey Grey                                                       Blue                                       Lt Blue Grey

Coronet Cream Red, Blue                               Red,                                       Lt Blue Grey

Gunmetal Grey                                                 Red                                        Red

Black                                                                   Off White, Green, Red       Black, Green, Red

Healey Blue                                                       Blue                                        Lt Blue Grey

Old English White                                            Red, Black, Blue, Green    Red, White, Lt Blue Grey, Green

Spruce Green                                                    Green, Black                        Green, White

Carmine Red                                                     Red, Black                             Red

Florida Green                                                    Black                                      White

Reno Red                                                            Red, Black                            Red

White / Black                                                     Black                                     White

Reno Red / Black                                              Red                                        Red

Healey Blue / White                                        Blue                                       Lt Blue Grey

Black / Reno Red                                              Red                                        Red

Florida Green / White                                    Black                                      White

 

In December 1955, Spruce Green & Carmine Red were discontinued. Two new colours were introduced – Florida Green & Reno Red.

 

Examples of known Jensen batch / body  numbers, along with Austin Healey BN2 chassis number

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey BN2 with Jensen Batch 5821 and Jensen Body Number – 13971. The Austin Chassis Number is BN2 232779

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey chassis number BN2 232779 in as found condition.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Interior view of BN2 232779 in its pre-restored state.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

One of the chrome rails from BN2 232779. All the chromes are stamped with the Jensen Motors body number ’13 979′. However, by the time of the BJ8 phase 1 cars, a different form of numbering took place. This will be discussed later in the feature.

 

Example 1 car finished from Longbridge October 1955 start of BN2 production (original RHD car)

Jensen Batch Number –  5821

Jensen Body Number – 13971

Austin Chassis Number – BN2 232779

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Reno Red

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Red

 

Example 2 car finished from Longbridge 26 august 1955 start of BN2 production

Jensen Batch 5441

Jensen Body Number – 10181

Austin Chassis Number – BN2L 228142

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Healey Blue

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – ?

 

Example 3 car finished from Longbridge 9th September 1955 at the start of BN2 production

Jensen Batch Number –  5441 (?)

Jensen Body Number – 10421

Austin Chassis Number – BN2L 228363

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Old English White

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Blue

Notes: This car was completed with the ‘Le Mans’ package from the factory. The car was sold through Sotheby’s in their Arizona sale of 20th January 2012.

 

Example 4: car completed from Longbridge 21 June 1956

Jensen Batch Number –  5879

Jensen Body Number – 14354

Austin Chassis Number –  BN2L/233248

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – ?

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – ?

 

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AUSTIN HEALEY 100M – BN2 ‘Le Mans’

Total BN2 bodies produced by Jensen Motors 4604 between 1955 & 1956

Although over 1000 Austin Healeys (mostly BN2) were converted to 100M specification. Actually at the factory 640 were finished to this specification, of which 544 were exported to the USA. The additional cars were converted at dealerships, or even by owners in some instances.

Following the Austin-Healey 100’s sensational debut at the 1952 Motor Show, the works had entered two mildly modified cars in the 1953 Le Mans 24-Hour Race. They finished in 12th and 14th places, quite an achievement for what were recognizably production sports cars.

It wasn’t long before Donald Healey was offering a ‘Le Mans’ bolt-on tuning kit offered through Austin-Healey dealers, by means of which private owners could bring their cars up to a specification approaching that of the works’ entries (likewise some kits were fitted at the factory).

The kit included a louvred bonnet, silver finished wire wheels. A pair of 1¾” SU HD6 carburettors, plus special inlet manifold and cold air box, high-lift camshaft, stronger valve springs, and a distributor with alternative ignition advance curve. With the kit installed, power increased from the standard 90 to 100bhp.

From October of 1955, the conversion was available, factory-fitted on the successor BN2 model in the form of the 100M. In addition to the ‘Le Mans’ kit, the latter boasted high-compression pistons, a stiffer front anti-roll bar, special Armstrong front dampers, and a louvered bonnet. Power increased to 110bhp and top speed, with the windscreen folded flat, was almost 120mph.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin-Healey 100M BN2 ‘Le Mans’ completed 6th June 1956. The car originally left the factory in black and Reno Red with black trim

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Jensen batch / body plate, along with Austin chassis plate

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Engine-bay of the Austin-Healey 100M ‘Le Mans’ chassis BN2L /232949

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The factory ‘Le Mans’ modification plate.

