Ian Northeast - The World’s Fastest Jensen
My first foray into a performance car was a really cheap Porsche 944, I very quickly found out why it was cheap, the engine was absolutely creamed.
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Boldly going somewhere very quickly.
I have been a motorcycle guy for as long as I can remember, I was probably on two wheels before I could walk! However, when my two gorgeous daughters came along I had to turn to the dark side and become a car driver. As the girls got older and they were less reliant on me I had the opportunity to consider a ‘toy’ car.
My first foray into a performance car was a really cheap Porsche 944, I very quickly found out why it was cheap, the engine was absolutely creamed. So I fitted a Rover V8, it fitted amazingly well and was a great package, the looks and handling of the German car with the sound and power of the Rover lump.
I very quickly got bored of the Porsche, it was simply too good, predictable handling and felt very much like a modern car. What I needed was a classic, something with four seats, preferably a bit unusual and definitely a bit of power. The usual suspects were out of my price range but then I discovered the Jensen marque.
About twelve years ago I found my C-V8, it had been in one family-owned and had only 250,000 miles on the clock. It had been kept on the road throughout its life but some of the repairs had simply been enough to get it through its MOT.
The Jensen C-V8 is a proper GT car it has four leather seats, an automatic gearbox and a huge Chrysler V8 engine upfront. The fibreglass body helps keep the weight down and when it was released in 1959 could comfortably drift all over Europe at motorway plus speeds.
I had owned the car for a few years when it became obvious that I was never going to keep up with the ‘polishers’ in the owners club. I couldn’t afford to put the car back to its original condition, so I decided to take a different route and went racing.
After a few years of sprint racing all over the UK, I started working on the car to get a bit more performance and maybe to try something really different.
In 2016 a very close friend of mine died completely unexpectedly which gave me cause to rethink my plans. Stop thinking and planning and start doing. This was the birth of our current project, to rebuild the car, take it out to Bonneville speed week and attempt to drive the World’s, Fastest Jensen.
I built a team of friends old and new, and we got to work transforming the car from a comfortable GT cruiser to a land speed racer. A serious roll cage, some drastic engine modifications and a manual gearbox conversion were all in order.
Our first trip to Utah was very much a holiday. We shipped the car to Texas and the trailered it up to the salt flats around 150 miles from Salt Lake City. We had an absolute ball, despite pretty much everything breaking, but we made some fantastic friends and had experiences which will last a lifetime.
Upon our return, we repaired the faults we had created and started work on the necessary modifications to make the car even faster. We had planned to go back in 2020 but things beyond our control got in the way, as a result, we are going back in 2021.
This time we’re going back, much more prepared and with friends. As a result of our experiences, some other people have decided to join us and race their respective cars and motorcycles. We are sharing the shipping costs and are working as a team, sharing advice and tips.
To get our full story and to keep up to date with our progress have a look at our website www.worldsfastestjensen.co.uk.
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