When anyone mentions the word ‘Jensen’ the immediate response is ‘Interceptor’. And rightly so, it’s an iconic British muscle car. But we think the dominance of this car has long overshadowed its younger sibling – the mighty CV-8.
© Nigel Case
When you mention the CV-8 to all but hardened enthusiasts you’re generally met with a bit of a blank stare. But if you rumble into view in one, the story is very different. What was a controversial looking car in 1962 has weathered amazingly well. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but we think it’s a real wonky-eyed beauty. The French (who know best on such matters) notion of jolie laide probably sums it up the best. In our view it sits happily alongside similar design classics of the day such as the ISO Rivolta and Maserati Sebring. What is remarkable about this is that it wasn’t designed by Bertone or Vignale, it was all done in-house. Any Italian designer who put pen to paper and finished with the CV-8 would be immortalized. But the team at Jensen were obviously a more humble lot and this is just the result of the Jensen brothers and engineer Eric Neale simply doing their jobs.
© Nigel Case
Performance wise it has the muscle to back up its unconventional looks. It jets along to 60mph in a shade over 6.5 seconds, covers a quarter of a mile in under 15 seconds and keeps on going to just under 140mph. To put this into perspective you’d have struggled to buy a quicker 4-seater in the Sixties, whatever your budget. In fact when we take it out now the car more than holds its own against much more modern motors.
The car did prove itself on the track, taking the Commanders Cup at Snetterton in an experimental CV-8 driven by a team of racing drivers including Roy Salvadori, 1959’s 24 Hour Le Mans winner and a seasoned F1 racer. In a slightly more odd speed test it also managed to pull a Muskateer caravan along at 100mph at the Duxford Aerodrome. Which if nothing else goes to show that caravanning isn’t necessarily that boring if you do it in a Jensen.
It is an enduringly popular choice with members at the club. The rarity value and its muscular good looks mean that the car has a real presence. The meaty rumble from the V8 Chrysler engine also provides a lovely soundtrack to a weekend trip to the coast.
How much we love the Jensen CV8 is probably best summed up by the fact we have two of them down at the club. It truly is an under-rated classic. You can still get your hands on a decent one for £25,000, but with only 500 in existence we think this is about to go up. Now might not be a bad time to think about making an investment.
The CV-8 also starred in the short-lived TV series The Baron.
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© Nigel Case