Registration no. VUV 105
"What really appeals is the outstanding manner in which it runs either quite gently or very, very quickly, according to the driver's wishes... Magnificent top-gear acceleration is available between 10mph and over 80mph, without any trace of a flat spot, and it is rarely necessary to change down for hill-climbing."
'Motor' magazine September 1955:
Styled by Eric Neale, the 541 debuted in 1955, its purposeful but pleasing styling being not only head turning but also very aerodynamic – the drag factor of 0. 39 being one of the best of its generation. The body was mounted on an immensely strong, tubular-framed chassis featuring independent coil-and-wishbone front suspension, a leaf-sprung hypoid bevel rear axle, cam-and-roller steering and Girling hydraulic brakes. Power came from a 135bhp six-cylinder version of the 4-litre Austin engine driving through a four-speed transmission with optional Laycock de Normanville overdrive. Performance was good although the engine’s power delivery characteristics made the car an ideal long-legged tourer rather than an out and out sports car.
Most desirable of the 541 range was the 'R' of which just 193 were made between 1957 and 1960. The model benefited from disc braking on all four wheels, overdrive as standard and much-improved rack-and-pinion steering. The restyled bonnet aided better cooling and the bulbous wheel arches, somewhat reminiscent of the Mercedes 300SL, aided stability at speed.
First registered in July 1958, this 541R was, according to a copy of an amusing letter from a previous RAF pilot owner, acquired by him in 1970 and used regularly on long high-speed trips within Germany. Shortly after purchase he had the unfortunate experience of the bonnet lifting and flying off at speed due to a faulty fastener. His remedy was the fitment of a leather dog collar to prevent such a situation arising again! Following failure of the timing chain, and being unable to source a replacement DS7 engine, he resorted to the fitment of a 3. 8-litre Jaguar XK power unit – a not uncommon replacement in period and also a very successful combination on the racetrack in the hands of the Whitehead brothers. This gave better performance but was a tight fit and gave the VUV 105 the unnerving ability to accelerate on long right-hand bends due to the engine leaning and tightening the throttle cable. However, a bracket with a couple of mini tie rods attached to the top of the cylinder head were said to soon resolve the issue. On returning to England in 1973 and having blown his gratuity on a 1966 Jaguar -E-Type, the Jensen was placed into dry storage in a hangar at Coventry airport where it remained for the next couple of years. In 1979 it was sold to a Jay Curzon of Stretton in Dunsmore who kept it until approximately 1989.
Acquired by a previous owner as a non-runner in 2000 it was finally treated to a comprehensive restoration. It is understood the DS7 engine was at this time totally stripped and overhauled with new piston rings, big end bearings and valve guides. The Moss overdrive gearbox was also fully overhauled and the carburettors thoroughly overhauled and balanced. The front brake discs were renewed and four new callipers fitted. The suspension was also thoroughly overhauled with new bushes and shock absorbers and re-tempered rear springs. The chassis was cleaned and painted, and the lightweight fibreglass bodywork stripped to gel coat and repainted. The bumpers were re-chromed and new Perspex side windows and rear window fitted. Painted wire wheels completed the car’s sporting appearance.
VUV 105 remains in fine-looking condition to this day and was subject to much work around 2018 as evidenced by numerous invoices contained in its accompanying history file which in addition includes a number of expired MoT certificates, aforementioned copy letter and a photocopy of the original Jensen handbook. Finished in dark blue with grey interior and dark blue carpet, this rare Jensen 541 R is well worthy of close inspection and we encourage interested parties to contact us in order to arrange a visit to our Hindhead showroom.
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