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Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501

 

As soon as Carl Dusio signed the Agreement between Sincar and Jensen Motors in January 1967, he ordered a left-hand-drive Interceptor. But, he needed the car as a matter of urgency, since the hot-headed Italian had also booked a stand for Sincar at the Geneva Motor Show of March 1967.

The Museum looks at the story of Dusio’s first Interceptor purchase, and Sincar’s first and last appearance at the Geneva Motor Show with a Jensen.

 

Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501 | Background to Carlo Dusio

 

Carlo Dusio had known Vignale through his father Piero Dusio. Back in 1946, when Vignale was still working for Farina, he had built up the coachwork of no less than four prototypes on Cistialia chassis.

 

Piero Dusio, his son Carl Dusio to the centre, and Perio Dusio’s business colleague, Giovanni Savonuzzi.

 

Now twenty years later, Piero’s son, Carlo, was on the phone to Vignale. When Carlo Dusio first saw the new Jensen Interceptor, he fell in love with the design. Dusio, via Alfredo Vignale, contacted Jensen Motors asking them if they would be prepared to enter into an agreement to provide him with motorised chassis.

 

Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501 | Sincar – Jensen Agreement

 

The Agreement which Dusio was proposing was this : Jensen Motors would sell Dusio the motorised chassis. These would be delivered to Vignale, and then be bodied by Vignale as Interceptors.

Brian Owen

The finished cars would then be sold through Dusio’s distribution company, Sincar. On the face of it, this new possibility seemed advantageous to Jensen Motors.

Most of the Company’s sales had been UK-based, and they did not have an extensive dealer network throughout Europe at that time. And this is exactly what Dusio had at his disposal.

After various internal meetings, Brian Owen, the then Managing Director of Jensen Motors, sanctioned an Agreement with Dusio. The formal Agreement between Sincar and Jensen Motors was drawn up in January 1967.

The Agreement involved  Jensen sending motorised chassis over to Vignale in Turin. Vignale would then build on the bodies. Finally, after Vignale had bodied and trimmed the car, the finished  Sincar Interceptor would be given over to an outside company, Monzeglio of Turin, for final testing. Once the final testing had taken place, then the car would be given over to Sincar to sell.

 

Renato Monzeglio photographed with some of his mechanics and test drivers.

 

The nature of the Agreement, and the fact the well respected, company, Monzeglio, would be involved checking and testing the cars, was acceptable to Jensen Motors. The Agreement gave Sincar Co. the sole agency for the sale of Jensen automobiles in the common market countries including Italy and Switzerland.

It was made clear within the Agreement, that Vignale would be completing the bodies, and trim at the expense of Sincar, and likewise, final testing by Monzeglio was also at Sincar’s expense.

However, it seems Dusio may have tried to cut the testing costs out of the equation. When Jensen’s Deputy Chief Engineer, Mike Jones, was sent to Vignale for a month, he doesn’t remember any cars going to an outside company for testing.

Jones also confirms that while he was at Vignale he ended up road testing each completed Sincar-Interceptor himself, before Dusio gave it over to one of his dealers. It may have been that after Jones came back to Jensen Motors, Dusio thought it might be pertinent to start using Monzeglio.

But that would be in the future, for the present it seemed like a positive start to 1967 for both Jensen Motors and Sincar.

An initial run of fifty motorised chassis to be supplied to Vignale for Sincar was agreed (although only thirty two chassis were supplied in the end). Alas, the Jensen-Sincar Agreement wasn’t going to be without issues. And eventually it would lead to an unpleasant legal case, and the end of the Agreement a year later in 1968.

 

Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501 | Dusio’s First Sincar Purchase

 

With the Sincar-Jensen Agreement signed off, Dusio wanted a finished car as quickly as possible. Jensen Motors already had three Interceptors back from Vignale, all of which were going to be converted over to left-hand-drive. The three cars were chassis 117/2500, 117/2501, and 117/2502.

 

The Vignale factory at Grugliasco. Alfredo Vignale was at the Zenith of his career, and it was from beyond these gates that the Interceptor was born.

 

117/2500 was finished in crystal blue with black trim, and was completed in October 1966. The car was on display at the Turin Motor Show held in November of that year. It may have been at the Turin show that Carlo Dusio mentioned he would like to buy the car.

