The Jensen Car Company grew out of a coach building concern of W. J. Smith and Sons, based in the town of Lyng, in the Midlands of England, traditionally the hotbed for the UK motor industry.
W. J. Smith and Sons had been around for more than thirty years when the Jensen Brothers, Alan and Richard, then only in their Twenties, first stepped through their doors in 1931.
The brothers had already earned themselves a reputation as being firebrands and innovators in the car industry, using their combined talents to improve the fortunes of another local company, Patrick Motors, before a fall out with the management found them looking for new employment.
Thanks to their many contacts in the car industry in the Midlands the brothers were introduced to W.H.Smith & Son by one of their principal shareholders, who was sure that the brothers had the talent and vitality to put the stagnating company back on the tracks.
The Jensen brothers joined W.H.Smith & Son as joint managing directors, with a clear brief and a free hand.
The brothers immediately set to work, rapidly improving production, increasing sales and profitability.
Although W.H.Smith & Son still concentrated producing on commercial vehicles, as part of their agreement, a small production line was set up in the complex to produce private cars, with Richard Jensen responsible for running the shop.
Johnson also spent some time developing what would become a profitable sub-division, producing car bodies for such UK industry giants as Morris, Singer, Standard and Wolseley.
Over the next few years, the Jensen brothers totally revived the company’s fortunes eventually succeeding in gaining control of the company.
Their first step after gaining control was to change the company name, opting for the simple title of Jensen Motors Ltd.
The brothers soon implemented the next stage in their plan, moving the company, lock, stock and barrel to considerably larger premises in West Bromwich, near Birmingham.
From the moment that the Jensen company sign hung over the door of their West Bromwich plant, the partnership entered a whole new stratosphere. With dramatically increased production capabilities, they had the ability to take full advantage of the rapidly growing reputation the had earned thanks to the consistently high standards of craftsmanship, design flair and engineering excellence that Jensen maintained.
Through the Thirties, Jensen Motors continued to thrive with the coachwork division producing most of the income, while car production was growing steadily.
Jensen's first two car production models were released during that period , an open top tourer , and a very imposing saloon car, the H, which was the only four door that the company ever built.
While these models were unusually attractive, they were far away from being a viable commercial proposiion, being almost entirely hand crafted, placing them well out of reach to the average person's budget
From 1946 onwards the Jensen brothers continued to expand their activities, taking longer strides into car production,while maintaining their coachworks division.
While the Jensen Brothers were enjoying considerable success expanding their business activities, war clouds were gathering again in Europe. When war did break out car production was suspended , with all of the plant’s production facilities switched to build trucks and other heavy vehicles for the British Army , with the metal shop also called in to produce some light military hardware.
The Luftwaffe were well aware that the Midlands was the centre of activity in the production of military vehicles and launched numerous bombing raids in the area, particularly during the height of the “blitz” in 1940.Unfortunately, the Carter’s Green factory was hit by incendiary bomb during that period. By a stroke of good fortune, damage, although considerable, was restricted to the stores and company offices with production facilities surviving unscathed.
A sign of the Jensen Brothers serious intentions ambitions to create a car production division that would be credible and commercial was their appointment in 1946 of renowned designer Eric Neale who had earned himelf a strong reputation as a designer at Wolseley.
Speculation was that Neale would lead Jensen into producing large saloons and soft tops in the mode of the H and PM series, the latter launched just as Neale joined the company.
Instead his first project was a modern coupé , the 541 that was followed by the CV-8.
Before the breakout of the Second World War, the Jensens has succeeded in forging a healthy working relationship with Austin, and when they began to move into car production, they contracted to buy engines from Austin as well as a list of other mechanical components.
During the Fifties, Jensen Motors developed just two models under Neale,with both enjoying commercial success.
Outstanding of the two was the Jensen 541 model, fitted with a glass-fibre body, created tremendous excitement and so well, becoming regarded one of the most exciting sports saloons of the decade.
The lessons that the Jensens learned in the Fifties in car production were carried on successfully into the next decade, where they enhanced their reputation as top class manufacturers of specialist cars with their next-generation Interceptor, catching the atmosphere of the Sixties perfectly, going on to become their best-selling model of all time.
Despite being relatively young men, the close to thirty years that Richard and Alan Jensen had spent leading Jensen Motors to among the top independent car and truck manufacturers in the UK had taken its toll.The brothers had the good sense to take advantage of a generous offer from a private equity company to buy their shares in the company they had created and guided to tremendous success. Alan and Richard consented to remain on the board at Jensen Motors to ensure a smooth transition to new ownership for a few more years before retiring in the mid-Sixties.