While it was one of the last gasps of the British sports car industry, Jensen Healey showed how designers were thinking ahead, beyond the sedan-derived sports cars of the 1950s and 1960s, to something with a truly sporting engine and modern creature comforts. And they remain a truly underappreciated classic sports car, perhaps due to generic (though attractive) styling, lack of heritage, or the legacy reputation for 1970s-British-car quality issues, so their values remain comparable to Fiat and Alfa spiders, as well as wedge Triumphs. Today, though, these are among the most modern and usable among the classic, pre-1980s sports cars – and we do want to drive our cars frequently, right? Check out this 1974 Jensen Healey for sale for $3999 in Ridgecrest, CA.
Do you see faded paint and giant rubber impact bumpers? Well, look beyond those and you’ll find the car has a rebuilt engine with only 25,000 miles on it, a 5-speed transmission, and new water pump, alternator, timing belt, brake pads, and tires. In fact, it was the seller’s daily driver through last December, when it was parked in exchange for a warmer car.
Black looks good on this car, and looking at the design, it does seem to borrow a lot from the Triumph TR6 (angular rear fenders, square tail, center-mounted fuel filler on the rear deck) as well as the MGB (headlight scoops, rounded front fenders). Steering and rear suspension were Vauxhall, the transmission was Sunbeam, and the famous engine was Lotus. And that engine offered 40 more horsepower than the Triumph’s inline-six, or 65 more than the MGB, which gave 0-60 times still considered respectable 10-20 years on.
Of course the reputation for poor quality, burning valves, slipped timing belt, a difficult top, and rust all contribute to drag their popularity down. But most of these problems can be cured by being selective and finding an enthusiast-owned car that’s lived in a dry state. And Ridgecrest is in one of the driest parts of a very dry state, so you’re not likely to find a lot of rust on the car. In spite of that, the interior, while showing some cracking on the seats and dash, and failing finish on the wood, is not as bad as you’d expect.
Here’s the engine, spoiled only by that goofy muffler-looking air filter canister. This should give anything in its class a run for its money, and in 1974, even muscle cars no longer could blow the doors off it. With all the recent service, and its (probably resumed, based on the seller’s mentioning he’d start driving it again in spring) status as a daily driver, this looks like a good candidate to be used and improved cosmetically as you go along.