1973 Jensen Healey Mk1 Roadster
|Engine||2.0L In-Line 4cyl|
Although Jensen are best remembered for the luxurious, Chrysler-powered Interceptors, the West Bromwich outfit also built bodyshells for outside carmakers. When production of both the Austin-Healey and Sunbeam Tigers ceased in 1967, Jensen were facing financial ruin until a possible replacement for the Big Healey was proposed by Donald Healey and American car dealer Kjell Qvale. Looking for a company with the ability to produce the new sports car in large volume for the American market, Qvale invested in the Jensen Company, became Chairman and the Jensen-Healey soon became a reality. Built in the traditional British sports car idiom, the new model employed a Lotus twin-cam four-cylinder engine (developed from a Vauxhall unit) with four-speed all-synchro gearbox. Layout was thoroughly conventional with front engine and rear-wheel drive, live rear axle and disc/drum brake combination. The Jensen-Healey handled well and had attractive, if somewhat unadventurous styling by Hugo Poole - the shape underwent some in-house changes before reaching production. After initial teething trouble, maintenance issues with the troublesome Lotus power unit were resolved and most critics agree the Jensen-Healey was a satisfying alternative to the MGB. In all, around 10,000 examples were made over four years of production, along with a further quantity of coupe derivatives known as the Jensen GT. Examples of either model remain a relatively uncommon sight on Australia's roads and are an underrated - and therefore relatively inexpensive - alternative for the buyer seeking a classic British roadster.