Tuesday 21st May 2019,
Inopian

Jensen-Healey 1972 – 1976

In 1966 Austin-Healey`s US distributor, Kjell Qvale became Jensen`s majority shareholder. He was very enthusiastic when the possibility of recruiting Donald Healey arose. In 1970 Donald Healey did indeed arrive and did not come empty-handed.

With him came son Geoffrey, Bill Townes (Lagonda designer) and Barry Bilbie, who was Healey`s chassis designer. Alan and Richard Jensen were old friends of Donald Healey so the atmosphere was very positive and congenial. Healey wanted to build the true replacement for his Austin-Healey 3000 and Jensen were keen to build a sports-car, something they had never done before.

Jensen had always built Grand Touring cars like the C-V8 and the Interceptor. So the happy throng set to work on the design. The result was the Jensen-Healey. After trying various engine makers who couldn`t promise the volume required Healey settled on the Lotus option. Colin Chapman had just started producing his 900 series engines and was happy to supply Jensen with the required quantity.

The running-gear was sourced from Vauxhall`s Firenza. Vauxhall was by then owned by General Motors as was Opel in Germany. The transmission came from the Sunbeam Rapier (Chrysler/ Rootes Group). Later the 5-speed Getrag gearbox replaced the Rapier transmission.

It all came together very well and notwithstanding a few teething troubles it was a fine car. The interior was a little sparse but Healey, as always, was sensitive about kerb-weight. A `works` glass-fibre hardtop was offered as an extra.

Chassis/body;

The Jensen-Healey’s chassis was a steel unitary construction with bolt-on panels. This was intended to lower the insurance rating by making repairs easier and cheaper. The Jensen-Healey was a two seat, two-door convertible sports-car. The styling was very 1970s, modern with smooth lines.

Body corrosion proved to be a problem in later years. A stainless-steel windscreen frame was used with a laminated windscreen. The Jensen-Healey’s interior was very smart in ventilated vinyl, usually black. The instrumentation was excellent.

In 1974 rubber bumpers were fitted to satisfy the US Federal regulations. The running-gear was all GM /Vauxhall Firenza. The Jensen-Healey front suspension was coil and wishbone, the rear had a live axle with coils and trailing arms. Rack and pinion steering was employed with Girling disc brakes on the front and drums on the rear. The system was self-adjusting, servo-assisted and dual circuit. Steel wheels of 13 inch diameter were the standard fitment.

Power-train;

The new Lotus 907 engine was the engine of choice. Twin overhead camshaft 1973 cc, 4-cylinder with 5 main bearing crankshaft. Alloy cylinder block with alloy head. The head had 16 valves and a compression ratio of 8.4:1. Twin Dell`Orto twin-choke side-draught carburettors were fitted for the European market.

Due to US emission regulations twin single-choke Stromberg carburettors were fitted to US export cars. The transmission was sourced from Chrysler`s Sunbeam Rapier. It was an all-synchromesh 4-speed manual. The Lotus`s output was 144 bhp with 134 ft/lbs of torque. With kerb weight of only 965 kg the power to weight ratio of the Jensen-Healey was almost 150 bhp per ton.

Performance;

The Jensen-Healey had a top speed of 120 mph with a 0-60 time of 7.1 seconds. The car had excellent handling and braking characteristics. The Jensen-Healey continued until Jensen Motors closed in 1976, having produced 10,498 units.

Jensen-Healey 1972-1976 Specifications
 
 
Body Type2 seater Drophead coupe
Engine PlacementFront
Drive TypeRear wheel drive
Brakes
FrontDiscs
RearDrum
Dimensionsmminches
Length4115162
Width160563.2
Height121948
Wheelbase233792
Cargo VolumeEnough for the roof and two luggage bags
Engine2.0 Lotus 907 12V DOHC (European)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1973 cc120.4 cui
Power107 Kw144 bhp6500 RPM
Torque182 Nm134 ft. lb5000 RPM
Power/weight149 bhp/t
FuelPetrol
Top Speed193 km/h120 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph7.1 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Urban13.720.6
Extra-urban7.935.8
Combined10.626.6
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight965 kg2127 lb
Engine2.0 Lotus 907 12V DOHC (US)
Cylindersstraight 4
Displacement1973 cc120.4 cui
Power104 Kw140 bhp6500 RPM
Torque176 Nm130 ft. lb5000 RPM
Power/weight145 bhp/t
FuelPetrol
Top Speed187 km/h116 mph
Acceleration0-100 km/h - 0-60 mph8.4 s
Fuel consumptionl/100 kmImperial mpg
Urban13.321.2
Extra-urban7.438.2
Combined10.128
Gearbox4 speed manual
Weight965 kg2127 lb

 

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About Bev Roberts

Speed, the smell of hot oil, the roar of a straight-through exhaust and the scream of an engine at max revolutions. They have all been a large part of my life for almost 50 years. It is time to share my experiences with you, dear reader. Do you want to know more? Read on through my `Full Bio` and many articles.

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I was born in Hereford UK in 1948 and brought up in Gloucester UK. I played Rugby football internationally as a schoolboy. At the age of 17, a new and wet driving license in my paw, I entered motor racing. I was supported and financed by my parents and so my journey began.

In 1965 I bought a 1293cc Mini-Cooper `S` and campaigned it for a season. Having quickly made some good friends in the racing fraternity, several interesting opportunities came my way. I joined a sports-car team and raced in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1968 and 1969 in a Lola T70. Mechanical failure defeated both efforts. During that period I owned and raced a `D type` Jaguar and an AC Cobra. In those days cars like that were available and not too expensive, now they reside in museums and private collections. I had a chain of interesting cars through my youth including Jaguars, Minis, Mustangs and Lotus-Cortinas.

As a young driver I had my share of accidents too. Often the car would only be worth scrap-metal value by the time I got it home! I worked for an Aston-Martin/Jaguar dealership for a while, which enhanced my experience and gave me the opportunity to sample some very exotic machines, Ferrari, Facel-Vega, Iso and Maserati to recall a few of them.

At the end of 1969 I moved to South Africa to work on my uncle`s farm but the S.A. government had other ideas and drafted me into the army. After five years had passed I was thanked and released from the service. While I was there I bought a beige Cadillac Eldorado, previously the property of Marilyn Monroe. While I was away on a patrol my girlfriend had it re-sprayed pink! I was unimpressed by both the joke and the bill for the work!

When I returned to UK in 1974 I left it behind. On my return I found that the once-mighty British motor industry was in decline and was headed for oblivion. Motor racing was now very expensive so I turned to commercial transport. Driving large trucks gave me freedom and a chance to see some of the world. I don`t remember ever making a career choice but for the next thirty years a truck was my home. For about ten years in that period I owned two trucks of my own.

I also owned a famous MGB-GT, known as `Lucky`. If you`d like to read `The Story of Lucky` there is an article in Inopian`s archive. I finally retired, due to ill-health, in 2008. Since I had varied knowledge and many experiences on our subject I decided to share the stories of the cars I enjoyed (and hated) with the new generation.

Enjoy Inopian… it is constructed and written for you.

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