Which High-Speed Continental Touring Coupe Would You Restore?
1971 Jensen Interceptor II
1972 Citroën SM
Fast, comfortable European sports cars of the early closing decades of the 20th century supplied us with more greats than nearly any other niche of the time. These sporting cruisers were built in the last days before safety and emissions regulations really hit their stride, and although these laws and standards unquestionably made cars easier and less dangerous to live with, they also took a lot of the distinct charm of machines made previous to their implementation with them. The two GTs featured here for this week’s installment of “Which Would You Restore” both hail from this magic time, each with the kind of outsized personality that has since been legislated out of the market.
Jensen’s Interceptor is one of the best known examples of the large crop of American V8 powered bespoke European sports cars that sprang up in the 60s and 70s, probably because they built quite a few more than a lot of similar mixed heritage machines—not to say they’re common, with only about 6.400 made in a production run lasting from 1966-1976. The one featured here is a ’71 Interceptor II, so called because of a raft of improvements introduced two years earlier. Fitted with a 330 HP Chrysler 383 and matching 3 speed TorqueFlite automatic, it’s more of a fast cruiser than an out-and-out corner slicer, but that’s fine by us.
Claimed to be largely rust-free, the worst seems to be on the inner sills and frame rails, but it’s nothing that would put us off from a potential restoration. Inside looks largely complete, and a lot of the pretty navy blue hide looks salvageable. The engine is said to turn over when hooked up to a battery, and we believe the seller’s claims that it sounds as if it will start easily with some clean gas—they’re not very complex motors after all, and in addition to being bone simple to work on they enjoy easy parts availability, too. The worst of this car’s issues stem from an apparent “soft” roll, which put some waves on the driver’s side of the roof—it must’ve been at quite a slow speed, because massive and expensive to replace rear glass remains intact, and the door openings look decent as well.
All-in-all, it looks like a relatively easy job, with all the hard to find bits still intact in healthy or serviceable condition, while the mechanical stuff will likely be a piece of cake—electrical gremlins scare us, though, and a new, modern, non-Lucas wiring harness isn’t only a good idea, it’s a must. With median values hovering in the low-to-mid twenty thousands, there could be solid potential for profit provided the reserve isn’t unreasonable.
If the Interceptor seems largely conventional, our next car makes it look downright primitive. A 1972 Citroën SM, AKA the Serie Maserati, thus named for its lusty, musical Maserati V6. Built with Citroën’s legendary oleopneumatic, adjustable height suspension, this system also provided assistance for the odd, self-centering steering and rubber mushroom activated brakes. They rode better than nearly any car ever built before or since, and handled exceedingly well, too. This seems to be a US model, indicated by the fixed, non-swiveling headlights that were standard on European delivered cars—we’d definitely factor a parts swap in the costs of restoring it.
The seller starts off with these wise words of warning: “You’d be way ahead to buy one of these in much better condition. You’d save money, your marriage, and not have to go through drug rehab.” If you’re very, very well equipped with tools, money, time, patience, and talent, though, you’d be hard pressed to find a more rewarding resto experience. Said to have last run in 1984, the car is complete but with a shot interior and a whole lot of frighteningly complex mechanics, from the aforementioned hydraulics and Maserati V6 to a Lucas electrical system that most likely needs a full replacement. The body is said to be relatively rust free, which is a real plus, and likely the only part of a refurbish that wouldn’t be pure hell.
Similar to the Interceptor, which incidentally is for sale by the same owner (and of which we have no affiliation with), there is a reserve price which makes any detailed valuation impossible. For reference, though, immaculately restored models with the desirable five speed equipped to this car are beginning to command high thirty to mid forty thousand price tags—meaning of course you’d still likely be deep in a hole after factoring in the cost of bringing this one to that point. We still hope someone saves it though.
Which would you restore?