Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show Press Car
Jensen Interceptor, chassis number 117/3139, was built as a left-hand-drive demonstration vehicle, and was the first Jensen painted in tangerine.
The car had a rather outrageous specification of tangerine paint, with a mocha coloured leather interior. With the help of the car’s current custodian, Jan Isnenghi, and former Jensen Motors Sales Manager, Tony Marshall, the Museum looks at the history of this car, and its part in the 1969 Geneva Motor Show.
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | Jensen Motors
The initial chassis build card for 117/3139 was opened on 6th January 1969, the specification was stated as tangerine with black trim.
However, even at this early stage, two large black questions marks were hand written by the interior choice of colour as black.
117/3139 was one of those few cars with a colour choice decided by factory management.
Typically, the likes of Richard Graves, Wyndham Powell, and Tony Marshall would make the decision about colour schemes, both exterior and interior.
However, on this occasion it was left to Tony Marshall, and his immediate boss, Wyndham Powell, to come up with a suitable colour scheme.
As Marshall was later to mention to Museum curator, Ulric Woodhams, sometimes we tried to think ‘outside-of-the-box’.
That was exactly the case with the specification for 117/3139, with the two men agreeing to abandon the rather obvious black trim, for a rather ‘way out’ tangerine complimented with a leather trim in Mocha.
Marshall particularly remembers the colour scheme of 117/3139,
“Initially the colour scheme was going to be tangerine with black trim. The tangerine was an exciting colour as we had never used it before.
In the end, Wyndham [Powell] and myself thought the black was a bit obvious, as we wanted to make a bit of a ‘cutting edge’ statement. We came up with a slightly mad choice of tangerine complimented with a mocha coloured trim instead of the black.
It was two colours you would never normally choose to put together, and in part that is exactly why we did it – we wanted it to be a talking point. Curiously, when the car was finished, most members of staff said they would never have put those two colours together – but, it sort of worked.”
With the colour scheme decided, it was also agreed to make this a very high specification car. Included in the build would be Sundym glass, a Voxson ‘8’ track / special paint (tangerine wasn’t included as a standard colour at the beginning of 1969) , radio, air horns, hide steering wheel, a 20 gallon petrol tank, and a 2.88:1 rear axle.
Various trim modifications would also form a part of the build, which included, a full Mocha dashboard, and even a full Mocha centre instrument panel (instead of the usual wood veneer).
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | Jensen Motors Holdings A.G.
In early 1969, Jensen Motors Managing Director, Carl Duerr, had come up with a new strategy. The idea was to set up a company in Switzerland called Jensen Motors Holdings A.G.
The longer term idea being that left-hand-drive cars destined for Europe, would be sold by Jensen Motors to Jensen Motors Holdings in Switzerland.
Payment for cars sold in Europe would then go into Jensen Motors Holdings.
It was a rather complex arrangement which it was hoped would get around currency issues, and have taxation benefits.
The Company was set up, and ran from the office of a Swiss accountant friend of Duerr’s, in Zug, Switzerland. 117/3139 is believed to be the first, and possibly only car, notionally sold from Jensen Motors to Jensen Motors Holdings A.G on 4th March 1969.
Marshall believes even if 117/3139 was notionally sold to Jensen Motors Holdings A.G, the car would simply have been sold back to Jensen Motors at the same price – in essence – a no sale. Certainly when Schwyn was later to purchase 117/3139, it was direct from Jensen Motors in England.
Meanwhile, on the same day of 4th March 1969, 117/3139 was registered at the Birmingham taxation offices on the Export Home Delivery scheme. Jensen Motors received one of the rarely seen pink log books with an assigned temporary registration number of ‘POK 446G’.
According to Marshall, the idea behind Jensen Motors Holdings may have initially had legs. But, when Edgar Schwyn became the Swiss Jensen distributor, the JMH concept didn’t have any worthwhile use. Marshall believes the JMH Company was discontinued once Schwyn became the distributor.
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | Enter Edgar Schwyn
Back at West Bromwich, and with the Geneva Motor Show looming, the then Export Sales Manager, Tony Marshall, would be driving 117/3139 over to the Motor Show along with Good Relations director, Gethin Bradley, and his girlfriend.
At this time, Jensen Motors didn’t have an active Jensen distributor for Switzerland – the Company’s previous distributor, Peter Monteverdi, having given up on Jensens, to push cars bearing his own name.
