Brilliantly British: Jensen Interceptor

Jensen InterceptorThe Jensen Interceptor is an undoubtedly beautiful car. But it's lineage, on the other hand, is altogether more curious. The iconic wraparound rear window, the glorious 7 litre V8 engine and the classically-styled interiors are suggestive of some exotic birthplace - and when the car was first launched in the late 60s, it was indeed built in Italy for British manufacturer Jensen.

After the first handful of models were assembled and failed to meet Jensen's exacting standards, production was moved from sun-dappled Italy to a location with a little less cool factor - a place where the Swinging Sixties had yet to make its mark and arguably never would: West Bromwich.

But make no mistake - despite its less-than-glamorous birthplace, these are exceptional works of British design that have stood the test of time. The styling is rooted in that particular Sixties style, but nothing is faddy, cartoonish or outdated. From the headlamps to the gearstick, the front grille to the steering wheel, there are design touches and flourishes which anchor the car in the decade of its origin, but which still look contemporary and cool.

It helps too that these great machines still drive like a dream. That powerful V8 engine delivers a low growl that is always threatening to transform into a full-throated roar. There is speed to burn, and the four wheel drive - at the time, a revolutionary addition that overhauled the handling - makes for brilliantly responsive control. There's precious little that any discerning petrol head would change about the experience of driving this special car.

Aesthetically, it feels authentic - as though this was a car created with love and passion, and not simply to tap into the zeitgeist of the time. Were that the case, so many of the design touches might feel like pastiches of an era that has already been thoroughly mined for inspiration in the decades since.

From Italy or West Bromwich, its birthplace is irrelevant - indeed, that a car like this should have emerged from as unfashionable a place as West Bromwich is proof that truly iconic design can come from anywhere. A drive in a Jensen Interceptor is a rare pleasure; if you have the opportunity, take it.