BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
11/13/10 2:32 p.m.

While trying to hunt down an AW11 that I've been trying to view since August (and failing, it's supposed to be sold on a commission basis by a tow yard that I don't seem to be able to get hold of), I stumbled across a slightly modded Jensen Healey (which also comes with a tons of spares including a second engine).

Any particular questions I should ask the buyer? Anything particularly that tends to go wrong with these (yeah, I know the engine is a little fragile...)?

Or am I better off just running in the other direction as fast as I can?

Travis_K
Travis_K Dork
11/13/10 3:03 p.m.

Look at how much stuff like a set of brake rotors is for one...

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
11/13/10 3:35 p.m.

I did find it a little disconcerting that at least one of the parts suppliers doesn't for some reason list the prices together with the parts...

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
11/13/10 6:08 p.m.

(POP, cloud of sulfurous smoke) You rang?

What year is it? They were made from 1972-1976, there were the Mk 1 and 2 and then the JH5. The Mk1 cars had steel bumpers and the 4 speed, the Mk2 had the big rubber bumpers and 4 speed transmission, the JH5 had the big bumpers and the Getrag 5 speed. VIN 18900 was the first JH5. The JH5 had the nicest interior, too. The last 3 or 4 months of production in 1975 had catalytic converters. Those are pretty rare.

On pricing: a rough one anywhere from free to $1k (if it runs), a driveable car in average condition (needs paint, etc) will probably be worth around $2-3K, a nice one in the $7-8k range, a cherry one you'd be afraid to drive somewhere around $12k.

These cars were MUCH faster than anything in their displacement class when they came out. Even the Datsun 240Z, while close, was not as fast. To get anything faster, you had to make the jump to, say, a E type Jag or a V8 Mustang or similar. Compared to today's cars it will accelerate much like a 1.8 Miata. The Miata's suspension is light years ahead, though.

Yeah, Delta Motorsports doesn't publish prices on teh Web. Jim Medland is a helluva nice guy, knowledgeable, easy to work with and interesting to talk to but he does things his own way.

Check the body for rust in the rockers, that was a problem with pretty much every car of the era, not just J-H's. The 'dogleg' at the bottom rear of the front fenders and the bottom front of the rear fenders is a mud trap, if you see bubbling there rust is likely to be pretty extensive. Just about every panel is available new from either Delta or Martin Robey. Rumor has it M-R is planning a run of 'bodies in white', the way BMH did the MGB and Midget.

The hood prop mechanism on most cars is one of those screwy things the Brits use where you have to raise the hood slightly, push a thumb catch back, then lower the hood. A lot of people have unknowingly tried to just shut the hood and in the process bend the crap out of it. Later cars came with a prop rod which, while a bit more aggravating to work with, will prevent the bent bonnet syndrome.

The engines are NOT fragile, dunno where that came from. The first six months or so of production was beset with oil leaks at the cams and those cams were also too tight in the towers, on a really cold morning (like around zero) they'd stick and jump time. Those cars should have all been fixed by now, if not Loctite 515 is the magic oil leak fix component. By now the cams should have naturally opened up the extra .001 of journal clearance Lotus built into the later motors to fix the cold start thing.

Speaking of cams, the valve clearance is set with shims and is a time consuming thing to do. The engine is like a Honda RFVC in that it should have valve train noise, if it doesn't they need to be adjusted before it cooks a valve. It's best to set the valves .001-.002 loose rather than too tight.

The water pumps have been known to seize, Delta and Dave Bean both have much improved pumps for ~$100.00. Cooling systems will hang right around the midway mark around town, then jump to around 210 or so on the highway. That's not the radiator, thermostat etc it's poor airflow through the radiator. I made an aluminum 'scoop' for mine which solved that.

