As I was once again in Laramie, this time working on my other rental house that looks like it is finally rented after I spent way too much time refurbishing it over the last year and half, I took a look behind the house in the alley. Lo and behold, just like I found a Supra languishing a few alleys away behind the other house, there was a treat here as well!
As opposed to the Supra, however, that was looking like it was waiting for someone to pay it some attention, the Jensen looks like it was further gone and and is now on its way back. I’ve never driven one of these but have a soft spot for them (and all Jensens in fact) due one of my kids having the name as their middle one All of my kids somewhat accidentally have a British motoring history name as part of their own names – it just kind of worked out that way.
The first thing I noticed were the 14″ BMW “bottlecap” wheels that this one is wearing. That wheel design seems to physically fit on a number of cars but this is the first time I’ve seen them on a J-H. It seems to actually complement the lines of the car somehow, and if anything makes it look a smidge more modern.
At first glance the inside seemed a little odd, then I realized there is currently only one seat, the steering wheel, the automatic transmission selector and…not much else. Well, not much else such as a dashboard, but at least it has the one sunvisor that counts along with a crate of spares and a tire on a steel rim that may or may not fit this car.
The body on the passenger side looks a little better than the driver side but it clearly used to be red before someone preferred black. Now it needs paint but I’m sure there are other priorities. The trunk is ajar so let’s take a peek…
Ooh, I like that alloy wheel! It seems to be one of the stock ones but perhaps refinished in just silver, I recall these always had black inserts. It looks better this way (to me at least). The real wire wheel below it looks a bit worse for wear but the extra fuel tank looks brand new. Is that the right one for this car? It looks huge but if it is for this the owner clearly is investing some coin here. Let’s walk around front.
No hood, no lights but it does have the later blockier bumper. Jensen-Healeys are interesting shapes, I can’t quite figure out if they are trying to be older style rounded or trying to be newer style rectangular given the era they were launched in. We’ve covered them before here so I’ll add a link at the bottom for more detail.
Now I’m a little confused if this started life as a red or blue car given the color of the firewall and the rear bulkhead. It’s starting to look a bit of a “bitsa” car. But what’s the tarp covering, is it the original Lotus designed engine or nothing at all?
It’s a…V6 of some sort?! I can’t identify it offhand, do you guys know? It’s already bolted to the automatic transmission and is still missing a few pieces but looks clean enough. I’ll tuck the tarp in tighter than it was to try to keep whatever out of it, but this is interesting and will bear watching!
Here’s the house BTW, looks like I will have three grad students moving in within the next couple of weeks so that’ll be good. It took a lot of effort to get it looking good again, but I think the Jensen-Healey might take even more. Now I need to get cracking on the really bad house in the back of this lot…
Here’s David Saunders’ excellent treatise on the Jensen-Healey
It may have begun as an engine transplant when the Vauxhall based four threw in the towel and the owner discovered there are no parts around and its simply not finished or became too much.
That is a 3.8 Ford V6, the 90 degree one that first appeared in ’82
Thanks, I figured you guys would know within three comments…
So they replaced the notoriously troublesome Lotus /4 with the notoriously troublesome Ford 3.8 V6? Makes sense.
Not bad engines at all.But some people can break a crowbar in a sandbox….
FYI, That’s an early Ford 3.8 V-6 as used in the Fox body T-birds and Mustangs. The part # on intake manifold matches Ford’s numbering structure, and the valve gasket shape and front distributor tells us it is the 3.8
Later models switched from the 2 barrel carb over to CFI, and they modified the head casting in ’87, so we can also narrow the engine year down- It’s an ’82-’86 version.
I’ve always liked the lines on the Jensen Healy, but my God this project moves the self-abuse meter from 10 to about 150…
Out of curiosity, I compared the HP ratings for the original 2.0 Lotus twin cam and this 3.8 push-rod motor. While it’s hard to sort through gross and net values, it appears the 4 cylinder has an advantage in max horsepower, but sees a considerable torque disadvantage.
Given the increased weight of the V-6 package, and the limited availability of 3.8 performance parts, I’d prefer to see a 4 cylinder upgrade- the Honda K24 and Olds Quad 4 are both good options that better match the Jensen Healey vibe.
(Of course, that 3.8 is probably sitting there because the owner picked it up for a song…).
The Jensen/Vauxhall engine had little torque; it would wind out, eventually, to pretty high rpm. J-H had issues; Sir Donald Healey walked away from the deal. You wouldn’t believe where the distributor was hidden.
Lets get this straight. It was a Lotus engine, full stop. Lotus used the basic layout of the Vauxhall motor to speed up development, and Vauxhall might have used Lotus cylinder heads on a few of their engines to squeeze past homologation requirements, but the JH had a Lotus engine. Unfortunately they used the Lotus engine before Lotus used it, so they drew-up the snag list.
