Wait and See.
In 1925 Frank Gray a former MP for Oxford issued a challenge to the motor manufacturers of Britain. He said that they were apathetic and their cars were unsuitable for all terrains as they claimed. He said he would buy two cars from any maker and drive them across Africa west to east. He would drive them at his own expense and if he succeeded in reaching Khartoum their purchase price would be refunded.
Jowett Cars Ltd. of Bradford were the only company to accept his challenge. Two standard 7h.p. long chassis cars were supplied, a lorry platform installed in place of the dickey seat and tow bars fitted to enable a small two wheeler Eccies trailer to be towed to carry petrol, water, and other supplies. Gray enlisted the assistance of Jack Sawyer a landowning neighbour, who would be mechanic and be in charge of provisions. Neither car was run in when they arrived at Lagos.
During a press conference prior to the cars being exported a reporter asked Benjamin Jowett “Do you really think these cars have a chance of crossing Africa?” to which he replied pausing briefly “Wait and See”.
It must be remembered that this journey had never previously been attempted on any kind of mechanical transport and it is doubtful if it had ever been accomplished by any living person at that time. All fuel, water and food would be carried with them. The terrain was almost devoid of roads and most of the route was desert. They set out from the west coast of Africa on March 16th 1926. The journey too long to tell here, covered a distance of 3,800 miles in 60 days, of which 11 days were spent resting, a truly amazing feat, bearing in mind the heat and the terrain and the very basic transport. The overall petrol consumption was in excess of 30mpg. After the completion of the journey a Civic Reception was held in Bradford, Gray and Sawyer were presented with the “Wait and See” trophies. Much was made of this epic journey by the Jowett Company and they used it to promote their vehicles by sending the two cars on a nationwide tour of Jowett agents.
The trophies now form part of the memorabilia owned by the Jowett Car Club.
Thanks to Edmund Nankivell - The Complete Jowett History
The Jowett Car Club Library.
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