Speedshop: The Jensen trendsetter
The FF has more than just a Formula 1 connection, it also left a legacy of road car advancements, says Simon de Burton
The next time you see an Audi Quattro clinging to a gravel-strewn classic rally stage, bear in mind it may well owe some of its tenacious grip to the car pictured here: a 1969 Jensen FF.
As Jensen fans and vintage tractor aficionados will know, ‘FF’ stands for ‘Ferguson Formula’ and refers to the four- wheel-drive system developed by Ferguson Research, the engineering firm set-up by Harry Ferguson and racing drivers Tony Rolt and Freddie Dixon.
The system was used in the Ferguson P99 Formula 1 car, and Sir Stirling Moss drove it to victory in the 1961 International Gold Cup at Oulton Park before it was later supplied to BRM for the P67 and various Indycar teams. But it wasn’t until after Ferguson’s death that the possibility of using the Ferguson Formula in a road car began to be explored, with Jensen – perhaps surprisingly – leading the way with a stretched ‘FF’ version of its recently launched Interceptor high-performance coupé.
Unveiled at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1966, the FF cost over £6000 – around £1500 more than an Aston Martin DB6 – and wowed the crowds both by being not only the first ‘non-all-terrain’ production vehicle to feature four-wheel drive, but also the first with anti-lock brakes.
The car on offer at the Classic Motor Hub is particularly special because it was used by engineering firm GKN to develop the early four-wheel-drive technology that subsequently made it the largest supplier of automotive driveline components in the world, some of which were used on the celebrated Quattro that appeared 14 years after the Interceptor FF.
That background was sufficient to spur this Interceptor’s current owner, who acquired it in a sorry state in 2013, to commission specialist Jensen restorer Rejen to return the car to its original 1969 factory- fresh specification through a meticulous rebuild said to have cost £140,000.
Documented by 800 photographs, the work included reinstating its correct California Sage colour scheme (it had been repainted white decades earlier) and re-trimming the black leather interior, as per the original build sheets that have remained with the car and were used throughout the restoration overseen by marque expert Ulric Woodhams, the world’s leading authority on the FF.
Classic Motor Hub’s staff describe the machine as being in ‘as new condition’, and the car even has the Voxson eight-track player with which it was fitted before being delivered to GKN. With no more than 330 FFs made, and even fewer surviving, this has to be the best available, and it’s at ‘cost price’ too…
1969 Jensen FF
On sale at The Classic Motor Hub, Bibury, Gloucestershire GL7.
+44 (0) 1242 384092.
Asking price: £139,500
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