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Jensen 541 Prototype

Jensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 Prototype
Jensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 PrototypeJensen 541 Prototype
Lot number 59
Hammer value £27500
Description Jensen 541 Prototype
Registration 674 TBJ
Year 1953
Colour Red
Engine size 3,993 cc
Chassis No. 14205
Engine No. 1D11861M

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 production cars used lightweight fibreglass bodywork consisting of three major mouldings and the entire front could be raised for 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 carburettor version of the 4-litre Austin engine, driving through a four-speed transmission with optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive.

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."

This car you see here is the actual 541 prototype that was displayed on the Jensen stand at the 1953 Earls Court Motor Show. Hand built at the Jensen factory, it had bodywork entirely made of aluminium, apart from the fibreglass boot lid. Reputed to have cost over £16,000 to make (the production cars went on sale at £1,822), it helped to secure orders for the forthcoming model.  

Subject to a nine-year restoration in the late 1980s  - early '90s, this car was then put on display at the Glasgow Motor Museum for several years. In 1994 it was featured on the front cover of 'Classic Cars' magazine which contained a long account of its history and nine year restoration. A copy of this is retained in the history file which also has several photographs of the restoration and many letters, invoices and documents pertaining to the history of the car, including correspondence from Jensen's Colin Reikie, who originally engineered the car.

Still said to be in excellent condition throughout and due to have a fresh MOT before the sale, this must be the most important Jensen 541 in existence. Absolutely unique.

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