Lot 090: Jensen 541R
Although the prototype was exhibited in 1953, the Jensen 541 did not enter production until 1955. Widely considered to be the best-looking car ever to emerge from the West Bromwich factory, it was styled by Jensen's Eric Neale and was not just attractive, it was also highly aerodynamic with a Cd figure of just 0.39, one of the lowest recorded at the time.
The cars used lightweight fibreglass bodywork consisting of three major mouldings, the entire front section being easily raised for excellent engine access. The body was mounted on an immensely strong, tubular-framed chassis featuring independent coil-and-wishbone front suspension, a leaf-sprung hypoid bevel rear axle, cam-and-roller steering and Girling hydraulic brakes. Power came from a 135bhp six-cylinder, triple or twin carburettor version of the 4-litre Austin engine, driving through a four-speed transmission with optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive.
Pick of the 541 range was the 'R' of which just 193 were made between 1957 and 1960. This had disc brakes all round, overdrive as standard and much-improved rack-and-pinion steering together with a restyled bonnet for better cooling and fabulously bulbous wheel arches, reminiscent of the Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, that aided stability at speed.
The car was very well received by the motoring press, typified by these comments in 'Motor' in September 1955: "What really appeals is the outstanding manner in which it runs either quite gently or very, very quickly, according to the driver's wishes... Magnificent top-gear acceleration is available between 10mph and over 80mph, without any trace of a flat spot, and it is rarely necessary to change down for hill-climbing."
First registered July 1959 this particular 541R is believed to have been off the road since the mid-1970s but restoration was started a couple of years ago. Work carried out so far includes: full engine rebuild by specialist; good second hand gearbox; new clutch; new stainless steel exhaust; four new hubs with good wire wheels and tyres; rechroming of most parts; new brake discs; recored radiator; respray; rebuilt rear axle; new loom and complete rewire; new dashboard; new front and rear screens. The car now needs some minor refinishing of the interior to complete.
These really are fabulous looking machines that are very easy to live with and will cruise all day at 90mph at just 2,500rpm. With top examples now making around �30,000 this one looks excellent value at the guide price suggested today.
Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia|
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster
|Hammer Price (inc premium)||-|
|Registration number||499 JGP|
|Engine capacity (cc)||3993|
|Engine - cylinders|
|Number of doors|