Jensen FF Chassis 127/248 | Racing Colours
Jensen FF, chassis 127/248, was purchased new by businessman, Richard Peskin. Unbeknown to him, he was the youngest buyer of a Jensen FF, being just 21 at the time. The car was acquired by Museum curator, Ulric Woodhams, in 1982. Today, remains particularly original
Jensen FF car details:
Chassis number: 127/248
Engine number: 3152/127E
Registration number original: RYR 777E
Registration changes: From RYR 777E to HYY 52J then to ULR 1C
Registration number now: ULR 1C
127/248 was originally to be delivered to Brian Eldridge Ltd in May 1970, at which time the car was ordered without air-conditioning. This order fell through, and Charles Follett of Mayfair purchased the car for stock.
Follett were to take delivery of 127/248 for the end of May, however, since they required air-conditioning to be fitted there was a delay. 127/248 was finally delivered to Follett at the beginning of July 1970, where it sat in the showroom awaiting a purchaser.
Richard Peskin was by 1970 a young and successful businessman, a director of the high profile development company, Basil & Howard Samuel. He was much smitten by the shape of the Jensen Interceptor, since the cars debut in 1966, but it was a while before he thought to purchase one.
During August 1970, Peskin was having problems with a girlfriend, a close friend said, “…cheer yourself up, go and buy yourself a new car.” It happened just like that. Impulsively, Peskin popped over, from his offices in Mortimer Street, to Charles Follett, in Mayfair, to have a look at their stock of Jensen cars for sale.
Once in the showroom, Peskin was immediately taken by the colour of one particular car. It was cassis with red leather, the cassis colour matching his horse racing colours. The decision was made, and the salesman was called over. Purely by chance it turned out the cassis Jensen was one of the much more expensive FF models. The salesman outlined to Peskin the differences between the Interceptor and the FF, extolling the wonders of the four-wheel-drive system.
Price was not a consideration, and although what the salesman was saying was probably quite interesting, Peskin’s mind had already been made up. Purely based on the colour of 127/248, Peskin purchased the rare FF model for a total price of £8,104.15.3.
Back in 1967, Peskin had bought a new TR4a, the registration number was ‘RYR 777E’. After the car was sold the registration number had been retained and assigned to each subsequent car that he owned. He liked this number, as his nick name was Ricky, and a friend once commented that the first three letters stood for “Ricky Young Ricky”, furthermore the 3 sevens added up to 21 which was the date of his birthday.
Now in August 1970, the ‘RYR 777E’ number was to be assigned to his new toy, a cassis coloured Jensen FF. At the youthful age of 26 he was probably one of the youngest FF owners. Peskin arrived back at the small Mayfair showroom on the 4th September 1970, to pick up his new car. The obliging salesman acquainted Peskin with the controls and then left the new owner to fire up the V8 and manoeuvre the cassis FF into the Berkeley Square traffic. By Peskin’s own admission there was a wonderful feeling of arrogance of owning such a fantastic looking sports car at such a young age.
127/248 never received a high mileage while in Peskin’s ownership, he lived and worked in London and most of the FF’s work was ferrying girl friends to and from bars and clubs in the evenings. Of course this did lead to the car receiving more than its fair share of scratches and dents after “ a good few drinks”.
The impulse buy turned to gold on this occasion. Peskin fell in love with the Jensen and apart from some annoying problems such as doors failing to shut properly, the car was generally reliable. The car was kept up until 1978, by which time it had still only covered approximately 36,000 miles from new, although the car’s bodywork was certainly looking past its best.
Peskin and his friend Whiteside, were both avid gamblers especially with horse racing. Apparently a bet was made between them on a race, the winner would receive the losers car and unfortunately Peskin lost, the FF which had been so impulsively purchased back in 1970 was ironically to ‘change hands’ equally impulsively. Whiteside became the second, albeit very brief owner of 127/248. A condition of the bet was, that the ‘RYR 777E’ registration number would be retained by Peskin. 127/248 was assigned the registration number ‘HYY 52J’.
Whiteside ran an aviation spare parts company, based in Horley, Sussex. Back in the late 1970s he owned a new Rolls-Royce and a Cherokee Jeep, the Jensen FF was joining these under Whiteside’s ownership.
Around this time, Whiteside and a group of friends, including Mr Michael Constant, were all young bachelors. Living close to Gatwick Airport, a lot of ‘air-hostess chasing’ went on. The friends all used to ‘pool’ their respective cars, which each other could use. 127/248 went into the ‘pool’.
