Richard Hollingum explains why the 1952 Jowett Jupiter is such a big deal to Lorna…
Cars are really quite boring things. Functional boxes of computers and mechanics to get us from A to B. However there are those who like to make them a tad more individual, a bit more personal, and this usually starts with a personalised number plate.
For a very small number of people – well, one at least – what better way to make the car personalised all over than to get one that has the same name as you? A bit of a bore if your name happens to be Ford I know, however if your name is Jowett there is only one make you can aim for.
Lorna Jowett, Reader in Television Studies at the University of Northampton knew what she wanted and five years ago took delivery of a 1952 Jowett Jupiter.
Jowett made cars and some light commercial vehicles in Bradford from 1906 to 1954. The two main post-Second World War models were the Jupiter and the Javelin. Their design was quite innovative for the period. Most manufacturers were still producing cars to pre-war design whilst Jowett were looking to the future, with a teardrop body shape for the Javelin and a sleek low and curvy profile for the sporty Jupiter.
Lorna’s car left the factory on the 9th of July 1952, delivered to their agents in Brighton and bought by AR Sandibanks of Edinburgh. In May of the following year it was entered in the RSAC International Rally and was one of many cars that failed to finish the Rest and Be Thankful Hill Climb in Glen Croe, Argyll.
Originally red with beige upholstery the car was restored between 1996 and 2002. Now a glittering silver with red leather seating it looks as good as new. The engine, a 4-cylinder boxer, was rebuilt to run on unleaded fuel. It is not only the overall picture that fascinates and beguiles, the detail is just as important, perhaps even more so. The quality of the chrome work is exceptional and a good target for photographers, the curves of a headlamp or a hub cap creating interesting and distorted images.
Fancy owning your own? Well, the first thing is to find one. Lorna waited four years to find the one she wanted and as there were less than a 1000 built, there were not than many in the first place. A quick look on the Internet and you will soon see that you need to have about £20,000 or more available. They might be found cheaper but that will mean more to be spent on restoration. Of course you could go for a more specialist version – I see that carandclassic.co.uk are advertising a 1952 ex-works Jowett Jupiter R1, in a racing body, for sale at £245,000.
Alternatively, you can just go along to places where they congregate. This is what I did as the Midland division of the Jowett Owners Club (the oldest single make owners club in the country) met at Foxton Locks on April 22nd. This was Drive It Day, a day organised by the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, that aims to raise awareness of the extent of the classic vehicle movement in the UK. In addition to the Jowett Jupiters and Javelins gathered by the canal were a collection of Triumph TRs, from a TR3 to a TR6, so plenty to look at.
Lorna says that these sort of events are good ways of showing your car and engaging people in our industrial heritage. However, perhaps not always. Even in this age of supposed equality, cars and particularly classic cars seem to the province of men – as owners and as enthusiasts. Whilst that might stay that way for some time, we should not be surprised to find women interested and owning such vehicles. And we should not be surprised if the owner, irrespective of gender, can tell of the mechanical detail of the car.
At an NEC Classic Car show a few years ago, Lorna found the gender divide wider than one might hope “I stopped counting the number of men who approached the stand, found no other man available and either visibly decided not to speak to me, spoke to me only until a man became available, or found themselves incapable of speaking to me as though I were another human being. Several were visibly shocked when I said I owned the Jupiter, or when I pointed something out about its engine.”
On the drive home in my boxy, functional car, I contemplated how the style and the beauty of cars such as the Jupiter was far superior to that generally found these days. We may be thankful for power steering, synchromesh gears and electronic handbrakes, not forgetting seat belts and airbags, but sometimes there is a need to get back to a time when you had to control a car, you worked at driving but it gave you an immense amount of pleasure. Oh well. Now I just look.
Technical Detail (from Autocar December 1950)
Chassis: Tubular Chrome-Molydenum steel
Engine: Jopwett designed 1,486cc water-cooled flat four ohv
62bhp at 4,500 rpm
0-50mph in 13 seconds
Top speed: 90mph