A missed phone call saved me $29,900.
As I surveyed the classic car world looking for underappreciated and affordable automatics, the Jensen Interceptor popped up.
With its large backlight, it looks like an homage to a first-generation Plymouth Barracuda. It has a mechanical simplicity that is appealing. Most were built with Chrysler 440-ci V8 engines and Torqueflite automatics. These are reliable components and servicing them should present no problems. I am only interested in a coupe as the convertibles seem oversized and ungainly.
I had casually mentioned to one of our contributors that “I might be interested” in a Jensen, sometime in the future.
Less than 48 hours later, he forwarded me a link to a 1974 Interceptor that had been listed on Craigslist near Los Angeles. It had been picked up by Barnfinds, a website that features, well, barn finds.
The car had just 52,000 miles, documented history from new, and no rust or accidents. It was lovely in black over tan. It had an upgraded radiator and cooling fans to address the overheating issues the model is notorious for.
The seller was an Interceptor enthusiast; this was his sixth Jensen.
The ad stated that his price of $29,900 was “well under market for a quick sale” and to not even think about negotiating.
The only variation from stock was a six-pack carb setup he had built by a race shop. Other than the A/C needing to be upgraded, the car was ready to go.
I told him I was interested and asked how we moved forward. He replied he was about to go out to dinner with his family, and he would call me in the morning.
If there had been Mopar fire in my belly, I would have simply told him right then that I would take the car and sent him a deposit.
But I didn’t.
I was conflicted. It was not the right time for me to add another car to my collection. But then, it never is. With classic cars, you have to be ready to pounce when the opportunity presents itself.
This car had two things going for it: It seemed sound and well-owned, and it was priced aggressively. I thought the seller was leaving some money on the table.
While not all of my enabler friends were enthused about the Interceptor, they all agreed that this one was in fine condition and cheap, if not desirable.
I still had some money in my 401(Kar) account left over from the sale of the Citroën, so the bow was drawn, and I had only to release the $29,900 arrow. Just like I have done so many times before.
At breakfast the next morning, I was planning to text the seller and say, “I’m ready to close the deal.”
But I hesitated. I don’t buy cars to make money on them, I buy them for the enjoyment in what they can teach me. In this case, the profit potential wasn’t strong enough to cause me to overcome my Jensen malaise.
We are leaning towards featuring cars of England for the SCM 1000 in 2024. So the Jensen would be perfect for that, but I already have our brilliant, original V12 E-type coupe. My need for another big-engine British sports car is hardly pressing.
Whether it was feeling overloaded by the projects already at hand, or perhaps just not being that excited about the car, I sat on my hands. I think I was secretly hoping the car would get sold to someone else, thereby relieving me of having to make the decision not to buy it.
At 11 a.m., I finally sent the text. “How do we move forward on the Jensen.”
The response came back immediately. “I tried to call you at nine, and when you didn’t answer I sold the car to someone else for $32k.”
I don’t recall my phone ringing, but no matter. I was saved!
I’m sure if I had bought the car things would have turned out well; I had a good feeling about the car, the owner and the price.
But I just didn’t have the bloodlust to pursue the deal.
I have some disappointment over missing it. But even more, the weight of an Interceptor had been lifted off my car-collecting shoulders.
Maybe when it’s the right time, I’ll find the right car and all the pieces will fall into place. Or maybe they never will, and I’ll never be an Interceptor owner. It’s not a life-changing situation either way.
Should I have gone ahead and done the deal the night I talked to the seller? Or was I better off following my gut and passing. What would you have done?