Perhaps the most ambitious and far-reaching Retropower project to date, Project Connery sees us charged with ‘restomodifying’ one of the undoubted unsung heroes of the British GT breed, the Jensen CV8. Doomed to forever live in the immense shadow cast by its younger sibling, the Interceptor, the CV8 was nevertheless a striking looking car, and a fast one to boot, so much so that it was reckoned to be the fastest four-seater money could buy upon the time of its launch back in 1962.
The CV8’s striking looks, luxuriously appointed interior and electrifying performance (the latter courtesy of Chrysler big-block propulsion) ensured that it created one heck of a stir at the time of its debut, and for a brief while it was the darling of the jet-set age. A handful of celebrities even handed over considerable sums of their own hard earned for the privilege of owning a CV8, with a certain Scottish actor with a penchant for fast cars and well-shaken Martinis undoubtedly the best known.
The original Bond’s love for the CV8 provided the inspiration for the name of our own Jensen restomod, hence the Project Connery moniker. Whether or not the late, great Sir Sean would have approved of all that we have in store for the Retropower build that bears his name is up for debate, though what is certain is that the build promises to push the limits of what’s expected of a modified classic of this nature, both in terms of scope and performance.
As for the example you see before you, it actually counts as a Series 3 CV8 and could well be among the last built before Jensen switched to Interceptor production in 1966. It arrived at Retropower at the beginning of November 2020 having been unearthed from a barn, making it a genuine, bone fide barn-find of the sort the internet is so partial to these days.
Its extended lay-up amongst the haybales has ensured that the car has remained complete, though to call it solid would be to overstate things somewhat. Our subsequent strip-down revealed plenty of accident damage to various portions of the bodyshell, not to mention deeply suspect repair efforts, presumably carried out at a time in the CV8’s life when it simply wasn’t worth a great deal.
The manner in which the original bodyshell was attached to the chassis also left much to be desired, with a weird and decidedly ‘hotchpotch’ assortment of washers, fixings and fittings repurposed as spacers, presumably by Jensen when they first built the car. As such all of early work on the car was conducted with the CV8 mounted atop our Cellete jig to ensure that the project remains dimensionally correct moving forward, a crucial step given how much work we’ve since put into altering the bodywork, suspension and axle mountings.
As for the bodyshell, it has been separated from the chassis so that its mounting faces can be rebuilt, or in many cases modified to better suit our plans moving forward. We’ve also chopped and widened the rear ‘haunches,’ modified the front and rear valances, the grille aperture and window surrounds, the latter so that front and rear panes will now sit flush with the bodywork. Finally, we’ve modified the sunroof aperture so that it will eventually be able to accommodate a one-piece glass panel, a pane we’re having made for this very purpose by a specialist manufacturer in Belgium.
The revisions outlined above have an undeniably crude sound about them, but don’t worry, we’ve not taken leave of our senses entirely. Our plan is to use this bodyshell as a canvass for our modifications before using it to take a new mould, one with all our visual tweaks and stylistic improvements carried over from the sacrificial original. The eventual shell, the one we aim to end up with once all’s said and done, will also be rendered in carbon fibre. The original will not have ‘died’ in vain.
Power for Project Connery will come from an LSA, the supercharged 6.3l version of GM’s long-standing series of crate engines, good for approximately 600bhp and near enough double that of the most powerful CV8 offered by Jensen in period. We’ve therefore made the decision to overhaul the original suspension and associated running gear to make it better able to cope. To this end we’ve modified both the front and rear suspension assemblies, the former to accept Interceptor components and the rear to accommodate the independently sprung, inboard disc-shod ‘back-end’ from a late-nineties Jaguar XJ.
At the time of writing Project Connery is at a crucial phase of its development having recently returned from KS Composites, which in turn has left the way clear for us to press ahead with the dry build phase with earnest. This portion of the build has seen Bobby striving to locate all manner of ancillaries, pumps and cooling systems within the confines of the CV8’s engine bay, a task complicated by the presence of the aforementioned LSA engine and suprcharger.
This project as exciting as it is ambitious, and as such we can’t wait to share our progress with you as it progresses over the course of 2022. Don’t forget to follow our YouTube channel to keep up to speed with Project Connery via our weekly video series, Retropower Uncut.