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February 2013

James Elliott's daily driver

James Elliott's Interceptor - used every day and in all weathers

by zacmarshall » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:57 pm

This is James Ellott's Interceptor, used as his daily driver.

You may have read about James' exploits in Classic and Sportscar magazine, where James is now Group Editor, after some comments about people using their cars in the recent snow we had then I thought this would make a very interesting car of the month :D

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This is what James has to say about his car:

It’s an age-old debate, use your classic in winter or tuck it up in a garage, pamper it a bit and prolong its life. I can see both points of view, but behaviourly I am compelled to the former.
I know that some will balk at that, think that I am an unfit owner, but I can’ t help it. It’s a car. For driving.
Sorry if that offends some, but please respect my right to use a car just as I respect your right not to.
In fact, I admire and thank those people who are painstakingly preserving Jensens by using them less and treating them far better (and lavishing more money on them) than I do (or can). Not least because it partially takes the pressure off me so I can enjoy my car.
Sure the utopia is using the car AND keeping it pristine, but unless you are loaded or prepared to take it off the road for long periods, that simply isn’t possible. Not if you don’t have much time, either. And thanks to having too many children and too many classics, I don’t.
So, excuses out of the way, that is why my car (bought cheap and maintained cheaper) is not the shining example of the breed that it might be. There was a time, when it was temporarily looking quite shiny after a tiny bit of investment and when fuel was hitting £1.45 a litre, that I convinced myself it would become a high days and holidays car. That didn’t last long.
The problem is the Interceptor is just so usable: commuting in London in comfort, fine, cross continental cruising a doddle. Effortless (though pricey) power, superb brakes and all the appointment of far more expensive classics is a winning formula.
The problem is that, as far as classics go, it is the ideal winter car, too. So, at precisely the time that I should be hiding it from the ice, salt and grit, its luxurious overengineering is making it come into its own as a daily driver. Furnace of a heater, heated rear screen that actually works, powerful two-speed wipers. And when it does snow, the auto ’box means I can usually ‘creep’ over it without using the throttle enough to take any risks.
Besides, why would I not want to use it all the time? The Interceptor is a car I’ve dreamed of since I was a kid. Way back in September 1998, I wrote in Classic & Sports Car: ‘For me… the Jensen Interceptor will always be an icon. It was as breathtaking to see this goldfish bowl fly past Dad’s ’73 Audi 100 as it must have been to be suspended in the vortex of disbelief left by a Gullwing Merc as it passed your Morris Oxford in 1954. Ever since, regardless of road-test or rationality, I have wanted one.’
It was almost a decade later that that dream came true. My “well-used” Mk1 set me back £3500 and, even doing much of the works myself, has cost more to run since then than any classic I have ever owned, with the prospect of more big expense always on the horizon. Yet, while many other classics have come and gone for that reason, I still have the Jensen. That says it all.
Though the odomoter is kaput at the moment, I reckon it has covered about 6000 miles a year in my ownership, and barely been off the road. That, too, accounts for why it is always being patched up rather than properly restored.
My travels and adventures are well documented and I have recently updated the surviving Mk1s site (http://www.joc.org.uk/Interceptor_Mk_1/115_3079.html) to bring it up to date and fill in some gaps.
But the summary is that; having achieved my dream, I have no intention of not living it to the full. After all, who knows when I might wake up with a start and have to part with the Jensen because of bills (on it or elsewhere) that need to be paid. At the moment that threat looms larger than ever.
There’s loads wrong with it, of course, but there always is and I am shamed by the condition of the other examples I see, which partially explains its rare appearances at club events.
But, a word about the club. I have been a member of a great many car clubs over the years and this is easily one of the best. It says something when just wanting to stay part of the Jensen community, to be a fellow Jensen owner, is reason enough to want to hang on to the car.
That and the reaction it always gets. You cannot pull up without someone admiring even my Interceptor. Just last night I took it for a clean and the young lads in the hand car wash were taking it in turns to have their pictures taken with it. Long may that last.
To be honest, I am always very self-conscious about writing about my car (because I always feel there are far more deserving, far better owners out there who should be getting the exposure), but equally I will never say no if asked. (so you can blame Zac for this latest verbose outburst!).
Apologies if you are fed up with seeing my Interceptor or think that my ownership style brings the cars, the marque or the club into high-profile disrepute…. But I’m having a whale of a time.

