My 1972 LHD Jensen SP (Pirate Jenny) is a rare and wonderful car Ö but Ö Jensenís ought to have offered a manual gearbox option on what was obviously a very high-performance automobile. So Iíve decided to do what Jensenís should have done and convert PJ from a Chrysler A-727 automatic gearbox to a manual Ďbox. The really desirable 6-speed Ďboxes are way out of my price range, so I decided on using a Chrysler A-833 OD tranny (the A-833 was offered on Mk.I Interceptors, but only without the overdrive gears, so there is a Jensen connexion there). This Ďbox has a 3.09:1 first gear ratio which combined with the Jensenís 2.88 rear axle ratio gives a final drive ratio of 8.90:1 in first gear which ought to be low enough to get underway decently from a stop. Top gear is 0.73:1 (which gives a 2.10:1 final drive ratio in top gear) which ought to be very good on highway runs. These gear ratios are, admittedly, a bit wide for top performance on the track, but ought to serve well on the street and motorway. I found one on eBay at a good price and bought it. Itís an aluminium-cased version which will save me some weight... if thereís one thing the Jensen Interceptor (or SP) does NOT need, itís more weight!


The rear axle gears died and I replaced them with a 3.73:1 Dana 44 gearset. The overall ratios are now 11.43:1 in first gear (great for starting from a stop) and 2.72:1 in fourth (overdrive) gear which is still pretty good on the highway. RPMs at 65 mph are about 2200.


Pirate Jennyís 440 Six-Pack engine is getting pretty tired. Her oil pressure has been low for some time now and a new high-volume oil pump helped, but did not cure the situation. As a part of the project I am temporarily swapping the recently rebuilt engine from 140/8651 (my parts car, often referred to as ďThe BeastĒ) into PJ to give me time to do a thorough rebuild on the original 440 Six-Pack engine. With the engine and gearbox out of 140/8651 I can check for proper fitment while PJ is still operational.


I am foreseeing a few problem areas.

What do I use for a clutch pedal, and how do I mount it?

Where will the shift lever enter the cabin?

Will I have to make clearance for the shift rods and levers?

How do I fit a pilot bearing into the crankshaft? Auto-trans cranks were not usually machined for pilot bearings.

I have decided to use a hydraulic clutch system and therefore must use a clutch pedal that works with a clutch master cylinder.



23rd July  2009

The A-833 Overdrive gearbox arrived. Condition seems fine. See photo above.


24th July 

The retrofit pilot bearing arrived. Itís a Chrysler part that was made for newer cars, but it also fits the 440ís crank flange. One problem probably solved.


Iíll have to make a new console panel to allow for the shift lever. While Iím at it Iíll design a new panel for the radio, heater, and A/C controls. The new panel  will include the switch panel at the top. The panel will have a double-DIN sized opening where I will fit a Pioneer AVIC Z2 stereo/GPS/CD/DVD with iPod and Bluetooth interfaces. Once this project is done and my finances have had some time to recover Iíll have Walnut Burl (or something like that) veneer applied to both pieces by Madera Concepts. I feel that were Jensenís still producing the Interceptor or a successor they would provide GPS, CD, DVD, iPod, and Bluetooth functionality and that they would want to use reliable switchgear (note that the original Lucas gear lasted 36 years before giving up -- not bad at all).  Anyway, that's what I want!


The switches for new panel shall be Carling Contura X as follows:


            A/C switch --              VDDA1601-1VZ00-000

            Demist switch --        VDDA1C01-1PZ00-000

            Hazard switch --        VDDA0001-1ZZ00-000

            Light switch --            VEDA0001-1ZZ00-000

            Horn switch --             VDDA0001-1ZZ00-000

            Aerial switch --           VLDA0001-1ZZ00-000

            Fuel door switch --    V2DA0001-1ZZ00-000

            Dash lights --             VDDA0001-1ZZ00-000

            Cruise cont. set --      VLDA0001-1ZZ00-000

            Window switches --   VLDA0001-1ZZ00-000


Having a real problem finding a source from which to buy these switches!


