View Full Version : Oddball of Oddballs: Jensen-Healey in ITS

07-20-2004, 02:49 PM
Ok, ok, anyone have any, and I mean ANY racing experience with the J-H? As crazy as my car choise was (TR8), I've found a guy crazier and he's intent on building one of these.

Now, before you snicker too loudly, the specs aren't too bad. Race weight is LIGHT for ITS -- 2200 or so. The Lotus 907 motor makes 140 hp stock easily made 160 in the Esprit with just a less restrictive exhaust. I'm guessin 175 at the crank in IT trim is very doable. AT 2200 lbs...this car sounds like a 240Z light.

Rear drums, but good 5-speed. Again, callng anyone with performance/race experience with this car.

The Brit attack on the back of the ITS pack continues. Make way for the Jensen-Healey and the TR8.

07-21-2004, 07:17 AM
Jeff--There may be one or two around somewhere but to keep an ancient, unpopular, low volume, foreign sportscar active in IT trim in 2004 is quite the challenge from all perspectives.

Production or Vintage is another matter. Its got to be tough to find any parts for it.


07-21-2004, 12:28 PM
As a TR8 driver, thanks for telling me something I already now....lol..I'm laughing. Seriously, do appreciate the comments Joe.

I did some research last night and found out that Bruce Qvale raced one very successfully in E Prod even up to the mid-90s.

I'm thinking that yes, this will be frustrating, but I bet that J-H can be a decent ITS car primarily because of weight -- 2260! That's light, real light for a rear drive 170 hp car, and the aero is pretty good.

07-21-2004, 01:04 PM
Originally posted by JeffYoung:
...I'm thinking that yes, this will be frustrating, but I bet that J-H can be a decent ITS car primarily because of weight -- 2260! That's light, real light for a rear drive 170 hp car, and the aero is pretty good.


I've driven the J-H but never raced one.

I agree. If you can keep it running, it should be quick.


07-21-2004, 01:07 PM
The JH is easy to keep active. They are simple to work on and parts are readily available. In its day it dominated its class in SCCA.

The Lotus 9xx engine series had teething difficulties early on but was later developed into a solid power plant. Tuned for broad torque, the normally aspirated 911 rally engines produced 240bhp and scored a World Rally Championship for Talbot. A JH's 907 engine can be built to be reliable and powerful but doing so is not cheap. Unfortunately, most you find on the market have not been well maintained by POs and many suffered from marginal quality control at the time of manufacture.

I don't race myself but I have a friend who autocrosses his. I don't know the details about what organization/class he runs in but his car is basically stock and there isn't a lot he is allowed to do to it. The car is a daily driver; he loads his race tires into the cockpit around him on race day, drives it to the event, swaps them and races. He swaps 'em back, drives home and uses the car to call on clients during the week.

These days the JH gets grouped with modern cars that have independent suspensions, 4w disk brakes, etc so it is very difficult to be competitive.


07-21-2004, 02:55 PM
Jeff--My race car is 23 years old. I'm poking fun at myself too!

07-21-2004, 03:15 PM
Joe, no problem -- your note made me laugh.

What car do you drive?

07-22-2004, 01:28 PM
Jeff, yes Bruce did race the J-H in E-Prod and went back to the run-offs. He was so pissed off at all of the whining in the prod group that the next year he ran a FC and went back again. Since then, he's not run much. I think the the J-H is in Joe Huffaker's shop @ Sears Point.

That was a beautiful car, just like all of Joe's cars.

My car too is 23 years old. I bought it brand new in October 1981, and I'm the only owner. It went over 300k on the street before I treated it nice, and now park it in the garage, and only feed it race gas, and change the oil every 90 minutes of operation. Such the life.

Tim Linerud
San Francisco Region SCCA
#95 GP Wabbit

[This message has been edited by racer_tim (edited July 22, 2004).]

07-22-2004, 01:30 PM
Jeff-- a 1981 Mercury Lynx.

Ron Earp
07-23-2004, 09:44 AM
Sounds good! I'm the crazy fellow that wants to give this a whirl. Jeff has similar cars as I do, Loti, and I figure I already know about this motor and parts are readily available for the engine if it grenades. Now, the bits I don't know about are the transmissions, brakes, etc.


