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Projects - 1957 Jensen 541

Updated August, 2012

This wonderful car has given us a couple of brain crushing moments. We scratched our heads more than once  but still love this beauty very much.

As we dug into the project we quickly found out why the car didn't want to roll easily. The assumption was that the brakes had binded, after all it sat for so many years.

The bolts of the front calipers were too long, and the threads were touching the rotors. Easy fix, and now we could move the car around without much effort.

Sitting inside saved the rubber on the car, even the tires looked well.  Not willing to take any chances we changed the tires to new and modern Michelin's. Went through the brakes and it all seems to be in working order.

Amazingly, as the brake system seemed to be in good order, the hydraulic clutch system did not. We found the master clogged up with dried out residue, and the Baileys slave cylinder completely corroded to the point that rebuild without re sleeving is out of the question. We found a rebuild kit and replacement slave!

While trying to loosen the drain plug of the tank, the bung broke out of the tank. This required us to take the gas tank out of the car and gave us a good opportunity to clean out the baffled tank and seal the inside. But more important we now could see a three inch hole in the top of the tank where a fuel gage sender was supposed to be installed.......

The sender was located and installed after which the tank was put back in the car.

The oil filter elements for this rare car are no longer available, and we found a filter and a half in the container. The solution was to get a Flexolite adapter from the UK. Too bad we got the wrong one, but after discussing what we actually had on the car, the people of Flexolite made us the proper adapter, which fits perfectly.

Having inspected the valves, and fogged the cylinders for a long time we tried to spin the engine by hand. No problems, so we felt comfortable to hook up a battery and see if we could build up oil pressure. No!

We spun the engine over and over, lubricating the crank and rods as good as we could through the oil pressure gage line. No oil was pumped around. So we decided to take the pan off the engine and there she was, laying in the pan. The oil pump. It had never been installed!
Of course the mounting stud was not in the car, and the hole for it is hidden behind the headers, and barely accessible. It took a good while to positively ID the threads of the stud, as the threads in the block we corroded. Widworth 1/2 by 16, not very common. The die we had would not work properly and we got a length of threaded rod from the UK to make up the stud. We even found a cap nut!

While the oil pan was off, we checked if any damage was done to the bearings.  The news was good, although one of the rod bolts broke when loosening it. The locking pin cam apart making the bolt spin as the nut was a lock nut. We had to cut the bolt, and locate new bolts.

The next time we tried we again did not get the desired result. This time we hooked up an accusump to prime the system. 12 lbs on the gage, almost 50 in the accusump. This raised questions and we found out that we were dealing with a rare faulty Wix filter. The company replaced the filter.

Again we cranked the engine over and  now we had flow and oil pressure. Not much, but consistent. A shim in the pressure relief valve pushed the pressure up to over 30 psi on the starter motor!

With a mechanical fuel pump it took a while for the motor to get gasoline, but when it finally had filled all three bowls the engine started, gad good oil pressure, just one small oil leak ( rubber line to the gage) but did not run on the rear carburetor.  This was due to a missing vacuum hose.

At this point the car is about to be driven.


The Jensen is a British automobile, that most of us only know as the maker of the Interceptor.

Jensen did quite a bit more than producing that vehicle. They started as coach builders on existing chassis, and were working for several other companies. They build many bodies for the Volvo P1800, and the Jensen-Healey etc.

Before WWII they had a small production of very luxurious vehicles, and the 541, introduced in 1953 was still considered a high luxury car. It had many modern features. The body was made of a revolutionary material, called Glass Fiber. The engine based on the 4 liter 6 inline Austin, and the 541 was the first Coupe to have Dunlop Disc Brakes on all four corners. Leather interior was standard.

This car Came from New Hampshire, and underwent a complete restoration in the seventies. It was only used for the pleasure of the eyes, and now it is outr task to bring it back to a road worthy condition.

The care shows very nice. Some bubbles are visible under the paint at some spots, inherent of the glass fiber construction. For the rest I have good hopes that we don’t need to dig into her internals, and have her back in driving condition soon.


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