Constant managed to get a first chance at driving 127/248, having loan of it for two days. After driving the FF for the two days, Constant fell in love with the car and badgered Whiteside to sell it to him. Whiteside had owned the FF for less than two weeks, he hadn’t even had time to register 127/248. Constant pressurised Whiteside further, and eventually he agreed to sell the FF to Constant for £1500.
Many happy days motoring were had in the 127/248, on one occasion a couple of police friends asked if they “could have a go… and see what these FFs could do” Constant was amenable to their suggestion and they each had a drive, throwing the car around country lanes and finally embarking on extremely illegal speeds on the M23. The conversation at the local pub that evening centred on the FF. The police friends thought the car was quite incredible, “if only the force could have a few of these as motorway patrol cars”, they mused.
Constant used to fill up 127/248 at his local petrol station, these were the days when an attendant filled the car up for you. The owner’s daughter was acting as attendant on this particular day, she much admired the FF and it didn’t take much work on Constant’s behalf to get her to accept the offer of a nice drive out in the car for a drink and something to eat. The first ‘date’ went well and soon became a regular occurrence, eventually they became engaged and married.
Constant started working for Cunard and was away for extended periods, so with his new job and starting a family, a sad decision was made that the costly FF had to go. So in April 1982, 127/248 having covered just over 49,000 miles from new was sold to one of Constant’s friends, Mr Tony Jones, of Brooklyn Motors, Horley, Sussex. Constant sold 127/248 for exactly the same amount of money, which he had paid for the car. Constant was to mention to the author that the FF was the only car that he didn’t lose money on.
Jones registered 127/248 under his company name of Brooklyn Motors Ltd, and although the FF was for sale, Jones actually drove 127/248 for a while, after about 1½ months the car was sold on again to a friend. Mr Peter Leary drove 127/248 back the short journey to his house which was also in Horley, the FF had once again been purchased as an impulse buy by Leary while chatting with his friend, Jones.
Museum curator, Ulric Woodhams, had been using a CV8 as daily transport. In May 1982, an advertisement was placed in Classic Car magazine offering the CV8 for sale. Leary had seen the advertisement, and telephoned Woodhams about the CV8. The outcome was an exchange taking place between the CV8 and the FF. Woodhams took ownership of 12/248, the car showing a mileage of 49,847 miles.
The FF required some restoration work. Although structually sound, there was some rust invading most of the lower panels, along with the front of the bonnet. The restoration of 127/248 took place between 1982 and 1983, at which time the car was colour changed from cassis to ascot grey with a silver roof panel. During the remaining 1980s, and into the 1990s, 1277/248, was a frequent attendee at various concours events, often winning first place.
In 1998, a company called Automotive Events, based in Holland, were ready to launch their initial Car Of The Century Exhibition in Amsterdam, the exhibition was to hold the 100 most significant cars of the twentieth century.
The concept of Car Of The Century was excellent, and well timed in readiness for the year 2000. The one drawback to the validity of the concept was the marketing idea behind it. Automotive Events were trying to sell the concept to various countries, and a hefty one million US dollars was the asking price, for the licence of the concept.
Initially over 1500 cars were put forward by the car industry, car clubs and car museums. 716 of these cars were allowed to be considered as contenders based on the Car of the Century rules. The rules were, 1-general design, 2-historical significance, 3- handling, road worthiness and performance against its contemporaries, 4- technical innovation, relevant to its particular period in history. A voting panel of 135 motoring journalists from 32 countries, headed by Lord Montagu from Bealieu, as President, narrowed the 716 cars down to the 100 most significant cars of this century. The Jensen FF made it into the 100 finalists.
However, a problem that Automotive Events hadn’t banked on was the logistics of securing the loan of the 100 finalist cars to be shown at their launch exhibition in Amsterdam.
The first exhibition was to be held at the RAI Convention Centre, Amsterdam, between 27th June and 5th July, after which the exhibition was to move over to Toronto in Canada. The Amsterdam exhibition was the companies marketing venue for the concept. The Canadian Exhibition Centre in Toronto had already agreed a price with Automotive Events and this exhibition was scheduled for August/September. By the beginning of June they had secured 97 of the 100 cars, three cars were alluding them, one being the Jensen FF.
