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This is the second of the Museum’s The Driving Seat features. In this feature, Joerg Huesken, the current owner of Jensen FF 119/139, has explored the history of his Jensen FF, and tells the Museum who has been in The Driving Seat of his car.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | First Owner
Alan Francis Courtney Harrow was born on 31st August 1920 in Camberwell, London. His parents were Frank and Mildred (nee Allen) Harrow. Frank Harrow had started his working life as a clerk, but later became a tenant publican.
As tenant publicans, Frank and Mildred Harrow were given the chance to take on the tenancy of the Four Swans Hotel in Sudbury, so they moved from Camberwell to Sudbury.
Alan Harrow’s initial schooling was in Camberwell. After the family moved, he was given a place at Sudbury Grammar School, Sudbury, Suffolk, and he remained there between 1933 and 1936.
Beverley Harrow ( Alan Harrow’s daughter) remembers her father talking about his school days,
“My father was somewhat of a naughty boy, he had already blown up his father’s shed whilst making gunpowder, and burning his blazer with acid. He recalled being the most caned boy at school at the time.
But, that his headmaster, Mr Gillingham, was a clever man, and realized caning wasn’t the solution. Instead, ‘Gilly’ used to give him jobs as punishment, such as repairing the internal telephone lines, which of course, he loved, as his hobby was making radios. “
By 1936, the Harrow family moved back to London, and were living at 23 Greenford Avenue, Ealing. Although we don’t know for sure, the couple may have taken on the tenancy of the local Red Lion Pub.
In the census of 1939, there were no less than 12 people living at the address, including two housemaids, a barmaid, a bar cellarman, and two barmen.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | First Owner | World War II
Alan Harrow Joined the RAFVR in September 1940 (Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve), and after training became an Air Gunner-Wireless Operator in 1942. He started in Fighter Command on Intruders, but only completed a few missions with them.
After the loss of his pilot, Harrow was transferred to the RAF experimental unit Defford. RAF Defford was a top secret airfield, built in the grounds of the Earl of Coventry’s Croome Court estate.
Hurriedly completed in 1941, RAF Defford is where experimental aircraft were tried out. It it is also where Airborne Radar was tested, developed and proven.
There is no doubt, to get a transfer to RAF Defford, Harrow must have shown himself to be particularly trust-worthy. He probably arrived at RAF Defford in late 1942, early 1943.
Harrow was the Wireless Operator aboard various experimental aircraft, and was a part of the crew aboard over fifteen different experimental aircraft.
It was only after being given the green light by the experimental unit, that the aircraft would go into production, and eventual use during W.W.II.
It was while serving in the RAF experimental unit, that Harrow met and married Eileen Winifred Mesher. The couple married in Deptford, London, during 1943.
Eileen Mesher remained in the armed forces until 1945, probably in the WAAF. Since there was a number of women personnel working at Defford, it is quite possible that is where the couple first met.
The couple moved into 164 Malpas Road, Deptford, the home of Eileen’s parents, Edith and William Mesher. Eileen’s brother, Ronald, was also living there at that time.
That said, with Alan Harrow in the RAF, and his new wife probably in the WAAF, neither would have been staying there much of the time during the war years. In late 1943, or early 1944, Harrow was promoted to Warrant Officer.
In early 1944, the RAF were looking for volunteers to join Bomber Command, due to the excessive losses they had taken. Harrow wanted in, and against his Squadron Leader’s advise (who obviously wanted to keep Harrow in the experimental unit), he joined Bomber Command. Harrow was assigned to 61 Squadron. The squadron had just moved to RAF Skellingthorpe near Lincoln.
Once with 61 Squadron, Harrow joined the crew of the then famous Lancaster Bomber ‘EE176’, which had been given the name, ‘Mickey the Moocher’. ‘EE176’ had been built in 1943, and was in operational service with 61 Squadron from June of that year.
There was a song by Cab Calloway from the 1930s, called ‘Minnie the Moocher’, and that name had already been employed on another Lancaster, so ‘EE176’ was fittingly named ‘Mickey the Moocher’.
Although the aircraft had a name, it was sometime later that the instantly recognizable ‘Mickey Mouse’ artwork was added. No less than 83 bombs had been painted on the front side of the plane by July 1944, indicating 83 missions where bombs were dropped.
