You might think the matter of dealing with poor cracked and delaminating Jensen veneers is simple – just replace the veneered panel with a re-veneered one.
We look in depth at the Jensen veneer instrument panel, which houses the main switches on Interceptors and FFs.
The original Vignale switch panel, as fitted to the first Interceptors and FFs, was manufactured as a metal (steel) back plate. To the plate are the various cut out sections for the mounting of switches. The metal plate was then veneered using an American crown cut walnut. A veneer with a horizontal stripe pattern. The reverse of the metal plate was sprayed in a satin black paint to protect the untreated steel from rusting.
When production moved to West Bromwich, the same switch panel was used, although Jensen Motors had the panels veneered in typical British burr walnut. This style of panel remained in place throughout MK.I production, although a handful of cars had the panel finished with black vinyl (or other such special order coverings).
Today, with MK.I Interceptors and FFs being in access of forty years old, many of the veneered switch panels have suffered from fading, cracking and in some cases delamination.
The obvious solution is to replace the panel with a re-veneered one. That is fine in most instances, however, what about the situation when the car you own has historical significance.
Lets take two examples, The earliest surviving Interceptor, ‘HEA 1D’ (chassis number 115/2495), and the FF which was driven up a ski-slope ‘MEA 444F’ (chassis number 119/025). Both cars have historical significance, and where ever possible, conservation of the original existing item is preferable to simple replacement.
This is particularly important when a number of period photographs show the cars, along with their interiors. The fact is, a wood veneer is like a fingerprint. Everyone is unique. If you looked closely at the period photograph you could check the ‘fingerprinting’ of the panel against the one on that surviving car, and; if it hasn’t been changed at some point in the past; should able to achieve a perfect match.
What many classic car owners do not understand, is that a really skilled wood veneer specialist can often re-laminate your existing veneer, so you do not lose the original veneer to your car.
Okay, there will be some exceptions, such as where some of the veneer to the panel has cracked, delaminated, broken off, and is now lost. In those situations there really isn’t much you can do apart from having the panel re-veneered. What is important is to archive the original panel in the car’s history file, so that this element of the car’s history isn’t completely lost.
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