Jensen C-V8

Despite the strengths of the 541’s Austin motor, Jensen Motors suffered criticism in the press for having used a ‘lorry engine’ at a time when the main competition (Jaguar and Aston Martin) were using high performance engines of their own design. Jensen saw the solution in a reversion to American power, turning to Chrysler for the engine which would drive its next model. Known as the C-V8, for ‘centre tube chassis V8’, the car was built on a frame designed by Richard Jensen and the newly recruited Deputy Chief Engineer, Kevin Beattie. Based on a pair of 5-inch longitudinal tubes located inboard, the arrangement gave the designers the flexibility to vary the wheelbase or bulkhead location without having to change the whole chassis. Prototypes were running by 1961 and the car made its debut at the London Motor Show in 1962. With Chrysler’s 361ci Golden Commando producing 305bhp, the C-V8 had twice the power of its predecessor and put Jensen in a league beyond the competition. Bodied in fibreglass, the C-V8 had controversial styling based on a concept from Eric Neale who said he designed with an eye to the great styling houses of Europe. A body revision known as the Mk.II appeared at the 1963 Motor Show and early in 1964 this gained the 383ci Chrysler engine, rated at 330bhp. In 1965, the final iteration appeared. The C-V8 III featured a lowered scuttle and larger windscreen with a revamped and highly luxurious interior. 500 C-V8s were made and two were sold new to Australia. 26 are known to be in the country now.