It was at this time that the ‘Mickey Mouse’ artwork, with him pulling a trolley with a bomb, was added. Additionally, a signpost in front of him stated ‘3 Reich’, and ‘Berlin’.
The ‘Mickey the Moocher’ Lancaster had undertaken seventeen bombing missions to Berlin between late 1943 and July 1944. But this was before Harrow was with the squadron.
Harrow completed 35 missions aboard ‘Mickey the Moocher’, starting from May 1944, with Pilot Officer Delbert.E. White heading his crew. Although previously holding a promotion of Warrant Officer, as a part of the bomber crew, he was assigned the rank of Flight Sergeant.
Many of the raids that Harrow took part in involved the bombing of V1 rocket sites. He took part in the aircraft’s 100th mission, over to Brest on the 14th August 1944.
The operational agenda was to take part in the bombing of German battleships and tankers at Brest, in line with the American ground advance. Harrow received the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross after this raid.
According to Harrow’s daughter, just after the end of the war in May 1945, Harrow (now promoted to Pilot Officer), headed the crew aboard ‘Mickey the Moocher’, taking RAF dignitaries over to Berlin, as a part of the Occupation of Berlin discussions. He may also have been involved in dropping food parcels over the Netherlands.
Not long after the end of the war, this famous aircraft was given over to BOAC, and was converted to an instructional airframe. Incredibly, this, the most famous of the Lancaster Bombers, was later scrapped.
It was only in 1973, when Bomber Command were going to do a fly past for the Queen Mother, that there was the realisation that a significant part of RAF history had been unceremoniously scrapped.
Unbelievably, it was decided to use one of the other surviving Lancasters, and repaint that one as ‘Mickey The Moocher’ for the flypast. That plane still bears the ‘Mickey The Moocher’ artwork to this day.
It would seem, according to Harrow’s daughter, Beverley, that her father didn’t think much of this game of pretence. She believes that it was because he made his views known in the wrong quarters, that he was not asked to take part in the 1973 proceedings.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | First Owner | New Beginning
After the war, and with both Harrow, and his wife, Eileen now de-mobbed, they continued to live in Deptford. Harrow set up a small telephone and radio repair business, and later in the 1940s moved from Deptford to Feltham, living at 6 Prospect Road. In 1950, the couple had a daughter, Beverley Francis.
By the 1950s, Harrow founded Cables & Components Ltd, the new company supplied a range of components for electronics businesses, only supplying to the trade. The firm enjoyed some success, and in addition to his premises in London, Harrow opened up premises in Scotland as well.
By the late 1960s, early 1970s, Harrow, and his electronics components company had become relatively well known. Both Harrow, and his Company were the subject of features in the magazine, Electronics Weekly, and even the Financial Times.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | First Owner | Porsches & Jensens
Success meant that Harrow could finance his passion in cars, and this led to him being the sole sponsor of his own rally team. In his first race, Harrow drove one a Porsche cars at Brand’s Hatch, against the Berlin Porsche Club Team , managing to come third.
The new Italian-designed Interceptor had its debut at the 1966 Earl’s Court Motor Show. Harrow was one of those immediately taken with the new car. An order was placed with Hughes of Beconsfield, for one of the first Interceptors to be built.
At this stage the cars were still being built in Italy by Vignale. Jensen’s chassis number 115/2532 was assigned to Harrow’s order, with a specification of charcoal paint, and grey trim. The car was completed in February 1967, registered for the road as ‘UBH 6E’, and made ready for collection by its new owner.
Although Harrow liked the car, he was not impressed with various glitches, including water leaks into the car, when it rained. That said, Harrow continued to own the car until 1969, at which time he had placed an order for one of the four-wheel-drive Jensen FF cars.
The car was ordered at the beginning of 1969, and was to have a specification of a unique special orange paint, along with a black roof and black leather trim. Harrow was charged an extra £65.5.6 for the privilege of using a special paint that he had asked for.
Chassis 119/139 was given over to Harrow, and the car was completed by June of that year. It was assigned the registration number, ‘KPP 2G’, and it is believed the Interceptor was taken in part-exchnage. How long Harrow kept 119/139 isn’t known.
Harrow retired from his company in 1989, and the family moved down to Verwood, Dorset. He died from cancer in 2009. His wife had passed away back in 1991.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | Second & Third Owner
It would seem 119/139 had one further owner during the 1970s, before the car was purchased by Dale & Hazel Bennett from Brecon in Wales during the late 1970s, early 1980s.
