How many survive?


I'm often asked how many of the almost 19,000 Jensen cars survive. That's a tough question to answer because obviously not everyone who owns a Jensen tells me about it.

I use rolling averages in 5-year blocks to estimate the survival rate. I figure that, if I haven't heard about a car in the last five years, it's no longer safe to assume it's still around. Maybe it is; maybe it isn't. Conversely, if I have heard about a car sometime during the past five years, then I'm assuming the worst hasn't happened yet and it's still in one piece somewhere.

I track cars all over the world and I'm always interested in hearing about those which survive or are scrapped. Based on that tracking, here are the tallies of known survivors among the different Jensen models in the trailing 5, 10, 15 and 20-year periods dating back to 2000. Included for comparison is a tally of all cars known as lost through breaking or write-offs. 

The way it works is that a car which has been in the most recent trailing period, but which has not been heard of in more than 5 years, will slip into the trailing 10-year category, and so on down the line. Equally, a car which may not have been heard of in say 15 years might come to notice. In this case, it would climb into the trailing 5-year period, boosting the numbers there and in the trailing 10-year period but leaving the trailing 15 and 20-year tallies unchanged. Cars which have not been heard of after a while are never lost to the statistics — they just slip down a peg in the fates. After 20 years with nothing heard, they drop off this table but remain in the statistics which back the table, and can be reinstated as necessary if they reappear.

A word about the column on the right — the declining ratio. This shows the proportion of cars known to survive in the trailing 5 year period as compared with survivors in the trailing 20 year period. If this ratio is 100%, it means that all known cars continue to be known as the years go by (no cars are being lost). A high value indicates minimum loss over time while a low value indicates a high loss over time. The declining ratio is the result of real-world things. One, it is related to the intensity of the search for survivors. If continuing deliberate efforts are made to locate survivors of a particular model, then the trailing 5-year rate and thus the declining ratio will both be higher. Two, if cars are not being wrecked in large numbers but are being saved and restored, then there will be a more stable survival rate anyway, and the declining ratio will hold up, assuming scrutiny holds up as constant.

The declining ratios bear this out in a broad sense. The Healeys show the lowest declining ratios, meaning they are the cars which are being reported less frequently as time goes by. The 6-cylinder Interceptor,  Interceptor I, Interceptor III, FF and SP have the highest declining ratios, meaning they show the least rate of decline over the past 20 years.

JENSEN MODEL SURVIVORS
5 years
SURVIVORS
10 years
SURVIVORS
15 years
SURVIVORS
20 years
DEMISED
TOTAL
DECLINING
 RATIO
  2015–2019 2010–2019 2005–2019 2000–2019 all known 5 yrs to 20 yrs
Interceptor 6-cyl 26 35 43 45 3 58%
541 154 223 282 377 13 41%
C-V8 134 298 366 385 21 35%
Interceptor I 211 311 379 436 79 48%
Interceptor II 232 333 449 534 62 43%
Interceptor III 687 1001 1302 1509 151 46%
Coupé 14 24 31 35 0 40%
Convertible 134 210 286 322 5 42%
SP 64 94 110 118 17 54%
FF 114 180 225 243 30 47%
Healey Mk 1 180 306 473 624 87 29%
Healey Mk 2 370 669 1071 1535 213 24%
GT 63 136 179 257 46 25%
TOTAL 2383 3820 5566 6420 727 37%

Based on the production totals (for those, go here), the corresponding survival and demised rates for these periods are shown in the following table. This introduces another way of looking at survival rates — the capture total. This is the simple sum of the 20 year survival rate and the demised rate. It gives a rough idea of how well I know the population over the long term. A high number indicates that the population has been scrutinized closely over many years and the fates are generally well known. This is seen with the FFs, 541s, C-V8s and Coupés. A low figure indicates that there is relatively little data available and the population is largely unknown. The Jensen-Healey is the model which is least known.

JENSEN MODEL

SURVIVORS
5 years

SURVIVORS
10 years

SURVIVORS
15 years

SURVIVORS
20 years

DEMISED
TOTAL
CAPTURE
TOTAL
  2015–2019 2010–2019 2005–2019 2000–2019 all known 20 yrs + demised
Interceptor 6-cyl 30% 40% 48% 50% 3% 53%
541 28% 41% 51% 69% 2% 71%
C-V8 27% 59% 71% 74% 4% 78%
Interceptor I 20% 28% 34% 38% 8% 46%
Interceptor II 20% 29% 38% 44% 5% 49%
Interceptor III 20% 29% 38% 44% 4% 48%
Coupé 30% 52% 67% 76% 0% 76%
Convertible 26% 41% 56% 63% 1% 64%
SP 28% 40% 47% 51% 7% 58%
FF 35% 55% 69% 74% 9% 83%
Healey Mk 1 5% 9% 14% 19% 3% 22%
Healey Mk 2 5% 9% 14% 20% 3% 23%
GT 12% 27% 35% 46% 9% 55%
AVERAGE 13% 20% 29% 34% 4% 38%

Bear in mind that these figures are not the actual survival rates — they are estimates of the survival rates, based on the available data. Don't ask me what the actual rates are — I don't know. If I go back 70 years, I can account for 100% of these cars. If I go back one week, I can account for only 1%. That's why you see rolling estimates. Based on the available information, they are the most reliable and unbiased guide to survival rates, not least because they allow a direct comparison between the different models.  In other words, what seems intuitively to be the case (such as the supposition that we should see more Interceptors surviving than Healeys) can be checked against one consistent yardstick. 