18th August

Bought bellhousing, dust cover, and flywheel from a local fellow.

New console/switch panels are being made by Proto-Fab here in Reno/Sparks.

Made shift rods last week.


This is the gearbox with new paint and the shifter mounted in the WRONG position. The shifter is a Hurst Competition Plus. Too bad that this position would have had the shift lever emerging right in the midst of the heater and air-conditioning controls! Not convenient at all.


13th September

Drained oil and atf from engine and gearbox of The Beast.

Inspected the gearbox mount and found it in good condition.


14th September

Discovered last week that the shifter location I was using was all wrong.

Having a mount made (Proto-Fab again) to relocate the shifter and then Iíll make up new shift rods.




Had the front bearing retainer machined by Proto-Fab to fit the 4.8Ē hole in the bellhousing and had them make a sleeve to make the FBR fit the hydraulic throwout bearing. I bought the bearing from Southwest Speed  and they claim that the sleeve is not necessary, but I prefer it to fit well.  The sleeve has since been removed as a separate slave cylinder has been fitted to the stock-type throwout bearing and fork.



Thatís about where the project stands now. Iíll pick up the shifter mount from Proto-Fab and the new clutch from Reno Clutch & Brake tomorrow.


15th September

A couple of setbacks today. The shifter mount was not done and I discovered that the flywheel I have is the wrong one. Itís a flywheel for an 11Ē clutch and wonít fit into the bellhousing I have.


16th September

Went to pick up the shifter mount Ė it was wrong. Theyíll fix it tomorrow. The good news is that the mock-up for the new radio, heater and air conditioner controls, and switch panel was done and it looks to be spot on!


17th September

Bolted up new shifter mount and shifter. Made new shift rods. Because of new shifter location the 1-2 shift lever on the gearbox works better if it is flipped over front-to-back. This made the 1-2 shift rod about 2Ē too short. Iíll make a new one tomorrow when I can get more steel rod.


18th September

Got more rod stock and made up the new 1-2 shift rod. Drilled the new rods for cotter pins and installed the pins -- I have since decided to use self-locking nuts rather than cotter pins because installing the pins with the gearbox in place was a real nightmare.. Removed the shifter mount and painted it.


The A-833 gearbox with the old hydraulic throwout bearing and the Hurst Competition Plus shifter in the CORRECT position!


Now ďallĒ I have to do at the moment is to remove the engine and gearbox from The Beast and bolt up the A-833 to that engine and do the final (or semi-final) fitting.


29th September

Yesterday we pulled the engine and gearbox from The Beast. Everything came out pretty well.

Both look to have been recently rebuilt (as claimed by the Previous Owner) and there is no evidence of the rear main bearing seal leak that plagues so many of these engines.

The pilot bearing installed with no trouble.


Engine and gearbox exiting 140/8651. Visible in the photo is a broken oil line fitting Ė easily fixed.


Today I bolted up the bellhousing and A-833 gearbox to The Beastís engine and put them back in to check fitment. Everything looks well Ė thereís still some final fitting to do (as on any hand-built car) but not really very much. Still have some cutting to do on the transmission tunnel so that the shifter and the shift rods will have clearance, but the fibreglas transmission tunnel cuts pretty easily with the Dremel and a scroll-saw bit.





Engine with A-833 gearbox ready to go into The Beast for trial fitting.


30th September

Finished cutting the transmission tunnel for clearance and bolted up the shifter and connected up the shift rods.


Above is the hole in the transmission tunnel for shifter clearance.


This is how everything fits. A leather boot will cover the base of the shift handle and the hole in the plate. The plate is a 1956-í62 Corvette part that I found on eBay. The white dust is residue from cutting the fibreglas gearbox tunnel.


Got a line on a source for the switches that Iíll need. Iíll order them tomorrow.