This is mentioned in the advert placed by the Bennetts. By coincidence, as with Alan Harrow’s parents, the Bennetts were tenant publicans, and ran The Griffin Inn, in Felin Fach.
The striking special orange painted Jensen FF was registered under Dales Bennett’s wife’s name, Hazel. They didn’t keep 119/139 for very long, and by 1982, the car was offered for sale. An advertisement for the car was placed in the May 1982 edition of the Jensen Owners’ Club magazine,
“FOR SALE – Jensen FF, 1969, Reg. No. KPP 2G, Car No. 119/139. Fitted with 6.3 engine, copper flame with black roof, black leather interior, Rostyle wheels, tinted glass, electric windows and ariel. Recent top end overhaul and new radiator, negligible bore wear revealed. Oil pressure 50 psi hot. Two previous owners. Just passed MOT. Very nice overall condition. Small amount of tidying needed – nothing major. A rare opportunity offered at £2,000. Phone Dale Bennett in Wales on Brecon (0874) 2137.”
A further advert appeared in the July 1982 issue of the Club magazine, by which time the priced had been reduced to £1700. This was the last time the car was advertised since the FF found a buyer shortly after that time.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | An Austrian Engineer
The new owner of 119/139 was Austrian, Karl Marschhofer. He was a professional engineer, but also ran a camping business, Campingsport’ near Gmunden. Marschhofer had heard about 119/139 being for sale.
Marschhofer owned a variety of ‘oldtimer’ cars, and having read all about the famous four-wheel-drive Jensen FF, he particular wanted one for his collection.
After speaking with Dale Bennett by telephone, Marschhofer travelled over to England in September of 1982, and viewed the car at the home of the Bennetts. As Marschhofer told the Museum in 1988, it was a forgone conclusion that he would buy the car.
Marschhofer purchased 119/139 on 9th September 1982, becoming the fourth owner of the FF. Marschhofer had this to say about his new purchase,
“It was running, but it had a brake main cylinder from a Ford, and was without the anti-skid device. I drove the car down to Folkestone, with my wife following in our Volkswagen Camper.
Then I made a wrong decision, I ordered a rust repair on the right-hand rear wing, and the bottoms of the doors, at W.J.Montgomerie’s Densole Filling Station. He did it, but it was an awful job, like Russian quality.
I imported 119/139 into Austria in November 1982, and ran it on temporary workshop plates (GM 6 CIF). Not long after the car was imported by me into Austria, I had the colour changed to Audi blue metallic.”
Once back in Austria, 119/139 was repainted in an Audi metallic blue. The car remained under the ownership of Marschhofer from 1982, through to 2017. For the majority of that time, the car remained garaged and unused.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | Enter Felix Kistler
Felix Kistler, the Secretary of the Jensen Owners’ Club, Switzerland, already owned a CV8, and a 541, and now had heard there was a Jensen FF for sale in Austria. The possibility of owning an FF got the better of Kistler, leading him to contact Marschhofer. Kistler tells us more,
“I seem to remember that originally one of our members [Swiss Jensen Owners’ Club] Jakob Troger, who also lives in Austria, was interested in the FF.
He had inspected the car, but the price was more than he was willing to pay. In August 2015 Karl Marschhofer contacted me via the club, writing that he wanted to sell both his MK.I Interceptor and his FF.
During December 2016, I wrote to Marschhofer enquiring whether he had sold his cars. By February 2017, and after some back and forth with communications, I agreed to buy the Jensen FF. I bought the car sight unseen, but based on what Jakob had told me about the car.
The purchase was a bit complicated, since there was also some additional Jensen FF parts involved: the front part off another scrapped FF, along with the four-wheel-drive system.
Additionally, there was also some student’s thesis work about the FF. Marschhofer wanted Euro 5,000 for the parts and the thesis. In total the car, with parts & thesis, would cost Euro 60,000.
Fellow Swiss Jensen Owners’ Club member, Andy Kreis, along with myself, drove across from Switzerland to Austria to collect the Jensen FF on 16th February.
We first went to Marschhofer’s house in St. Johann, then to the garage where the FF was (Landyman in Anthering). I test drove the FF for a few minutes, but the braking was minimal so it was a very very cautious drive.