07-23-2004, 12:52 PM
After reading about this car, I think it is actually a potentially better choice than a TR8....2260 is LIGHT and the 907 makes power. Should be an interesting project.

Ron Earp
07-24-2004, 08:41 PM
I'm actively looking for one of these as a project car now. So, if anyone has some leads on a JH please let me know. I've found a few that are cheap, but none in the Southeast. I'll keep on looking, sooner or later one will pop up.

Lotus Turbo Esprit
BMW E36 M3
RF GT40 Replica
A JH I hope!

07-26-2004, 11:53 AM
There is one in my neck of the woods...midwest. It has been there for years. I have never stopped and looked at it so I can't tell you what kind of shape it is in. I am 90% sure that is has no engine, sits very high. If you are intrested I can stop by and check it out for you. I am not even sure it is for sale, it could be one of those "I'll restore it one day" cars that the owner will not sell or is rotted to nothing, and the only thing holding it together is what is left of the paint.

Ron Earp
07-26-2004, 12:42 PM
I've had three offered to me in two days with running engines and all the bits for good, under $2k, prices. JH are cool cars, but even nicely restored cars that are drivers are rarely over $5-6k. Thanks but let me see how these might pan out.

Ron Earp
07-30-2004, 07:51 AM
Well, we've located a suitable Jensen and Jeff Y is going to help me pick it up tomorrow. Looking forward to working on it this winter and maybe getting it ready for next year and I also hope to get some forum help here with prep questions etc. Should be lots of fun!!

07-30-2004, 08:49 AM
Please keep us updated with the progress. I just might make the long haul to come up and see you guys run (a J-H and a TR8 at the same time toooo coool), you guys are back east right?...perhaps by then my Opel will be done, I just work slow.

07-31-2004, 09:16 PM
Well, step one has been taken. There is a white 74 Jensen Healey in Ron's garage. We'll keep you guys posted.

Cherokee, yes, we are in Raleigh/Cary N.C. VIR is our home track. Come on down sometime, and bring the Opel.

Ron Earp
08-01-2004, 07:34 AM
Yep, it is in there, thanks for Jeff's help! I appreciate that, thanks much!

Lots of parts came with the car and I'll sort through those today and auction off bits that are not needed - against my better judgement to NEVER throw away, sell, barter, or otherwise seperate yourself from ANY bit of British car. But, it has to be done to reduce the out of pocket cost of the car to as low a figure as possible so the Minister of Domestic Affairs (wife) will approve further budgent expeditures for the remainder of the year.

Jeff and I did quite a bit of work on the car today, as did my daughter!


[This message has been edited by rlearp (edited August 01, 2004).]

08-01-2004, 10:21 PM
After spending most of the day in and under this car, I have to say I'm impressed. This car has potential. It is certainly, but for the base of racing knowledge, the baseline equivalent of a 240z. With some work, this car could be quick. Here's what we found:

1. Car came with Koni's, plus aftermarket sways. That must be $600-800 worth of parts alone on a car Ron paid barely double that for. A steal.

2. Front suspension on the car is advanced for its time. Double wishbones/a-arms in 1974! Too cool. Will have to do some work with shims and eccentric bushings to get some camber, but it is doable. On the down side, there is not much suspension travel although the bump stop is huge. Will need to work on that stop and get some more range of motion. Also, question: I assume that in this situation we will want to run fairly high rate springs to keep the car off the stops? Say 600 lbs?

3. Rear end is pretty standard three link rear trailing arms with springs and shocks. HOWEVER, much to my surprise, there are two stock arms from the body to the diff that locate it. Very nice. No panhard bar required.

4. Front brake discs are decent size, as are the pads. However, disc appears to be part of the hub -- anyone ever seen anything like this?

5. A stock oil cooler, how about that?

6. Motor is advanced for its day. Twin-cam, 4 valve in 1974, pretty neat. 140 hp stock -- with a nice exhaust and all the emissions carpola removed from teh stock Strombergs, plus some port matching the allowed bump in compression, should see 170 or 180. Car will REV -- stock redline is 7000. I bet this will be a roarty little four cylinder.

