Jensen 541 (1955 – 1962) Review

Jensen 541 (1955 – 1962) At A Glance


+Charismatic styling, tuneful seep-chested straight-six, plenty of performance, corrosion-free glass fibre bodywork

-It's what's under the glass fibre you need to worry about

The 541 was a major step forward for Jensen when it was launched in 1953. In one fell swoop, the evocative streamlined styling (by Eric Neale) and panoramic windscreen introduced more dynamic styling to the company. Although it was unveiled in 1953, it wouldn’t be until 1955 when the 541 went into production, by which time the company had chosen glassfibre instead of steel for the construction of the body. Underneath a new type of chassis featuring longeron tubing braced by box sections and flat floor platforms featured.

Up front, Austin-type wishbone front suspension ensured keen handling. Austin also provided much of the drivetrain with its 4.0-litre six-cylinder engine and gearbox. Although it looked exciting the performance was adequate in the early models – although an upgrade to 150bhp in 1956 improved the situation markedly. The 541 became one of the first British production cars to feature all-round disc brakes – and to that, a 541R version was launched the following year. Powered by the same engine along with rack-and-pinion steering and an opening bootlid, the R was a major improvement. 1960’s 541S was even better thanks to a wider body and a standard limited slip differential.