British Build Quality: 1974 Jensen Healey Roadster – Sold!
Positioned between Triumph’s TR-6 and Jaguar’s aging yet still gorgeous E-Type, the Jensen-Healey convertible sports car such as the 1974 example currently listed on Craigslist in Martinsville, New Jersey enjoyed mild success during its production run between 1972 and 1976. The current caretaker of this yellow over black example has his car listed at $8,495, which relying on the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms he has his Mark II priced about halfway between the #2 “Excellent” appraisal of $12,900 and the #3 “Good” estimate of $6,400.
The Jensen-Healey produced from 1972–76, with 10,503 produced, is the best-selling Jensen of all time. The 1974 example featured here is known as a MkII, of which 7,146 were produced. Launched in 1972 as a fast, luxurious and competent convertible sports car, it was positioned in the market between the Triumph TR6 and the Jaguar E-Type. The 50/50 weight balance achieved by the use of the all-alloy Lotus 907 engine led to universal praise as having excellent handling.
When production of the Austin-Healey 3000 ended in 1967, Donald Healey opened discussions with Jensen Motors, who had built the bodies for Healey’s Austin-Healey cars. The largest Austin-Healey dealer in the U.S., San Francisco-based Kjell Qvale, was also keen to find a replacement to the 3000; Qvale would become a major shareholder of Jensen, making Donald Healey the chairman. The Jensen-Healey was developed in a joint venture by Donald Healey, his son Geoffrey, and Jensen Motors. Hugo Poole did the styling of the body, the front and back of which were later modified by William Towns to take advantage of the low profile engine and to allow cars for the U.S. market to be fitted with bumpers to meet increasingly strict U.S. safety regulations. The unitary body understructure was designed by Barry Bilbie, who had been responsible for the Austin-Healey 100, 100-6, and 3000 as well as the Sprite. It was designed to be easy to repair, with bolt-on panels, to keep insurance premiums down.
Early cars (1973-1974.5) such as the example featured here came fitted with two-piece steel and chrome bumpers originally designed for the Jensen-Healey. The suspension was simple but effective with double wishbone and coil springs at the front, and a live rear axle with trailing arms and coils at the rear. Brakes consisted of discs at the front and drums at the rear. The suspension, steering gear, brakes, and rear axle were adapted from the Vauxhall Firenza with the exception of the front brakes, which were then widely used Girling Type 14 Calipers. after experimenting with a variety of engines, Healey selected the new Lotus 907 engine to power his new car. Not only did this new engine meet U.S. emissions of the period, but this engine was also the first modern dual overhead cam four-valve per cylinder engine to be mass-produced on an assembly line. North American versions came equipped with dual single throat Zenith Strombergs.
Unfortunately, the 1973 Arab oil embargo hit Jensen Motors hard, greatly damaging the sales of its very large Chrysler-440-powered model and thus degrading its financial condition as a whole. After a slow ramp up, by 1974 Lotus was finally 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 labor strikes, component shortages and inflation, proceeded to liquidate in 1975 and then close in May 1976.
In unrestored and original condition, this example appears to be in well cared for condition with only 90K original miles. The owner honestly states the current good, bad, and ugly of this 45 year British quality sports car and find it humorous they are willing to trade it for the right BMW Z3, Porsche Boxster, or Honda S200. Good luck with the purchase!
Here’s the seller’s description:
“1974 Jensen Healey Roadster For Sale.
!! If the Ad is Up She Is Still Available !!
Original, unrestored, numbers matching Jensen Healey, one of 10,503 made. Just passed 90,000 miles. 2.0L 16 Valve Lotus 907 Engine with twin Dellorto 45 carburetors & 4 Speed Manual Gearbox.
– Unrestored & Original!
– Starts, Runs & Stops
– Chrome Bumper Model + Original Alloy Wheels
– All Gauges Work
– Pretty Much Complete
– 3 Owners & History is Known
– 30 Years of Receipts for Work Done
– Unrestored & Original!
– 45+ Year Old British Build Quality
– Transmission leaking from seals
– Hot Starting Issue, probably Electrical
Looking for $8,495. May trade for BMW Z3, S2000 or Boxster..”
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