If there's an unlikely star in Fast & Furious 6 it's the Jensen Interceptor. Built by tiny Jensen Motors in England between 1966 and 1976, the Interceptor is a big, rear-drive personal luxury machine in the vein of the Jaguar XJ-S or a Bristol. But instead of a temperamental, Euro-weenie six or high-strung V12 under its hood, the Interceptor was powered by pure American muscle: either 383 cubic inches (6.3 liters) or 440 cubic inches (7.2 liters) of old-school, carbureted, V8 American muscle. And that made it kind of super cool back when you could use phrases like "super cool" without irony.
The Interceptor's hipster vibe has carried into the 21st century intact. There's even a micro-industry that's developed around restoring and updating Interceptors. All that is because, even 47 years after it entered production, the Interceptor is still a great and contemporary-looking machine. The body was designed in Italy by Carrozzeria Touring with exceptionally clean surfaces and a long nose that balances the weight of the huge, wraparound rear window.
In Fast & Furious 6 the 1971 Jensen Interceptor is driven by a character who returns from a presumed death. OK, it's Letty, as played by Michelle Rodriguez, the once super-tight significant other of Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) who apparently died in a tumbling '70 Plymouth Road Runner about halfway through 2009's Fast & Furious, the fourth film in the series.
But before Letty could be resurrected, picture car coordinator Dennis McCarthy and his crew would have to resurrect a few Jensens: four of them, and two survived filming.
"There aren't any Interceptors that haven't rusted through left in England," McCarthy explains. "So all the Jensens in the new movie came out of California. That's where all the good ones are." It also helps explain why, though the major action featuring the Interceptor is set in Great Britain, it's a left-hand-drive model.
Instead of restoring the Interceptors to their original, leather-lined, wood-trimmed and high-gloss finish, it was decided that Letty's Jensen would be kind of menacing: finished in matte gray, with massive side pipes dumping out just forward of the rear wheels. But it's not an ancient Chrysler engine breathing out through those pipes.
To keep spares simple and allow the swapping of parts between cars, McCarthy powered many of the onscreen cars with GM "LS3" V8 crate engines straight out of the GM Performance Parts catalog. That's the same 6.2-liter engine that's standard in the Chevrolet Camaro SS and rated at 430 horsepower as shipped. And that's a net power rating: up 105 hp over the gross-rated 325 hp of the Interceptor's original Chrysler 383.
On three of the Jensen Interceptors, the Magnaflow side exhausts are functional. McCarthy omitted them from the fourth car because he didn't want Michelle Rodriguez to worry about burning her legs on them.
Behind the LS3 is a GM Turbo 400 three-speed automatic transmission feeding back to a Ford 9-inch solid axle rear end mounted on the Interceptor's leaf spring rear suspension (with new leaf springs to lower the car). To accommodate oversize 265/50R17 rear tires, McCarthy's crew widened the rear wheelwells. Four-wheel disc brakes from a 2010 Ford Mustang GT were adapted to the car.
Jensen may have built the Interceptor as a luxury car, but it's a Spartan machine in Fast & Furious 6. Gone are the carpeting, the air-conditioning and anything else that hints at comfort. Instead there's a thick roll cage and two Sparco R100 seats. AutoMeter gauges fill the holes left behind by the Jensen's original instruments.
So this car is exactly what Jensen didn't intend it to be.