- You may be more familiar with the Jensen Interceptor, but the Jensen GT shooting brake is worth learning about.
- This rare example is for sale on Bring a Trailer in an auction that ends on
Monday, April 4.
- In its day in the Seventies, the GT was overpriced compared to the Datsun 260Z and the Corvette. So far at auction, bidding is at a mere $5000 but should go up from there.
How often does the chance come up to own the last of a British breed? Although Jensen Motors is better known for building the big-block-powered Interceptor, it's this ultra-rare 1976 Jensen GT shooting brake that served to sunset a badge that had been in business since 1934. The car is currently up for auction on the Bring a Trailer auction site—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos.
Related Jensen-Healey roadsters have appeared on Bring a Trailer before, most recently in the form of a 1974 model selling for $15,350 in February 2022. With only 511 examples of its hardtop Jensen GT sibling ever built, however, it's a much rarer find. In fact, only a trio of examples have found their way to the auction site in the past three years, and of those, two were projects that required serious attention. The current bid on this particular 1976 GT, which presents well as a driver and boasts recent engine servicing, sits at $5000 with five days to go.
The original open-top Jensen-Healey was intended as a replacement for the long-running but defunct Austin-Healey, with the project coming to life after Donald Healey was brought on by head honcho Kjell Qvale as Jensen's chairman in 1970 and hired his son to engineer the model. Healey's lightweight, well-balanced sports car debuted for the 1972 model year.
Following on in 1975 was the Jensen GT, which in addition to its fixed roof also boasted a vestigial rear seat that only hinted at practicality. With Healey's name wiped from the masthead after internal strife pushed both Donald and his progeny out of the Jensen picture, the roadster's bodywork was stretched without any input from its original creator. The GT also benefited from a less troubled version of the initial roadster's problematic dual-overhead-cam, all-aluminum Lotus-built engine good for 140 horsepower and 130 pound-feet of torque. With a few hundred pounds extra to cart around compared to the convertible, the Jensen GT was slightly less spry but still boasted a top speed of well over 100 mph.
The GT was overpriced compared to equally exciting competitors from Datsun (the 260Z) and Chevrolet (the Corvette), but it had a combination of big comfort and a small package. However, many buyers were unwilling to extend Jensen the olive branch after reliability concerns with early Jensen-Healeys wrecked the automaker's reputation in the U.S. Unable to save Jensen from economic turmoil, the GT ended up bookending the brand as it slid into bankruptcy, with only 269 models making it across the Atlantic before the company went out of business in mid-1976.
Not quite a Europa, and a few paces behind the baby Interceptor that Qvale originally imagined, this 1976 Jensen GT nevertheless remains an intriguing piece of automotive history. It was inexpensive to run and rarer than many a modern exotic. And when was the last time you had the opportunity to pick up a genuine four-wheeled, one-of-500 anything for a price approaching affordability?
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