I was recently asked to compare the DS5 and DS7 engines, the two main variations fitted to our cars.
The question about which is more valuable is indeed like asking the length of a piece of string.
I don't want to start any squabbles between 541 owners
(there are few enough cars as it is), but here are the pros and cons:
The DS7 gives bragging rights re rarity
was more powerful in its day
was said to be less reliable
parts are scarcer: even the Austin limousines only had the DS7 engine fitted in less than 200 cars
damaged cykinder heads almost impossible to replace
The DS5 is more common
lower power not obvious when people drive them fairly sedately
parts readily available
ageing and cracking cylinder heads can be replaced for an eye-watering £6000:
So you pay your money and take your choice and re value they probably even out the same.
Does anyone out there have any views on this?
FUZZ TOWNSHEND'S TOP 10 CLASSICS TO RESTORE IN 2016
Now, I really know a thing or two about taking on one of these cars, as I have one sitting in my workshop right now and,
having owned it for nearly seven years, Iím still nowhere near finishing it.
Here are brought together virtually every discipline in the car restoration world:
fibreglass, aluminium, steel, wood, leather, Perspex, rare parts and design flaws,
but perhaps the greatest enemy here is time.
I was 44 and relatively supple when I bought mine. Iím now 51 and even with a workshop and skilled labour to hand,
Iím realistically unlikely to be driving the thing for another couple of years,
so again I have to say that taking on a project like this should perhaps only be contemplated by those
who think they have oodles of time on their hands.
Fibreglass is often thought of as the welding cowardís best friend.
Iíve seen plenty of the stuff where it shouldnít be, but even here, where it is a large part of the outer cladding,
working with the material to a high standard involves skill, patience and time.
Itís not exactly the kindest material on oneís body either.
The great thing is, take on one of these cars now and youíll have a brute of a four seater GT at your disposal
and you may just manage to be in profit by the end of the project, as prices are beginning to rocket.
What to pay: Project £15,000-£18,000; Usable £26,000-£30,000; Good £35,000-£40,000; Concours £50,000-£55,000
Restore it like you stole it, Fuzz!
It is with a heavy heart that I report the sudden death, at the age of 61, of Jensen enthusiast Dr Norman Paskin.
Already an owner of a fine C-V8, he had recently been talking to me about buying a 541.
He had just imported a car from Italy which he was intending to finish off to a very high standard.
The car had been entrusted to Alan Bray of Kestrel Classic Cars, who wrote a moving tribute on the
Norman's newly imported 541
REJEN OPEN DAY
On Saturday May 14th, popular Jensen supplier Rejen will be celebrating their move to larger premises by holding an open day.
They have been gathering a small amount of memorabilia to give visitors something to look at, but the biggest attraction
will be the raw unused body shell of the prototype Interceptor replacement, the Type F.
Their address is Rejen,
Unit 1 Abbas Business Centre,
Main Road, Itchen Abbas,
Winchester, S021 1BQ
Occasionally pictures emerge of a 541 that I am unable to identify.
There was no news about the last car I featured, on the West coast of the USA,
so let's hope we have better luck this time.
The car shown here was photographed in 2005 in Austria, obviously as some kind of "before" exhibit
as it seems quite sound but has been left very dirty.
The tax disc shows it was previously in the UK.
Does anyone have any further information on it? Click on the image to enlarge it.
ON THE FORUM
My postcard picture of a green 541 in an inn courtyard received no response,
but the picture of a 541 in a continental resort sparked huge interest.
We have now located the exact spot the picture was taken (in Sitges, near Barcelona in Spain)
and have an offer to pose a 541 in that spot when it is restored!
We even got an unsolicted compliment from Duncan Watts:
"My love for the cars is limited to the Interceptor... all other variants models etc never raised a glance from me,
Till now I look at that postcard and that 541 looks stunning..."
Catch up on the Forum's postcard detective work
MORE FORUM FUN
A recent picture of the 541 prototype posed in a humble street had me pondering.
The offical Jensen photographers were not well-known for travelling to exotic locations to photograph cars,
so I suspected that the car was pictured very close to the factory. And what was that building in the background?
Could it really be the Jensen factory itself, in which the 541 was built?
If you are a Forum member, you can find out the result of my investigations by following this link:
KELVIN WAY, 1969
A tour of Kelvin Way was given by Richard Graves to Motor Sport magazine in 1969, which reported:
The Jensen factory ... consists, broadly, of the East Works and the West Works,
the former containing the body shops, the latter the glass-fibre shops, etc.
