Sir, Do not fear the Jensen-Healey. The cur
rent scene has reduced our choice of new open cars. Of the non-exotics, there remain only the Midget, Spitfire, MG-B, TR6—and Jensey-Healey. There are many amongst us whd lust after the frost-bitten scalp and are in the habit of buying used versions c>f cars of this type. It is a fact that they hold their value particularly well; they are known to be straightforward, with cheap (well, relatively) and available spares.
I suspect that people are wary of the J-H, believing that it could be a complex kit of bother with elusive spares and expensive to maintain; and I believe that this fear is reflected in the very reasonable prices being asked for used examples.
I can report on 18,000 miles with my car, and, like the best intimate relationships, it has improved with time. It possesses good features not revealed by the Road Test figures. For example, it goes slowly particularly well, accelerating cleanly from 1,000 r.p.m. in top gear without vibration. (Try that in a Ford 24itre estate car; the vibration is brain-fuddling.) The seats are so comfortable that one resents coming to the conclusion of a long journey. The oil-cooler keeps the temperature steady in the most provoking conditions. There is only stainless steel—no chromium. There are prepared sites for loudspeakers behind the door-trims. It is true that the hood is not perfect (and I speak with authority, having seldom been without a soft-top car since getting a licence in 1936). Rain drips onto the driver’s offside wrist, and the Velcro strips allow the sides to blow loose, at 70 m.p.h. But as to the former, well, if you can’t take a joke . . . And the blowing-out is cured by a Tenax fastener. (A simple press-stud is useless). The Jensen people are most pleasant and informative. When I collected my car from West Bromwich I was given very precise instructions about running-in; and a final whisper that the little garage 50 yards froin
the gates stocked STP oil additive . . Months later, I understood: Motor reported on their Long Term Test car, and it scents that early engines had trouble with cylinder lubrication. The first 650 were potentially troublesome. I was uncharacteristically lucky to have Engine No. 0651. Incidentally oil consumption is more than most modern cars, and this is intentional. Large slices of this car are supplied by Rootes, Vauxhall, and other British (!) factories, and consequently most of the routine jobs are easily done by the DIY owner. Not so the Lotus engine, from which muscular morons must be segregated. In practice, the only routine work which I have had done professionally is replacement of contact noints. Attention to valve clearances is quite formidable, and would require a large stock of shims, to ensure having the 16 correct
ones. However, my engine makes the same amount and quality of elk:Icy-oily noise when idling as it alwas% has, and will not be touched until there is some indication. I wonder if the absence of pushrods, with their tiny bearing surfaces, is responsible for this consistency? Or is it the STP?
There have been two unscheduled failures: the bearings of the water-pump, and front universal joint. These were repaired (not replaced) by our excellent Ford agent, within a few hours. The Jensen agency is also firstclass, but it is a long way off. A useful development for convenient service is the increasing experience of Lotus agents, now that the Elite is appearing. Incidentally please could we have, as hitherto, grease nipples on waterpumps, universals and elsewhere. “Scaled-for-Life” is a myth.
Summing up, I assure your readers that a used Jensen-Healey could be their best buy. If the insurance for a Group 7 open car seems excessive, ask about minimum cover. Without comprehensive, of course, you can lose your total investment if you are careless. But then (as Admiral Lord Byng said when he was awaiting execution) . . . “‘The prospect do concentrate the mind wonderfully”. Charmandean NEIL HOPFIELD