The First Jensen Cars

In 1937, a smaller version of the saloon was offered. Known as the 2¼ Litre and using the ‘baby’ Ford V8 motor, it was somewhat underpowered but still very expensive so not popular. Only three were made. It was supplanted in 1938 by another small car known as a 2¼ Litre, this time a drophead powered by a Steyr six-cylinder engine. Only one was made. Also in 1938, the Jensens unveiled the largest passenger car ever to bear their name, the 4¼ Litre. It was offered, like the 3½ Litre, in tourer, saloon and drophead body styles. One fixed-head coupé was also made. This model was normally powered by a Nash straight-8 motor but one was made specially in LHD with a V12 Lincoln motor. The war halted production of passenger cars as the factory’s attentions turned to the manufacture of military components. Although three final cars to the pre-war design were made in 1945 and 1946, the Jensen brothers had by then developed a new design for the postwar period. In total, 68 Jensen cars of all models and variations were made to the pre-war pattern. About a third survive, including the fully restored 3½ Litre tourer pictured.

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Restoration of a 4¼ Litre

Production of 4¼ Litres was halted by the war and only 14 were made. Surprisingly, 11 are known to survive and one of them is the oldest surviving Jensen in Australia. It arrived in Toowoomba in 1951, brought out by a returning family of Australians who had been living for two years in London. After a period of use in Queensland, it was taken to Victoria in 1957 where it was used as daily transport for the next ten years. By then the original saloon body was giving way to frame rot so the car was sent for breaking. By a fortunate happenstance it was saved from this fate but its ultimate salvation became a long drawn out affair. Several owners worked at restoring it from the 1980s, the final result being the recreated drophead body which now stands on the chassis. A unique aspect of the original body was the externally mounted spare wheel carrier, a feature intended to allow its first owner, a handicapped lady, to carry a wheelchair in the boot. This feature has been transposed to the new body style. Restoration work is continuing.

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