If we say, “four-wheel drive game changing coupe” you’re immediately thinking Audi Quattro, aren’t you? However, you’d need to stay on these shores and go back another two decades to unearth the pioneering subject of this particular blog. The Jensen Interceptor FF was, in many ways, British engineering at its finest: a brilliant concept, finely executed by taking the best of what other countries had to offer. With Italian design, British hand-assembly and American V8 muscle, the Interceptor had all the ingredients to go down in history, even before adopting the fabled Ferguson Formula four-wheel drive system.
Rolling off the production line for a decade from 1966, the Jensen Interceptor was a brawny, exquisitely designed grand tourer with big block Chrysler V8 power. A year later, Jensen partnered with engineer, innovator, aviator (and one half of Massey Ferguson) Harry Ferguson, to incorporate its Ferguson Formula four-wheel drive system. The system had already been utilised in elite motorsport with a degree of success – scoring the only victory by a four-wheel drive Formula One car – and was generally considered to be a bulletproof design.
The Ferguson Formula (hence Interceptor FF) would provide a 37/63 split of power between the front and rear wheels using an extremely robust mechanical system. In brief, it consisted of an input shaft feeding a master differential, with an output shaft going to the rear differential and a chain drive linking the front via two one-way clutches. Many of the surviving 320 FFs produced have perfectly functioning four-wheel drive systems, which is testament to Ferguson’s design.
Available with a reliable Chrysler automatic or (rarely specified) manual gearbox, the Interceptor FF is 5 inches longer than its rear-wheel drive siblings to incorporate its larger drivetrain. Although the size difference is hard to spot to the naked eye, one of the most obvious tells is the additional vent cut into the elongated front wings. From behind the wheel, the fearsome grip should do the trick.
As a true pioneer, the FF was one of the most complex and advanced production cars of its time. To complement the trailblazing drivetrain, Jensen also incorporated a Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock brake system and even traction control. Let’s face it, you’d need it regardless of your choice of 6.3, 7.2 or latterly available 5.9-litre powerplant.
What are your experiences of the Interceptor FF? Are you a champion of the smaller engines’ willingness to rev or the 7.3 litre’s earth-moving torque? Share your tales in the comments below.