Some 400 employees work on the shop floor and the total employed, inclusive of office staff,
numbers in the region of 500 persons.
In the glass-fibre shop Jensen make such parts as facia panels, front seat surrounds, transmission covers
(these in two sizes, for FF and Interceptor), rear-seat back-rests
(with metal sockets to take detachable head-rests), instrument bezels and nacelles, etc.
Incidentally, one man does nothing else except make spares for the glass-fibre-bodied
Jensen 541 and CV8, although these are obsolete models.
Another 541 themed T-shirt. Other vendors are available!
I'm already working on the next News update of Jensen541.com.
I'm pleased to announce I've been given special permission by the original photographer
to feature pictures of a 1958 race meeting in which a 541 was competing.
I shall be working hard to round up ALL the 541's race activities, cars and drivers,
so if you have any information I shall be glad to receive it.
I shall also be revealing previously unseen information about Eric Neale's famous swiveling front flap design.
We'll also learn how a school speech day featured a well-travelled 541...
Check out our attractive and clear Events planner on the Forum to see what is on offer over 2016
Gerry was the most successful British saloon car racing driver,
whose exuberant driving style made him a crowd favourite and netted him 623 victories in a 40-year career.
In 1979 Gerry told "Old Motor" magazine:
One of my pet investments is the Jensen 541. A much maligned machine in its day.
In my opinion the 541R is so superior to any Jaguar or Aston Martin
that I don't understand why it has not become a valuable collectors' piece.
The 541R I have was one of the fastest cars Motor and Autocar had tested in 1959.
We are talking about 127 miles per hour and nought to 60 in 9 seconds.
Yet every one derided the car for its lazy Austin engine. In fact it's the best part of the car.
I get 22 MPG driving hard, using the very high-geared overdrive.
The handling is far superior to that of the equivalent Jaguars.
It's not hard to steer if you have the standard wheel on it.
His personal car collection, including his beloved 541, was shown on the cover of
"Vauxhall Motorist" Magazine, December 1974/January 1975:
Click to expand:
His son, Gregor Marshall, told me:
I know the car very well, it was one of my Dad's favourites
and he also had a painting or two of it also (my sister still has one),
so great to hear it is still going strong.
Long-time 541 enthusiast Mike Byrne remembers Gerry coming around to his house to pick up some parts.
Unfortunately, some of them were stored in the loft and Mike remembers the very rotund Gerry having to
squeeze his way through the hatch.
Dad getting up a ladder into a loft would've been a tight fit,
but he certainly would've relished the opportunity to get some good priced spares!
(Gerry's other job was as a car trader).
Above, the car is shown outside a pub in Cropredy Bridge in the 1980s.
After being in Gerry's ownership from 1973 to 1980, it passed to Hugh Butterworth, who resprayed it green in 1999.
The 541 is currently in the hands of the Butterworth family, and Hugo added,
Our Jensen (2717 VF) was purchased from him through the garage in Cropredy in the early 80's.
We still have his BRDC sticker on the windscreen.
JOC INTERNATIONAL WEEKEND 10th - 12th June
On 10th, 11th and 12th June the JOC International Weekend will be at the Principal Hayley Beaumont Estate near Windsor.
Please note that this year the event does not include concours.
We are also running benchmarking sessions, where a marque expert can go with you and see what they think of your car.
These will be on the Saturday 3pm - 5pm and Sunday 10am - 1pm.
Entry for visitors is FREE so if you are interested in becoming a Jensen owner
but want to know more about the cars or the club, just drop in.
Rough timetable will be:
Friday 10th June Meet and greet.
Saturday 11th June AM - AGM John Lane (0151 9249621) firstname.lastname@example.org
Followed by classic run or shopping
Saturday 11th June 3pm - 5pm Benchmarking - Keith Lee (0151 336 4562)
Saturday 11th June Evening - Dinner/Dance & entertainment Stuart Allan (01270 761444)
Sunday 12th June 10am - 1pm Benchmarking - Keith Lee (0151 336 4562)
** WARNING ** the article that follows turned out to be an April Fool, apart from the first paragraph. But maybe some day soon...
In Great Britain all vehicles manufactured before 1960 are exempt from regular road-worthiness testing.
New EU Directives will allow member states to exempt vehicles at least 30 years old exemption from testing,
which will tie in with the Historic Vehicle tax exemption, and the requirement for reflective plates.
Weíll need to update UK law to reflect EU law.
The next step is a proposal to remove the requirement for licence plates for pre-1960 cars,
and to actively ban their display.
