The Jensen brothers and chief designer Eric Neale had realised that the CV-8 needed to be replaced as the flagship of the Jensen Motor Company.
With the Austin-Healey ending its run in 1967, Jensen Motors saw a possibility to provide a gap in the market.
Mr. Neale and his team designed a new car which was given the code name ‘P66’ (the car to be launched in 1966). Two prototypes of P66 models were built and approved.
Two versions were created, a hardtop and a soft-top, with the latter going on display at the 1966 Motor Show as the intended replacement for the CV8.
Altough brochures were already printed, the prototype never came to production and is later on known as the P66.
The car had an aluminium body, with a chassis mounted differential with leaf springs. Dunlop disc brakes all around with tandem master cylinders. The engine unit was the Chrysler 383 V8 engine which was already being employed in the Jensen CV8, and this was likewise coupled with with the Chrysler 4-speed manual gearbox, rather than the Torqueflite automatic used on the Convertible.
This may have also been due to adverse comments about an automatic box on a car of this type. The paint / trim specification of the Coupé Prototype was to be California sage paint with tan vinyl trim.
Due to political infighting within the business, Alan Jensen reputedly ordered the destruction of both prototypes, and the show car was dismantled.
By October of 1966, the P66 ‘Interceptor’ Convertible was largely broken up for spare parts, and its remains are believed to have been scrapped in early 1967.
The reasons for this first prototype being broken up is unclear, although it was fairly common practice at Jensen Motors for an experimental car to be broken up or re-used on another project. This would seem to make sense with the first P66 prototype. The car was probably used as an initial parts source for the second P66, and then the remains later scrapped.
However, its coupé sister car survived.
Let go back a step, there is a logical explanation as to how it came about.
In 1959 a U.K. Investment Company by the name of ‘Norcross Holdings plc’ had taken control of Jensen Motors Ltd. and although the brothers were still nominally in control of the company they had to consider the views of directors appointed to the ‘board’ by Norcross.
Kevin Beattie the Chief Chassis Engineer, who was later to become Managing Director of the company and Richard Graves, the Sales and Marketing Director, took the view that something more exclusive than the P66 was required for the next Jensen model.
Are not know the exact train of events but the result was that Kevin and Richard were introduced to the stylish talents of an Italian carrozzeria (much as Aston Martin had done with the DB4) Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera who took their brief for a ‘Grand Touring’ car and came up with the stunning Interceptor model that we all know and love.
Kevin and Richard were able to convince the ‘Board of Directors’ to back the Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera design and Jensen embarked upon a significantly different journey to that which it had been travelling before.
A myth has perpetuated that one or both of the Jensen brothers were so annoyed with how they had been treated in the boardroom, that they ordered the P66 cars to be destroyed. According to the myth, the second prototype survived, since it was being used, and wasn’t in the factory at that time.
Not long afterwards Alan and Richard resigned from ‘their’ company and a little later Eric Neale did the same.
Built-up around a C-V8 chassis and completed in mid-1966, the prototype Interceptor was then used as a development mule and it provided a number of valuable lessons which were incorporated by Jensen’s engineering department in the construction of two Experimental Interceptor Chassis, EXP115 and EXP116.
ABOUT THIS SPECIFIC EXAMPLE
This astonishing survivor example of the Jensen P66 ‘Interceptor” prototype is one of the two versions were created and the only survivor.
Due to political infighting within the business, Mr. Jensen reputedly ordered the destruction of both prototypes.
Somehow, the coupe managed to avoid such an inhumane fate.
Mr. Brian Owen, managing director of the U.K. Investment Company had taken control of Jensen Motors Ltd., commandeered the P66 as his personal transport and ran it from early 1967 until late the following year.
After Owen left, Jensen’s marketing director Richard Graves took over the P66 Coupe as a daily driver for a while, later commenting on what a pleasant car it was to drive.
Toward the end of 1968, Richard Graves authorized the sale of the P66 to Mr. Atkins, the Kent-based dentist of the company’s public relations consultant Tony Good. Mr. Atkins kept the car for two years, then sold it to a nearby surgeon, Mr. Bennett.
Some years later in 1976, Bennett decided to sell the P66. The P66 was placed with Bonhams, to be entered into their forthcoming auction held at Alexandra Palace, London.
The bidder was Dr Herbert Knapp from the USA. He had heard about the unique Jensen coming up at auction, and was particularly interested, as he collected prototype cars.
He was a doctor in his 60s and he had just married. He took his wife on a honeymoon to England and while there, they went to the Bonhams auction.
He had the Jensen sent to the US with a huge crate that contained a vast amount of the parts from the disassembled white convertible.
The car was just too much for his new bride to handle, so he decided to sell it.
He displayed it at the big 1978 New York Motor Show.
The next registered owner after Dr. Knapp, was a Scott Beskin from New Jersey in 1988.
During Beskin’s ownership, the P66 had a set of wire wheels fitted, and a few years later the colour was changed from the original California Sage Green to white.
This was due to the fact his other cars had been painted white, and he fancied the idea of both his XJS and the P66 being the same colour.
Mr. Beskin placed an advert offering the car for sale. The advert mentioned that the unique P66 had only covered around 20,000 miles, and the asking price was $17,500.
The New Jersey-based Jensen enthusiast, Mike Lotwis, had noticed the advert for the P66 Coupe being offered for sale. During a conversation with the UK-based Jensen specialist, Dave Horton, Lotwis mentioned about the P66 and Mr. Horton immediately purchased the car.
