What to look for
KEEPING in TRIM
A dilapidated cabin can indicate neglect elsewhere, so walk away unless you are very brave and/or very rich. As a rule of thumb it’s preferable to find original materials in need of a little TLC than a cheap re-trim, but remember that a major professional renovation can easily swallow £8000-10,000. Don’t be surprised to find defunct air-conditioning – it’s costly to revive and so is often ignored – and check that electrics aren’t suffering from age-related issues. Cable replacement for the later remote tailgate release is a pain, too, so ensure that it works. And avoid examples where originality has been compromised by unsympathetic modifications. Finally, if you’re looking at a convertible, the hood mechanism is a complex electrohydraulic arrangement that demands very expensive specialist attention if it goes wrong, so be wary of any example with hood-related issues.
Detailed examination of the inner and outer sills is crucial because covers could be hiding horrors beneath, while replacement of the chassis side members alone could result in a £10,000 bill. Bear in mind too that the 4WD FF’s chassis tubes aren’t as well-protected as the Interceptors and therefore more prone to rot – proper repairs involve removing the floorpans! Also scrutinise the cabin and boot floors, along with the box sections around the footwells, and since the offside outer chassis tubes act as a vacuum reservoir for the brakes, rot here is a serious issue. Being hand-built, there’s no such thing as a cheap restoration – just replacing the bonnet can involve hours of costly fettling. Quality work is vital, so ask for photographic evidence. Poor panel-fit and ill-defined crease lines could be signs of filler-laden bodges – many cars have been poorly ‘restored’ over the years.
Avoid big bills
Heart-stopping restoration costs await the rash buyer, so be very careful. All panels require scrutiny, especially the front and rear inner and outer wings, bonnet, tailgate frame and valances. Bubbling in the rear wheelarches is bad news as rot can spread deeper, affecting the tailgate mountings. Crumbling door and bonnet hinge mountings and serious corrosion around the windscreen corners signal major trouble, and remember to check beneath a (probably porous) vinyl roof because rust can bubble up unseen. New roof panels are no longer available.
Taking the weight
Various suspension setups were employed over the years, from lever arm dampers on early cars through to later cars’ wishbones and telescopic design. The hefty weight will take its toll, so look for signs of wear in ball-joints and bushes, leaky dampers, and sagging springs at the rear. Armstrong Selectaride dampers appeared early on, but they’re expensive and hard to source, so don’t be surprised if modern replacements have been fitted. We can’t stress strongly enough how important it is to take an Interceptor for a test drive.
LOOK FOR LEAKS
Oil leaks can afflict the Torqueflite automatic ‘box but, that aside, regular oil and filter renewal (especially on little-used examples) should guarantee longevity; a rebuild is around £1500. There’s little to worry about with the FF’s four-wheel drive hardware, but it’s worth ensuring that the rear axle is leak-free and quiet on all cars. The Jensen Owners’ Club is a great source of Interceptor horror stories, experience and sound advice – that should be your first port of call if you find a car you’re interested in. Once you’ve driven it, of course.
Power steering can suffer from leaking pipework and racks, and replacing a worn rack is a labour-intensive task (very early MkIs used a different rack, making parts-sourcing and overhauls even trickier). Brakes were Dunlops until 1969 when a Girling system was adopted – neither is especially bothersome. They’ll need to be in tip-top shape considering the weight and performance though, so check for a worn or leaking master cylinder and any corrosion. The FF’s Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock system shouldn’t be feared – it can be sorted.
A TOUGH MOTOR
Despite their size the V8s are tough and long-lasting, assuming diligent maintenance. Oil leaks, worn timing chains, sludged hydraulic tappets and rumbling bottom ends are the main concerns, and you’re looking at £5000 for a specialist rebuild. The cooling system should come in for particular attention, so check for grotty components and the fitment of additional fans that could be masking deeper issues. You’ll also want to check the state of under-bonnet electrics which suffer in the high temperatures. Last, watch for worn carburettors causing lumpy running (easy to re-build, although ‘six-pack’ SP models might require professional tuning) and ticking caused by cracked exhaust manifolds.