Overall, the rate of Jensens known to survive at some point in the trailing 20 year time frame has been stable at in the mid-30% range for many years now. The average capture total of 38% means that we don't know what happened to almost two-thirds of the cars. Looking at it another way, there is a big middle ground between the 4% known as broken and the 34% known to survive at some point in the past 20 years. It means there is a long way to go in terms of discovering what happened to the others. 

Whatever the real rates of survival — and they will be higher than those shown here — there is no doubt that the number of survivors is falling. Rust never sleeps and every year more cars succumb to the tin worm, get broken for spares, are stolen and not recovered or are written off in accidents. To date, I have tracked 727 Jensens by chassis number as having been lost in these ways. This is an increase on last year when the tally stood at 697. In the preceding years, it was 675, 662, 645, 633, 606, 592, 578, 529, 528, 517, 508, 498, 484, 416, 379 and 315. It is obvious that this is one statistic which rises all the time. It means I am always hearing about cars which have been lost, either recently or in some cases many years ago.

For as long as I have been keeping statistics, the Jensen-Healeys have been the most under-represented with a recorded survival rate over the past five years of just 5%, a declining ratio in the mid 20% range and a capture total of 23%. All indications are that the Healeys have been broken in large numbers. 

The fibreglass and aluminium cars are holding up well and seem to survive in greater percentages than the later steel-bodied cars, although there are still many examples with no known fate. The C-V8 statistics are strong, the result of continuing efforts by the JOC's registrar, John Staddon, to follow up leads on these cars. The FF survivor figures are also high, these having been tracked for decades by Ulric Woodhams. Equally commendable efforts by Steve Hickey to trace surviving Interceptor Is have not yielded comparable survivor stats, the long term figures being in line with those of the Interceptor II and III saloons and much less than the Series III sub-variants, which are not being tracked in the same way.

OK, that's what the numbers tell us, but it's only the numbers I know about. If I don't hear about cars, I don't record them and the stats reflect the deficiency. Hence my regular appeals to those who like to see survival statistics made as accurate as possible. If you have a Jensen, I'd like to hear about it, at least once every five years. If you see a car going to the scrap yard, get the VIN and pass it on so that we know what happened. If you have a spare engine lying around, or a piece of trim with a chassis number crayoned on the back, record that number and pass it on because then we'll have a link to a car which has probably been broken. 

I update this list of survivors towards the end of each year so be sure to check back and see how we're doing.

Where are they likely to be?

Give or take a handful, something like 18,976 Jensen cars were made between 1935 and 1992. The vast majority — 91 per cent — were sold in North America and Britain.

MARKET AREA SHARE OF TOTAL
United States 50.1%
United Kingdom 38.4%
Canada 2.2%
Australia 1.8%
Switzerland 1.0%
Rest of world 6.5%
TOTAL 100.0%

The "rest of world" category includes all destinations with less than 1% of the total. There are approximately 50 of these smaller markets so, if you're looking for a Jensen, North America and Britain are the best places to be. 

In general, I receive relatively less information about cars in the USA than anywhere else, which would go a long way to explaining why the observed survival rate of Healeys is so low. Most of them went to the USA and that's the region from which I am least likely to receive news about vehicle fates. To narrow it down further, about half the cars which went to the USA were sold in California. This means that a quarter of all Jensen cars — most of them Healeys — went to that one State. Given that California was the world leader in emissions controls, taking cars off license if they failed their smog tests, and given that the Healeys were the cheapest Jensens ever made and more likely to be discarded when they wore out, I should think that a high proportion have now been junked. The stats bear out this contention.. 

To the end of 2019, I've traced 3820 Jensen survivors at some point in the past decade, about a hundred less than 12 months ago. By continent or geographic region, this is where they are now:

REGION SHARE OF TOTAL
United Kingdom 42%
Americas 35%
Asia-Pacific 12%
Continental Europe 11%
Others negligible
TOTAL 100%


Special note for Interceptor III owners

If your 1975 or 1976 Interceptor has one of the following serial numbers, I'd be especially interested to hear from you. This is because the factory files on these cars are pretty thin and I need your help to fill out the details. Most of these cars were exported so they could conceivably be anywhere by now. The VINs are:

1650, 1791, 1813, 1846, 1871, 1873, 1874, 1900, 1903, 1920, 1922, 1938, 1946, 1949, 1996


Model histories

For more on the individual models mentioned above, have a look in the histories guide.

 


© Richard Calver 2000–2020

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