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Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's a Great looking Jensen GT

I emailed Jim and received a quick reply along with some pictures of the car. He was in the middle of moving some things at his sisters place and the Jensen GT was one of his cars which he had stored at her house. He emailed me some initial pictures and described the condition of the car as best he could. The car looked beautiful and although it needed a bit of TLC, it was in much better shape than many Jensens which need restoration today. Jensens came from the factory with NO RUSTPROOFING applied to the car. My Jensen Healey which I restored in 2005, needed the usual mechanical systems rebuilt, but it also needed quite a bit of bodywork. Bodywork with my first Jensen Healey was something which started out as "minor" and ended up as "major"as more rust was discovered as things were inspected and slowly uncovered. Even the most knowledgable body man can not see the extent of corrosion to the naked eye. Jim was confident this Jensen GT did not have any rust and upon later inspection he was absolutely right.
Over the long storage time, the brakes had frozen to the drums, which made the car difficult to move. Jim needed the car moved off his sister's property with out delay, so I hired a tow truck with a flat bed to winch the car onto the deck and move it safely. I promised Jim I would restore the car to its original condition, and would start to work on it as soon as the car arrived in New York with my friends Jeff and Laura. It was a wonderful gesture to receive such a nice car, I sent down the biggest Maine Lobster Dinner I could find for Jim and his family. I thought it was the least I could do.

I received the car from the shipping company about three weeks later. I had it shipped to Salamanca Ny as my friend Jeff Peterson graciously agreed to look after the car as I planned the restoration from various providers in the Salamanca area. Since Jeff has fully restored 3 Jensens, he had access to a slew of people with Jensen experience. I figured I would come up and visit every few months and plan out each step of the restoration as my time and budget permitted.

Attached are some pictures of the car the day it arrived in NYC.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Restore another Jensen ?

It all started after a phone call from one of my best friends, Jeff Peterson on a Sunday night in June of 2008. I met Jeff and Laura a few years back at one of the yearly Jensen National conventions in Cherry Hill, NJ and we quickly became good friends. Jeff lives in a beautiful house in Salamanca, NY with a really neat feature....... it has a 5 car oversized garage. Jeff would call it a "car enabling garage" as it wasn't long until he filled it with cars and all available space was used. Jeff had restored 3 Jensens........ a Jensen GT, a Jensen Healey, and a Jensen Interceptor. The other two bays housed a a Chrysler Pacifica and a Dodge Stealth.

Jeff called me and prepped me gently by asking a few probing questions. "John, there is a guy who is giving away a Jensen GT for absolutely no money. He would like it to be restored and not parted out, but he does need it removed rather quickly. Apparently, it is in very good shape." I had finished restoring a Jensen Healey from the ground up in 2005, so I am obviously familar with the costs and procedures. I balked at the idea as common sense kicked in pretty fast. This a really stupid thing to do. One should NEVER restore a car. One should buy a car that someone else restored. That is the smart, well thought out thing to do. Well, I started asking all the stupid questions which I knew would lead me down the path of Jensen GT Ownership and soon started justifying spending 1000's of dollars on an unknown car.What will I do with two Jensens?. Where will I store the second one?. This Jensen GT is rare and could need a lot of work and it may not be worth the price even if the car is free. Besides, winter will be approaching and what will my wife think about another Jensen. We really do not have storage space for two Jensens; She would never let me hear the end of it. BUT..... the Jensen GT is a very unique car. There were only about 250 or so imported from England before Jensen Motors went into receivership in 1976. The other 250 cars of the 511 total cars produced reside on the other side of the pond. The car has a hardtop and a glass hatchback design and it's loaded with many options and upgrades which the original JH convertible was lacking offering a completely different driving experience. It comes with plush Uplholestery and 2 rear seats which are big enough for a midget or a couple of cats. Wait a minute...... scratch the cats..... they should never be allowed in a Jensen. It has a remotely activated glass hatchback and a rear wiper and rear defroster. It had power windows, airconditioning and a cassette deck. It also has a beautiful walnut burl dashboard which is completely different from the original Jensen Healey dashboard. It even has a super secret hidden storage area in the back and out of view of all wandering eyes. Jensen motors stilled used the wonderful Lotus 907 engine, but when they added an airconditioning compressor, and additional smog controls to satisfy the US government, performance and handling suffered with the extra weigh and center of gravity changes. It did have a 5 speed "close ratio" transmission which while not meant for highway cruising, it would certainly allow spirited driving around country roads.

Then I thought a little more........ I remember when I was 15 years old, my Dad and I had some fun trips in his MGB as we attended New England Patriot Football games ( tickets were only $10.00) and cruised home top down at night. I wondered if my daughter would be interested in a car like this. This would never be a daily driver for her as it will require maintenance and if it did breakdown, she would be stranded. She always been a good sport and eager to learn new things, so I figured before I become too nerdy to be seen around her and her friends, she could learn to drive this car and cruise around for fun. She will learn that listening to an engine rev up and down the gears is more fun than blasting wierd rap music in an IPOD over the speakers. She will learn that car guages in old cars actually move around and tell the driver things which are happening under the hood. I can show her alot of things and we will do it together and have fun. Then, when I do become a bit too nerdy for her, she can take off without me and enjoy a car from another time with her own friends....... and a AAA card in her pocketbook.

Jeff gave me the email address of the owner and I agreed to email him immediately.