We loaded the FF on the trailer, and off we went- realizing about three hours later that Karl had forgotten to give us the car documents. It was now after 9pm in the evening, and by then we were near the Swiss border (we returned back to Switzerland via Germany).
What were we to do, we had the Jensen on the trailer, and no documents. It was too late to go back, so we decided to make it to the Swiss border, tell them the situation, and see where it went from there.
However, when we arrived at the border the custom post was closed. As such, we continued home without ever formally importing the car into Switzerland.
I kept the Jensen FF for just under a year, but in that time I realised that perhaps my purchase of the FF had been a little impetuous. I had other cars that needed work, but more importantly, we had bought a vacation home in the mountains, and needed money for that. It was definitely going to be a case of what the English call LIFO (last in first out). The FF had to go.”
119/139 was offered for sale in January 2018, and would quickly find a new owner, and new home.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat | Enter Joerg Huesken
Huesken wasn’t new to the world of Jensen cars. He already had an impressive collection, ranging from the famous White Lady, to a PW Saloon, Early Interceptor, various 541s, and a CV8.
There was also a Jensen SP in the collection, so the Jensen FF seemed like a missing link.
As soon as Huesken heard that Kistler’s FF was being offered for sale, he was on the telephone to Kistler.
The outcome was that Huesken agreed on the telephone to purchase the FF, becoming the sixth owner of 119/139. Huesken outlines how he had 119/139 brought from Switzerland to Germany,
“Felix [Kistler] told me he had to rebuild his chalet in the mountains, and that he realized that he hadn’t the funds at that time to do both.
Once the formalities of payment had been dealt with, I asked Felix’s friend, Andi Kreis, if he would bring 119/139 from Switzerland to Germany.
Since the car was still officially resident in Austria, I wondered if he might be willing to bring the car at night, in the hope we could get the car back into the EU again without any problems with border control.
Andi was happy to do that, and the Jensen was brought over to me during the night. So ‘officially’ 119/139 never left the EU. It was a good outcome, although the matter of border controls would come and bite me later on.”
During 2018, Huesken contacted the Winchester-based Jensen specialists Rejen, and asked if they would be willing to undertake a restoration of 119/139. In theory, they would accept the car in for restoration, and so Huesken flew over to the England to discuss the restoration and costs.
In November 2018, 119/139 was transported over to Rejen, in preparation for them to start a sympathetic restoration of the car. This restoration would also include putting the car back to its original special orange body colour, along with the black roof panel.
Typically, the restoration took longer than envisaged, and the car was still with Rejen when the UK Brexited from the EU. Things became even more complicated, when during this period, the two brothers running Rejen decided to split and go in their own directions.
119/139 was one of the cars left at the time of the Rejen split, and this in itself created further delays before Huesken could have the car collected. Although it seems chronically unfair, since the car had been in the UK for longer than three years, German customs classed the Jensen as an import from the UK. Huesken had to pay VAT and import duties on his own car. Huesken picks up the story,
“I finally got 119/139 back in May 2021. Unfortunately, by this time the two brothers of Rejen had split up, and my car remained untested and still with a number of teething problems. As well as the FF, I had two 541 cars which had been restored elsewhere, and were ready for me to have collected.
I organised a transporter to pick up all three cars, and to bring them back to Germany. Unbelievably, because of Brexit, and the fact that all three cars had been in the UK for more than three years, I had to pay VAT and import duty on all three cars. But, anyway, throughout the rest of 2021, and into 2022 I managed to test drive 119/139, and slowly work through the teething problems.”
As at 2022, 119/139, remains apart of the Huesken Collection.
Jensen FF 119/139 | The Driving Seat
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Nicky van der Drift, CEO, International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln | Robin Farbridge, Magazine Editor, Sudbury Grammar School | Norman Franks, author of Ton-Up Lancs | Beverley Harrow, daughter of Alan Harrow | Joerg Huesken, Early Cars Registrar, Jensen Owners’ Club | Felix Kistler, Secretary, Jensen Owners’ Club, Switzerland | Karl Marschhofer, Austria | John Staddon, CV8 Registrar, Jensen Owners’ Club | John Turkentine, Registrar, Sudbury Grammar School | Suffolk & Essex Free Press.
COPYRIGHTS: Jensen Museum | Joerg Huesken | International Bomber Command Centre, Lincoln | Felix Kistler | Karl Marschhofer | John Staddon
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