So far, the highest mileage I know of is 400K on an original bottom end. The car has had one valve job, it belongs to a JHPS member in California. It's his daily driver. They make real nice power, it was rated at 146 HP in US emissions trim. It can be lugged down to ~2k in 4th and will pull smoothly from there but still wind to 7500 RPM.

I know of one engine which had a thrust bearing go bad, much like a Spitfire. I think that one was an aberration, though.

They are interference engines! A lot of people left the timing cover off for whatever reason, if so it should be easy to check the timing belt for cracks etc. If it looks bad, don't drive it until the belt is replaced. If it looks good, replace it at the earliest opportunity anyway. The recommended interval is 24,000 miles. No that's not a misprint.

Look at the carbs carefully, they are the normal for the time Stromberg diaphragm type pieces. What you are looking for is the 'tee' between the carbs for the fuel line. If it's plastic, replace it IMMEDIATELY. They have been known to split and cause a fire since the starter and distributor are both under the carbs. Delta has a brass replacement that works nicely.

The 4 speed transmissions were pretty tough, their one Achillies heel was the mainshaft nut could work its way loose and this led to worn shift forks etc. That can be checked and repaired without removing the transmission from the car. They would start out having a sloppy 3/4 shift and make noise on accel/decel. The Getrag 5 speeds were tough as nails, their only drawbacks were notchy shifting and 5th was not overdrive, it's 1:1. I swapped a Toyota Supra 5 speed into mine, it's not difficult.

Brake stuff is actually readily available and reasonably priced except for the master cylinder, it's been unobtanium for quite some time. The good news is a TR6 M/C is the correct bore and bolts right in, I have one on mine. TR7 calipers are also a direct bolt on (I have a set sitting in my shop, yet another project) and you now have a much larger selection of go fast brake parts. Rear brakes, even though they are drum type, are more than sufficient for anything the average guy might need.

Rear axles don't give trouble. Seals, bearings etc are easily available if needed. The 4 speed cars had a 3:73 ratio, the 5 speeds 3:45.

Electrics are typical Lucas of the era. A brass brush and dielectric grease are your friend. The one complaint I have about the stock electrics is the alternator puts out a whopping 43 amps. Woo dammit hoo. At idle with the headlights, wipers brake lights etc on, the turn signals will start flashing slower and slower... There's a guy on eBay selling a new 110 amp alternator for a decent price, a guy at the last car show I went to said he's bought two for a couple of Minis he has and they have been great.

I mentioned the dizzy placement, it's a PITA to change points because of its location. I stuck a Crane ignition on mine to fix that.

Performance upgrades: there's a car called the Vauxhall Firenza which was never sold here but the Kiwis and Aussies got them. There are a bunch of them Down Under and the suspension stuff is a direct bolt in. Wheels are 4x4 inch bolt circle, stud size is 7/16-20. 100mm bolt circle wheels can be used but will be difficult to center.

The 9xx engine has been pretty well developed over time, there's all kinds of go fast goodies available. The most common J-H 907 upgrade is a 2.2 crank wih JE pistons, then either the 104 or 107 cams and a dual Dellorto intake. Webers can be used but the progression system is lean on a Weber compared to a Dell, making it hard to get a smooth transition from idle to midrange with Webers. An intake from a Esprit can be used to ease a EFI conversion, it's been done before and is well documented (EFI is in my car's futire as well). It's even possible to drop a 910 or 912 (Esprit) motor in a J-H but the crossmember has to be notched to clear the oil pan so the engine will clear the hood.

Hope all this helps. Ask if you have any quiestions!

Auto ADD
Auto ADD Dork
11/13/10 6:48 p.m.

Jensenman - I was thinking of looking at this one or should I just run. It doesn't say anything about it in the add. http://dallas.craigslist.org/mdf/ctd/1998653804.html

Kenn

Auto ADD
Auto ADD Dork
11/13/10 6:50 p.m.

OH yeah

Thanks for the info I am still looking for one.

