Highlights of Previous Months' News

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         ** Warning - they are now out-of-date **

2010        2011        2012        2013        2014        2015        2016        2017       



Renowned journalist and car nut Simon Taylor has presented the Classic & Sportscar magazine Car Club Awards after the NEC show for 16 years. James Elliott writes in the January 2015 C&SC that he still most vividly remembers the first event and claims it is because of the Club Personality winners - Ron and Thelma Smith, of 541R fame. He singles them out as "stalwarts of the Jensen Owners' Club" and says that they represented everything that the ceremony was all about.

Picture credit: Steve Johnson


At the NEC Classic show I again met Fuzz Townshend of "Car SOS" TV fame. Drummer, bus engineer, restorer and freelance classic car journalist - Fuzz is a busy man, so busy in fact that his own cars have had to sit unrestored in his garage whilst he works on others - see the screen shot from Channel 4's "CAR SOS" below:

He has narrowed his focus down to his Austin 7 special and his 541, so expect great things by next year! He had his car on the Carole Nash insurance stand, where is provoked much interest as the stripped body / chassis bore no signs of identification!

He assures me that all the missing parts are safely stored.


Matrix Scale Models recently introduced a 1:43 scale 541S, painted white and red to match a real fullsize car. This excellent model was very popular and soon sold out. Some enthusiasts in the JOC are still trying to purchase one - if anyone knows of a source please let us know!


Literary Corner  In the time of cherries

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: Ashley-Hinton
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
Email: ah@mg-cars.org.uk
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


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 kits.
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


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?

Video credit: Francesco Gaidano

Click here for alternative way to play clip using YouTube


MERCEDES COPYCAT?    Who was First?

Six decades after the 541 and Mercedes "Gullwing" 300SL were unveiled, we still have to put up with experts making claims about Eric Neale's styling:
similar styling cues to the 300SL - notably the 'eyebrows' over the wheels ...
fabulously bulbous wheel arches, reminiscent of the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing ...
The Mercedes 300SL called; it wants its wheel arches back ...

So what are the facts? The lines of the 541 were first revealed to the public in October 1953 at Earls Court.

The prototype 300SL was shown at the International Motor Sports Show in New York City in February 1954.

Here is the whole Mercedes stand at the 1954 NY show. Mercedes security was such that the design details came as a surprise to everyone, and it would not have been possible for Jensen to know of their design four months in advance, let alone back in the Summer of 1953 when the first 541 was styled.

You can see that the smaller 190SL in the background did not even have the spars over the rear arch: these were hastily added by Friedrich Geiger's styling team in the next few months, as below.

Of course, the 300 SL was famous from 1952 onwards, but only the production version announced in 1954 had the distinctive wheelarches.

See below three versions of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL at a glance: on the right, the Mercedes-Benz 1952 300 SL (W 194 series), next to it the racing car prototype developed for the 1953 racing season, finally the 1954 series-production car (W 198).

One element in the 1953 car that MAY have influenced Eric Neale is the large circular badge in the radiator opening, flanked by chrome spears. When the 541 was developed into the 541R with twin SUs, bonnet clearance became a problem and the solution was the same as Mercedes had used to clear their air intakes, and was possibly copied from the 300SL: a small off-centre bonnet bulge to clear the carbs and a matching one on the other side to balance the appearance.

To sum up, despite Eric Neale being a keen follower of continental trends, the main design of the 541 came BEFORE that of the 300SL, it was unveiled first, and Jensen should receive full credit for the way it looked.

Finally, the picture below shows how similar the 541S, Neale's final iteration of the 541 shape, looked to the 300SL. A closer look shows a big difference in the cockpit design: the Mercedes was designed to have a narrow cockpit above its wide body, to cut down on cross section area and aerodynamic drag, whereas the Jensen is comfortably wide as it was designed to cosset its passengers.

Picture credits: Jens Jansen

Culture Corner  Giant ArtWork

Still stuck for decorating idea in your minimalistic apartment? Maybe online site Etsy.com has the answer:
Made from great quality Heavy Art paper - 250 grams - and printed with the latest printer technology for true HD colors. This huge poster is constructed of 8 parts to create a modern look. Each individual part is a regular A3 size.

MOULDY LUCK  Alternative source

Although the situation with the Club's 541 glassfibre moulds remains unchanged, a Dutch enthusiast has taken the plunge and created brand new moulds, using existing bodyshells as the bucks. Ton van Rijn from the Netherlands told us that moulds for the JENSEN 541S [AND THE JENSEN C-V8 MKII] are ready.    Ton explained:

As promised the pictures of the moulds... Some small detail moulds are still under production and will be ready in the course of August 2014. Super professional. It is our intention to invite, by the end of August / early September, members of the JOC and HJGH for a presentation in Holland to inspect the quality. A special floor will be made to show the way of production and real ease of the first products manufactured. Of course the whole production from start until the end will be filmed and put on DVD and handed over to the JOC and HJGH including price list. We think this is the ultimate attempt from a Jensen enthusiast to keep the brand Jensen alive and to avoid getting Jensens scrapped.

Picture credit: Ton van Rijn


Back in the 50s during the 541's brief racing career, it was rare to have footage taken from a moving car. This makes the four seconds of video below rather special and exciting. They show the car exiting Graham Hill Bend onto Cooper Straight. The rest of the clip shows other views of Brands Hatch.

Video credit: via Han Kamp

Click here for alternative way to play clip using YouTube

The car in the clip still survives.

WESLAKE CYLINDER HEADS    Something special?

Picture credit: AJ Cassar

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.


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!