Nobody Wanted The Most Futuristic And Confusing Car Of The 1990s

The 1990s can be considered to be the start of the “modern” era of automotive design and technology: we get true aerodynamic-based design, extensive use of computers and electronics, and most of the features we take for granted today. The 1990s also saw the creation of what may be the most aggressively futuristic-looking car attempted in the 1990s, the Jensen One. They only made two, because that’s pretty much all anyone wanted.

The Jensen One is a confusing car to research because it’s not a Jensen as we usually know them—Jensen Interceptors or Jensen-Healeys or anything like that. It’s not related to the British Jensen company at all.

Instead, it’s named after Danish designer Jacob Jensen who worked with noted watch designer Max René to develop the car, which was based on a Citroën XM.

The XM was already a pretty futuristic-looking car, but I guess that wasn’t enough for René, who seems to have been the one to suggest re-designing the car to Jensen, as Jensen makes clear in this quote:

“When Max Rene suggested re-designing an existing automobile into a unique automobile I couldn’t resist the temptation to give it a shot.”

What they ended up doing was bold and definitely futuristic-feeling, but overall pretty strange. They took the top-spec XM, the 3-litre V6 one that made a very decent 177 horsepower, and re-worked the body—well, really, the fenders—in an absurdly overkill combination of Kevlar and carbon fibre to hide the wheels under some really bulbous wheel skirts.

The result was pretty weird, as you can see in this nice long video about the car:


It looks kind of sleek from some angles, like this promotional shot:

... but when you actually see it in action in the video, the actual sense of how narrow the expanded wheel skirts make the track look underneath is sort of disquieting:

It’s like it’s wearing a costume.

They didn’t skimp on the electronics, though, with each of the four seats having its own position memory and several monochrome dot-matrix text displays, including this flip-down control panel screen that looks like it was lifted from a Star Trek: The Next Generation set of the control panel of a Ferengi shuttle:

One site also mentions the car had a “computer controlled distance meter, front and back,” which may have been some sort of early version of adaptive cruise control? It’s not terribly clear.

At twice the cost of a standard, already pretty spaceship-looking Citroën XM, these things never really caught on. In fact, only two were built and the car remained a strange and mostly unwanted concept.

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