Woodhams was contacted and asked if he would agree to loan Automotive Events 127/248 for their exhibition in Amsterdam. After contacting Lord Montagu to check on the validity of Car Of The Century concept, Woodhams agreeed to the loan. Just one week before the Amsterdam exhibition, Automotive Events had achieved the seemingly impossible, acquiring examples of all 100 cars.
127/248 left Epsom with 58,323 miles showing to the mileometer, and was transported over to Amsterdam by a special classic car transportation company based in Holland. The car transporter was one of two made originally for the Ferrari racing team back in 1968, this one had been sold to the owner of the transport company who had long associations with Ferrari.
Before the exhibition, each of the 100 cars was especially photographed in a purpose made studio for the special Car Of The Century book which was released in September 1998. Afterwards the cars were placed on exhibition.
After the Amsterdam exhibition, the author was asked if 127/248 could be utilised for the Toronto exhibition. An agreement was arranged and the FF held by Automotive Events in storage along with about 15 other cars, before they would be shipped over to Toronto. The majority of the remaining 85 cars were found in Canada and the US. Once again a couple of cars alluded them, one a humble Renault R5 was actually obtained in downtown Toronto days before the exhibition, when the startled owner was asked if he would sell the car to the agent from Automotive Events, then and there.
On the 22nd July 1998, 127/248 was transported to Rotterdam and container shipped to Toronto, Canada by D.M.Consol Line. By the 18th August, the FF along with the other participating cars had been transported to the Canadian National Exhibition Centre and were set within their individual display areas.
On the 19th August, the Car Of The Century exhibition opened to the public. Unknown to anyone outside of an Automotive Events inner-circle, was the fact the company was virtually bankrupt. A combination of overtly high expenditure and no firm contracts for the ‘COTC’ concept, other than Toronto, had led to this current situation.
On the 7th September 1998, the exhibition closed its doors to the public. The FF was transported back to the docks ready for shipping by Global Express Lines to Tilbury, England.
127/248 arrived back at Tilbury Docks on 29th September 1998. Unfortunately due to inadequate paperwork from Automotive Events, and the fact the car had been shipped direct from Rotterdam to Toronto, the customs became suspicious and believed the FF could be an import into the UK.
Although the author could supply paperwork to prove 127/248 legally belonged to him, the customs would only accept documentation from Automotive Events. Meanwhile Automotive Events had more to worry about than paperwork concerning one of the exhibition cars; they were now in liquidation. It took until the 8th October for the correct documentation to arrive with the customs from Automotive Events and for the customs to release the car back to the author.
Once released, 127/248 was transported from the docks back to Epsom, Surrey. The car had covered something like 8000 miles in its journey from Surrey, England to Holland, Toronto and back to Surrey. The mileometer was showing 58,324 miles when unloaded from the transporter in Epsom. 127/248 had covered just one mile under its own steam, and incredibly was only the worse for wear by a few insignificant scratches.
Since Car Of The Century, 127/248 has been the subject of an article in the June 2001 issue of Classic & Sportscar magazine and also appeared in the 4th July 2001 issue of Autocar magazine.
As the 2000s gathered momentum, it was obvious 127/248 was in need of a repaint. A few rust blisters had developed, and they required attention before getting worse. This fell in line with with the Museum’s agenda of originality. It was decided that 127/248 would be stripped back to metal, and repainted back to the original colour of cassis. Between 2015 (check) and 2016, restoration of the car took place. At the same time it was decided to strip down the engine and have it rebuilt, along with most the braking and suspension.
Today, 127/248 has joined the ranks of the Museum cars.
Jensen FF 127/248 Conservation | Restoration
The focus of the Museum is always towards conservation rather than restoration. 127/248 has been under the ownership of Museum curator, Ulric Woodhams, since 1982, and the car has previously been restored, so today it is simply a matter of keeping 127/248 in a stable environment.
Chassis / Body: The car chassis is of sound structure with no rust in evidence. The restoration of of 2015 (check) has removed any minor areas of rusting, and allowed the body in metal to be carefully checked before going into paint.
Mechanics: The drive-train, braking system and suspension has been overhauled during the 2015 restoration process.
Interior: The interior remains largely original. The leatherwork has been cleaned and re-coloured during the 2015 restoration. All carpets are original apart from the driver and passenger front carpets. These were replaced with a matching pair made by marque specialists, Rejen. The Museum is currently looking at carefully restoring the original carpets (which had been archived), and putting them back into place.
Jensen FF 127/248 | Racing Colours
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Richard Peskin
COPYRIGHTS: All images and text copyright of The Jensen Museum | Richard Peskin
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