1939 JENSEN MODEL H STRAIGHT EIGHT DUAL COWL SPORTS TOURER
COACHWORK BY JENSEN Chassis No. H7 9447
Engine No. 3980
Two-tone red with tan leather upholstery
Engine: eight cylinder in line, 4.2 liters giving 120bhp at 3,500rpm; Gearbox: 3-speed manual with dual speed rear axle; Suspension: front - beam axle with half elliptic leaf springs, rear - live axle with leaf springs; Brakes: four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
Alan and Richard Jensen, the able and industrious sons of a Danish ship broker who had settled in England's industrial midlands, were youthful car enthusiasts - Richard was but 17 - when they built their first special body on an Austin Seven chassis in the late 1920s. A trim little sports two-seater, it displayed the eager lines that were to be the hallmark of the brothers' design for the next thirty years. Their work attracted the attention of the Standard Motor Company and Avon Bodies of Warwick, who built a series of stylish Avon-Standard roadsters and coupes from their drawings and with their practical advice. Other Jensen special coachwork on a wide range of chassis followed, all distinguished by pleasing lines, relatively light weight and sound construction methods. By 1934 they owned an efficiently-run coachbuilding operation and entertained thoughts of becoming automobile manufacturers in their own right.
They had produced a pair of rakish four-seater sports tourers on the Ford V8 chassis to the order of Hollywood idol Clark Gable. With their flowing fenders and lowered hoods, displaying suberb craftsmanship in every detail, the Jensen-Fords had all the panache a movie star could wish for; they were widely acclaimed and some 20 replicas were built. It was high time for a separate Jensen marque to make its debut, but there was a snag. Supplying complete chassis to the coachbuilders was one thing; Ford would not supply parts for a potential competitor, no matter how small. Fortunately, the Jensen brothers were by now rather well connected. Pioneer aviator and racing motorist Lord Brabazon interceded, Edsel Ford was prevailed upon to visit the Jensen factory during a visit to England, the difficulties were smoothed away. The resulting high compression 120bhp V8 powered S-Type Jensen, with its noble, vee- fronted radiator, was even more striking than the Gable cars had been. It was accelerative and responsive. The timber framed, aluminum- paneled body was shaped by some of the world's most dedicated craftsman. Instruments, controls, the selected leathers to be used to finish the interior were all of prime quality. Above all, the Jensen represented peerless value for the money, and accordingly sales were entirely satisfactory.
It was all very gratifying, but still Alan and Richard Jensen sought greater refinement, possibly greater power. That V8 was all very well, but English buyers preferred the purr of a straight six or eight to the beat of cylinders in vee configuration. Once again the brothers looked across the Atlantic and found what they sought in the sophisticated Nash overhead-valve straight engine. That company's first eight had appeared late in 1929, boasting a twin ignition - with a pair of sparking plugs per cylinder - no less than nine main bearings and 100 bhp. '80 miles an hour in three blocks', claimed Nash's marketing men, and examples of the Ambassador Eight, which found their way to England impressed the motoring press's road-testers with their surging acceleration. A good performanance in the Le Mans 24-Hour GP d'Endurance brought the Nash Eight to the attention of enthusiasts. By 1938 this superb powerplant had been yet further refined, still with twin ignition but now of 260.8 cu. in. (4.2 liters) and offering a serene 115bhp, and no doubt there was more to come. The engine's simple elegance must also have appealed to the Jensens: its black and green enamel finish was as tastefully understated as any Derby product, and the engine fully filled the endless, multi-louvered hood. As installed in the Jensen, power was said to be 120bhp at 3500rpm, good enough to provide a Jensen Model H saloon with 88mph top speed under test. Jensen themselves claimed the fourseater tourer was good for 95 mph, which it probably was, with the sports windscreen folded flat. Significantly, there was a Columbia twin-ratio rear axle to provide these very fully-equipped machines with effortless 85mph cruising at a mere 2800rpm.
Documentation with this spectactularly presented Jensen confirms that it was delivered to its English first owner in March of 1939. There were long periods in storage and two more owners before the present vendor, a Pebble Beach award-winner and professional restorer, acquired it some 35 years ago. The lengthy and professional restoration was undertaken under the watchful direction of the owner. The Jensen's quality has been recognized by the Classic Car Club of America, who have accepted it as a full classic. The owner has gone as far as to state, this is the best driving of my classics; much smoother than my 1935 Bentley, as fast and much more refined than my 1937 4.4 liter Alvis. This automobile displays exquisite perfection in its detail, as shown in the engine-turned firewall and beautifully finished burled walnut dash, fine leather upholstery and trimmed interior. It is thought to be the last remaining Jensen Model H and its magnificent condition warrants close attention. This spectacular and handsome car is ready for show or drive.