However, there was light at the end of the tunnel. One Edgar Schwyn, a well-known Swiss motor accessories distributor.
He had written several times to Jensen Motors in early 1969, suggesting he could be the distributor for Jensen Motors in Switzerland.
Marshall takes up the story,
“Several letters had come through from this chap Edgar Schwyn, but we hadn’t got around to replying to him. By the beginning of 1969, we were preparing for the Geneva Motor Show. We hadn’t had a stand there before, although Sincar had previously had a stand with an Interceptor on in 1967.
During a discussion between myself and Carl Duerr, I raised the point about the letters from Edgar Schwyn. Duerr asked me to give him a call before I left for Geneva, to say we would be delighted to meet up with him during the time we were at the show.”
Both Duerr, and his Marketing Director, Richard Graves, would be flying out to the Geneva Motor Show, and while there, Duerr, Graves, and Marshall could meet up with Schwyn.
Meanwhile, without an active Swiss distributor, Marshall, as Export Sales Manager, would be running the Jensen stand at the Geneva Show. Bradley would help out for the set up day, and the Press Day, after which he would be making his own way back to England.
Then, on the Press Day, and the first public day, Duerr, along with his Marketing Director, Richard Graves, would be flying over to attend the show and meet with Schwyn.
As the Motor Show loomed, Marshall with Good Relations companion, Gethin Bradley, in the passenger seat, and Bradley’s girlfriend, Margaret, in the rear, headed down to the docks in 117/3139, to catch the ferry.
They would make one stop over in Heidelberg, before continuing down to the Geneva. 117/3139 was full to the brim.
Not just with Marshall, and his passengers, but also their luggage, along with paraphernalia for the stand, such as signage and brochures.
117/3139 was one of the first Interceptors to be fitted with a Voxson Stereo 8 unit. It had been one of Marshall’s finds, while walking around at the Geneva Motor Show the year before in 1968.
Noticing the new unit on Voxson’s stand, Marshall realised this was perfect for the Interceptor and FF. Duerr agreed, and within a couple of weeks after the show, Voxson had sent sample units over to Jensen Motors to try out.
Now, Marshall had the perfect situation to see just how good the Voxson unit was. Marshall remembers the journey fondly,
“There we were, hurtling along the autobahn down towards Heidelberg, with the 8 track blasting away with The Beatles in full cry! the car just eating up the miles.”
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | Geneva Motor Show
Through contacts with Reliant, Marshall had managed to get them on board to share a stand at the Geneva Motor Show. The two stands would actually be separate, but next to each other, and with one car displayed on each.
Having Reliant on board was helpful, as Marshall would be running the Jensen stand more or less single-handed, but Reliant were willing to share a couple of their guys, if Marshall needed help.
It had also been down to Marshall to arrange the booking of the Geneva Motor Show stand, and also to make arrangements for the organisers to prepare the stands before they arrived. It was a no thrills affair, an open corner site with just carpet in place.
Having left Heidelberg early, Marshall and his passengers headed for Geneva. Once in Geneva, Marshall made for the exhibition building. There was a large underground carpark at the exhibition centre with reserved places for the exhibitors. This would be the parking slot for 117/3139 during the days of the Motor Show.
A single white painted Jensen Interceptor was going on the stand (chassis number 117/3142). The car was being taken across on the ferry, and then on a train down to Geneva. Marshall remembers the arrival of the car at the Geneva Motor Show,
“The car arrived, and we moved it into position on the stand. But I was shocked by how dirty the car was. It took us the best part of day to get the car suitably cleaned ready for display.”
With things taking shape, Marshall checked on what publicity events might be happening during the show. Marshall takes up the story,
“During the days of the Geneva Motor Show, we made sure we were at every sales promotion event held by anyone, Chrysler, Mercedes, Lucas. Where ever there was a promotion, we turned up in the tangerine Interceptor.
By the time the show opened to the public, everyone knew about the tangerine Interceptor. I would also take potential customers for a drive, and give motoring journalists test drives.
That said, if I felt the prospective customer, or motoring journalist, was ‘kosher’, and they had suitable insurance, I would sometimes hand them the keys and let them take the car for a drive on their own.