7. Weaknesses. Brakes, obviously. But weight should help. The stock radiator is tiny. Definitely will need to get an aluminimum unit.

8. Four speed in teh car now. Probably need a 5 speed to help keep the motor in its power band.

Well, hope to have this car on the track next spring. Should be a ton of fun on the track, what with that light weight and all. Did I mention that already?

08-02-2004, 08:41 AM
Ron and Jeff

Sounds like that car has some real potential with weight and expected horsepower...figure ouot how to keep the brakes cool while racing, sounds exciting!
Welcome to the IWTRIAOC club

david spillman
SEDIV#18 240z
[quote]Originally posted by JeffYoung:
[B]After spending most of the day in and under this car, I have to say I'm impressed.

08-02-2004, 09:14 AM
You guys are certainly braver than I am. The father of a friend of mine in school had a J-H and we thought it was the coolest thing on the road. When it was on the road, that is. http://Forum.ImprovedTouring.com/it/smile.gif

Best wishes on the project. Maybe we can schedule an opportunity for me to come drink some stout and stand around not working on it...


08-02-2004, 09:50 AM
David, great to hear from you. HOpe to see you back on track shortly. VIR in October?

Brave and stupid are synomyns in the racing world..lol....come by any time. It is an interesting piece. I do seriously think it has more potential than my TR8, and is certainly a better canidate to get dropped back to ITA as it doesn't have the V8 stigma -- and there I think it could really be competitive.

Kirk, come on down sometime and have a look. And bring your grinder, no standing allowed....lol. Seriously, plenty to look at it in Ron's garage: the J-H project, a nearly complete GT40 replica he built himself, an M3 and a 91 Esprit Turbo. Lots of cool stuff and he does almost all his work himself,including programming chips for the Lotus.

Also, saw you guys are getting the Golf ready for the 13 hour Enduro. Myself, Mark Whight and three others are going to run a Spec Miata. Should be a fun event -- saw your webpage, and it definitely helped us think about some of the organizing/prep we need to do.


Ron Earp
08-03-2004, 01:01 PM
Kirk, come on down with Jeff sometime. I want to meet more folks in this sort of thing to get my car going, and I can give a lot of help too. Like most of folks I'm sure, I can fabricate, weld, build motors, do electrics, etc. and I don't mind helping out. I've got a fairly decent shop to work in and am always up for getting into something provided the wife and little one lets me.

Lotus Turbo Esprit
BMW E36 M3
RF GT40 Replica

Ron Earp
08-08-2004, 05:39 PM
I was able to get to VIR to check out some racing yesterday and throughly enjoyed it, wish I had longer to see the IT race. Damn.

JH update - car is being assembled and from what I'm finding it is worth more as pieces than as a car. I've already sold the first batch of Ebay pulloffs from the car and netted $582.00 - not bad! JHs apparently are rare enough that stuff like sunvisors go for $114 on Ebay, if you can believe it. Anyhow, I've got two more "batches" of parts to go and with luck I might have a zero cost race car (zero as in intitial purchase price before it becomes the money pit!!!).

Tech stuff is rally hard to find. Most JH'ers are preservationists and are asking questions on their boards like "How many inches was the stock seat from the steering wheel, and what sort of standard deviation is there out there in the production lots?". So, finding out info about heads, cams, etc. is not so easy. There are some sources, but most come from my Lotus fellows on their boards.

I'll post some pictures at some point, but thanks to the various folks up at VIR yesterday that entertained my stupid questions with viable answers. Best,


Lotus Turbo Esprit
BMW E36 M3
RF GT40 Replica

08-09-2004, 12:12 PM
Actually, might have been good that you didn't stick around from the IT race to see me drop like a rock from my 12th place starting position due to a missed shift and a couple of stupid driver mistakes. Oh well..from the highs of a 2:22 in the morning session to struggling to stay in 17th place with crappy brakes...that's racing.

You around this evening? I'll stop by and check out the J-H if you are. Maybe do some work if you have a few minutes.