Thanks, yeah in Southern Wyoming I can point to more than just several easily available Ford V6’s but no Quad4’s and very few K24’s. In SoCal that’d be the other way around nowadays – well, still few Quad4’s…
I was expecting to see a For Sale sign on it saying “90% Complete!”
The house looks great, by the way.
“Ran when parked.”
Thank You. Lots of sweat, some blood and a few tears. 🙂 About par for the course…
Those BMW wheels are not a proper fit and would wobble at speed I suspect. The Jensen Healey has a bolt pattern of 4×4″ (101.6mm) (like a Vega I think) where as the BMW is 4x100mm – not the same but close.
Another excellent find. When I first saw these pics, I thought CC’s David Saunders could probably tackle this project.
I like the tribute to 90s/00s Chrysler in the background. This changes everything.
Whoa, those bumpers are bad.
UK market bumpers were more compact, not surprisingly.
I like the basic styling of the Jensen-Healey, but these blockier (latter day?) bumpers do it no favors. They almost lend an almost comically homemade, half-buck-TVR-esque quality to the rest of the car’s decent lines.
Lots of oil filters in front of the passenger seat. For the Vauxhall 4 or the Ford V6? It’s probably academic … not to sound too negative, but I’m not sure this project will ever need an oil filter, let alone half a dozen.
Funny thing, my kids are named Marina, Robin, and Allegro.
And when they grow up they’ll become a Princess, an Ambassador and an Executive.
No! Whatta waste. These were really fun in stock form once you addressed the Lotus DOHC issues. Mainly leaks as I recall. I worked on a pair of these in the late 90’s. Owned by a Zsa Zsa Gabor type, she would pay to keep them in top form. So they were basically close to what a new one must’ve drove like. They had the flat Lotus cornering but with good suspension to soak up bumps. Good brakes and decent power. These, an Alfa GTV, and a 84 911 were customer cars that I remember as competent do-it-all drivers that I’d like to own one day just for the driving dynamics alone…
Ignore the identy of the car but consider its condition and then also the building, the dirt alley, the fences, the garbage cans, the weeds, the wooden pallet. .
That’s the Wyoming I know – a typical small scale, urban landscape. That could be Rock Springs, Kemmerer, Rawlins, Greybull, Riverton, Casper or Cheyenne (where I live). Out in the country the scale of the mess is just bigger.
Though I like very much the “live and let live” attitude in Wyoming the frequent complete lack of self awareness regarding care and storage of property is absolutely a negative of living in this part of the rural mountain west. This is why I so much enjoy in photos in CC showing the way the Dutch and the Germans take care of everything. We are the antithesis of it here in Wyoming but we do have a lot of old cars that don’t have much rust and we can generally do what we want.
As a lifelong Chicagoan, I would love to read about life in Wyoming. Good and bad.
Interesting comment about sloppiness in the landscape. Being a “a place for everything and everything in it’s place” type of person, I can relate. I hate messy neighbors. House needs paint? That’s okay. Yard needs mowed? I can live with it. But…trash strewn about, crap stacked up, useless junk, cars parked willy-nilly…drives me nuts. But I tell myself, “It’s not my property, it’s theirs. Don’t be a prick and just STFU.”
It’s not really messy. It was garbage day and the truck comes down the alley so the cans are staged. The back of my place is just beyond the yellow-green Ford truck in the fifth picture. The JH is parked on the property of the owner as are the others. The weeds – well that is funny as one of the things I did when I was there that day was cut my grass and my weeds. When I returned home I found a notice in the mailbox from the city of Laramie to please address my weeds! I contacted the writer and he went back and confirmed that everything was to his satisfaction – that is the beauty of a small town like Laramie, you can easily contact whoever you want or need in the bureaucracy and they respond. I have no idea about the pallet, perhaps the engine came on it and it’ll be moved sooner or later or used for firewood. I don’t mind the alley being dirt as asphalted alleys generally don’t look any better and cost more to build.
Having lived in Germany and the UK there are plenty of areas of both that are in much worse repair than what these pictures show.
Jim – this was not a criticism of you or your property. Rather it is about the general state of carelessness and sloppiness I see all the time in Wyoming.
Yesterday I went out north in the ranch land area to see a more or less abandoned Alfa Romeo (yes, in rural Wyoming!). The car was much better than I expected but the property where it was stored was intimidating in its decrepitude. The car is in a garage (along with all manner of other stuff, crowding it). The property is unoccupied, uninsured and has no power service. The building felt dangerous and unstable. I see property like this all over the state but rarely up close with the opportunity to rescue a decent car with good potential. Barn (garage) find, indeed.
Interesting, I’d like to hear more about the Alfa!
Wyoming, as you know, has a fair bit of poverty, even in a fairly prosperous “university town” such as Laramie. But the cost of living (besides the houses themselves) is higher than one would think, especially for services and trades. I suppose it’s all to do with the frontier mentality, i.e. either you figure it out for yourself or you’ll end up paying dearly for it.