 

Example car finished from Longbridge 6th June 1956 

Jensen Batch Number –  5879

Jensen Body Number – 14152

Austin Chassis Number – BN2L /232949

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Black & Reno Red

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Black

Notes: The car was sold through Bonhams in their Arizona sale of 17th January 2019.

 

_____________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 100 – BN3

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 2 in 1956

 

By 1955, plans to fit a six-cylinder engine, to take over from the Austin four-cylinder engine were on the table. The new Morris-designed six-cylinder engine was already being manufactured, although it wasn’t without teething problems, and the total output from this new engine was 102 bhp, a mere 12bhp more than the four-cylinder engine.

Additionally, Donald Healey had found that in discussions with distributors in America, that there could be demand for the same car with a rear seat. Jensen Motors were tasked with converting a BN2 body to accept the larger engine, as well as room enough for an occasional rear seat. Although Jensen managed to make this work, it was decided to make a new lengthened chassis.

Geoff Healey tells us something of the BN3 project that took place , in his book The Healey Story

“The prototype body was built at Jensen and we assembled the complete vehicle at Warwick and registered it NWD 977. Much of the test work with different heads and manifolding was carried out on this vehicle. A suitable shallow seat from a tractor was found that did not foul the differential housing.”

This completed prototype was nearly right, but for production cars, BMC lengthened the wheelbase by just under 2 inches providing more leg room for the rear passengers. They also changed the grill, enlarged the front shroud opening and bonnet, installed a scoop into the bonnet to clear the radiator cap and introduced door handles.

Jensen Motors completed work on this prototype in early 1956, and by the time it was finished BMC had designated the new chassis as the Austin Healey 100/6 BN4. In total two Austin Healey 100 BN3 bodies are believed to have been built up at Jensen Motors – both being prototypes.

Austin Healey BN3 / 1 chassis plates.

 

Example prototype car finished at Healey’s Warwick factory 6th June 1956 

Jensen Batch Number –  5270

Jensen Body Number – BN3 / 1

Donald Healey Motor Co. Chassis Number – 144603

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Blue

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Black

Notes: The was used for testing by Donald Healey, and later sold. The car survives today.

_______________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 100S – MOTOR RACING SPECIALS

Total aluminium bodies produced by Jensen Motors 53 between 1954 & 1955

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

1955 brochure for the Austin Healey 100S

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Healey chassis AHS 3702 being raced by the gentleman race driver, John Dalton, in 1956.

 

Parallel to production of the new BN2, Jensen Motors were asked to build up some further aluminium-bodied cars, similar to the original pre-production test specials. The body shape had been revised by Gerry Cocker, which included a re-shaped nose.

Work to these cars took place between Donald Healey’s Warwick factory, and Jensen Motors. Other changes as opposed to the production cars was a stiffened chassis, uprated engine using a Weslake head, and Dunlop disc brakes all round.

Between 1954 and 1955, Jensen Motors provided Healey with 53 bodies. Most of these were painted in Old English White, with lower panels in Lobedia Blue. Although all the 100S cars were right-hand-drive, over half of them were delivered to customers in the USA, with deliveries being made in time for the 1955 Sebring 12 hour Race. delivered

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Austin Healey 100S Motor Racing Special, with Healey chassis number AHS 3610. The colour scheme of Old English White over Lobedia Blue was the most common of the 100S colour schemes. This particularly original car was sold by Bonhams in their Scotsdale, Arizona sale of 19th January 2017.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The interior of AHS 3610. The interior had special race seats with three vertical slots in the back sections. Note the special Healey plaquette mounted to the passenger side of the dashboard.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Detail image of the Healey plaquette affixed to the passenger side of the dash board.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The engine-bay of AHS 3610

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Healey chassis plate, and with the Jensen batch / body plate riveted above.

 

Example car completed at Healey’s Warwick factory on 23rd march 1955

Jensen Batch Number –  5058

Jensen Body Number – AHR / S / 51

Healey Chassis Number – AHS 3610

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Old English White over Lobedia Blue

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Blue

Notes: The car was shipped out to the USA. The first owner extensively raced the car between June 1955 and May 1956. The car was then sold due to illness.

