Vintage and Prestige are proud to offer this 1961 Jensen 541S For Sale.
Chassis no: 100/1032
Engine no: 40/A/11069
At the start of the 1950s the Jensen Motor Company had a financially sound business producing commercial vehicles and building bespoke bodies for other manufacturers. As is often the way with successful entrepreneurs, the Jensen brothers enjoyed having their name on their products and having been involved for years prior to the war building small cars in conjunction with Standard, Austin and Wolseley, their attention turned again in the late forties to the possibility of creating a rather more exclusive Jensen. Richard Jensen was joined in 1946 by Eric Neale and they jointly penned the sleek (and expensive) Interceptor which remained in production from 1950-57. The bodywork was mostly aluminium, but as an experiment Jensen had started making the large boot lids in a revolutionary material formed from hair-thin glass embedded in a resinous gel, 'Glass Fibre'.
Eric Neale's influence was immediately obvious in the, new for 1953, Jensen 541. He first created the distinctive 'mouth' shape, anticipating the cold air requirements of a possible big V8 although the Austin 4-litre straight six turned out to be the engine of choice, and the rest of the body flowed back from that point. A lattice of wooden body formers provided a reference over which skilled craftsmen beat a skin of aluminium. The finished car was exhibited at the 1953 Motor Show but there was one trick left up Jensen's sleeve, production cars were to be constructed from glass fibre! As production of the 541 settled down the options available increased. A package incorporating the most frequently chosen extras was applied to the car which was then marketed as the '541 Deluxe' and rack and pinion steering followed shortly in the '541R'.
In 1959 work started on creating a slightly larger 541, which would be better suited to long-distance cruising. This car was to have an auto gearbox as standard and was wider and taller than its predecessor, and so was born the new 541S. Some 4” inches wider than the original 541R, while also offering increased headroom and greater luggage capacity, the ‘S’ version was generally considered to be a more practical machine and certainly more comfortable for touring. In addition to a general increase in size, the body styling changed at the same time with distinctive 'scallops' being added at the rear and on the bonnet and a new grille. Less apparent initially were the improvements these modifications made to road holding, stability and ride.
In the 541S, Jensen used their own powerful version of the Austin DS5 4-litre straight-six engine featuring triple H4 SU carburettors, a high compression 'Weslake' head, custom-made twin exhaust manifolds and an alloy baffled sump/oil cooler. A total of 127 cars were hand-built between 1960 and 1962 at Jensen's West Bromwich factory, most having GM-licensed Rolls-Royce 'Hydramatic' gearboxes. This was unusual at the time as most performance cars were fitted with 'sporty' manual gearboxes but the automatic suited Jensen's criteria for the 541S of effortless speed and luxurious long distance cruising, although twenty-two were fitted with Moss manual gearboxes at their owner's request. The 541S is also notable for being the first British car to have seat belts fitted as standard equipment and the pioneering use of Dunlop disc brakes on all four wheels was carried on from the 'Deluxe'. Other safety equipment included a padded windscreen surround, fire extinguisher and a first-aid kit and each car was fitted with a quality Motorola radio as standard.
The best way to describe the history is to read the words from the previous owner, he was in possession of 4661AT for some 50years!
The Car was Sold by Northwood Motors (Hull) Ltd and first registered by them 08/03/1961. It was bought by George Lyles Director of George Lyles & Sons Ltd of Mirfield in 1962.?It was then bought by M Bradley Director of T Smith & Son (Dewsbury) Ltd in1963.
It was later bought by Colebrook& Burgess Central Garage North Shields in 1966 and I bought it from them while living in Newcastle and subsequently Carlisle (mileage approx 30,000). Part of the deal was to fit 3 point full harness seat belts in the front to replace the diagonal-only type fitted at the factory. I also changed the tyres from 6.40 x 15 cross ply to 186 x 15 radial and have used the latter type ever since with improved economy to around 20mpg even when driven hard. ‘Fashionable’ wing mirrors were fitted to aid the poor windscreen type fitted as standard.
I laid the car up in1971 after having been offered a ridiculous sum by SMT Edinburgh in part exchange for a DB6S Aston Martin that had one previous owner – Ken Morrison of supermarket fame. That decided me the time had come to act. I had the engine fully reconditioned while spares were available, and the block then filled to the plug holes with engine oil (mileage approx 94700). When later examined with a Baroscope the insides of the bores and bearings were as new.
During this period I was working and living abroad and was not aware that the DVLA had advertised for all owners to declare any car that was not currently taxed or the Registration number would be cancelled! Consequently I “lost “ the number and it was only later with the help of the JOC, that I was able to have the number reinstated but the number cannot be transferred to another car.
The car was brought out of storage in 1996 and moved to a restoration company Autostyle of Bolton for full mechanical and electrical, including new Auto Sparks wiring harness, and chassis restoration until 2000 at which time it had its first recorded MOT (mileage 94788). During this time many other items were renewed. The painting and chrome trim, the rear seats had new leather due to leather worm during storage! They are like new today. New carpets, having extra ‘slave’ floor ones fitted. The automatic gearbox overhaul, including new pump, and the carburettor recon. were carried after this time by different specialists) A stainless steel exhaust system was also fitted. The invoices are available to verify the work and some photos of part of the restoration are also available.
The following is a list of some MOTs with dates and mileages since restoration:
The metal fluid reservoir was replaced with a Jaguar one with an electrical indication lamp on the dash in 2000.Due to the quality of the present unleaded fuel despite using Miller VSP additive, there was some overheating and a thermostatically controlled electrical fan was fitted for occasional use such as queuing in traffic or long slow climbs and this eliminated the problem. The radiator blind was removed and stored to enable the fan to be fitted in 2002. The positive earth electrical system was converted to negative earth in 2003 and the distributor was converted to electronic ignition in 2004. The dynamo was reconditioned and a new voltage regulator fitted. In order to avoid excessive use of the choke when starting from cold a Kenlowe Hotstart was fitted in 2010. This runs on mains power and circulates heated water round the engine and I operate it via a time switch to give about an hour on cold mornings giving the added advantage of instant heater operation. The unit is 3000 W and is thermostatically controlled at 820 C. This does of course save petrol and avoids excessive use of the choke! A new battery, power steering and alternator were fitted and rear springs re-tempered in 2014. Halogen headlamps and an electric aerial are used.
This rare and very useable classic is currently in our showroom and ready for viewing.
A gallery of large high-resolution pictures may be viewed on our website.
Office the details below
Richard Biddulph the details below
Christoff Cowens 07772188037
We accept Credit/Debit Cards.
Part Exchange welcome.
Weekend & evening viewings OK.
Viewings by appointment :
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