If I could get away with doing that, it at least freed up more time for me to spend on the stand itself. It was a busy time !
One journalist joked that our Interceptor was the fastest bus in Geneva – on account of the fact the tangerine Interceptor was seen all around Geneva – and that the Geneva buses & trams were also painted in a similar tangerine colour.
A nice surprise at the Geneva Motor Show was an invite to Jackie Stewart’s [racing driver] party. Good Relations were in general contact with Jackie. In fact back in 1968 he had been close to buying a Jensen FF.
Actually, he wanted to buy one, but didn’t want to wait. Unfortunately we weren’t in a position to supply him directly with a new FF, and he didn’t want an Interceptor. But his interest in Jensen cars continued, and he was always keen to know what we were doing.
Jackie was living in Switzerland at the time, and put on his own party one evening during the Geneva Motor Show. Anyway, myself, Gethin, Carl, and Richard received an invite to his party.”
The next day, Marshall, Duerr, and Graves would be meeting up with Edgar Schwyn. The meeting was informal, and Schwyn outlined why he believed he would make a good distributor for Jensen in Switzerland. The meeting ended very positively, with all three Jensen men taking a liking to Schwyn, and firmly believing he would make a great Swiss Jensen distributor.
It was agreed that Schwyn would be the Jensen distributor in Switzerland from this meeting. An offer was made for Schwyn to come over and visit the Jensen factory, and to see how the cars were made. At that time, any details concerning distribution could be discussed.
Marshall later recollected, that he in particular took an instant liking to Schwyn, and would become good friends with him. According to Marshall, during the conversations with Schwyn, Duerr had brought up about the Swiss-based Jensen Motors Holdings [which had been set up a couple of months earlier]. Duerr thought this might be of benefit to Schwyn for their distribution agreement.
Apparently Schwyn was less than positive about such a Swiss-based set-up, stating it would be more straightforward for him to buy cars direct from Jensen Motors in the UK. Nothing more was said, and Marshall believes that was the end of Jensen Motors Holdings A.G.
During the show Marshall made a point of re-visiting the Voxson stand again. It would make an excellent opportunity of telling them personally how pleased Jensen were with the Voxson radio ‘8’ track player units, and how incredible the sound quality was inside the Jensen. Marshall tells us about his reception on the stand,
“I was amazed to find I was treated like an old friend by the staff. After some conversation, I was very surprised to be handed a gift for introducing them into the UK – it was a beautiful compact Voxson Stereo 8 home unit. I returned to the Jensen stand with a big grin on my face, and my new Voxson.”
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | Homeward bound
As the show ended, and the Jensen stand cleared down, Marshall would be driving back to England alone in 117/3139. Gethin Bradley, and his girlfriend, Margaret, had left after Press Day.
Carl Duerr, and Richard Graves, had also only been at the show for a couple of days. After their meeting with Schwyn, they also made their way back to Geneva-Cointrin Airport, to fly back to England.
Marshall packed everything into 117/3139, and was left holding the boxed Voxson home ‘8’ track unit. It suddenly dawned on him that he had to get the unit passed customs.
Having looked over the car, he eventually decided to pull back the passenger-side carpet, and place the unit up by the bulk-head with the carpet laid back as best as possible over the top.
It took just over seven hours to get from Geneva to Ostend, where Marshall just managed to get the last ferry from Ostend to Dover. Once at Dover, a tired Marshall got back into the tangerine Jensen, fired the car up and slowly moved off the ferry and through to customs, Marshall remembers this part of the journey only too well,
“It was the last thing I wanted, I was pulled aside by a keen young officer, and was fairly thoroughly inspected. Fairly was the word, because he really only wanted to have a good look at the Jensen Interceptor, still somewhat a rarity in those days.
He asked if he could sit in the car, to which I was hardly in a position to say no, and elected to sit on the passenger side “Lovely, and very comfortable”, he said, “but not much leg room is there?”
I shrugged my shoulders nervously, and bid him good night. As I jumped back into the driving seat, I hoped he had not damaged the Voxson home unit, which I had hidden under the passenger footwell carpet up by the bulkhead.”
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | 117/3139 New Ownership
Meanwhile the new Swiss Jensen distributor wasn’t about to let grass grow under his feet. Immediately after the motor show, he put an order in for three left-hand-drive Interceptors.