The car was later sold through Bonhams in their Scotsdale,  Arizona, sale of 19th January 2017.

 

________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 100 SIX – BN4

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 11,294 between 1956 & 1959

 

In early 1956, Jensen Motors had completed two BN3 prototypes. But, the BN3 designation would be still-born. Having evaluated the prototypes, BMC decided to lengthen the wheelbase by just under 2 inches providing more leg room for the rear passengers.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

A chassis alignment diagram for the BN4, BN6, BT7, and BJ7 cars. The chassis was largely the same as the original BN1 chassis, although lengthened for the BN4 onwards.

 

They also changed the grill, enlarged the front shroud opening and bonnet, installed a scoop into the bonnet to clear the radiator cap and introduced door handles. With all these new features incorporated, the revised vehicle was designated as the Austin Healey 100/6 BN4.

Donald Healey undertook road testing of the BN4 prototype in or around summer 1956 and found the car to have front-end shake.  He managed to reduce this by fitting a tubular crossbrace in front of the radiator.

A range of torsion tests were carried out in November 1956, but the conclusion was to use the tubular crossbrace on production cars. The report was completed on 21st November 1956, and outside of BMC, copies went to Donald Healey, Richard Jensen, and Eric Neale.

On the lead up to 1957, production of the BN4 was about to start. Meanwhile, BMC were looking at moving the entire production of Austin Healeys from their Longbridge factory, over to the MG factory at Abingdon. This would allow them to start production of other Austin models at Longbridge.

However, this decision to move the Austin Healey work over to the MG factory meant that they would be capable of building up the bodies as well. When the Jensen brothers learnt of this possibility, they were alarmed – and rightfully so – as they had just heavily invested in the new Kelvin Way factory, based upon ongoing Austin Healey contracts.

What BMC hadn’t looked into, was that if Jensen were not onboard with a seamless transfer of work across from Jensen to MG, there could be a large production gap before the MG factory at Abingdon could get themselves up and running.

Some diplomatic discussions between the Jensen brothers and BMC, forced their hand, and BMC gave in and agreed to maintain body production at Jensen Motors. BMC in any case, moved the final finishing of the Austin Healey contract over to the MG factory, starting in November 1957.

Although there was some overlap between Longbridge and Abingdon until April of the following year. A second batch of the BN4 started in September 1958 and lasted through until March 1959.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Jensen Motors detail drawing for the Austin Healey BN4. The drawing shows the relation of the door lap plate to shut pillar panel. This drawing was completed by Jensen’s draughtsman, Harry Bird, on the 20th January 1956.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Jensen Motors drawing detailing the hardtop for the Austin Healey BN4. The drawing was undertaken by their draughtsman, Harry Bird, and was completed on 4th July 1957.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Jensen Motors drawing for the Austin Healey 100 BN4 hardtop. The drawing was completed by one of their top draughtsmen, come free-hand illustrators, John Attrill. The drawing is dated January 1958.

In total over 11,000 BN4 bodies were built, some being finished at Longbridge, and some at Abingdon. The Abingdon built cars had an improved Morris engine fitted which gave out 117 bhp.

 

Austin Healey BN4 body and trim colour specification

 

Colour                                                            Trim                                  Trim piping

Black                                                                    Red                                        Black

Ivory White                                                         Red, Black                           White

Colorado Red                                                     Red, Grey                            Black, Red

Healey Blue                                                        Blue                                       White

Florida Green                                                    Grey                                      Green

Pacific Green                                                     Grey                                      Green

Primrose Yellow                                                Black                                    Yellow, White

Ivory White / Black                                          Red, Black, Grey               White, Black, Red

Black / Colorado Red                                      Red                                        Black

Healey Blue / Ivory White                             Blue                                       White

Florida Green / Ivory White                         Grey                                      Green

Pacific Green / Ivory White                          Grey                                      Green

Pacific Green / Florida Green                      Grey                                       Green

Primrose Yellow / Black                                Yellow, Black                       Black, Yellow, White

 

Example of known Jensen batch / body  numbers, along with Austin Healey BN4 chassis number

Example car finished 1958

Jensen Batch Number –  3804

Jensen Body Number – 4400

Austin Chassis Number – BN 4L – O-42705

Paint colour from Jensen Motors –  Healey Blue (?)