A study has found that collectors of pre-1960 cars are considered to be enthusiastic and trustworthy,
and unlikely to need to be traced by the police.
The more valuable confiscated number combinations will of course be sold on by the DVLA
to owners of modern cars to raise money for the government.
In the rare event of a non-plated classic being flashed by a speed trap camera,
there will be provision for a 'trust box' at the base of the camera
so law abiding drivers are able to reverse back and pay the fine on the spot.
An objection raised was that it will be difficult for authorities, including insurance companies,
to differentiate between classic cars. Owners will be instead encouraged to use "nicknames" for the cars,
such as Rosie or Jennie. Names such as "The Sodding Moneypit" and "The Old B*stard" will be prohibited.
A Government spokesman and keen Jensen owner giving his name as just "Sir Greg" hailed the move as "...a bloody disaster.
They're not having the plates off my Jensen I'm telling you.
People will think I'm the Queen. And another thing..." at which point he was bundled away.
Trevor Pyman recently sent me a link to a 50 year old drag racing film; a friend of his had spotted a 541R in it!
The car seems to be reading to enter staging in the film, seen below,
but after twenty seconds it disappears from screen and is not seen again.
I was able to explain that the car, along with the huge US pickup in the other lane, was on "pusher" duties,
with a large plank placed across the car's front so it could give a push start to the temperamental Allard dragster,
and it followed it into staging in case it stalled. The 541R was possibly also used for towing. Click top image to play:
A car was converted into a pusher by bolting to the front a piece of wood,
which would often be covered by rope or a piece of carpet to cushion the contact.
"PUSH BARS: Any car not capable of being started under its own power must be equipped
with a suitable bumper-height pushing attachment. Towed starts will not be permitted."
In the other lane, a big American car (1959 Ford Ranchero??) did the same job - it makes a late arrival on the scene. Another car in some background shots has a black and yellow chevron plate on the front - another pusher.
I believe the car pictured is the ex-works Allard Dragon
(yes, built and raced by Sydney Allard who built the V8 road cars and won the Monte).
This particular dragster was won in a 1965 magazine competition by an 18-year-old called Chris Pattison,
who up to a few years ago was still drag racing!
If anyone knows him, see if he can remember the Jensen 541.
CARS ON STREETS Answers on a postcard
A while back, Han Kamp drew my attention to this striking image.
It is of the town with the unfortunate name of Rust, in Austria near the Hungarian border.
Judging by the VW Beetles, it was taken around 1959/1960. An intrepid traveller is parked up in the main street,
but his wire-wheeled 541 cannot be identified. Does anyone know whose car this could be?
If you click to enlarge the picture, you can see the stork nests on the chimneys!
Click on the image to enlarge it.
LITERARY CORNER "The Scream"
In the late 1960s Drew Launay published a series of action adventures, one of which briefly mentions a 541.
"The Scream" is the sort of book which considers a page wasted if it does not contain a fist fight,
a rooftop chase and at least one dolly bird.
We took the lift to the basement garage and in the cement silence, one bulb burning dimly in a corner, the smell of petrol, the atmosphere of silicone and highly polished wax on the clean reflecting luxury cars, we got into an onion coloured Jensen 541 R.
"My London runabout. Maxi's last present to me. Rather nice don't you think?"
She wasn't the best of drivers but managed to avoid the bumpers of two Bentleys and a Jaguar before backing into a Consul.
"It's only a Ford" she said, and drove on up the ramp as though we were astronauts on a launching pad.
She suddenly swung into a mews and stopped dead.
"Come on - get out!"
She leapt out of the car, and I did the same. As the Mini came tearing round the corner she flattened herself against the wall.
The Mini went smack into the back of the Jensen.
VIDEO CLIP: "The Right Fit"
As this month's round-up has already included one video clip (under 'Drag Racing', above),
I hope I'll be excused if I now feature a video that has become so popular on the internet you may well have already seen it.
It is a beautifully produced tribute to a 541 in Italy, complete with subtitles.
CAR OF THE MONTH:
...this month - ex-Museum 541S.
This car was registered on 8th January 1963, supplied new via Charles Follett Ltd of Berkeley St, London W1.
It had travelled to Germany by the mid 1980s, and then from 1991-2005 it was part of
a major prestigious car collection which was shipped from Holland to the UK.
It was housed at a fifteenth-century moated house in Kent but the Dutch businessman owner,
a Mr. Van Dijk, moved to the USA and sold his entire collection at a special Van Dijk Collection Auction in 2005.
It was recently spotted on a London street by photographer Alistair Beavis - click the image to get a larger version.