The car was shipped over to the UK, arriving at Liverpool docks in August 1988.
Although by this time most of the parts belonging to the convertible prototype were long gone. If these parts went missing in the USA, or were discarded by Bennett when he obtained them isn’t known.
Mr. Horton brought the P66 Prototype to Jensen Cars Ltd at West Bromwich, where some re-commissioning was going to be undertaken.
During 1988, Mr. Mike Williams was delivering his Interceptor to Jensen Cars Ltd for some servicing work. He was shocked to see the P66, as he wasn’t aware of the car’s survival.
Ian Orford, the Managing Director of Jensen Cars Ltd, went on to say the car was with them for inspection and re-commission work and would be for sale. Williams’ response was immediate, he wanted to buy the car, he immediately agreed the asking price of £15,000 and full payment was made in November 1988.
Once under Williams’ possession, he set about trying to retrieve the original registration number, ‘JEA 578E’ from the DVLC.
It took until February 1989 before the DVLC reluctantly agreed to re-assign the registration number ‘JEA 578E’ to the P66. Their letter to Williams, dated 3.2.1989, states,
“Because of the very special place your Jensen has in British Motor history it has been decided very exceptionally for the vehicle to be registered under the number JEA 578E”
The P66 remained at Jensen Cars Ltd, where they had been instructed to undertake some restoration work. Initial work started in December 1988, and carried through to April 1990.
Later in the 1990s, Williams had the P66 repainted back to its original Californian Sage colour.
Once back with Williams, the P66 remained under his custodianship through to March 2013.
Well known Jensen enthusiast, Derek Chapman, had already owned various Jensen cars, including a CV8 and an early Interceptor Convertible.
In November 2011, both Williams and Chapman were attending the NEC Classic Car Show with Jensen cars. It was at this event that Chapman approached the subject of the P66 to Williams, asking if he might be willing to sell it.
In March 2013, Chapman became the next custodian of the world’s only Jensen P66 ‘Interceptor’.
Once purchased, Chapman checked the car over, a decision was made to do a complete rebuild of all the running gear. Everything was removed, including the prop shaft, all components were cleaned and painted.
All new bearings, oil seals, universal joints, differential mounts and front ball joints were fitted. New brake discs were fitted all round and new pads.
The windscreen had a chip in it, and this was directly in the driver’s line of vision. So Chapman decided to source a new screen. Although costly, Pilkington Glass agreed to build new tooling to make a new windscreen.
With a complete new wiring harness behind the dashboard and on the forward section of the car, Chapman was ready to refit the dashboard.
Of course, no harness is available for the P66, so each wire was laid in one at a time before sending it all off to Autosparks to be woven.
Chapman carefully removed all the original covering and used what was left to make up new plywood pieces which were then treated with varnish to hopefully prevent future de-lamination.
He was then able to refit all the original covering and mount it all back in the car, even using most of the original screw holes.
The drivers seat also needed work, being very careful to keep all the original vinyl upholstery.
Being retired, Chapman was able to work on the P66 virtually every day. The restoration work had taken almost 18 months and was completed in Spring 2015.
Since the restoration, Chapman has won “Car Of Show” at the NEC Classic Car Show in November 2015, and was invited to show the car in the “Cartier Style Et Luxe” at the Goodwood Festival Of Speed in June 2016.
It was during Chapman’s attendance at some of these events that the discussion of the car’s value raised it’s head, and figures of £200,000 plus being banded around.
This life-changing amount of money led Chapman to place the car on consignment sale with the well-known London-based company, Joe Macari in spring of 2017. The showroom price was set at £249,950.
From July 2017 till today the car is in the Netherlands in the ownership of a very well-known Dutch collector. Because of several new purchases in the collection of the current owner he decided to offer this unique piece of history for sale.
The body of the Jensen is in a nice condition but overall it’s a prototype and this is visible on the car.
It’s the charm of the car that the fittings aren’t as perfect as from a Porsche or a Mercedes.
The paint is nice. One can find some small signs on the beautiful green metallic but overall the paint is very nice.
The chrome show some lite pitting on the window surrounding and bumpers.
The side windows show some minor damages.
Overall the condition of the Jensen is beautiful and exactly as it should be. Some minor patina which belongs to a prototype car.
The incredible interior, is a design masterclass in itself, complete with Smiths gauges perfectly angled towards the driver and tactile toggle switches.
The interior of the Jensen is in a very nice condition. The carpets are in as new condition.
The leather is absolute amazing and from the thick quality as could be found in the past on the typical English Chesterfield sofa’s.
All meters, buttons and gauges are in a perfect working order.
The restoration is rather recent but it’s easily clear that the former owner took a lot of care for the car during it’s ownership and use.
This car is a unique piece of motoring history in all sense. Not only the story, not only the looks but certainly also the driving experience is unique.
The Jensen looks so kind and sweet but in real it’s a tru muscle car. When the car was invented 1 detail was clear. The car had to be fitted with a Chrysler V8 engine.
A 6.3 liter V8 is installed in this car and the power has to be handled with a 4 speed gearbox.
Driving this unique machine is absolutely fantastic. The power, the sound, the feeling the car gives is difficult to describe.
If you are looking for more information about this unique car it can be easily found on the web. Just google Jensen P66 and a lot of information and nice details can be found.