Everyone growing up in Britain in the seventies knew Morecambe and Wise.Their Saturday night shows drew huge audiences, peaking at 28 million during the 1977 Christmas Special. Superstars of their day, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise were often guests of chat shows and featured in interviews. It was during one of these, with Michael Parkinsnon in 1972, when Morecambe was regaling the audience with the tale of his first heart attack, that a young Nick Whale’s ears pricked up. His father made an off the cuff comment that the comedian’s Jensen Interceptor would be a great car to own one day.
“My father sadly passed while I was still quite young, but that piece of advice stuck with me,” recalls Nick today. “Being in the car business, and latterly as managing director of Silverstone Auctions, I always kept my eye out for that car.
“I’d scour advertisements for Jensens, and I finally found a car for sale in Belgium that looked like a good candidate. I had to investigate further, so I went over to take a look and, although it was a complete wreck, it looked very much like I’d found my Eric Morecambe Jensen.”
Nick brought the Jensen back to England where he set about finding a suitable restoration firm to return the car back to its former glory. Cropredy Bridge Garage, the largest and most reputable Jensen specialists in the world, was chosen. Starting in 2014, the Oxfordshire company started the painstaking work of restoring the famous Jensen.
“It was a six-figure restoration,” reveals Nick. “And it took several years, but I wanted it to be thorough yet totally original. We didn’t make a single modification to that car – I wanted it to be exactly the way it was when Eric Morecambe was driving it.”
Now immaculate and as fresh as the day Eric Morecambe bought it, the Jensen Interceptor left Cropredy’s workshops two years later, and it wasn’t long before the famous car was reunited with Eric Morecambe’s loyal chauffeur Mike Fountain, son Gary, wife Joan and even lifesaver Walter Butterworth.
“ITV made a documentary about Morecambe and Wise and we were invited down to Silverstone with the Jensen so family and friends could be reunited with it.” Says Nick. “Walter even drove the Jensen with Gary in the passenger seat and, although it was a long time ago, he could even remember the smell of the car and how powerful it was then, and is today. It was very touching when Gary thanked Walter for saving his Dad’s life.”
Almost half a century later, the Jenson Interceptor is now in fantastic condition thanks to a dedicated search and fastidious restoration to bring a piece of motoring and celebrity history back to life.