In May 1969, just one month after the Geneva Motor Show, Schwyn flew over to England with two clients – Messrs Valerio Pedersoli, and Rinaldo Jacomelli, hoteliers from Crans Montana in Switzerland. They purchased an Interceptor each through Schwyn.
Typically, when they arrived at Jensen Motors, they received VIP treatment. They had lunch at the factory, and then Marshall gave them a tour around the factory. After the official hand over of keys late afternoon, it was time to leave.
The three men were invited back to Marshall’s house for dinner, before they set off on their journey back to Switzerland. Marshall was later to comment,
“It was an astonishing site, I was using 117/3139 as a demonstration car, and was allowed to use it as my own personal transport. So I jumped in 117/3139, Edgar, and his two clients jumped in their respective new Interceptors, and we all went in convoy to my house, with me leading.
No less than four Interceptors sat outside my house while we had dinner ! I think it was during dinner that Edgar mentioned he wouldn’t mind buying our demonstration car as well (117/3139), once we were ready to sell it.
The two hoteliers were great fun, it transpired that Rinaldo was the world’s fastest ski-biker. Anyone that knows anything about ski-biking will realise this can be a hair-raising sport, with the bikes achieving incredible speeds downhill. “
Schwyn didn’t have to wait long for 117/3139. The car’s time was nearing its end as a demonstration car in any case. Within a couple of weeks of Schwyn’s return to Switzerland, he was told he could buy 117/3139.
However, on this occasion, Schwyn wouldn’t be coming back to England, to collect the car. The Interceptor would be air-freighted to Switzerland from Southend-On-Sea Airport. Meanwhile, Schwyn had already found a buyer for 117/3139.
Josef Dumfort from Uster, just outside Zurich, was the new owner. Dumfort originated from Austria, and had a company specialising in interior parts and upholstery for cars. Undoubtedly, Dumfort knew Edgar Schwyn through Schwyn’s car accessory business.
The 31 year old Dumfort registered 117/3139 on the 19th June 1969. He was assigned the Swiss registration number, ‘ZH 158147’ for the Interceptor.
Dumfort kept 117/3139 from 1969 up until 2005, although it is believed the car spent much of that ownership stored in Dumfort’s garage.
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | 117/3139 | Changing Ownership
Dumfort’s company went into liquidation in 2002, and a combination of this and possible ill-health, may have had something to do with the selling of his Interceptor.
Whatever the reasons, the car was sold in 2005 to the classic car dealer, Gregor Zimmermann in Friedrichshafen, Germany.
By the time Zimmermann purchased the car in 2005, 117/3139 was slightly the worst for wear. Although a good sound car, there was rust biting at various parts of the bodywork.
Zimmermann managed to find a buyer for the car at the end of 2005. On 14th December 2005, 117/3139 was purchased by Lars Jörgen Skarin, living in Värnamo, Sweden.
The Jensen was assigned the Swedish registration number ‘XMO 452’. Skarin kept the Interceptor for just over a year, selling the car on 19th May 2007.
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car |Enter Jan Isnenghi
On the 19th May 2007, 117/3139 entered its next ownership. And now, the car could settle down into long term sympathetic ownership, under the custodianship of Jan Isnenghi,
“when I was a kid one of my favourite games was a card game called “Superautos”. It contained different sport cars and you had to beat the other player’s cars by; for example; horsepower, numbers of cylinders etc. The Jensen interceptor was a kind of ace card, very hard to beat. I decided I had to have a Jensen Interceptor when I was grown up”.
After basic schooling, Isnenghi studied economics and then worked for a consultancy in mobile communications. Then after a sabbatical year, and a round the world trip at the age of 35, he decided to have a career change.
Isnenghi founded a company, called Alttagsklassiker, which specialised in the sale of useable classic cars for everyday use.
During May 2007, Isnenghi was travelling around Sweden looking for suitable classic cars to purchase. Isnenghi continues the story,
“I was on a buying trip to Sweden, together with my partner.
One morning at the Ibis hotel we were staying at, I was looking through a Swedish classic car magazine.
I turned the page, and instantly became very excited.
A LHD MK1 Jensen Interceptor from my birth Year 1969, and incredibly in a similar colour to the one in my old set of “Superautos”.
It was quite unbelievable !