There ARE a lot of properties that are seriously neglected, vacant and/or un- or underinsured. I suppose a lot of the owners have to pick their priorities and not everyone chose to own of their own volition what may have turned into a bit of an albatross. From a distance there is a certain charm but yes, once up close and personal, it often can look like and be a complete mess. It’s the same phenomenon as people all over the (rural parts of the) country just parking their old or wrecked cars behind the barn and letting them rot into the ground which I never understood. EVERY municipality has some kind of scrap operation that virtually always will pay you to take the junk car off your hands, and at worst they will just take it for free. What’s the point of leaving it in the weeds on your farm or whatever? I mean, for us at CC it makes for some fine pictures and stories but nobody parked that ’84 Citation in 2006 with a plan to eventually “restore” it.
Jim – I don’t really want to discuss much about the car on this forum but have Paul get you my e-mail contact.
One of the other automotive related sign of carelessness here is the storage of multiple motor homes/various trailers on residential properties and on adjacent city streets. There is a lot of junky looking stuff – the preservation of which was not enhanced by years of outside storage. Whenever a city councilman proposes restrictions on multiple or street storage of this stuff an uproar about rights is soon to follow.
Those Jensen Healeys are interesting cars. Not really good looking, but again interesting. I saw a couple at a British car show in Clovis a couple of years back. The Lotus engine is the big attraction. This is one of those projects that will probably never be finished. If the car had any value to the owner they would have protected it better from the elements. An engine swap would be a reasonable way to keep it somewhat affordable. I once saw an MG Midget with a small block Ford V8 swapped in. With gigantic tires and flared fenders, it had an AC Cobra vibe. I imagine that it would be fast but a real handful to drive. It looked something like this.
This looks better, because it’s an MGB. A Midget with a Ford V8 must have looked grotesque !
This just doesn’t look right, this is supposed to be a storage shelf. Seriously I’ve seen 5 or 6 of them over the years in garages covered in boxes. The one that was across the street from my MIL’s old house did get pushed outside a couple of times over the years but then pushed back in and boxes started to accumulate again. There was one down the street from a house I used to live in. When I did my mobile auto repair business there were a couple of cases where I was called out to fix the car they actually drove and there was a Jensen storage shelf. I’ve also found one in a house for sale.
Rather gobsmackingly, Wikipedia reckons over 7,000 of them came to America, though they do fail to estimate the countable spread of them in their natural state, half-disassembled, which a rough guess would put at about 48,500 (not including lost Whitworth bolts).
One presumes the Lotus-headed original motor is somewhere west of Laramie, where whatever its state, it is likely of more use than attached in any manner to the car.
Personally, I’d have left the united whole somewhere west of Penzance in England, anywhere beyond about 200 miles but before America being fine, even in 1974. Or just not ordered it, I suppose. The looks are amateurish, the engine (new) WAS amateurish, and the rest at best indifferent.
Two thoughts occur: probably neither should, but anyway. If one of your kids has the same middle name as a Jensen-Healey, do you pronounce it “Dash” or is it silent as in the original? Second, or alternatively, is it the nickname ’70’s mechanics used for this car, inserted, as is traditional, in the middle (as in, “Oh great, a Jensen*#%!Healey), and if so, is it rude to enquire as to why this bold choice was made?
Always had a soft spot of these, as one of the last British roadsters. The big Healey had gone, the E Type was going, as was the TR6, so this was the last survivor, but actually new. And looking great, at the time, with a certain Fiat 124 Spider look about it.
But, as was too often the case, the whole was less than the some of the parts, some of which were better than others. Engine did god service for Vauxhall though, in the Chevette HSR and for Lotus in the Excel/Elite/Esprit ranges.
The name thing – let me guess…..Jensen, Sunbeam-Talbot, Standard and Scammell, who wants to play rugby against Austin Healey, who does/did play rugby for England?
When my twin brother and I arrived, some wag suggested to Mum that Austin and Morris would be good names……true.
Nope, and Bedford, Wolseley, and Humber don’t feature either!
Definitely not a Jordan. Maybe “somewhere west of Laramie”, but, no doubt about it, not a sexy Jordan. Not even close.
This poor unfortunate vehicle just doesn’t evoke the magic of Ned Jordan 1923’s ad copy, “Somewhere west of Laramie there’s a bronco-busting, steer-roping girl who knows what I’m talking about. She can tell what a sassy pony, that’s a cross between greased lightning and the place where it hits, can do with eleven hundred pounds of steel and action when he’s going high, wide and handsome. The truth is—the Playboy was built for her. Built for the lass whose face is brown with the sun when the day is done of revel and romp and race. She loves the cross of the wild and the tame.”
No woman that I know of would have this Jensen Healey as an object of her desire. Do you?
I applaud the find, just for the rarity. But as much as I love open-air motoring I will take my Jensen with an Interceptor nameplate instead. Because this one had only half of a proper engine. Hmmm – if a Ford 3.8 will fit there, I wonder if a Chrysler big block would.