Kenn

BoxheadTim
BoxheadTim Dork
11/13/10 7:57 p.m.
Jensenman wrote: (POP, cloud of sulfurous smoke) You rang? What year is it? They were made from 1972-1976, there were the Mk 1 and 2 and then the JH5. The Mk1 cars had steel bumpers and the 4 speed, the Mk2 had the big rubber bumpers and 4 speed transmission, the JH5 had the big bumpers and the Getrag 5 speed. VIN 18900 was the first JH5. The JH5 had the nicest interior, too. The last 3 or 4 months of production in 1975 had catalytic converters. Those are pretty rare.

This one's either got a five speed swapped in or is an original JH5.

Jensenman wrote: On pricing: a rough one anywhere from free to $1k (if it runs), a driveable car in average condition (needs paint, etc) will probably be worth around $2-3K, a nice one in the $7-8k range, a cherry one you'd be afraid to drive somewhere around $12k.

This one's around $3k, supposedly needs some 'body panels adjusting' (which might or might not mean adjust out some rust, I haven't seen it), the interior needs work and so on. Got a hot engine in it though and the seller sounds like he knows what he's doing:

http://sacramento.craigslist.org/cto/2058295285.html

Jensenman wrote: The engines are NOT fragile, dunno where that came from. The first six months or so of production was beset with oil leaks at the cams and those cams were also too tight in the towers, on a really cold morning (like around zero) they'd stick and jump time. Those cars should have all been fixed by now, if not Loctite 515 is the magic oil leak fix component. By now the cams should have naturally opened up the extra .001 of journal clearance Lotus built into the later motors to fix the cold start thing.

They're looked at as being fragile in the UK, but that might be (and kinda is) the same for anything this side of a Ford Kent motor. I vaguely remember that Lotus pretty much debugged them in the J-H...

Jensenman wrote: Look at the carbs carefully, they are the normal for the time Stromberg diaphragm type pieces. What you are looking for is the 'tee' between the carbs for the fuel line. If it's plastic, replace it IMMEDIATELY. They have been known to split and cause a fire since the starter and distributor are both under the carbs. Delta has a brass replacement that works nicely.

I think the cards are the least of my problems on that car, it's got a pair of Dell'Ortos (unfortunately filterless by the looks of it - that's not going to wash up here with the amount of dust we get).

Jensenman wrote: Hope all this helps. Ask if you have any quiestions!

Thanks - I'm still trying to make up my mind if I want to go see the car but you info has given me something to chew on.

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
11/13/10 8:58 p.m.

If that's a reasonably rust free JH5 (i.e. the rockers and floors are solid and there's no fender bubbling), that's not a bad deal, assuming the car runs as well as he represents. The Dells were not available on this side of the pond so that's a ~$1500 upgrade that's already been done. The backing plates are in place for K&N's and the velocity stacks don't seem dirty, removal may have been done just for the pics.The PerTronix ignition, while not my first choice, still beats points hands down.

The engine compartment paint matches the rest of the car, there are a lot of red J-H's with black engine compartments out there. That's because someone wanted a little red sports car but was too cheap to paint the car inside and out. The red engine compartment says that's probably a pretty original car.

'Body panels need adjusting'... they were like that new. J-H's were pretty much hand made, unlike MGB's and Spitfires etc. My car has never been wrecked that I can tell (and I have been all through it) and the body gaps are all weird, for instance they are different on the doors from side to side. I tried to do some corrections during the repaint and wound up putting it back like it was when I got it. Some of the magazines of the time commented on that same thing.

The aftermarket wheels are pretty cool, they seem period correct. The drivers' seat upholstery is separated but the upholstery is readily available. The foam in the seats wasn't real good at the time (just like pretty much everything else on the road) but by adding some high density foam under the original stuff the seats can be made much more comfortable.

