In 1961 the Ferguson P99 Climax scored a notable first and last. In the hands of Stirling Moss it became the first four-wheel-drive car — and last front-engined car — to win a Formula 1 race. On the road front, the joint venture led to the Jensen CV-8 FF shown at the Earls Court Motor Show in 1965. This was the debut of the FF road-car system (FF stood for Ferguson Formula) and it anticipated the world’s first four-wheel drive supercar.
This was the Jensen FF, which deployed Ferguson’s four-wheel drive system to great effect, also offering Dunlop Maxaret anti-lock braking, traction control and power steering. It shared Chrysler TorqueFlite transmission and 6.3 litre V8 motor with the Interceptor. To all intents and purposes both models were identical, though in fact the FF had a slightly longer wheelbase and an extra cooling vent in the front bumper. But technically it was a world ahead and was better to drive than the Interceptor, adding leech-like roadholding to its sibling’s many qualifies.
Unfortunately, mechanical complexity made it difficult — and expensive — to produce. Jensen FFs were built to order only, and the steep price ensured that relatively few were sold — some 320 in six years. And when Jensen started struggling in the early 1970s, the innovative FF was reluctantly discontinued — a classic example of a great car that was ahead of its time.
An attempt to enter the sports car market with the Jensen Healey was made after Donald Healey joined the company in the early ’70s, but none of these moves could revive Jensen’s fortunes and the company was dissolved in 1976, leaving the splendid Interceptor as a lasting memorial.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1966 (until 1971)
6,286 cc V8
Top speed of 130 mph (210 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 7.7 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
A drawback that inhibited the Jensen FF’s commercial viability was a serious design fault – because of the transmission set-up and steering geometry it couldn’t be converted to left-hand drive for the important American luxury GT market. Oops!