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – (?)

Car for sale 2019 in Tennesse, USA. Lacking panels. Unrestored. Offered as salvage.

________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 100-SIX – BN5

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 3 between late 1955 & early 1956

 

Three prototype Austin Healey 100 / 6 BN5 were built up at the Jensen factory, and completed in early 1956. One of these was finished at Donald Healey’s factory in Warwick and used for road testing.

Apparently BMC’s brief for the BN5 was to be a more basic Austin Healey and priced realistically. Road testing of the BN5 prototype didn’t go well, and it was decided to scrap the whole price sensitive BN5 concept. As with the BN3, the BN5 was still-born. BMC moved directly to a BN6 model.

 

________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 100-SIX – BN6

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 4150 between 1958 & 1959

 

With the BN5 version dropped. Work immediately moved on a BN6 model, which reverted to the basic two-seater layout of the BN2, but with all the updates of the BN4. This allowed the original tooling of the BN2 to be used in conjunction with the front-end tooling of the BN4.

Jensen Motors completed the prototype body in late 1957. Work to put the BN6 into production started immediately, and the first bodies were being shipped from Jensen Motors to Abingdon by the first half of 1958. The majority of BN6 cars were sold into the USA, and by the end of BN6 production, 4150 units had been completed.

 

Austin Healey BN6 with Austin chassis number BN6L / 3718.

 

Side / rear view of BN6 with Austin chassis BN6L / 3718.

 

The Jensen batch number 3003, and body number 3238. Although this restored car clearly has had the plaque re-attached, the nature of the stampings look correct, and are probably original to the car.

 

The Austin chassis plate.

Example car 1 finished 9 September 1958

Jensen Batch Number –  4975

Jensen Body Number – 2475

Austin Chassis Number – BN6-L/3601

Paint colour from Jensen Motors –  Primrose yellow

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – black

 

Example car 2 finished 1958 (date not known, possibly early 1959)

Jensen Batch Number –  3003

Jensen Body Number – 3238

Austin Chassis Number – BN6-L/3718

Paint colour from Jensen Motors –  Blue over white.

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – ?

Notes: This car was exported to the USA as LHD. It was later shipped to Australia and converted to RHD. The car sold by Bonhams in March 2016.

 

Austin Healey BN6 body and trim colour specification

 

Colour                                                           Trim                                  Trim piping

Black                                                                   Red                                        Black

Ivory White                                                        Red, Black                            White

Colorado Red                                                    Red, Grey                             Black, Red

Healey Blue                                                       Blue                                       White

Florida Green                                                   Grey                                       Green

Pacific Green                                                    Grey                                       Green

Primrose Yellow                                               Black                                      Yellow, White

Ivory White / Black                                         Red, Black, Grey                 White, Black, Red

Black / Colorado Red                                      Red                                        Black

Healey Blue / Ivory White                             Blue                                       White

Florida Green / Ivory White                          Grey                                      Green

Pacific Green / Ivory White                           Grey                                      Green

Pacific Green / Florida Green                       Grey                                      Green

Primrose Yellow / Black                                 Yellow, Black                      Black, Yellow, White

 

 

___________________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY SPRITE MK.I, MK.II, MK.III

No complete bodies produced by Jensen Motors, but some smaller contract work between 1957 & 1964

 

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

1958 publicity photograph for the Austin Healey Frogeye Sprite.

 

With the Austin Healey 100 – Six doing well, Donald Healey came up with the idea of producing a relatively simple and cheap sports car, aimed primarily at a young American audience.

In 1956, the concept was placed in front of Leonard Lord, and agreed that it was a concept with legs. With Jensen already building the 100 – SIX, BMC did ask Jensen Motors to quote for the contract.

In the end, BMC had a change of mind , and the Sprite (which quickly became known as the ‘Frogeye Sprite’ due to its frontal design) was built at Abingdon. The exact reasons for the change of mind are unclear. Although unit price would be a clear factor.

Outside of price, perhaps BMC were wondering if Jensen Motors could cope with starting a new parallel production of Sprites, alongside the 100 – Six, with an initial production forecast of some 10,000 units per year.