The 907 was pretty well debugged by the factory by the time the JH5 was released. Its only real remaining problem was a rather primitive crankcase ventilation system. Even when new, a quart of oil in 1000-1500 miles was not uncommon. With Dells or Webers, there is nowhere to connect the vent hose from the crankcase (unless you can find a Euro air box) so it's not unusual to see an oil film at the back of the engine under the carbs. One of these days I am going to plumb up a decent connector for mine so the vent will connect to the air cleaners.

Jensen, like most manufacturers of the time, robbed parts bins to build these cars. For instance the dash 'eyeball' vents are the same as a 1960's Ford Mustang. The taillights were shared with a Humber and an Aston Martin. The outer door handles are Humber pieces as well. The side marker lights are the same as a Spitfire but the plastic 'plinth' is J-H only and much sought after.

The seller's survivor estimate is way off. Jensen guru Richard Calver http://www.richardcalver.com/ has identified ~2500 surviving cars so far, figure that's probably 75% of the actual survivors means there's actually ~4000 cars remaining worldwide and that means the survival rate is actually pretty good. But it is still an unusual car, it gets a lot of looks. Very few people know what it is.

Oh, one thing I forgot: if the steering wheel seems to be wobbly, the bushing at the bottom of the steering column is probably bad. Delta has a urethane replacement that takes about ten minutes to pop in.

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
11/13/10 9:05 p.m.

Oh, one other thing for anyone considering a 907 motor: the original main bearings are very hard to find. There is a guy down in Australia with a source for Bedford truck bearings that are the same. But, there is another way... have the block align bored and use 318 Chrysler main bearings. That's actually cheaper than the Bedford bearings. The rod bearings are readily available, as are pistons, rings, liners (wet sleeve engine) valves, valve springs, cams etc.

triumph5
triumph5 HalfDork
11/13/10 9:21 p.m.

While not in the market for one, that was an excellent read on the history of, what to look for, and an example of looking at a Jensen-Healey. Great Stuff, Jensenman! I've printed out this thread and filed it away for the future--there is a Lotus in my future, sometime.

There's a J-H locally, bright yellow, always parked in front of a service station. Always catches my eye. Always thought they were a bit under-rated cars. Just makes them more affordable for mere mortals.

Jensenman
Jensenman SuperDork
11/13/10 10:25 p.m.

Yes, they are under rated. As you say, that is a good thing.

maschinenbau
maschinenbau New Reader
7/16/15 9:54 a.m.

In reply to Jensenman:

Jensenman, I'm going to look at this fine specimen. What should I be looking for, and how overpriced is it? http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/5075744886.html

trucke
trucke Dork
7/16/15 10:00 a.m.
maschinenbau wrote: In reply to Jensenman: Jensenman, I'm going to look at this fine specimen. What should I be looking for, and how overpriced is it? http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/5075744886.html

