If you want to see what has been news in the 541 community in the past months, take a look below.
Each month I'll take the best of the news items and preserve them here. Happy Browsing!
** Warning - they are now out-of-date **
Our header picture shows the Jensen 541R (1960) of Squizzato/Benatti taking part in the 447km Winter Marathon in Italy, in late November.
Thanks to Pierpaolo Romano for the picture. More details of the Marathon, which was won by a Cooper 'S', are
See below for a few ideas on how to spend money this Christmas:
On the A.H. Spares stand at the NEC show, the exhibitor let me hold the holy grail of interior restorers -
a working lock for the 541S glovebox.
After many years of them not being available, they have taken the plunge and have taken the decision to re-manufacture them.
These are a high quality part, made as original with push button opening and keys.
At nearly £100 plus VAT they are not cheap, but until recently that was the price you'd pay for a MOCK pushbutton,
the prices aimed at Cobra replica builders.
EARLY 541 LATCHES
If you won an early 541 you will know they came with rather strange shaped front quarterlight catches.
These are reportedly hard to find, but I located some at Aston specialist
Four Ashes Garage.
They quote for window catches at £35 each.
Contact them on firstname.lastname@example.org for more details
It's been a long wait but at last stainless fabricators Group Harrington (based in Vietnam)
have started production of both Jensen 541 and 541R bumpers,
the latter with front quarter bumpers and over-riders.
The MD told me:
Pricewise you are looking at GBP 848 including shipping for the 541 bumpers
and GBP 889 including shipping for the 541R bumpers.
I would also like to propose a special discount of GBP 30 for club members
(they just need to mention being member of the club when ordering).
The bumpers can be ordered through email email@example.com or our website
Prices may have changed since this initial announcement,
and there is no official connection to, or endorsement by, the JOC.
The Harrington MD informs me:
"There have been a few new developments.
Firstly we decided to invest in a stamping press and will from now on
supply the rear joining piece WITH the Jensen logo embossed.
Also, beginning of next year we will receive a set of original Jensen 541S bumpers
to use as patterns for reproduction- the first sets should be available end of January."
Not a commercial enterprise this time, but an effort by a club member to produce a small batch of pedal rubbers with the disctinctive J symbol on them.
Go onto the forum to reserve your pair now. Shown below is what the final items should look like:
DS7/DM7 HEAD GASKET
Andy Fowler informed me earlier this year that he had remade, at great expense,
12 of these gaskets. "Hence the hefty price!" he remarked.
But at least these vital parts are available for 541R owner with the rare DS7 engine.
Andy, an expert in all matters to do with the 4-litre Austin engine, advertises his contact details in the JOC magazine.
Richard Appleyard Parts, also a regular advertiser in the JOC magazine, updated its website earlier this year, with "Quick Contact" facility.
(But I still think Andy would prefer you to ring or drop in for a cup of tea!)
NEC CLASSIC MOTOR SHOW Event report
Picture credit: Stephen Carter
One of the stars of the show was of course the 541 of Darren Barnes,
earning its place on the stand from its involvement with the new Bond book launch.
The lifting front end was a popular attraction, and some lucky people got to sit in the driver's seat -
I may be wrong but the criteria seemed to be that pretty ladies got priority!
Picture credit: Stephen Carter
V8 SECTION More Developments
With at least 3 "factory" V8 541s now documented, I feel justified in suggesting we now have a "V8 section".
With the latest developments, firstly we have Felix Kistler's rebuild of SEA 770.
Picture credit: Felix Kistler
Felix Kistler says:
My engine for SEA770 is ordered (from a small workshop in Florida, which is specialized in hemis)! It's a 331 hemi.
For the transmission we made the following decisions:
1. manual (not typical for V8s in the 50s). Exception are Facel Vegas and Chevys (Corvettes), if I remember correctly.
2. rather than go for the British transmissions used in the 541, we'll go with the Chrysler A-833,
not correct for a '58/'59 car, but an excellent transmission.
Meanwhile, Francis Pullen is eyeing up his experimental 541S and thinking it should go back to having a V8, like his other 541.
Even more interesting is the increasing evidence he is amassing that the first Jensen FF was actually based on a 541, not a CV8 chassis.
More on this story in 2014.
LONG DISTANCE TRAVEL WOES
A recent project saw an original 541 body torn from its chassis and re-imagined as a close-coupled 2 seater,
then placed on a V8 TVR chassis. The end result is undeniably striking,
despite some radical changes being made to Eric Neale's styling.
(The discarded rolling chassis/interior unit has found a good home with some Jensen enthusiasts.)
Unfortunately, it suffered some teething problems on the way to the new owner, believed to be in France.
The creators probably won't be delighted to find that the resulting 3-wheeled recovery was captured on film.
It is worth noting that the problem was with the modern TVR mechanicals!
LONG DISTANCE TRAVEL JOY
All pictures, credit: "D Bristow"
Back in the 1950s, a more succesful trip to France was made by this car, an "R" prototype.
