Bargain 'Big Block' Under the Hammer

Chrysler’s sledgehammer 440-cid ‘Big Block’ V8 that made the Plymouths and Dodges of the late 1960s and early ‘70s the benchmark of performance sedans, also powered one of Britain’s great Grand Touring cars of the same era.

But with the value of American models fitted with the huge 7.2 liter engine now soaring in value, the cheapest true Chrysler Big Block V8 on the Australian market today may well be found under the bonnet of the stylish Jensen Interceptor Mk III coupe being auctioned by Shannons in Sydney on Monday.

Shoehorning a big American V8 into a British chassis was a proven sales winner by the time the Jensen Motor Company introduced the Interceptor in the mid-1960s.

Jensen itself had already done it well before with its fibreglass-bodied CV8 grand tourer in 1962, while fellow Britons AC, Sunbeam and Bristol, Italy’s ISO and France’s Facel Vega were amongst many niche manufacturers who had successfully trodden the same path.

Built in 1974, the Interceptor being auctioned by Shannons retains its original K-series 440-cid engine and three-speed TorqueFlite transmission and was one of 54 Series 4 examples delivered in Australia.

The Jensen remains in its factory Silver Grey paint scheme with black leather upholstery and has survived in largely original, albeit comfortably worn, condition.

Overall Shannons say the car is a well looked after and very usable classic that with some cosmetic attention would make a very affordable alternative to an Aston Martin of the same era. However many enthusiasts who understand the significance and potential of its 440-cid V8 will see the Interceptor as a bargain opportunity to own a genuine ‘Big Block’ at Shannons estimated selling range of $15-$20,000.

Muscle car lovers at Monday’s auction will also be looking at the red left-hand-drive 1971 Chevrolet Camaro RS Coupe with its 350-cid V8 ($24-$30,000), an earlier metallic blue left hand drive 1968 Camaro RS 327 ($40-$50,000), a 1970 Indy Orange Holden HG Monaro GTS 308 Coupe ($55-$65,000) and a silver 1973 LJ Torana XU-1 and a light metallic blue 1987 VL Commodore Group A Walkinshaw sedan (both $80-$100,000).

But the real battle for V8 hearts and minds will be between a former trophy-winning Bronze Wine 1970 Falcon XY GT sedan ($120-$150,000) and a largely original 1970 Candy Apple Red Falcon XW GT-HO, which Shannons expect to sell in the $130-$150,000 range.

Monday’s auction will be held from 7.00pm at Unit B, 12 Frederick St, St.Leonards (enter via 65 Reserve Rd). All 26 vehicle and 17 memorabilia lots will be available for inspection over the weekend from 9.00am-4.00pm both days.


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