The photographs in this listing were provided directly from the seller
・Original factory prototype
・Rebuilt engine and gearbox
In the early ’50s, the use of fibreglass and aluminium was considered revolutionary in the car industry, guided by Jensen’s use of curved perspex glass and their development of all-around disc brakes, the 541 provided a genuine taste of the future. After several years of post-war motoring austerity, the car caused a sensation in the motoring press but also placed the brand into the big league when unveiled in 1953. Powered the able 4-litre straight six-cylinder block from the Austin Sheerline, using the proven front suspension from the Austin A70, the sporting credentials matched up with the rakish styling and provided comfortable and brisk travel for 4 adults. With a recorded speed of 125 mph under test conditions, it was no slouch either, but the 541 mannerisms and decorum were best suited as a grand tourer.
This particular 1956 Jensen 541 is a well-known car within Jensen circles. It has been subject to a three-year-long restoration in which the owner has stated had cost him ‘too much money' but once you delve a little deeper, it appears not to be any ordinary 541. This car predates the production Deluxe models, and served initially as a prototype for that trim level. It was rebuilt and restored in 2012 from the ground up, with every component renewed, replaced and repaired by several specialists. The results are stunning, and must be considered as one of the best examples known within the club.
The car's story starts with Jensen’s chassis design Colin Riekie, who recalls this very car with fondness in a series of letters and his subsequent biography. To help place the car into context, we scan through the contents of the letters, which can be read via the jensen541.com website. The 1956 car was mentioned in this letter written by Riekie to Michael Bowler of Classic Car magazine, relating to Riekie attendance at a Jensen 541 owner club meet in 1974. At the time the car was owned by a ‘Russian 541 owner from Brentford’. This sparked off Riekie personal recollection of his experiences with the car. The car was believed to have been originally ordered in green and then converted as a Dunlop disc brake prototype. By the time the car was converted, it has been repainted red in the Jensen factory and displayed at the 1956 British Motorshow. It was subsequently used as a sales demonstrator but its ownership by Riekie as a development test car is where its provenance lays. He drove thousands of miles in the car and states that it was the only works car he damaged, having seen a minor mishaps to the front wing in the Lake District. There is also the possibility that the car was owned by a relative of Winston Churchill after Riekie tenure, which could provide some homework for the new owner to investigate. The car was taken on by the current owner, after he persuaded the previous owner, Mike Byrne, a well known and respected member of the club to sell it to him. Byrne, the owner of Jentune also carried out the restoration of the car, having obtained many NOS parts over the years. The current owner has placed the Jensen for sale due to relocation abroad, as he fears that the road conditions and lack of specialists in Spain may impede the cars current well being. He also adds that the car won the best 541 at the Jensen club meet shortly after its restoration. It has also since been on display at the NEC classic car show representing the owners club stand.
The car has been fully documented with photographic evidence of its meticulous restoration, the core of the restoration was carried out by Mike Byrne, who reconstructed the body frame structures, repaired the external fibreglass panels and rebuilt the gearbox and engine. Further work was carried out by Terry J Harris Automotive Engineers. The car comes with its V5 and stacks of paperwork relating to its restoration, as well as previous documentation. There is also plenty of restoration photos and history of the car online. The Jensen is sold with its V5 and is road ready.
The interior trim was originally assembled by Jensen's craftsman, and has been loving recreated in a similar fashion by modern trim experts, who have replicated the original style and fit. The cream leather seats are in excellent condition with no wear evident, with the stitching and finish completed to a high standard. The door cards also follow the original factory style, using recut new leather.
The blue carpet with tasteful white trim is also in new condition and therefore shows hardly any signs of wear. The simple but effective dashboard is finished in a tasteful red-trimmed cover and all of the dials, controls and switches are in good condition, with no significant issues in regards of wear. The car also has a retro-styled MP3 player fitted with rear parcel shelf mounted speakers. The steering wheel and gear stick are in decent condition. The headlining has been completely renewed, with the boot re-carpeted and obviously showing very minor signs of use.
As expected for a car that has seen a high level of restoration, the exterior build quality has been finished to a high standard. The exterior comprises of three major mouldings, a hinged front fibreglass section attached to a one-piece body fibreglass body - all are in excellent condition with a good fit and free from significant issues. The doors are finished in aluminium, and are in excellent condition and open and close with no obstruction. The tubular ladder frame has been fully restored and treated, with sheet steel infilling and side frames all re-fabricated and rebuilt. The car has the integrity and strength of when it left the factory, with the current owner stating, thanks to modern techniques, it may actually be better than when it left the West Bromich factory. In summary, the panel fit, finishing and condition of the shell are said to be in excellent order and the 541's reputation for chassis corrosion shouldn't be a major problem on this car.
The car has seen several shades over the years having originally been sold new in green. Treated and painted by a specialist in fibreglass, the car has been subject to a 13 coat process of lacquer and paint, which enables the paint to settle around the fibreglass to ensures it won’t crack. A stunning blue coat sourced from the McLaren sports car pallet has been expertly applied throughout. The results are exceptional with a brilliant lustre that is said to be near perfect. The car is said to have no evidence of cracking, or significant imperfections or blemishes.
The rubbers around the door and glass are in very good condition, with no evidence of leaking. The glass is in decent condition with no cracks or damage, including the rear perspex glass. The car had gained a set of wire wheels at some point in its history but as many were sold with wire wheels, it can be considered as period correct. Needless to say they are in exceptional condition, with tyres that have plenty of life ahead of them. The chrome finishing has been expertly restored, with no signs of pitting or damage evident on the trim.
The engine has been subject to a complete rebuild as part of its extensive restoration. Furthermore, the owner states that the car has seen enough miles to bed the engine in to test its reliability. As a result, it is said to run well with no defects, the renewal of the running gear has meant the car has seen new steering and suspension components too. The engine is said to start and idle well, with no issues with the cooling system. Electrically the car is also in good fettle, as the wiring system has seen an overhaul, with the original dynamo having been replaced by an alternator for improved reliability.
The Jensen 541 with its forward-thinking specification but simple and proven mechanics offers a stylish presence, during an era where GT cars were dominated by the bigger British manufacturers. Yet the Jensen holds its own, a tuneful inline 6 cylinder engine offering comfort and practicality for 4 people places it as a contender as an ideal long-distance cruiser with genuine graceful sporting ability. While the cars fascinating background provides a perfect conversation point at an event or show, the thorough and extensive restoration mean that this gentleman's car can still be used and enjoyed in modern condition with confidence.
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