Super Swift
08-10-2004, 06:38 PM
You may want to contact Robinson Racing of Alpharetta GA as they prepared a J-H for ITS a few years back.

Ron Earp
08-10-2004, 07:03 PM
I did try but came up a dead end. Fellow I spoke with said he knew the car, but not where it went or if it remained in service. Another fellow I spoke with said he remembered the car but didn't know if it was competitive or not.

Lotus Turbo Esprit
BMW E36 M3
RF GT40 Replica

08-14-2004, 07:24 PM
Jeff...amazing...simply amazing! You have done a nice job with the TR-8...best with the J-H. Bring it out! We need a few more "odd" cars running out there...just to liven it up!

Ed Forrest
AMC Spirit-GT
IT-A 94

By the way...if anyone knows where there is a 4 cylinder AMC Spirit or Concord...we need a rear end! Talk about odd stuff!

08-16-2004, 09:54 PM
Ed! Good to hear from you.

Yes, I've got the car running pretty good at VIR. Still a few seconds in it (the driver).
Having a blast that's for sure.

On the AMC, I've got to run our local junkyard to pick up some bits for a friends Camaro sometime in the next couple of weeks. I'll see if there is any AMC stuff out there.

Do you ever make it to VIR? Come on out sometime. An IT field with a TR8, a Jensen-Healey and an AMC Spirit would be quite the sight.

08-16-2004, 10:40 PM
Originally posted by JeffYoung:

Do you ever make it to VIR? Come on out sometime. An IT field with a TR8, a Jensen-Healey and an AMC Spirit would be quite the sight.

How about if you added an ITA Corvair to the mix? My dad actually has an ITA legal Corvair sitting in his shop in Dobson, NC. I built the car in the early 90's for auto-x and driver's school but ended up racing a VW Scirocco instead.

It probably wouldn't take much prodding to get him out on the track with it, or I might even strap in just for giggles sometime.


Mark Coffin
#14 GP BSI Racing/Airborn Coatings/The Shop VW
Zephyr Race Coaching and Consulting

08-17-2004, 02:11 AM
There is NOTHING like following an old Corvair around for a few laps...man those things are the very definition of the term "slip angle"!

No reason to put numbers on the back, anybody behind the thing can read the nubers off the doors just fine in the corners!

Get that thing on the track!

Jake Gulick
CarriageHouse Motorsports
ITA 57 RX-7
New England Region
[email protected]

Joel Topy
08-18-2004, 03:04 PM
Hi Jeff, You are not the only one who has been looking at a Jensen. Mine is sitting under a cover in the driveway waiting to become an IT car. It came from California and has been a street car for all of its 105,000 miles. Last year at Mid-Ohio during the runoffs I was able to talk to Joe Huffaker about their cars and his thoughts about running one in IT. My impression was that it was do-able. I have started to acquire parts for the project, mostly bushings and other suspension parts, a spare car (it broke in two when we took it off the trailer) but I still need an extra drivetrain and shocks/springs. The BIG hold up in moving the project forward is the 944 Porsche that sits between the garage and the Jensen, seems it wanted to be an ITS car before the JH showed up. Know anyone who would like a 944 for solo's or racing? If I start another project I'll be living in the motor home, anyway good luck with the project and if you bring it to Mid-Ohio you will have a couple of exta crew members (like it or not!) Joel
[email protected]

Ron Earp
08-18-2004, 03:50 PM
The Jensen is progressing nicely. I'm assembling parts to rebuild the rear suspension and hope to have it back in place by next week.

I've welded metal in place for numerous rust repairs and completely stripped the interior and dash for the cage builder. Gauges are on order, trying to make some sense of the wiring harness, which has been seriously torn up over the years.

I've also located spare heads, cams, blocks, and some other parts that are in route to be used for the motor. I don't plan on doing anything to the motor for the first season other than make sure it will run relabily.

Seems the car could work well in IT but it will take a lot of development and since no others are racing, lots of footwork. My Lotus ties are helping out a lot though!


Lotus Turbo Esprit
BMW E36 M3
RF GT40 Replica
Jensen-Healey: IT prep progressing!