PEA 541 still famously still holds the 1959 London to Paris world speed record of
2 hours, 27 minutes and 17 seconds, driven by motor-racing promoter John Webb.
Current keeper Danny Bristow has given the car a comprehensive rebuild,
while respecting the mechanical history of this special model. He told me,
The whole front end of the chassis is different with quick lift jacking points
and we're continually finding little bits of the car that are different to normal.
Some of the parts are so much better than standard that I can't understand why they weren't continued.
The rear hinges can be found on several of the early cars (and show cars) and are really classy.
Everything is wired for racing.
Original rear hinges and monza filler cap for quick refuelling:
PEA is also the only car to have a starting handle through the radiator.
VIDEO CLIP: STATESIDE TV
"My Classic Car" is a US television show about classic automobiles, hosted by Dennis Gage. The moustachioed host seems genuinely enthralled by the cars he sees - why can't we have something like this in the UK?
In the clip below he views a 541 imported from Wales. (Incidentally, the carbs are H4, not HS4).
I am sure that readers of this site will be aware that one of the most famous
Catalan novel writers was Montserrat Roig of Barcelona (1946-1991).
Her prominent themes are relations among women, the social roles allocated to women,
female sexuality, the problem of articulating their subjectivity, the role of writing in women's
self-expression, power relations between the sexes, etc.
What more natural, then, than for her to include a Jensen 541 in her writings?
The original text from her famous book "El temps de les cireres" (In the time of cherries), 1976,
is shown above but as my Catalan is a little rusty I have let Google Translate take up the slack,
although I suspect that Google may also need a little more practice:
"How I love the smell of burnt sugar", said Dolores, meanwhile,
was talking with Matthew Lluis, we teach to the latest catalog of sports,
what do you think the Jensen Healey, huh?
Matthew Do not think too much, motor powerful, suspension correct
cilindratge reasonable excellent acquisition boyfriend!,
And Matthew gave him a pat on the espatIla,
my father, Matthew continued, had a Jensen 541 with fiberglass bodywork.
Wings hours a treat.
What was not said by Matthew, but Louis never forget,
is that his father was a chauffeur and Jensen 541 belonged,
in fact, a well-known industrial city.
He was so proud, Matthew, to have reached as high as, director of the Rock, Seat 431,
house Pineda. Who could recognize now a child of a chauffeur?
Is that the cars are very English gentlemen in Louis said, were the first,
the Jensen house to reach the speed of 180 per hour. A prodigy!
4WD or Hemi
Not happy with your standard 541?
Projects are afoot to install a hemi into a 541,
putting it back to the way it was when Jensen created it as a V8 prototype,
and another project will put a 4WD FF drivetrain into a 541.
Francis Pullen ('Frankoid' on the Forum) has been researching the origins of the original FF
and thinks it had much in common with the 541. Enthusiast Per has sourced an
engineless 541 and it will hopefully be rebuilt as the V8 FF that never quite happened!
Car parts fanantic Ashley Hinton has been gathering valuable old British tooling for decades, and as he sorts through it has been bringing rare parts back into production. He specialises in heating and ventilation, as he has most of the old Smiths tooling. He has a Facebook page:
Parts can be ordered through eBay, and it is worth noting that although the main units are shared by several other marques, the kits he supplies are apparently complete with all relevant pipes, bolts, washers etc, to fit the 541.
Parts fitting the 541 models include the heater blower unit, outlet door and heater cables and the dash knobs.
Ashley spared the time to speak to me personally about his quest to make parts in England
on the orignal tooling and is a complete enthusiast. Contact him on: Tel: ++44(0)1372 456304
Fax: ++44(0)1372 456447
for more details
Amidst a large turnout for this year's International at Horwood House, there was a very small 541 group.
Pictured below are the S of the 541 Registrars, the R of Alistair Thomas,
the yellow R of Andy Parsloe (which could only make a flying visit)
and the red R hybrid of Peter Neale.
Peter hopes to attend the 541 60th celebration later this year,
where as son of designer Eric Neale he will represent the Neale family.
Lennie Boulton's immaculate two-tone pink 541R started the journey to the International, but soft brakes developed and Lennie decided to attend without the car.
Amongst other 541 owners present without their cars were Roderick Groundes-Peace and Tony Wilde
GONE FOR GOOD?
Regular YouTube viewers may remember a very professional video in which 541 owner Barry Stone
described how he bought and restored his distinctive BMW engined 541, which he recently sold.
Although it provided a fine introduction to the 541 for the video-viewing public,
it has recently disapeared from YouTube.
Enquiries to Barry revealed that, despite a search, he did not retain any copies of the video.
Does anyone out there have a version that they downloaded, that can be preserved for posterity?
(It may be of interest that Barry is just launching his new novel "Winston And The Canny Lass")
**BACK TO STAY!** Update - Barry located a disc copy of his missing video and emailed it to me;
I have posted it back on Youtube here:
Does your bonnet currently look like this? Hopefully new bonnets will be available.
Regardless of the saga of the historic 541 moulds that the Club owns, there will soon be alternative newly
created panels available from Dutch enthusiast Ton van Rijn.
