I did a talk for the Jensen Owners Club at the weekend. Here's a copy of it...Glad you all made it. I knew the Jensen Owners Club was in town. All the petrol pumps in the area have run dry and a new hole in the ozone layer above Swindon. I promise I won’t do any more fuel consumption gags.... Swindon...interesting choice of location for your AGM. I’ve been living here for six months and to be fair everyone is very friendly.Actually it’s like one big happy family. Actually it is one big happy family; the gene pool is a bit on the shallow side. I shouldn’t say that my girlfriend is from Swindon. And guess what? Her dad restored a Jensen Healey 20 years ago and was a club member; small world eh?Anyway Wroughton is the posh bit. It’s got the Science museum, the pub windows aren’t boarded up.... and people don’t look at you funny if you don’t have a tattoo with your sister’s name on it.My name is Martin Buckley. You may know me from Classic & Sports Car magazine where I’ve worked, literally man and boy, for over 20 years.I have to say that I don’t often give talks. The last one I gave was to a Jaguar club in America where nobody could understand my accent. Before that it was to an Alfa Romeo Club in Surrey where after a few minutes talking one of my eyes began watering profusely. I hope to do a bit better this evening!Writing for Classic and Sports car is a bit of a dream job and I have never really wanted to do anything else. I know that getting paid for something I love doing makes me a lucky person and it feeds an obsession – I think it would be fair to call it that – that goes back forty years.I must have owned 200 plus cars - starting with a Hillman Imp my gran gave me – but only about two have those have been Jensen’s. One was an Interceptor I swapped for a Lancia but which I never actually laid eyes on. Another was a beautiful convertible Interceptor I owned last year which your club very kindly helped me with when I was trying to get a UK identity for it. Thanks again for that.On a serious note I should say that the Jensen Owners Club is one of the most helpful and together clubs the magazine deals with when it comes to finding cars and organising features. We are big fans of Jensen’s in the office. Famously the Editor James Elliot owns a series 1 Interceptor. Lovely motor, probably the only car owned by a colleague on the magazine I’ve actually felt jealous of even if you do catch your clothes on the paintwork when you walk past it.It seems to fly through its MOT every year, and he doesn’t even have to hammer the certificate flat to get it in his pocket. I’m slightly disappointed he has ditched the eight track player for a Becker Mexico; for me it’s a law that you MUST have an eight track player in an Interceptor even if it means you can only listen to Tom Jones and Herb Alpert.You all look very smart out there in your dinner suites and posh frocks. To be honest I’m used to seeing Jensen Interceptor owners with their medallions glinting in the sun. It’s the only car club left where you can still leave the six top buttons of your shirt undone without it being an ironic statement.But that’s not fair really because the Interceptor, like most Jensen’s before it was a car for captains of industry – men who still felt too young for a Rolls Royce and didn’t want to employ a full time mechanic to look after an Aston – and international adventurers like The Baron on TV.When they repeated that series in the eighties I wanted a Jensen CV8 so much it almost hurt. Subsequently I have come to know the joys of the 541 series but the earlier Jensen’s are a gap in my education that I hope one day I can fill. Maybe we can talk about that later....?But it’s the Interceptor that has always done it for me and I suspect a lot of other people who grew up in the seventies. It was something about the way the name trips off your tongue – was any car ever better named? – the shape of that rear window and the discreet rumble from the exhausts that has always pressed my buttons – particularly in Series 1 form, although I think the love affair started when I saw Harry Rule driving his brown Interceptor 2 in The Protectors.An FF is still near the top of the list of ‘dream cars’ I would still love to own. I probably did one of my favourite ever features on an Interceptor about ten years ago. I was given the task of driving a S3 all the way to the Monteverdi factory in Basle, Switzerland.That was using an Interceptor as it should be used – cruising at 120mph on autoroutes and autobahns - and with the magazine paying for the fuel! Perfect. Actually that particular car used quite a lot of oil too when driven at that speed; when it got low the hydraulic tappets got noisy!We made it to Basle where the mechanic at the Monteverdi museum (who looked like Charles Bronson) repaired our alternator. But the Monteverdi blotted its copy book by continually conking out on the photo shoot where the Jensen (using the same Chrysler engine) motored serenely on.If I remember rightly we borrowed that Interceptor from a breakaway Jensen Club which I suspect is no longer with us? The marque itself has experienced more comebacks than Frank Sinatra, but never with much success.Twenty years ago I was summoned to a place on the Welsh boarders where a man and wife team were claiming they owned the Jensen name and where going to re introduced the Interceptor at the motor show. They showed me a restored Interceptor festooned with spoilers that was their prototype. I couldn’t help thinking they had missed the point a bit.What happened to them? I’m sure there will be more attempts to bring back the name in future and I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up on a German built MPV or something but it is the original black country supercars from West Bromwich that interest me and the Jensen Owners Club is doing a great job of keeping that memory alive.Enjoy your evening, enjoy your Jensen’s and have a safe drive back to tomorrow. I can help Interceptor drivers with local knowledge of the nearest petrol stations.
| 20 Jun 2011