However, Jensen Motors were given some jobs relating to Sprite production, including sealing and painting some bodies, manufacturing some of the hardtops, and undertaking some trim work.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

October 1960 advert showing the Austin Healey Sprite next to its big brother, the Austin Healey 100.

 

_______________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 3000 MK.I – BN7 & BT 7

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 13,650 between late 1958 & 1961

(BN7 – 2825 bodies & BT7 – 10,825 bodies)

 

The natural progression of the Austin Healey continued through out the 1950s, and with the Austin Healey 100 / 6 BN6 doing well, BMC and Healey looked to producing a car with a more powerful engine.

This led to the Morris 2639cc engine (as fitted to the BN6) being bored out to 2912cc. Hence the first use of the ‘3000’ number (a rounded up 2912cc) given as a part of the car’s title.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Brochure showing the 2 + 2 Austin Healey 3000 BT7

 

The Austin Healey 3000 would be offered in two versions, a two-seater version given the code number BN7, and a 2 + 2 given the code number BT7. Jensen received the contract to build initial prototype bodies in late 1958, including two with a four headlight set-up.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Although unsigned and undated, this Jensen drawing is for a hardtop for the Austin Healey 3000. The drawing was probably completed in early 1958, and is probably by John Attrill.

 

It would seem that Healey wasn’t keen on the four headlight look, and so that design didn’t go into production.  Chassis for the Austin Healey 3000 started to arrive at Jensen Motors in late 1958, and completed bodies were starting to be transported to Abingdon from the beginning of 1959.

 

Austin Healey 3000 MK.I BN7 & BT7 body and trim colour specification

 

Colour                                                              Trim                                   Trim piping

Black                                                                      Red                                        Black

Ivory White                                                          Red, Black                            White

Colorado Red                                                       Red, Grey                             Black, Red

Healey Blue                                                          Blue                                       White

Florida Green                                                      Grey                                       Green

Pacific Green                                                       Grey                                       Green

Primrose Yellow                                                 Black                                      Yellow, White

Ivory White / Black                                           Red, Black, Grey                  White, Black, Red

Black / Colorado Red                                        Red                                        Black

Healey Blue / Ivory White                               Blue                                       White

Florida Green / Ivory White                           Grey                                       Green

Pacific Green / Ivory White                            Grey                                       Green

Pacific Green / Florida Green                        Grey                                       Green

Primrose Yellow / Black                                  Yellow, Black                       Black, Yellow, White

 

________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 3000 MK.II – BN7 & BT7

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 5451 between March 1961 and October 1963

(BN7 – 355 bodies & BT7 – 5096 bodies)

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The new MK.II version of the Austin Healey 3000

 

As far as work at Jensen Motors was concerned, there was little or no difference in the build of 3000 MK.I bodies, or 3000 MK.II bodies. There were subtle changes to the grille and bonnet. Other changes related to mechanicals and suspension.

A revised gearbox casing and gear lever location allowed a true  centre—change position. Triple SU carburettors were fitted, which raised the output of the engine to 132 bhp. Servo assistance was also fitted for the brakes.

 

AUSTIN HEALEY 3000 MK.II – BT7

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 6113

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey 3000 BT7 MK.II dating from 1962. The car in its original colour scheme of Healey Blue, and with the dark blue leather trim with white piping. Most buyers paid the extra for the BT7 version with nicely finished seating to the rear.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey 3000 BT7 MK.II showing the instrument panel

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey 3000 BT7 MK.II showing the rear, and in particular the 2 + 2 seating of the BT7.

 

Austin Healey 3000 MK.II body and trim colour specification as MK.I

 

__________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 3000 MK.III – BJ8 ‘PHASE 1’

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 1390 between 1963 and 1964

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

The Austin Healey track at Jensen Motors, with the Jensen CV8 being built up to the left-hand side. The chute to the extreme right, is where parts were sent down from the parts section immediately above the track.

 

The initial Austin Healey 3000 MK.III BJ8 ‘Phase 1’ started in 1963. It was the prelude to the huge ‘Phase 2’ contract, which Jensen Motors received just a year later. Clive Kendrick joined Jensen Motors as an apprentice in 1963, and was moved around the various departments as a part of  his five year apprenticeship.