1st October

Ordered the switches.


2nd October

PJís power steering rack has been leaking; so since The Beastís rack has not been giving any problems I have decided to switch them. Today I removed the ďPow-A-RackĒ unit from The Beast. Jennyís rack will be replaced with The Beastís when her radiator gets removed in preparation for the engine/gearbox transplant.


I ordered a new flywheel from


 3rd October

Not much happening. Spent several hours trying to remove the speedometer from The Beast. So far the rust is winning. Pirate Jenny goes into the body shop to get her right rear corner repaired on Monday. Should take about a week.


5th October

Took PJ to the body shop. They say she'll be done Friday.


6th October

Flywheel arrived.


9th October

The flywheel and clutch are installed. Misc. bolts have been tightened. PJ is back from the body shop and just waiting until after Jensen Nationals West 2009 are over. Then it's pretty much up to the weather! Went to the National Auto Museum (The Harrah Collection) with the other Jensen owners and had an enjoyable evening.


10th October

Spent the day with the other Jensenites in Carson City and Virginia City. We spent a lot of time admiring each other's cars.


11th October

Started work on PJ. Put her front up on jackstands and drained the oil. Disconnected the battery and some of the linkages. Mostly just cleaned up the driveway and rearranged cars.


12th October

Put drain plug back in oil sump (I forgot to do that once!) Drained coolant. Started dismantling the interior. Tagged wires and removed switches from the switch panel. Also tagged wires and removed the JVC GPS unit. Have the "brain" of the Gear Vendors Overdrive (GVO) disconnected and removed along with most of its wiring, switches, and lights. Marked the gearbox tunnel for cutting and started that. It started getting dark and cold, so called it a day and went for dinner.


13th October

It's raining in Reno. Jenny's in the driveway. No work getting done.


14th October

The rain stopped. Pulled propshaft. Pulled gearbox crossmember and lowered the rear end of the gearbox and O/D. Drained as much atf as would drain out of the O/D's drain hole. Disconnected ground cables, motormounts, alternator cables, ignition, and exhaust pipes. Also removed the rest of the GVO wiring and ancillaries and stowed them in a separate box with all the GVO parts.


15th October

Went to Summit Racing and bought the clutch pedal and master cylinder; also bought two fender covers (on a British car would they be 'wing protectors'?) to protect Pirate Jenny's nice paint whilst moving engines and gearboxes in and out. Removed PJ's bonnet and placed it carefully on The Beast for storage (The Beast's bonnet is still removed). With bonnet removed,  I proceeded to remove PJ's radiator -- not as simple as removing The Beast's radiator was. Discovered that SPs have an oil cooler for the power steering fluid! Got the radiator out and it has suffered a bit of bending from when PJ slipped off the jack when I was working on her oil pump. It is still functional, but I really ought to have it repaired. Unfortunately The Beast's radiator will not fit PJ.

Bent radiator


Removed the power steering pump, the alternator, the water pump, belts, and crankshaft pulley. I dismounted the air-conditioning compressor but left the hoses connected -- hopefully I can remove and replace the engines without having to unseal the A/C system as it is actually working well now and not leaking! I removed PJ's steering rack and will replace it with the rack from The Beast after the engine and gearbox swap is finished. The Six-Pack inlet manifold is unbolted and ready to lift out. Sunlight was fading fast, so I called it a day.


16th October

Removed PJ's engine and gearbox today, which was more difficult than doing the same on The Beast -- partly due to trying to be careful not to damage her paint and partly due to having the GVO in place.

Doesn't sound like much, but we are "plumb tuckered out." With the daylight tomorrow comes trying to clean up PJ's engine compartment, repairing minor breakages, and installing the clutch pedal and its master cylinder.

Pirate Jenny's engine, gearbox, and Gear Vendors Overdrive.


17th October

Pirate Jenny's empty engine bay.


