On paper, the Jensen-Healey should have been wildly successful. It was lighter than the Triumph TR6 and had 40 more horsepower. It was powered by the 145-hp, 16-valve, 2-liter Lotus 907 twin-cam engine that was fitted to the Elite, and it had a 7,000 rpm redline. By way of comparison a TR6 of the same period offered only 105 hp and the MGB barely 80. Top speed was approximately 125 mph, with 0-60 coming up in 8 seconds, and a quarter mile in 16 seconds. It was relatively expensive at $4,795, but not so much so as to be prohibitive.
Designed by Donald Healey and built by Jensen, the Jensen-Healey roadster was launched at the 1972 Geneva Motor Show. The car possessed roughly the same dimensions as other smallish British sports cars, though it was quite unique in appearance. It had no grille, just a slab bumper with intake beneath it, and had no exterior chrome embellishments at first. Aside from the Lotus engine, the suspension and rack-and-pinion steering were sourced from Vauxhall, Sunbeam provided the gearbox, and Triumph donated the brakes.
Sales were slow, in part due to labor troubles and quality control problems. The model was tweaked a bit as chrome appeared in 1974 and a 5-speed Getrag gearbox was offered. Big bumpers were also added to appease American regulations. By this point, however, Donald Healey had dropped out of the venture and a GT Sportwagon joined the ranks. The GT cost an eye-watering $9,975. Only 473 were produced. An estimated 10,453 Jensen-Healey roadsters were built in comparison.
Over the years, the Lotus engine has proven to be problematic if not maintained, and rust has claimed an astonishing numbers of these cars. As such, the best advice is to seek out the finest example available and confidently pay a premium. Make sure the records are complete and the timing belt has been replaced recently. Also, be aware that parts are available, but not necessarily cheap, so the more complete the car, the better. Early cars are generally more desirable due to the smaller bumpers, though later cars benefit from the 5-speed, so prices tend to be comparable. A factory hard top and “roulette” alloy wheels are nice additions.