Some of this time was spent being assigned to one of the ‘gangs’ on the Austin Healey track. He gives an insight to the Jensen – Austin Healey contract,

“Although I joined Jensen Motors, I could be forgiven for thinking I was working at Longbridge. The Austin Healey track was vast, and in contrast you would see a few Jensen CV8s being built up alongside.

It was as though these were an aside to the ‘real’ business, which was building Austin Healeys. After the Austin Healey bodies had been built up on the chassis, they were painted.

I think Jensen were given a list of colour schemes from Austin, along with quantities to be finished in those colours.  So you might see 12 Colorado Red bodies come along the track, and then 10 Florida Green cars.

The painted bodies would have a spec sheet stuck to them, so as the bodies went along the track, each ‘gang’ new what had to be fitted to each car.

This would take in trim differences, and possibly things like a radio consul, if one was being fitted as an option. I remember there were a few bodies finished in midnight blue, with a blue trim. These were destined for Germany. There wasn’t many, so they always stood out from the other bodies.”

The USA-based Austin Healey BJ8 Registrar, Steve Byers, has noted one departure from how Jensen did things on previous models. This concerned the stamping of the brightwork, and various parts, which had matched the body number. Byers tells us more,

“Some of the earliest Phase 1 BJ8s have the brightwork and various other parts stamped with a Jensen number beginning with E.  This numbering seems to progress through 999 cars before the letter changes.  Some of the last Phase 2 BJ8s have a Jensen number beginning with V.

It made sense to have the brightwork etc relating to a car, stamped   with the number of the body. This raises the question, why the change.”

 

Austin Healey 3000 MK.III – BJ8 ‘Phase 1’ body and trim colour specification

 

Colour                                                              Trim                                   Trim piping

Black                                                                      Red

Ivory White                                                          Red, Black

Colorado Red                                                        Red, Grey, Black

Healey Blue                                                            Blue

Florida Green                                                        Grey

British Racing Green                                            Black

Metallic Golden Beige                                          Red, Black

Ivory White / Black                                              Red, Black

Colorado Red / Black                                           Red, Grey, Black

Black / Colorado Red                                           Red

Healey Blue / Ivory White                                   Blue

Florida Green / Ivory White                                Grey

 

(Coloured trim piping largely discontinued. USA export cars trimmed with a generic silver herringbone piping.)

Steve Byers Tells us more about the trimming of BJ8 cars,

“The standard seats in a BJ8 being exported to the USA had vinyl covering with a silver herringbone piping that turns golden from age.  Leather seats were not provided for USA BJ8 cars, unless they were ordered that way by the first owner (or perhaps a dealer ?).”

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey chassis number – HBJ8L 26139. The car left the Jensen factory with British Racing Green paintwork.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Close-up photograph showing the Austin Healey chassis plate.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Close-up photograph showing the Jensen batch & body number plate.

 

Example BJ8 ‘Phase 1’ car finished from Longbridge 1964

Jensen Batch Number –  3178 BJ8

Jensen Body Number – 71092

Austin Chassis Number – HBJ8L 26139

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – British Racing Green

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Black

Notes: This car was a Personal Export Delivery, ordered from Naples, Italy, when the owner was in the Navy, and delivered to him at Charleston, South Carolina, USA.

 

___________________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 3000 COUPE PROTOTYPES

 

During 1964, Donald Healey, along with his son, Geoffrey, drew up schemes for an Austin Healey 3000 Coupe, which it was hoped would excite BMC enough, that they would want to put it into production. The idea wasn’t new.

Healey had drawn up similar idea back in 1954, but BMC didn’t wish to move forward with the concept. Jensen Motors were tasked with building up the bodywork onto a BJ8 chassis. This prototype was give  the code X312.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey Coupe Prototype X312. This car was styled by Healey, and built by Jensen Motors in 1954 on a chassis supplied by Healey. Healey used the car as his personal transport for a couple of years.

 

According to Jensen Motors Chief Chassis Draughtsman, George Coleman, he remembers that John Packwood was involved in the styling process. The completed body was transported to Healey’s Warwick factory, where it was finished  ready for showing to BMC.