AWESOME interior

wbjones
wbjones MegaDork
7/16/15 10:45 a.m.
Jensenman wrote: (POP, cloud of sulfurous smoke) You rang? What year is it? They were made from 1972-1976, there were the Mk 1 and 2 and then the JH5. The Mk1 cars had steel bumpers and the 4 speed, the Mk2 had the big rubber bumpers and 4 speed transmission, the JH5 had the big bumpers and the Getrag 5 speed. VIN 18900 was the first JH5. The JH5 had the nicest interior, too. The last 3 or 4 months of production in 1975 had catalytic converters. Those are pretty rare. On pricing: a rough one anywhere from free to $1k (if it runs), a driveable car in average condition (needs paint, etc) will probably be worth around $2-3K, a nice one in the $7-8k range, a cherry one you'd be afraid to drive somewhere around $12k. These cars were MUCH faster than anything in their displacement class when they came out. Even the Datsun 240Z, while close, was not as fast. To get anything faster, you had to make the jump to, say, a E type Jag or a V8 Mustang or similar. Compared to today's cars it will accelerate much like a 1.8 Miata. The Miata's suspension is light years ahead, though. Yeah, Delta Motorsports doesn't publish prices on teh Web. Jim Medland is a helluva nice guy, knowledgeable, easy to work with and interesting to talk to but he does things his own way. Check the body for rust in the rockers, that was a problem with pretty much every car of the era, not just J-H's. The 'dogleg' at the bottom rear of the front fenders and the bottom front of the rear fenders is a mud trap, if you see bubbling there rust is likely to be pretty extensive. Just about every panel is available new from either Delta or Martin Robey. Rumor has it M-R is planning a run of 'bodies in white', the way BMH did the MGB and Midget. The hood prop mechanism on most cars is one of those screwy things the Brits use where you have to raise the hood slightly, push a thumb catch back, then lower the hood. A lot of people have unknowingly tried to just shut the hood and in the process bend the crap out of it. Later cars came with a prop rod which, while a bit more aggravating to work with, will prevent the bent bonnet syndrome. The engines are NOT fragile, dunno where that came from. The first six months or so of production was beset with oil leaks at the cams and those cams were also too tight in the towers, on a really cold morning (like around zero) they'd stick and jump time. Those cars should have all been fixed by now, if not Loctite 515 is the magic oil leak fix component. By now the cams should have naturally opened up the extra .001 of journal clearance Lotus built into the later motors to fix the cold start thing. Speaking of cams, the valve clearance is set with shims and is a time consuming thing to do. The engine is like a Honda RFVC in that it should have valve train noise, if it doesn't they need to be adjusted before it cooks a valve. It's best to set the valves .001-.002 loose rather than too tight. The water pumps have been known to seize, Delta and Dave Bean both have much improved pumps for ~$100.00. Cooling systems will hang right around the midway mark around town, then jump to around 210 or so on the highway. That's not the radiator, thermostat etc it's poor airflow through the radiator. I made an aluminum 'scoop' for mine which solved that. So far, the highest mileage I know of is 400K on an original bottom end. The car has had one valve job, it belongs to a JHPS member in California. It's his daily driver. They make real nice power, it was rated at 146 HP in US emissions trim. It can be lugged down to ~2k in 4th and will pull smoothly from there but still wind to 7500 RPM. I know of one engine which had a thrust bearing go bad, much like a Spitfire. I think that one was an aberration, though. They are interference engines! A lot of people left the timing cover off for whatever reason, if so it should be easy to check the timing belt for cracks etc. If it looks bad, don't drive it until the belt is replaced. If it looks good, replace it at the earliest opportunity anyway. The recommended interval is 24,000 miles. No that's not a misprint. Look at the carbs carefully, they are the normal for the time Stromberg diaphragm type pieces. What you are looking for is the 'tee' between the carbs for the fuel line. If it's plastic, replace it IMMEDIATELY. They have been known to split and cause a fire since the starter and distributor are both under the carbs. Delta has a brass replacement that works nicely. The 4 speed transmissions were pretty tough, their one Achillies heel was the mainshaft nut could work its way loose and this led to worn shift forks etc. That can be checked and repaired without removing the transmission from the car. They would start out having a sloppy 3/4 shift and make noise on accel/decel. The Getrag 5 speeds were tough as nails, their only drawbacks were notchy shifting and 5th was not overdrive, it's 1:1. I swapped a Toyota Supra 5 speed into mine, it's not difficult. Brake stuff is actually readily available and reasonably priced except for the master cylinder, it's been unobtanium for quite some time. The good news is a TR6 M/C is the correct bore and bolts right in, I have one on mine. TR7 calipers are also a direct bolt on (I have a set sitting in my shop, yet another project) and you now have a much larger selection of go fast brake parts. Rear brakes, even though they are drum type, are more than sufficient for anything the average guy might need. Rear axles don't give trouble. Seals, bearings etc are easily available if needed. The 4 speed cars had a 3:73 ratio, the 5 speeds 3:45. Electrics are typical Lucas of the era. A brass brush and dielectric grease are your friend. The one complaint I have about the stock electrics is the alternator puts out a whopping 43 amps. Woo dammit hoo. At idle with the headlights, wipers brake lights etc on, the turn signals will start flashing slower and slower... There's a guy on eBay selling a new 110 amp alternator for a decent price, a guy at the last car show I went to said he's bought two for a couple of Minis he has and they have been great. I mentioned the dizzy placement, it's a PITA to change points because of its location. I stuck a Crane ignition on mine to fix that. Performance upgrades: there's a car called the Vauxhall Firenza which was never sold here but the Kiwis and Aussies got them. There are a bunch of them Down Under and the suspension stuff is a direct bolt in. Wheels are 4x4 inch bolt circle, stud size is 7/16-20. 100mm bolt circle wheels can be used but will be difficult to center. The 9xx engine has been pretty well developed over time, there's all kinds of go fast goodies available. The most common J-H 907 upgrade is a 2.2 crank wih JE pistons, then either the 104 or 107 cams and a dual Dellorto intake. Webers can be used but the progression system is lean on a Weber compared to a Dell, making it hard to get a smooth transition from idle to midrange with Webers. An intake from a Esprit can be used to ease a EFI conversion, it's been done before and is well documented (EFI is in my car's futire as well). It's even possible to drop a 910 or 912 (Esprit) motor in a J-H but the crossmember has to be notched to clear the oil pan so the engine will clear the hood. Hope all this helps. Ask if you have any quiestions!

