How many survive?
I track cars all over the world and I'm always interested in hearing about those which survive or are scrapped. I'm often asked how many of the almost 19,000 Jensen cars are still around. I've been tracking them since 1985 but that's still 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. 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. Included for comparison is a tally of all cars known as lost through breaking, theft or write-offs.
The way it works is this. 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 in 20 years slip down a peg in the fates. They drop off the table but remain in the statistics which back the table, so they can be reinstated 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 minimal 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 reflects the intensity of the search for survivors. If continuing deliberate efforts are being 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 and the declining ratio will hold up, assuming scrutiny remains constant.
The declining ratios bear out the
proposition 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. In other words, hidden cars are not being
and more and more are being broken. The pre-war cars, PW, early Interceptor, Interceptor I, FF and SP have the highest
declining ratios, meaning they show the least rate of decline over the past 20
years. This suggests that the survivors are being preserved, since relatively
few fresh discoveries are being made in these categories.
|2016–2020||2011–2020||2006–2020||20012020||all known||5 yrs to 20 yrs|
|3½ Litre (S type)||9||10||11||11||5||82%|
|4¼ Litre (H type)||8||9||10||10||0||80%|
|Healey Mk 1||202||332||440||587||87||34%|
|Healey Mk 2||388||655||958||1261||216||31%|
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 H-types, 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.
|2016–2020||2011–2020||2006–2020||20012020||all known||20 yrs + demised|
|3½ Litre (S type)||18%||20%||22%||22%||10%||32%|
|4¼ Litre (H type)||57%||64%||71%||71%||0%||71%|
|Healey Mk 1||6%||10%||13%||17%||3%||20%|
|Healey Mk 2||5%||9%||13%||18%||3%||21%|
Bear in mind that these figures are not the actual survival rates — they are a way of thinking about survival rates, based on the available data. Don't ask me what the actual rates are. I don't know. If I go back 90 years, I can account for 100% of these cars. If I go back one week, it's less than 1%. That's why you see rolling estimates over a period of time. Based on the available information, they are the least biased guide to survival rates. They also allow a direct comparison between the different models. In other words, what seems intuitively to be the case (for example, 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 in the mid-30% range for many years now. Taking into account the demised cars, the overall 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% of cars known to have been broken and the 34% known to have survived at some point in the past 20 years. That gap is unlikely ever to be bridged.
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, are broken for spares, get stolen and not recovered, or are written off in accidents. To date, I have tracked 723 Jensens by chassis number as having been lost in these ways. This is an increase on last year when the tally stood at 704. In the preceding 17 years, it was 697, 675, 662, 645, 633, 606, 592, 578, 529, 528, 517, 508, 498, 484, 416, 379 and 315. This is one statistic which rises all the time. It means I am always hearing about cars which have been lost, either recently or many years ago.
For as long as I have been keeping statistics, the Jensen-Healeys have been the most under-represented model. They have a recorded survival rate over the past five years of just 5%, a declining ratio in the 30% range and a capture total of just 20%. All indications are that the Healeys have been broken in large numbers.
The fibreglass and aluminium bodies are holding up well and seem to survive in greater percentages than many of the later steel-bodied cars, although there are still plenty 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 any higher survivor stats, the long term figures being in line with those of the Interceptor II and III saloons 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 the 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?
Some 18,975 Jensen cars were
made between 1935 and 1992. The vast majority — 91% — were sold in North America and
|MARKET AREA||SHARE OF TOTAL|
|Rest of world||6.5%|
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 Great Britain are the best places to be.
In general, I receive relatively less information about cars in the USA than from anywhere else. This goes a long way to explaining why the observed survival rate of the Healeys is so low. Most of them were sold in the USA and that's the region from which I am least likely to receive vehicle fates. To narrow it further, about half the cars which went to the USA were sold in California. That 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 been junked. The stats bear out this contention.
To the end of 2020, I've traced 3874 Jensen survivors at some point in the trailing decade, about the same as 12 months ago. By geographic region, this is where they are now:
|REGION||SHARE OF TOTAL|
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 the late cars are pretty thin and I need your help to fill out the details. Most of these 14 cars were exported so they could be anywhere by now. The VINs are:
1791, 1813, 1846, 1871, 1873, 1874, 1900, 1903, 1920, 1922, 1938, 1946, 1949, 1996
For more on the individual models mentioned above, have a look in the histories guide.
© Richard Calver 2000–2021