George Harriman, Chairman & Managing Director of BMC from 1961, liked the concept. With the idea of moving it into production, he had stylist Dick Burzi build up another prototype, which would allow the car to be built more straightforwardly once it entered volume manufacture.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey 3000 Coupe Prototype X313. The car was styled by Dick Burzi. It was remarkably similar to the first Coupe Prototype designed by Healey, but was built up on a BJ7 chassis. As with X312, Healey ended up buying X313 from BMC , and used this second Coupe Prototype for a couple of years.

 

This car was given the code X313. Once completed X313 was transported over to Jensen Motors for costings. Although production costs were considered palatable, there were high tooling costs involved to set the new car up for production.

It was possibly a combination of the high tooling costs, and also the fact that the MGB GT was also about to be released, that led Harriman to shelve the idea at the eleventh hour.

 

___________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 3000 MK.III – BJ8 ‘PHASE 2’

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 16,322 between 1964 & 1968

The last BJ8 Phase 1 car was completed on 20th April 1964, and was Austin chassis number BJ8 26704. The first BJ8 Phase 2 car was completed on 12th May 1964  and was Austin chassis number BJ8 26705.

It seems reasonable to believe that Jensen Motors would have taken a Phase 1 chassis to build up a car with the Phase 2 modifications. If such a car was built up, and still exists, isn’t presently known.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Brochure for the Austin Healey 3000 MK.III, UK market.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Brochure for the Austin Healey 3000 MK.III, USA market.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Inside copy for the USA brochure of 1964

 

In May 1964 production of what would become the final ‘Phase 2’ of the Austin Healey 3000 MK.III – BJ8  took place. There had been a revision to the chassis which gave these cars a greater ground clearance.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Jensen Motors revised labour break down for the ‘Phase 2’ of the Austin Healey 3000 BJ8 dated 6th April 1966. Work was piece-work at that time, so employees were paid for the quantity of processes they achieved in a week. There is also a distinction between male and female workers, as also at this time, males were on a higher rate than females. It is interesting to note that since most of the completed cars were left-hand-drive, an additional 1 hour 10 minutes was charged out for fitting up the shell as right-hand-drive.

 

There was also a whole host of further small modifications, including spring and damper rates to give a softer ride but with firmer damping. Interior changes included revising some of the interior, including the facia.

The 3000 MK.III – BJ8 had the largest production run, with Jensen Motors averaging a four year production at between 300 – 350 bodies a month. It is believed that something close to 50 separate batches of chassis arrived from Longbridge to Jensen Motors just for the BJ8 range of Austin Healey cars.

Steve Byers, the BJ8 Registrar, has been researching the correlations between Austin BJ8 chassis and Jensen batch / body numbers for some decades,

“I have worked out that from the constant flow of chassis arriving at Jensen Motors from Longbridge, that Jensen Motors organised them into something towards 50 separate batches. Thus a batch might be as few as 100 chassis built up by Jensen, and sometimes as many as 500 chassis built up by Jensen under the same batch number. This batch number was stamped on a Jensen batch / body plate, along with the individual body number.”

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey BJ8 ‘Phase 2’ car finished from Longbridge May 1964 Batch 3182 BJ8 – 71773 Austin Chassis number H BJ8 L 26879. The car was sold through Sotheby’s in 2017.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Rear-view.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Interior.

 

Example 1 BJ8 ‘Phase 2’ car finished from Longbridge May 1964

Jensen Batch Number – 3182  BJ8

Jensen Body Number – 71773

Austin Chassis Number – H BJ8 L 26879

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Black

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – red

Notes: Despatched from Longbridge to New Orleans, USA in May 1964.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Austin Healey BJ8 ‘Phase 2’ car finished from Longbridge 1966 Batch 3211 BJ8 – 78032 Austin chassis number H BJ8 L 33161. For sale from E & R Classics, The Netherlands in 2018.

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

Interior view of HBJ8L/33161

 

Austin Healey - Jensen Motors Contract

View of the engine-bay of HBJ8L/33161

 

Example 2 BJ8 ‘Phase 2’ car finished from Longbridge 1966

Jensen Batch Number – 3211 BJ8

Jensen Body Number – 78032

Austin Chassis Number – H BJ8 L 33161

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – British Racing Green

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Black with piping.