Unfortunately the car was not on our route, but I called the owner, Lars Skarin, and asked him if he had time to join us for breakfast in our hotel and show me his car.
He said “no problem, it’s only 100 KM, see you in 45 minutes”. Sounds like something from the movie Pulp Fiction.
Good to his word, after about 45 minutes, Lars arrived at the hotel in his beautiful tangerine Interceptor.
The car was in good used condition showing just over 33,000 miles. It had a remarkably original interior, straight in the body, motor and gearbox lovely, but some smaller rust problems on the typical places.
One of the worst things about the car was a later fitted electric sunroof. It was rusty, and the nature of how it was made meant that it protruded into the cabin. Not good for me at 190cm tall.
Anyway, I had to have the car. We came to an agreement on price, and we had a gentleman agreement that I would return to Lars’ house in a couple of weeks with a trailer. Then we would conclude our business.”
As agreed, Isnenghi returned to Sweden a couple of weeks later , completed the deal on 117/3139, then returned to Germany with his new and treasured possession. According to Isnenghi, he was stopped twice on the return journey by police.
It wasn’t that anything was incorrect, and he felt they were only stopping him because they wanted to now more about the tangerine ‘supercar’ on his trailer.
Once back in Germany, Isnenghi used his new Jensen as a daily runner for a while. This was primarily to see how it ran, and how reliable it was. But, the car needed some sympathetic restoration work, and of course, that later fitted electric sunroof needed to go.
Isnenghi discussed a possible sympathetic restoration with various specialist companies in Germany. But he had concerns. One they had no experience of Jensen cars, and Isnenghi also felt they didn’t show any ‘feeling’ for the car.
This led to Isnenghi contacting the UK-based Jensen specialists, Rejen. Initial telephone calls between Isnenghi and Jason Lawrence of Rejen were very positive. Isnenghi felt comfortable that Rejen were not just capable of such a restoration, but also were capable of handling it in a sympathetic way. It wasn’t long before 117/3139 was back aboard the trailer, on its way to England.
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | Restoration
117/3139 was deposited at Rejen on the 29th of may 2009. Once at Rejen, evaluation of required work took place. Typically, as the restoration started, the car was found to have more rust than previously thought. One door was particularly bad, the roof was, in any case, going to be changed for a rust free used panel from Rejen’s stock.
The car would be largely stripped back to metal, and resprayed in the original tangerine colour. Isnenghi had given strict instructions that the original leather trim was not to be touched.
However, the mocha coloured Wilton carpets were definitely past their best. But could they be matched. Here, Isnenghi was exceptionally lucky. Lawrence initially contacted Wilton, but unfortunately they no longer had mocha within their range.
Further enquiries to other retailers of Wilton carpet came up trumps. One company still had a small quantity of original mocha Wilton carpet. Lawrence purchased the remaining roll, and luckily there was enough to complete a full carpet set for Isnenghi’s car.
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show & Press Car | Back in Germany
In October 2011, Rejen had finally finished the sympathetic restoration of 117/3139. Isnenghi was informed, and he travelled back over to England with a friend, on the 25th of November 2011 to collect the car.
Although he had travelled over twice to view the car during the restoration process, Isnenghi was stunned by the level of workmanship that had been carried out by the Rejen team.
In particular, the interior, with its carefully preserved original leather trim, and now immaculate mocha Wilton carpets.
With traditional shaking of hands, 117/3139 was driven onto the trailer, and Isnenghi and his friend headed towards the ferry.
However, it had already been an extremely long day, so they were staying over at a country house hotel, and then driving to catch the ferry back to Germany, in the morning. The following day, Isnenghi was back in Bonn, and 117/3139 deposited in his garage.
As at 2020, 117/3139 remains under the ownership of Isnenghi. And it looks as though the car will remain as apart of the Isnenghi family for a long time to come.
Jensen Interceptor | 1969 Geneva Motor Show Press Car
READ ALL ABOUT VOXSON: https://www.jensenmuseum.org/voxson-a-tumultuous-history/
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Jan Isnenghi | Felix Kistler, Secretary, Swiss Jensen Owners’ Club | Tony Marshall, former Sales Manager, Jensen Motors | Stephanie Pedersoli.
COPYRIGHTS: The Jensen Museum | Jan Isnenghi | Felix Kistler, Secretary, Swiss Jensen Owners’ Club
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