by Paul Sweeney
New arrival: the Jensen-Healey (1972–76) is a British two-seater convertible sports car which was the best-selling Jensen of all time - most were sold in the USA and Canada. In total 10,503 (10 prototypes, 3,347 Mk.1 and 7,146 Mk.2) were produced by Jensen Motors Ltd. in West Bromwich, England.
We don't have much information about the car as it almost literally fell into Ian Hope's lap. One day recently a local lady telephoned out of the blue saying she wanted rid of an old car and would Ian be interested? Suffice it to say he bought it for a song and it now awaits his recovery from recent illness to tidy it up. Ian recovered the car complete with a rag top that's seen better days (it can be seen bundled into the boot) and also a hard top.
The Healey has the 1973 cc Lotus 903 engine - a two litre, dual overhead cam, 16 valve all-alloy powerplant. This multi-valve engine is the first to be mass produced on an assembly line. This setup puts out approximately 144 bhp (107 kW), topping out at 119 mph (192 km/h) and accelerating from zero to 60 mph in 8.1 seconds.
Jensen-Healey interiors started out comparatively austere and functional, with plastic centre consoles and all-black colour schemes. (Some earlier models do sport brown interiors, however.) In August 1973, aesthetic extras such as a clock, wood grain on the dashboard and glove-box and padding as well as air conditioning as an option were added. 1976 Jensen GT models went even further by offering an elaborate burr walnut wood dashboard and paisley-patterned cloth seats, with leather as an option.
End of Production
The oil crisis hit Jensen Motors hard, greatly damaging the sales of their very large V8 Interceptor model and thus degrading their financial condition as a whole. The Jensen GT was then hurriedly brought to market, requiring massive labour expense and taxing the firm's budget even further. By 1974 Lotus was able to supply the required number of engines and production reached 86 cars a week but despite this, the overall situation proved to be too much for the company, which, amid strike action, component shortages and inflation, proceeded to liquidate in 1975 and close their doors in May 1976.
Jensen Motors ran a factory team to capture the Sports Car Club of America SCCA D Production Championship in 1973 and 1974. This team was put together by Huffaker Engineering in California.
Although it was a new car, the Jensen-Healey went on to become one of the few cars in SCCA History to capture a championship in its first year of racing (1973).
The initial drivers in 1973 were Lee Mueller and Jon Woodner. In 1974 the lone entry was Lee Mueller. Lee Mueller captured a second D Production championship in 1974. The factory support ended in 1974, however the West Coast Jensen-Healey dealers combined to put together a late effort in 1975. Huffaker built a new car and although beginning the SCCA season late Mueller, driving again, was able to qualify for the runoffs in Atlanta. A third championship nearly came to pass but the Healey was edged out by the Ex C Production Triumph TR 6 factory team car of Group 44 racing, driven by John McComb. The Huffaker factory cars were later campaigned by the likes of Carl Liebich, James Beason, Stefan Edliss, Tim Lind, Joe Carr, Tom Kraft and Jim Reilly.
Bruce Qvale and Joe Huffaker Jr. from Huffaker Engineering, of Sears Point Raceway, Sonoma, California, successfully campaigned a Jensen Healey in SCCA E Production, winning the SCCA title in 1995. From 2005 until 2007, Ron Earp of Cary, North Carolina campaigned a 1974 Jensen Healey in SCCA Improved Touring S class. The 1973 National Championship winning car was raced by Lind Bros Racing in Waterloo Iowa from 1974 thru 1981. The driver was Tim Lind. Stored from 1982 until 2006 when the car was sent back to Huffaker Engineering for a complete restoration to original 1973 specifications. The car is still owned by Lind Bros Racing and has been driven to victories in Vintage Racing by Pat Lind and Joe Huffaker. In 2013 the car won at the Rolex Monterey Historics and was awarded the Presidents Cup.Other victories have come at Elkhart Lake-Indianapolis-COTA- Sears Point-Thunderhill.