The History of Jowett Cars
William and Benjamin Jowett founded their small engineering works in Bradford at the turn of the century. It was not until 1906 however that the first Jowett car appeared, with production limited to close friends and family until full production commenced in 1910.
The two-cylinder horizontally opposed 6.48 hp engined car quickly gained a reputation for unashamed Yorkshire ruggedness and amazing hill climbing ability. The "little engine with the big pull" had arrived and remained in production until 1954 in the Bradford range.
The first World War resulted in the company concentrating on munitions so it was not until 1919 that the 7hp engine was introduced. This powered the Short Two with Dickey seat, acknowledged as the lightest and most economical car of that time on the roads. Road fund tax was £7 per annum and production was 25 cars per week.
In 1926 two standard 7hp Jowetts pulling trailers crossed Africa from West Coast to Red Sea, a distance of 3800 miles in less than two months. There were virtually no roads in those days.
The angular design of the Twenties gave way to the flowing lines of the Thirties and by the middle of this period the Kestrel saloon was well established. In 1936 a four-cylinder 10 HP engine was introduced (Jason and Jupiter) while in 1937 the 7 was enlarged to 8 and rationalisation meant one body style for the Eight and 10 the enabling Jowett to compete with a major companies.
Once again war checked the Jowett progression but during the latter part Gerald Palmer (also of MG fame) worked on the design and development of the famous Javelin and its 1.5 litre flat-four power unit. Production commenced in 1948 and the Javelin became the first completely new model to be produced in England after the war. The car immediately hit the headlines and gained a reputation with its class win in the Monte Carlo rally of 1949.
The Jupiter sports car was subsequently produced in 1950 and this achieved immediate acclaim with three consecutive class wins at Le Mans.
In 1953 the company started to run into difficulties and despite developments of two promising vehicles; the C D Bradford and the R4 Jupiter (glass fibre body) which were at prototype stage, the Jowett car company ceased production in 1954.
So ended a company who had stuck to horizontally opposed and advanced engines throughout its history. The name of Jowett however continues and thrives through the Jowett Car Club. Its sporting heritage is the basis of many national and international competitions with cars from the vintage period to the latest Jupiters being entered.
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