 

Example 3 BJ8 ‘Phase 2’ car finished from Longbridge 1967

Jensen Batch Number – 3218 BJ8

Jensen Body Number – 80131

Austin Chassis Number – H BJ8 L35289

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Healey Blue

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Blue

Notes: Despatched to the USA 11th March 1966

 

Example 4 BJ8 ‘Phase 2’ car finished from Longbridge 1967

Jensen Batch Number – 3218 BJ8

Jensen Body Number – 80279

Austin Chassis Number – H BJ8 L 35408

Paint colour from Jensen Motors – Colorado Red

Trim colour from Jensen Motors – Black

Notes: Despatched to the USA in 1967

 

 

 

Austin Healey 3000 MK.III – BJ8 body and trim colour specification as ’Phase 1’

 

___________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 4000 PROTOTYPE

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 1 built up between 1966 / 1967 (?)

 

By 1966/67 BMC had drawn up plans for a larger car to replace the existing Austin Healey 3000. BMC asked Jensen Motors to build a prototype, and supplied them with a 4-litre Rolls Royce engine, which came from an Austin Princess ‘R’ saloon. George Coleman, the Chief Chassis Draughtsman at Jensen Motors remembers the prototype being built up,

“One of the existing Austin Healey 3000 chassis was cut, lengthened and widened. The body was built up by the sheet metal workers, and the mechanicals including the Rolls Royce engine fitted. The car was sprayed in British Racing Green, and the completed car was transported to Longbridge.”

Due to USA federal safety regulations, it was deemed unrealistic to redesign everything to take in the stringent new requirements, so the Austin Healey 4000 project was shelved.

 

______________________________________________

AUSTIN HEALEY 4000 AMERICAN MARKET PROTOTYPE (?)

Total bodies produced by Jensen Motors 1 built up between 1966 / 1967 (?)

 

Seemingly unrecorded, a prototype Austin Healey was seen at the Jensen factory in 1967 by former sub-assembly worker, Clive Kendrick. He remembers the following about the car,

“The car was parked up by Bay 1, close to the loading bay, and since this is where the cars were often loaded onto transporters to be taken to Longbridge or Abingdon, I guessed that was what this car was doing there. 

Having worked on the 3000s, I could immediately see a lot of differences in this one. The car was painted white , and had obviously been lengthened and widened. It had a black hood, along with black trim.

I noticed immediately, that the hood wasn’t of the usual Rexin material that we had been using on the track, this was more like a fine mohair material, similar to which was used later on the Interceptor Convertibles.

There was a variety of other small differences against the 3000s we had been building, including different bumpers. These were in a strange sort of black plastic or rubber material, rather than chrome. Although I wasn’t sure if these were ‘slave’ bumpers put on for transportation. 

I knew the car had an engine and mechanicals, because one of the chaps said that the car had just been driven round by Development. It was the one and only time I saw the car, and I’m guessing it was transported off that same day.”

The Jensen Healey Stories by Browning & Blunsden states that there had been plans for a Rolls Royce engine Austin Healey, and a Healey styled version loosely based on the MGC. Was this car that Kendrick saw, the MGC style Austin Healey prototype.

 

Austin Healey – Jensen Motors Contract

 

ONGOING WORK & YOUR HELP: Work is ongoing to find out more about the Jensen batch numbers. If you have any information we would be very grateful to hear from you.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Keith Anderson, Jensen historian | Bonhams, USA | Steve Byers, Austin Healey BJ8 Registrar (USA) | Carrossa – Classic & Sportscars, Netherlands | George Coleman, former Chief Chassis Draughtsman, Jensen Motors | Rob Eyre, Curator, Warwick Public Records Office | Blair Harber, Austin Healey pre-production car specialist | Jason Lawrence, Jensen specialist | Clive Kendrick, former Assembly Worker, Jensen Motors | Nick Maltby, former Draughtsman, Jensen Motors | Sotheby’s, USA  |Larry Varley, Austin Healey Specialist, Australia.

COPYRIGHTS:  The Jensen Museum | Steve Byers, Austin Healey BJ8 Registrar | Carrossa – Classic & Sportscars, Netherlands | Blair Harber, Austin Healey pre-production car specialist | Jason Lawrence, Jensen specialist

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

 

 

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