A Jensen Motors file letter dated 12th January 1967 stated that Dusio was buying 117/2500, but that these plans had been cancelled.

117/2501 was finished in charcoal grey with red trim, and was also completed by Vignale in October 1966. At approximately the same time as the signing of the Sincar-Jensen Agreement, Dusio added that he was now ready to buy a left-hand-drive Interceptor.

However, there was now a sense of urgency with the request. It seems, before the ink even had time to dry on the Sincar-Jensen Agreement, the hot-headed Italian, had immediately booked a stand at the Geneva Motor Show. The show would be taking place in March, just a couple of months from the signing of the Agreement. And he needed an Interceptor for his stand.

Richard Graves

Richard Graves, Marketing Director at Jensen Motors, confirmed on 24th January 1967, that Carlo Dusio had ordered 117/2501, and that the car needed to made ready as a matter of urgency. Urgency indeed, since the car had to be converted to left-hand-drive, and needed to be completed by 15th February at the latest.

On completion, the car would be sent by rail to Geneva in time for Dusio to have it cleaned and prepared in readiness to go on the Sincar-Jensen stand.

Luckily, Jensen Motors had just received three left-hand-drive wiring harnesses, ready for the forthcoming conversions of the three Interceptors. With Dusio’s order in the bag, the first wiring harness would be going into 117/2501.

A list of work required was prepared by Wyndham Powell, the Sales Manager, on the same day (24th January) and sent out to those involved. Copies went to Bill Silvester (Works Foreman), Kevin Beattie (Chief Engineer), Mike Jones (Deputy Chief Engineer), Gordon Holt (Body Engineering), Peter Swain (Drawing Office Manager), Arthur Harper (Final Road Testing), and Harry Cottell (Body Trim Superintendent).

Work required (excluding the conversion to left-hand-drive) included a engine replacement with a new ‘B’ series engine, and with a transmission that included park.

The Selectaride shock absorbers would be replaced by Armstrong G.T.10 units. And since there wasn’t a Selectaride facility, the wood instrument panel would  need to be changed for one without a Selectaride switch.

Lighting would be changed to Swiss specification, along with changes to the headlight flashers. The Radiomobile radio changed for one with European specification.

Lastly, it had been agreed, that cars sold by Sincar would have electrically heated rear window demist, rather than the fan blowers that Vignale fitted for the UK market.

It was quite a list to get through, but Jensen Motors were often running with the wind. As such, the work force were used to working within ridiculously short time-frames. 117/2501 was completed within time, and by mid-February the charcoal grey Interceptor was on its train journey to Switzerland.

 

Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501 | The Geneva Motor Show

 

The Geneva Motor Show took place between 9th and 19th March 1967, and 117/2501 was completed in time, for its long train journey across to Geneva and placement on the Sincar stand at the Motor Show.

According to former Jensen Motors Sales Manager, Tony Marshall, the car was placed aboard an open-sided car carriage at Birmingham Station. Most carriages up to 1966 had been fully enclosed, but after 1966, open-sided carriages were extensively used.

Marshall remembers that typically by the time cars arrived at their destination, i.e. the Geneva Motor Show, they needed a thorough clean off. This would certainly be the case with 117/2501.

It would be the one and only appearance of the Sincar-Jensen at the Geneva Show, as by the beginning of 1968, the Sincar-Jensen Agreement was finished.  However,  Dusio had also booked the Paris Motor Show, which took place in October of 1967, by which time he would have two Sincar Interceptors on his stand.

For Dusio , the fact the Jensen was made by Vignale, was something particularly positive, and he couldn’t understand why Jensen Motors wouldn’t want Vignale badging somewhere on the car, to let the public know which great carrozzeria had built the car.

From Jensen’s perspective, Vignale were only ever building Interceptors and FFs on the short term, until they were capable of building them at West Bromwich. As such they didn’t want any Vignale badges placed on the car.

This was the case when 117/2501 was received at Geneva in readiness for being put onto the Sincar stand. The car only had Jensen badging. However, Dusio was prepared, and two small Vignale enamelled badges were waiting for when the car arrived, and were  fitted to the side-grilles before the motoring press, and public gained entry to the show.

Once the Sincar Interceptors were being built at Vignale, each one of the Sincar Jensens had Vignale badging on the lower rear quarter panel. It would seem Jensen  Motors went along with this. They certainly didn’t make any attempts to stop Vignale badging being fitted to Sincar Interceptors.

