Although Jensen of West Bromwich espoused American Ford V8 and Nash engines in pre-war days, during the 1950s the company was closely associated with Austin. An outstanding though much under-rated Grand Tourer, the Jensen 541 embodied the Jensen brothers’ traditional virtues of a big engine and high overall gearing in a smaller, sportier package than the Interceptor saloon’s. The 541 deployed the latter’s 4.0-litre Austin engine in a shorter, ladder-frame chassis, designed by John Riekie, which nevertheless contrived to offer significantly greater rear seat room than most of its rivals, while Eric Neale (previously with Daimler) laid out the new aerodynamic body.
Introduced at the 1953 Motor Show, the 541 pioneered the use of glassfibre bodywork and, like the Interceptor, used Austin A70-based suspension and transmission components but followed Jensen’s own steering geometry, rack-and-pinion steering a later introduction. And if the four-speed gearbox was not the 541’s strongest point, it mattered little, as the car could be left in top gear virtually all day, such was the torque of the Austin six. Despite being capable of 115 mph, the 541 possessed such a favourable power-to-weight ratio that this performance came with relatively modest fuel consumption. Offered here is a restored Jensen 541 carefully hand built in West Bromwich in 1956 over sixty years ago. When they were first launched they had the same effect on a car-starved public as the Bugatti Veyron did fifty years later. This delightful example still carries it original registration 222 BPL issued in Guildford. The V5 shows just three owners and perhaps further research by the new owner could reveal more about the life and times of this stylish fifties Grand Tourer. The restoration appears to have been comprehensive and the interior is absolutely superb in red leather with matching carpets, and the bodywork looks resplendent in a Metallic Royal Blue. The cabin of this GT is a very functional place to be with its impressive dash layout and its original style three-spoke steering wheel. The Jensen story is fascinating and as fifties GTs continue to return to favour, this lovely, well-restored 541 makes a very sensible proposition.