A very frustrating day. Got into PJ's engine bay and did some rough clean-up. Then started on the clutch pedal problem. 'Problem' is exactly the correct word at this point. The space I had spotted as a location for the clutch master cylinder is not at all usable. So I am considering removing the brake pedal, master cylinder, and power booster to see what space there actually is that may be useful. All I really did today is track grease into the house. Rather down-in-the-dumps right now.


19th October

Spent yesterday pondering how to resolve the clutch-pedal dilemma and may have found a solution. Today I exchanged the pedal and master cylinder set at Summit Racing for a different set that is described as a "floor-mount" pedal and a remote-reservoir master cylinder. The pedal is shorter than the previous one, will mount to the firewall and the overhead just as well as to the floor, and should fit reasonably well. The master cylinder will mount in the space behind the left-side wheel well stone guard (the rear one) and so a remote reservoir will make things more serviceable. The weather was mostly cold and rainy today, but is supposed to be warmer and dry tomorrow, so I'll try fitting the new parts then.


21st October

Spent yesterday and today getting the clutch pedal bracket to fit. Finally succeeded. Two spacers are needed to make the pedal and master cylinder fit square to the firewall. Having them made at Proto-Fab. Figured out how to plumb the throwout bearing's hydraulic fittings to the outside of the bellhousing -- just need to get a couple of fittings to make it work. As one of our lesser-loved Presidents once said: "There is light at the end of the tunnel." I just hope it's not an oncoming train!


28th October

Waiting on money to pick up the clutch pedal bracket spacers. Settled on a location for the throttle pedal today. Had to vary a little from where I first was going to put it. It will require mounting the pedal at an angle so as to make it comfortable to use. Right now I'll just use makeshift spacers front and rear to get the angle I want and I'll see how that works on the road. If it's good I'll make an angled mount to give me the same angle. It's getting cold earlier in the day now (we had a light dusting of snow yesterday) -- I knocked off at 17:00 today because I was getting cold. Tomorrow we plan to put the engine and gearbox in; "That is if the weather are good."


29th October

Well, "The weather were good (enough)."

We got The Beast's engine and the A-833 gearbox shoehorned into PJ today. 'Shoehorned' is the right word! Would have been an easier job with a larger engine hoist that had a longer crane arm, but we got the job done. Nothing's bolted down yet and the shifter and shift rods are not installed -- they had to be removed to get the engine/gearbox assembly to go in. Tomorrow things get bolted down and the shifter gets installed.


31st October

Happy Samhain (or Hallowe'en, if you prefer).

Making progress. Jenny's engine, gearbox, exhaust system, and propshaft are all securely fastened in place. Fuel lines have been repaired and re-routed so as not to be so close to the exhaust system. The shifter is a bit of a Chinese puzzle to install, but it fits in place quite nicely. I have replaced her rack (her steering rack, oh you of dirty mind) with the rack out of The Beast; everything fits. Tomorrow I'll start putting the ancillary equipment back on the engine and hooking up that rat's nest of wiring! A lot has been done today, but nothing really to photograph.


1st November

Did a lot of work, but not much to show for it. Installed the water pump and then the alternator, power-steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor, and their belts. Enlarged the two mounting holes on the clutch master cylinder so that it can rotate a bit away from the power brake booster. Located a good site for the clutch master cylinder reservoir.


3rd November

The radiator shop called and they have inspected, straightened, and flushed the radiator. I'll pick it up tomorrow.

I have finished mounting the clutch pedal, master cylinder, and reservoir. It's all hooked up and ready to bleed -- also tomorrow.

All that's left is installing the throttle pedal and hooking up all the wires, hoses, and linkages.


4th November

Picked up the radiator and installed it. Bled the clutch. The clutch works. Put nearly 4 US quarts of Mobil1 synthetic gear oil in the transmission. All that's left to build is the throttle pedal mounting. Weather permitting I think there's a good chance she'll run tomorrow!