 

The Sincar stand at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. The photograph was taken on set-up day, and Sincar’s left-hand-drive Interceptor has yet to be brought onto the stand.

 

117/2501 resplendant in charcoal grey paint, brought onto the stand and set up ready for the public. It was a stand alone car, which Dusio hoped would bring in orders for his new Sincar Interceptor.

 

117/2501 ready for the public. Dusio had made one small addition to the car before the press and public came in. He had instigated the fitting of a small enamel Vignale badge to the upper part of the side grilles.

 

Close-up image of the side grille showing the small enamel Vignale badge.

 

The Paris Motor Show 1967. Dusio had two Sincar Interceptors on his stand. This would be the last show where the Sincar Interceptors would be shown publicly. By the beginning of 1968, the Sincar-Jensen Agreement was at an end.

 

Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501 | New Ownership

 

117/2501 was actually sold during the Geneva Motor Show, to the industrialist, Charles Baszanger [sometimes spelt Bassanger] living in Geneva. The Baszanger family had long been associated with the diamond trade. Charles Baszanger had moved between Paris and New York, but in 1960 settled in Geneva.

Baszanger was a friend of Charles Ladouch, head of the French car distributor, Societe France Motors. Ladouch would become the French distributors for Sincar-Jensen. If Ladouch had mentioned about Jensen cars to Baszanger isn’t known, but such a discussion could have led Baszanger to search out the Jensen stand at the motor show.

The Jensen may have been kept by Baszanger until his death in 1986,

 

Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501 |Epilogue

 

And what of the fate of 117/2501 today, and the history of the car after its sale from the first owner, Charles Baszanger. The Museum has managed to piece together some of the car’s history, but it is rather like a jig-saw puzzle with a few pieces missing.

A tantalising old dealer plate is still affixed to the rear of the car, which tells us that the Swiss racing driver, Jurg Weinem was involved in the sale of the car at some point.

 

The Jurg Weinem dealer plate attached to the rear of 117/2501. The car also bears an old chromed stylised ‘CH’ motif, for Switzerland.

 

Weinem had run a petrol station in Thalwil since 1972 (Thalwil is near to the city of Zurich). At the same time, Weinem offered buggies both as a kit and fully assembled.

Then in 1978 a contract was signed with Citroën for sales and repairs. Weinem also made replicas of classic automobiles, and sold classic vehicles. Around 1989 the company moved to Horgen (also near to the city of Zurich).

The company was dissolved in 2013 following the death of Weinem. Since the dealer plate affixed to 117/2501 bears the Horgan address, it seems that the car passed through his hands from 1989 or after.

117/2501 is thought to have been sold during the 1990s, by a Roger Sottas from Lausanne. By this time the car was painted in a red colour, and was rusty.

Sottas sold the car to Carlo Pina a car dealer in Solothurn, Switzerland. Pina started his small secondhand & classic vehicle sales business in 1993, so this Jensen may have been one of the first cars through the business.

Ottokar Pessl of Kraftfahrzeug Museum Sigmundsherberg / Austria, purchased the car on 30 September 2004. His initial appraisal of the car was,

“the car was complete, and the engine was the original. It was in rusty, but very original condition”.

During email communications with the Jensen Museum during 2020, Pessl stated that 117/2501 was in the queue for restoration at a future point.

 

117/2501 in the Museum of Ottokar Pessl. Photograph taken in 2020.

 

Interior view of 117/2501.  Note the central wood veneer instrument panel devoid of the Selectaride switch. Photograph taken in 2020.

 

Engine-bay chassis plate for 117/2501. Photograph taken in 2020.

 

Geneva Motor Show 1967 | Jensen Interceptor 117/2501

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Richard Calver, Jensen historian | Guenter Duacsek, Austria | Mike Jones, former Chief Engineer, Jensen Motors | Felix Kistler, Secretary, Swiss Jensen Owners’ ClubTony Marshall, former Sales Manager, Jensen Motors | Ottokar Pessl, Kraftfahrzeug Museum, Sigmundsherberg, Austria

COPYRIGHTS:  The Jensen Museum | Guenter Duacsek, Austria | Felix Kistler, Secretary, Swiss Jensen Owners’ Club |Ottokar Pessl, Kraftfahrzeug Museum, Sigmundsherberg, Austria

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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