Guide Price: £150,000-£180,000
• Historically important prototype.
• Only factory built convertible
• Comprehensive history file.
• Only two owners.
• Recent sympathetic restoration.
Designed by Jensen Motors chief designer Eric Neale, the C-V8 was a natural development of the glassfibre-bodied 541 although with the intention to create a new centre tube chassis to accommodate a more powerful engine to replace the ageing 130bhp Austin DS5 engine and compete with the like’s of Jaguar’s 3.8.
During 1961 the first experimental chassis, including steel bulkhead, floors and boot floor (JM/EXP/103) was completed at the West Bromwich factory. Initially, the Chrysler 5.9 litre Golden-Commando V8 was installed, followed later by the 6.3 litre in the MkII and MkIII models.
With the British appetite for convertibles being fulfilled by Jensen’s competitors and indeed by Jensen’s own previous offerings, The Jensen brothers, Richard and Alan, proposed the idea of a convertible C-V8. Eric Neale duly set to work in 1964 by which time the MkII C-V8 was rolling off the production line. Based on experimental chassis EXP/108, it was lengthened by 9 inches to accommodate the hood and still offer a spacious four seater. Development progress was slow and it wasn’t until London main agent Charles Follett pressurised Jensen, that it was completed.
Kevin Beattie, Deputy Engineer at Jensen, extensively tested EXP/108 and came to the conclusion that it required some more development to meet customer expectations. These issues were addressed, but at the time with the impending P66 convertible emerging and boardroom squabbles, the C-V8 convertible never went into full production.
Charles Follett took delivery of this Jensen four-seater GT in May 1965 and in July 1965, Jensen enthusiast, Lord Carrington, purchased it not realising it was a one-off. Bearing his private number plate XYU7, Initially it had a few niggles, including a leaking hood, but Jensen rectified these and he subsequently enjoyed it for 18 months and drove 21,000 miles until part-exchanging it in 1967 with Charles Follett for the new Interceptor. He later stated ‘it was a marvellous car and I am sorry I didn’t keep it’.
Charles Follett was pleased to have this unique Jensen back in the showroom because he already had a buyer lined up in the form of Mr Philip Southall who had followed it’s development and history in the press and fell in love with it. Beaten to the showroom by Lord Carrington, this was now Philip Southall’s opportunity to own it. He chopped in his Aston Martin DB2/4 and with the re-registration, LPP 766C, used it daily for business and pleasure until 1973 when the fuel crisis hit.
Philip Southall amassed a comprehensive history file and eventually kept this rare Jensen in the
family by passing it on to his son-in-law, Martin Bryant in 1987. The car was subsequently locked away for a number of years and was recently re-commissioned and treated to a sympathetic restoration by the current vendor.
In addition to the up to date V5 and several previous MOT’s, this one of kind Jensen comes with it’s original registration documents, original instruction book, but most impressively, a huge history file detailing correspondence with the Jensen factory, Eric Neale and Lord Carrington (see photos).
Also there are numerous servicing documents and photographs during Philip Southall’s family ownership.
The sumptuous interior exudes luxury, retains a wonderful patina, and is clearly unmolested. This ‘proper’ four-seater is extremely spacious, comfortable and practical.
Stepping in you are greeted with the ‘Charles Follett Ltd’ plate on the sill and a sporty factory
wood-rimmed steering wheel. Originally grey leather, the burr-walnut dashboard (specified by Lord Carrington) sets off the elegant and comprehensive set of Jaeger dials. The auto-box selector easily falls to hand on the left of the steering column.
The original ‘selectaride’ adjustable suspension dial sits on the transmission tunnel and other great features include a map reading light and petrol filler opening switch. The vendor assures us that all electrical equipment functions correctly and we can confirm that the window winders and door handles operate smoothly.
The original grey leather upholstery is in good order other than some light wear to the front seats and a couple of minor splits to the door trims. The rear seats and recent new carpets are in excellent condition. The original I.D. plate resides under the armrest top (see photo) and confirms the engine and chassis numbers along with other useful information including fuel capacity, tyre pressures and engine oil requirements, etc. The boot is also spacious and fully carpeted and contains the original jack and tools.
This sleek styled, hand built, grand tourer combines design details from the MkII and MkIII C-V8. The quality glassfibre body looks in good shape with no obvious cracks - in fact it’s so good, it’s hard to believe it is glassfibre. The aluminium door panels are also spot on and the recently repainted original Smoke Green coachwork is excellent and doesn’t look over-restored.
The windows, mirrors, lights, and chrome bumpers are very good and the badges and other trim are very presentable too. The doors close with a reassuring click and the lockable bonnet and boot lid open and close with ease. The hood is in good condition and can be raised and lowered by one person. The novel hinged rear side windows are unique to the convertible and operate smoothly (see photos).
The steel tubular chassis, floor, suspension, etc. appears very clean and is visually dominated by the great sounding twin stainless steel exhaust system. The original painted steel wheels could be improved but with Vredestein Sprint Classic tyres, finish this stylish convertible off a treat.
Mechanically, this C-V8 appears very sound and very quick! - It was one of the fastest cars on the road in the 1960’s. Fitted with the later Chrysler 6.3 litre 383 V8 engine, this 330bhp block should technically reach 130mph and being an American V8, is relatively simple, reliable and under-stressed during normal driving conditions.
As with most C-V8’s, this one is fitted with the TorqueFlite three-speed auto-box and features all round servo-assisted Dunlop disc brakes, double wishbone, coil spring, anti-roll bar front suspension and a Salisbury live rear axle and leaf springs.
The vendor has attended to any regular maintenance in the last two years and assures us that you should be able to just “jump in and go”.
This unique and important Jensen C-V8 convertible represents a rare opportunity to own and enjoy an exquisite example of British craftsmanship at it’s best, and with only 500 production coupes having been built too, this Jensen is good value considering it is the rarest of the rare. It is a true survivor when most prototypes were broken up or lost in time. In point of fact Sean Connery owned one of the coupes, preferring it to an Aston Martin!.
With such a compelling history, this sympathetically restored Jensen needs to be cherished and driven. It will certainly be of interest in a variety of historic vehicle settings and deserves to be seen. It embodies the perfect marriage of British hand built quality and style with American V8 performance, and without doubt exudes ‘cool’.
Notice to bidders
This vehicle is subject to third party financing. The amount of finance due on the vehicle is less than the reserve. The seller will discharge the financing debt and all related costs absolutely within two full working days from the end of the auction on a successful sale and will confirm to the buyer that such release has occurred. This obligation will be implied into the contract of sale between the buyer and the seller on auction close.
Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.
As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the sellers discretion.
Please see our FAQ's here and our Terms & Conditions here