5th November

Not all went as planned on this Guy Fawkes Day but I did accomplish a lot. The throttle pedal is still to be installed, but I did get all the fluids in place, got the fans installed, mounted the throttle and cruise control brackets, and have most (probably not all) the underbonnet wiring connected. I cranked her over with the coil wire disconnected until I saw a little deflection on the oil pressure gauge then checked levels again. Then I reconnected the coil wire. I still seem to have a wire that's not connected as she fires up but dies as soon as I release the starter. I told you the wiring was probably not complete. Should be easy enough to sort. Tomorrow.


6th November

Not quite. Ignition circuit still has an elusive bug, but I believe I have deduced how to squash it once and for all! The steering shaft still needs some coaxing to go in. The brake master cylinder reservoirs need to be re-installed. Do those things and I think she will be drivable -- not finished, but drivable.


7th November

Got the steering gear in. Got the ignition fixed. Got her started up -- had to change the timing quite a bit. Went to go for a drive and found that the clutch hydraulics are not working now and they are leaking. Check it out tomorrow. [sigh]


8th November

Success today! The clutch problem was just a loose hose connection that was easily fixed. Pirate Jenny runs again! She's smoky, loud, and drafty, but she runs. I think the smoke is just from fluids that were spilled and are now burning off. She'll get quieter and less drafty when her panels are put back on. However, the Prince of Darkness is having a last word; there is a bug in the electrics that causes fuse to the temp and fuel gauges and the reversing lights to keep blowing. Check it out tomorrow.


9th November

Still looking for that electrical bug.


10th November

Happy Birthday to Marines everywhere!

Found that bug and smashed it!

Apparently the "smoke" was coolant leaking onto hot surfaces and burning off. I'll need to pull the fan shroud off tomorrow and see where the leak is. I know it is a significant leak! Have to sort out why the turn signals aren't working -- off to study the circuit diagramme.


11th November

Thanks to all you veterans -- you know who you are -- on this 91st anniversary of the end of World War I, now known as Veterans Day

Sorted the turn signal problem -- a switch was connected wrongly. All lights work properly now. Off to pull the fan shroud and fans in order to inspect the radiator.


13th November

Well, the radiator was well and truly knackered! Fortunately it was repairable at not TOO much expense. Got it back from the radiator shop this morning and re-installed it and the fans, Everything worked OK!!! Pirate Jenny is drivable -- not pretty yet, but drivable. The throttle pedal and cable still need a bit of work to make it comfortable to drive. Photos will be forthcoming when I get all the panels back in place and the bonnet back on.


14th November

Did a bit of adjusting of the shift linkage. Improving the throttle pedal will probably have to wait until next month, but there is a plan in mind. Took a couple of photos of the pedals and how the clutch pedal is mounted as well as an overall interior view without the trim panels on.





That's it for now.


18th November

Received one of the switches today. Hopefully the rest are on their way.


19th November

Received 17 switches today -- only two to go.

Re-installed Jenny's Bonnet. Changed her gear lube to Pennzoil Synchromesh Transmission Fluid which made downshifts a bit easier. Installed a new throttle cable (longer) which also helped drivability.  All that's left are the new console panels and having a throttle pedal mounting base made.


11th February 2010

Been driving PJ.  She's running pretty well and the bugs are getting shaken out.


This is how she looks right now.  The Pioneer AVIC Z2 is in place but not yet wired up. The panels are almost ready for veneering, but still need a final bit of machining to make them interlock properly and fit flush together where they meet.


14th June

All finished but the veneering.  I changed the clutch from using a hydraulic throwout bearing (a neat installation, but very hard to service) to an external slave cylinder using the stock MoPar type throwout bearing and clutch fork.  Not quite so neat, but MUCH easier to service and adjust.


This is how she looks now. Yes, there is a reason that the "wood veneer" looks so cheesy -- it's really just self-stick shelf paper that I slapped on to get an idea of how it will look when finished.



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