shucks … for the OP's sake I was hoping you knew something about J-H's

CGLockRacer
CGLockRacer SuperDork
7/16/15 11:07 a.m.

Aaaand I now know more about J-Hs than I ever knew before. Thanks!

Rad_Capz
Rad_Capz HalfDork
7/16/15 11:18 a.m.

Trucke I have a set of 4 wheels and one replacement rocker if you buy that 74 and need/want them.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
7/16/15 11:59 a.m.

Holy Curmudgeonly Zombie!

Wally
Wally MegaDork
7/16/15 12:10 p.m.
trucke wrote:
maschinenbau wrote: In reply to Jensenman: Jensenman, I'm going to look at this fine specimen. What should I be looking for, and how overpriced is it? http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/5075744886.html
AWESOME interior

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
7/16/15 12:16 p.m.

In reply to Wally:

Isn't Seinfeld little tame for you?

I was expecting, perhaps, fur-lined jockstraps, or some such thing!

wbjones
wbjones MegaDork
7/16/15 2:40 p.m.
SVreX wrote: Holy Curmudgeonly Zombie!

dang … I just saw the date on this … and it doesn't appear to be a canoe that resurrected it

Curmudgeon
Curmudgeon MegaDork
7/16/15 5:57 p.m.
maschinenbau wrote: In reply to Jensenman: Jensenman, I'm going to look at this fine specimen. What should I be looking for, and how overpriced is it? http://cincinnati.craigslist.org/cto/5075744886.html

Holy COW. That interior is horrible.

If the rockers and floors are solid and it runs, he's not far off on the price. But those custom rockers give me pause; I'd want to know what's behind them. But if it runs and drives good and you are willing to put some effort into the floors etc see if you can knock him down to around a grand.

Of course the A/C is aftermarket; Jensen never made a factory system for the roadsters, only the GT's. There are tales of 'factory A/C' but the consensus is, Jensen bought a few of the hang on kits sold over here and stuck them on the cars before shipment, unfortunately no one can confirm that.

If you get it, replace the timing belt IMMEDIATELY. The 907 is a tough chunk o' aluminium, don't listen to the naysayers! But busting a belt while running will quickly turn into a $1200 repair and that's if you do the work.

Wally
Wally MegaDork
7/16/15 6:11 p.m.

In reply to SVreX:

I love Seinfeld.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
7/16/15 6:37 p.m.

In reply to Wally:

Me too.

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