|I had the pleasure and privilege of working for Jensen Motors Ltd., as a draughtsman, in my early working life. I am probably one of the few people, still around, who can claim that they worked at the Jensen brothers’ first factory at Caters Green, West Bromwich. I started there in 1959 as a junior draughtsman. If I am honest, I wouldn’t have necessarily described my job, at the time, as being a pleasure and a privilege. I was pleased to be working at Jensen rather than any other place because I had chosen to do so and I had been fortunate enough to be selected by Eric Neale, Jensen’s chief engineer. But it was a job after all with all the attendant disciplines and challenges that go with being an employee, a junior one at that.
It was only many years later, that, in terms of automotive history, I realised that it had, indeed, been a privilege to have worked for Jensen and to be able to lay claim to designing components and systems which will still exist on the Volvo P1800, Austin Healey 100 and Jensen FF long after I start to drive my chariot around the sun (I have always had an active imagination!). I started setting down my memories of working for Jensen in an internet based blog in 2014. I soon realised that the Jensen story was much, much, bigger than the fact that I had once worked for the company: so, I started to research the history of the company and the cars that it built in the 1930s. This was an era that I was only vaguely aware of previously. Over a period of about three years, I wrote six separate blogs, or, posts, as I call them now that I have my own WordPress based website. I am delighted that those posts continue to be read by people searching the internet for information on Jensen and its cars. There have been a number of books written about Jensen Motors the company and individual cars, particularly the Italian designed Interceptor, which incidentally, Alan and Richard Jensen did not approve of and resigned from the company when the other members of the board outvoted them.
Most notable among those authors is Richard Calver whose book, “All the Models” is considered, by Jensen owners and enthusiasts, to be the definitive source of knowledge of Jensen cars. Also worth mentioning here are two very active Jensen Owners Clubs (J.O.C.) in the U.K. and The Netherlands. There are other clubs around the world but these two are particularly active with excellent websites. Another Jensen treasure trove, which is growing on an almost daily basis, is Ulric Woodham’s Jensen Museum, based in Church Stretton, Shropshire. When I say growing on a daily basis, I am referring to his brilliant website which, amongst other things, carries stories of life at Jensen submitted by employees. Living history indeed!
Talking about living history; the reason I am writing this post is that recently I discovered an interesting piece of information whilst researching another area of automotive history altogether. I had cause to go onto the Frazer Nash Archives website and discovered, by chance, information concerning that company’s contender for the Austin Sportscar contract which was won by the Healey 100. I have added that information to ‘The Contracts’ Jensen post. In doing so it made me realise that my six Jensen posts are somewhat scattered on the website and need to be brought together so that visitors can see the whole story if they are so minded. The posts were written at separate times so there is an inevitable amount of duplication. This is particularly the case with ‘The Beginning’ and ‘The Bespoke’ posts, this is because the latter was written specifically for the respected coachbuild.com website. I am sure that you will be able to negotiate yourself around this issue and take from the web pages what you want with regards to knowledge of the esteemed Jensen marque.
I will be the first to admit that these posts are not the definitive article but I am confident and satisfied that they give a very good overview of this rich story. Enjoy!
Jensen Healey – as first published in the WHMCA Bulletin IX
Member of the Specialist Vehicle Trades Association