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by zacmarshall » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:08 pm

James has provided lots of interesting photos, click below for the link

http://s51.photobucket.com/albums/f394/ ... 20Elliott/
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by taximan » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:10 pm

Looked great after its respray, is that a dent in the o/s/f wing?
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by Dion » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:59 pm

Fantastic. Of course the condition will not be the same as one which comes out of the garage only when it has not rained for three weeks or so.
Great respect for owners who dare to drive their Jensen as an everyday car. I hope to be in that position before the summer.
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by chris g » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:54 pm

That sums it up beautifully James. They are for driving, all year.
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by mustbemad » Tue Feb 12, 2013 8:19 pm

I can relate absolutely to James' comments - it is such a brilliant and comfortable car to drive in the winter, that I can't help myself!

Whilst not a daily driver, it's probably an every-other-day driver. I've had the absolutely pristine classic that I rarely used, and it didn't really give me as much pleasure as I was always worried about it. The few cars in my 'collection' are nice but not perfect and I've had so much more pleasure from them as I drive them all the time!

The aim with the Jensen is that it is mechanically spot on, well maintained and a real drivers car, but it's not the prettiest, so snow, salt and dirt doesn't worry me. Hence I wasn't offended when someone at a Jensen event said 'Oh yes, I remember your car of old - it was always let down by the paint.....' :roll:

Each to their own :mrgreen:

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by Chris_R » Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:31 pm

James Elliott wrote:There’s loads wrong with it, of course, but there always is and I am shamed by the condition of the other examples I see, which partially explains its rare appearances at club events.

You should not be shamed by the condition of other examples. Admire them perhaps, yes. Similarly you should not be ashamed for it to appear at club events.
In your next sentence you go on to say
James Elliott wrote:I have been a member of a great many car clubs over the years and this is easily one of the best.

There should be room for all of us in this club and I believe there is. Despite contrary comments I bet that there will be many who have pristine examples and don't use them except when it's dry are secretly envious of you using yours all the time just as you perhaps are wistful of the condition of theirs.
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by witkowski » Sun Feb 17, 2013 1:55 am

zacmarshall wrote:But the summary is that; having achieved my dream, I have no intention of not living it to the full. After all, who knows when I might wake up with a start and have to part with the Jensen because of bills (on it or elsewhere) that need to be paid


I endorse this fully. I waited over 40 years to achieve my dream of owning an Interceptor and I, too, want to live it to the full before my life-time bill is called in. That said, I do feel some responsibility to keep the car in decent condition for someone after me. (What's the Piaget watch advertisement? "You never own a Piaget watch, you look after it for the next generation")

So, I drive the Interceptor two or three days a week, but not following the 2 feet of snow we got last week!

All the best
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by Trevithick » Mon May 20, 2013 7:35 pm

Never frightened to use CEA all year round, it does floods very well (high ignition system). I did a few too many miles last year, and it's just fine.
Nice Mk1 BTW :wink:
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by Stephen Hunt » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:18 am

Well done James. May your interceptor continue its daily use for long to come ! My car's previous owner just left it out to rot and the car I have has to undergo a full restoration (underway) to once again get it back on the road. Daily use enables all the cars faults to be known and rectified . I've just replaced inner rear spray guards which had dissolved though. They're so thin ! After along time and a doner car Martin Robey made up some new ones that actually fit, so if the snow/salt takes its toll they're now available anyway. One day I hope to drive my fabulous car and envy your daily usage...it will be many years I think before I get to your enviable position. Good luck and happy motoring!
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