Ex-1938 RAC Rally and Autocar Road Test Car 1938 Jensen 'S-Type' 3½-Litre Dual Cowl Tourer Registration no. CAC 41 Chassis no. S34/7354
Production of the Jensen 3½-Litre, usually known as the 'S-Type', started late in 1936. Panelled in aluminium and powered by a modified Ford V8 engine of 3,622cc, the Jensen was particularly noteworthy for its beautiful dual-cowl tourer coachwork, designed and built by Jensen Motors Limited, and its dual-ratio rear axle. The latter provided six forward gears and a very high top ratio of 2.9:1, 70mph approximating to a leisurely 2,200rpm.
In his book, A History of Jensen: All the Models, Jensen historian Richard Calver states that 35 'S-Type' Saloons, five Dropheads and eight Tourers were made. The vendor believes that only four of the eight Tourers survive, including 'CAC 41', which was first registered on 24th March 1938 in the name of Mr G B Mason of Dorridge, Warwickshire. George Bates Mason was one of the directors of Jensen Motors Ltd, along with Richard and Alan Jensen, and was the Jensen brothers' main financial backer before the war.
During 1938, 'CAC 41' was used in a number of rallies and road tests, and for publicity work. Between 26th and 30th April 1938, it took part in the 1000-mile RAC Rally, driven by rally and trials driver H K (Ken) Crawford, starting from Leamington Spa and finishing in Blackpool. The route included climbing Bwlch-y-Groes, the highest public road mountain pass in Wales, with the cars eventually arriving in the late afternoon of 28th April 1938 on Blackpool promenade.
Driving tests took place on the 29th April 1938 on Middle Walk, Blackpool, with a coachwork competition the following day.
'CAC 41' is also believed to have been the white Jensen Tourer that took part in the Scottish and Welsh rallies in June and July 1938, driven by Alan Hess.
'CAC 41' was used in the Autocar Road Test that appeared in the 17th June 1938 issue, with Assistant Editor Michael Brown at the wheel. Brown achieved a best time over the quarter-mile of 89.11mph and 0-50mph in 11.4 seconds.
The Road Test noted that the car had 'capital acceleration, a fine range of top gear performance and a notably effortless manner of travelling.'
At the same time as the Autocar Road Test was undertaken, Michael Brown prepared a further feature based on a journey along the ancient Fosse Way in the Jensen, which appeared in the Autocar on 1st July 1938. The Fosse Way feature includes several photos of 'CAC 41' on the journey north and copies of these are in the Jensen's history file.
'CAC 41' was also used in the Road Test report that appeared in the December 1938 issue of Speed magazine, during the preparation of which it was driven flat-out around the banked circuit at Brooklands. Photos of 'CAC 41' also appeared in the September 1938 issue of The Motor and the October 1938 issue of Motor Sport.
After WW2, George Mason and the Jensen brothers went their separate ways and Mr Mason's daughter has confirmed that 'CAC 41' was sold soon after the war. It is believed that it passed to its next owner via Brooklands of Bond Street in 1946.
The Jensen next resurfaced around 1955 in Rhayader, Mid-Wales. It was located by a friend of Mr Alfred Carlile, the proprietor of the Carbery Garage in Southbourne near Bournemouth, specialists in the repair of Lagondas and OMs. For the next couple of years, Mr Carlile ran the Jensen as his everyday car and it is believed that the original colour scheme was changed to Moss Green and the seats re-coloured to a Tan colour during this period. The junior mechanic from Carbery Garage at that time, Mr John Humphrey, has indicated that the engine was replaced with a new unit during Mr Carlile's ownership.
The Jensen next turned up at the famous Halfway Garage (Padworth) in April 1961. According to the garage's original stock books, it had been purchased from a Mr S Williams of Pewsey. The Jensen was subsequently purchased for £185 by a Dr P W W Griffiths of Gower Street, London on 8th June 1962. Dr Griffiths and his fiancée bought the car the month before they got married. During their ownership, the Jensen was always kept at Mrs Griffiths' parents' vicarage in Avebury, Wiltshire.
Following a job move, Dr Griffiths sold the Jensen in the following year, advertising it for 220 guineas in the March 1963 edition of Motor Sport. It was described as being in 'excellent condition and recently overhauled with a new engine not yet run in, with a new hood.'