Produced from good original car bodies, the panels will be made with the latest techniques where necessary.
Ton told me:
"both complete body moulds ( C V8 MKII and 541S) are ready for producing parts and complete
The first body kit complete will be tested on the new chassis and new A/B side frames
in the course of June."
Ton has approached Appleyard's (Andy Brooks) and they propose to act as an agent.
Following the International Weekend, I hope to have more news about the original 541 moulds.
Cropredy has not specialised in 541s for some time, but is well known to the public as a Jensen specialist.
Following several eventful years, with changes of staff and management, they have recently announced
new backing from a Mr. Steve Groves, who promises he will be "investing in the workshop facillities, processes
and hopefully then the parts services.. and also sales"
We wish them well.
TRIPLE WHAMMY! 541 stars on TV
Watchers of popular TV recently may have noticed a particular car popping up on screen several times.
The beautifully restored pale blue metallic 541 comes from the Studio 541 collection,
and was first seen on the ITV drama Breathless in the hands of a handsome young doctor:
It then appeared in a dramatised documentary about a different doctor - the creation of the Doctor Who programme in 1963.
Dynamic series creator Sydney Newman is featured pulling into the TV Centre in his 541.
Older readers may be interested to know that the car park official in this photo is played by the original Dr Who companion 'Ian Chesterton'.
And finally ITV used the car in nostalgic detective drama "Marple" as the transport for a newly rich young man who is having a new house built by a modern architect.
MIDLANDS DERBY Magazine Shootout
In the February 2014 Classic & Sportscar magazine (cover title: McQueen's Ferrari) the question was asked;
"Can a Jensen top Jaguar's mighty XK?"
They started by saying:
... the notion of comparing an XK150 coupť with a Jensen 541 might seem laughable... In 1958... for the 43% more asked by Jensen,
you got a glass-fibre body and nothing more exotic than a 4-litre pushrod straight-six... Game over?
But they go on to say the Jaguar interior is surprisingly plain, and doesn't age well,
whereas the Jensen has a "genuinely pleasing and practical cabin, and certainly not home-made in feel", not to mention the two nicely shaped rear seats.
As far as the mechanical side is concerned:
If you had to sum up the Jensen in one phrase, you could confidently describe it as a car of beefy inputs.
...The Jensenís straight-six lacks the sophisticated crackle and sparkle of the Jaguarís XK unit, but despite its power deficit delivers ample performance, on an unrelenting surge of torque. You enjoy playing with the Jaguar while you feel inclined to sit back and cruise in the Jensen.
And they conclude:
For many people the Jaguar would be superior, but the Jensen has a greater spread of talent than you might expect.
If you can live with the extra muscle needed to drive the 541, it makes a totally valid alternative to the XK.
With rarity in its favor, it could make a fascinating wild-card proposition
for those who donít want to make the obvious choices in life.
Picture credit: Classic & Sportscar
VIDEO CLIP: ITALIAN JOB
Several years ago a 541 appeared on eBay, with a 1970s JOC sticker still in the window.
It looked rather tired and was noteworthy for its set of chunky black Revolution alloys and indicator/sidelights from a '60s Austin Princess R neatly integrated into the body.
It was exported and has recently re-emerged. It appears that the restoration was more than thorough:
Picture credit: Francesco Gaidano
Which brings us to the video clip which shows the car touring a racing circuit, sounding very healthy. Note the restored sidelights on the wings!
Maybe Francesco could contact us with more information about this restoration?
Those new to 541 ownership often clean the dirt off an engine and discover mysterious writing on the cylinder head
- "Weslake". Knowing of Weslake's involvement with F1 and LeMans, they assume they have something special;
a tuned engine perhaps? Sadly not, but the true story is still interesting.
Harry Weslake's father was a director of Willey and Co., who made gas meters for the nation until the 1980s. Harry was born in 1897
and received an education through an apprenticeship to Willey's. Crucially, he studied the way that gas meters worked by measuring the flow of gas.
He applied for his licence at 15 and started his lifelong connection with fast motorbikes by hiring one, and then buying a Rudge to travel to work.
The Rudge's crude spray carb was improved upon by Weslake and he set up the Wex carb factory.
After some years racing and tuning bikes, W.O. Bentley commissioned him to improve a new engine.
Weslake's airflow testing increased the output by 50%, and his new career was launched,
working on the postwar Jaguars and the Austin Healey.
His patents were adopted by Austin, and later BMC, and small plates were placed on all A-series engines to show this:
The same port shaping techniques were used on the big Austin engine that found its way into the 541,
and this actually had the patent numbers cast into the head. The heads were all the same, according to expert Andy Fowler,
the only difference being that Jensen skimmed a little off the cylinder head to improve the compression ratio.
Apologies to anyone who thought they had something 'special' fitted to their car, but I'm sure you will agree it is a great story anyway.
VIDEO CLIP: FRENCH OUTING
Worth watching the whole video, but if you want to see the 541 you can skip to 3 minutes 30 seconds, and practice your French skills.
This car is apparently currently for sale!
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