The Jensen was purchased from Dr Griffiths by Mr Ernest Stern of Pittsburgh, USA. Ernest Stern was a multi-faceted entrepreneur and movie theatre mogul who built up one of the largest private car collections in the USA, with around 400 cars by the time of his death in 1989. Stern had his own restoration team and the Jensen was one of the collection's first cars to be renovated. Restored between 1971 and 1973, it was kept thereafter in Ernest Stern's private museum at Irwin, Pennsylvania.
During the restoration, the ash frame was replaced, the chassis repaired as necessary, and the aluminium coachwork subject to a bare-metal repaint. The engine was enamelled but otherwise left untouched, as it was not yet run in. The interior was refurbished, although the leather seat facings, apart from the back of the rear seats, are believed to be original. The restoration is described in great detail in the Jensen's history file, based on discussions with members of the original restoration team in 2005.
Apparently, Ernest Stern never actually drove the Jensen, his main interest being in purchasing the cars and watching their restorations take place. It was however, taken on a trailer to Hershey and occasionally to Classic Car Club of America events by the restoration team.
On Ernest Stern's death in 1989, the collection was gradually disposed of, the Jensen being sold in 1996 to a dealer in Pennsylvania. The hood was renewed around this time and the Jensen was later sold at auction by Brooks at Carmel, California in August 2000. Soon afterwards it was purchased by Oldtimer Garage in Toffen, Switzerland. The Jensen was displayed on consignment in Fantasy Junction garage in California in 2001 and in Paradise Garage, London in 2001/3, finally arriving in Switzerland in 2003. The vendor purchased the Jensen from Oldtimer Garage in November 2004.
The history of 'CAC 41' has been researched extensively during the current ownership and is documented within the history file. On acquisition, the Jensen was comprehensively re-commissioned for the road in the workshops of the Haynes International Motor Museum at Sparkford in Somerset, including overhaul of the king-pins and bushes, servicing of the brakes, rewiring and numerous other tasks, all the bills for which are on file.
Subsequently, the Jensen has been maintained exclusively by Frank Dale & Stepsons in London, the renowned Rolls-Royce and Bentley specialists. Work has included overhaul of the steering box and steering ball joints as well as regular servicing. Specialist maintenance, including a gearbox rebuild and reinstallation of an original-type, dual-ratio Columbia rear axle, has been undertaken by Belcher Engineering Limited.
New side-screens and tonneau covers were made up by Strong & Turton, located in Frank Dale's premises, a roll of the now obsolete hood material having been sourced from the USA. More recently, the same team re-carpeted the Jensen throughout to a high standard in dark brown with tan piping. The hood is in excellent condition, as is the hood bag, although a little faded. A roll of material, sufficient to make a new hood or hood bag if required in the future, is available by separate arrangement with the vendor.
The rear-view mirror has been relocated recently to its correct original position at the top of the screen, and an original-type windscreen bracket specially manufactured and installed at the base.
The engine is believed by the vendor to have covered fewer than 10,000 miles since 1955 and is said to be exceptionally quiet and smooth. With the original-type Columbia axle now reinstalled, the Jensen reportedly delivers effortless cruising. During the current ownership, 'CAC 41' has covered around 1,000 miles annually on average, while the recorded mileage of approximately 67,000 miles is believed by the vendor to be the total covered from new.
Bearing its original Warwickshire registration 'CAC 41', the Jensen comes with an original Jensen Instruction Book, records of its original and subsequent ownership, a portfolio of period photographs showing it in 1938 and subsequently, a detailed 8-page typed history of the car, all bills and expired MoTs during the current ownership, Swansea V5C document and MoT to November 2010.
The Jensen is also accompanied by various items of original 1938 RAC Rally memorabilia including a route book, instructions for the Blackpool driving tests, Rally flag, and a competitor's lapel badge and plaque. Also included is a replica RAC Rally sign and flagpole, together with mounting brackets, and copies of relevant issues of the Autocar, Motor and Motor Sport featuring the Jensen.
This car represents an extremely rare opportunity to acquire one of the most beautiful pre-war tourers, having an outstanding provenance and impeccable service history during the current ownership.