The First Jowett Car
Registered in 1906
The Jowett Car Club of New Zealand
The Jowett Car Club of New Zealand was formed in 1962 to provide
fellowship amongst owners of Jowett Cars and those interested in the
marque, and to provide them with a forum for the interchange of
information. The Club encourages owners to take a pride in their
vehicles, assists owners with servicing and maintenance and supplies
spare parts. The Club now owns an ever increasing supply of spare
parts and today Jowetts are better served for spares than many other
popular makes of more recent manufacture. A Bi-Monthly Magazine is
produced to keep members throughout the country involved and in touch
with the many activities of the club.
History of Jowett Cars
The first Jowett Car was developed
in 1904, it had a two cylinder 6.4 HP horizontally opposed engine and
was first registered and taxed in 1906. Production did not start in
earnest however until 1910, at this stage the Jowett Light-Car weighed
only 6 cwt. By 1921 the Jowett engine had been increased in size to 7
HP and for many years the Jowett brothers, William and Ben, restricted
production to only 25 cars per week in an attempt to remain a small
family business. However, by the mid twenties production had reached
almost 100 cars per week, a level at which it remained until the
Company was formed in 1935. In 1920 only a short two cylinder with
optional dickey seat was produced but throughout the twenties the
range was considerably extended. In 1926 two standard 7 HP Jowetts
crossed the uncrossable wastelands of Africa from the Atlantic Coast
to the Red Sea. This journey had never before been attempted, a
distance of 3,800 miles, but the little 7 HP Jowett came out
triumphant covering the distance in sixty days, 1,600 miles of this
journey was done pulling trailers of fuel.
1946 saw the true successor of the pre war vehicle appear, the 8 HP
Bradford 10 cwt Van. Still with a flat twin water cooled motor but now
with a sturdier frame and more modern equipment. The Bradford quietly
got into production and offered economy, long life and simplicity to
the thousands of tradesmen whom the war had deprived of transport.
Later in the year the Bradford Utility and Lorry appeared. Bradfords
were exported all over the world and approximately 43,000 were
produced between 1946 and 1953. The horizontally opposed two cylinder
engine holds a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the longest
production of any engine, from 1910 to 1953.
During the latter war years it was decided that it would be unwise
to go back to the pre war model of car so staff were engaged, amongst
war time duties, to design an entirely new and revolutionary car. Thus
the Javelin prototype arrived and was modified and remodified until in
1947 they were launched and received enthusiastically by motor
distributors and dealers all over the world. The Javelin has a 1½
litre flat four engine of 1485 cc. developing 50 HP, top speed was 80
mph. Seating capacity for six, petrol consumption, streamlined
appearance, road holding and performance made the Javelin a very
advanced car for its time. The Javelin was most successful in
international competitions winning its class of the Monte Carlo Rally
in 1949 and the same year winning the 2 litre touring class in the 24
hour Belgian Grand Prix at Spa. By 1953 approximately 23,000 Javelins
had been produced.
Due to the success of the Javelin it was decided to manufacture a
high performance sports car. By 1950 the Jupiter was in production,
using mainly the mechanics of the Javelin and increasing the engine
size to 60 HP it was capable of 90 mph, cruising comfortably at 70
mph. Built on a tubular steel chassis with a body made of aluminium it
was quite a heavy car at 18 cwt, nevertheless it had exceptional
competition success, notably winning the Le Mans 24 hour Grand Prix 1½
litre class in 1950, 1951 and 1952 also taking 1st place in
the 1½ litre class at the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally. Approximately 960
were made between 1950 and 1953.
1954 saw the demise of the company although new models were in the
pipeline and a few prototypes made. The factory was sold to
International Harvesters and over 100 staff moved with a vast stock of
spares to carry on a spares service until 1963.
Jowett produced the
first Scott motorcycles: here's a picture of a Jowett Scott:
And here's a fine
example of a slightly later model:
Owned by Mr Peter Cooper of Auckland, who kindly supplied the
In 2006 we celebrated 100 years
since the first Jowett Car was registered and put on the road.
The two Jowett brothers, William and Benjamin, with
their sister, Ruth,
formed the Jowett Motor Manufacturing Company with capital of £90
split into equal shares.
Their main work was building replacement engines for other cars.
After many experiments they produced a 55° v twin as replacement for
6hp Dedion and Aster engine – theirs was much smoother running – quite
an accomplishment in those days!
Arthur Lamb looked after the clerical side of the business, and bought
Ruth’s share for £60 –
the business was now valued at £180
The first 4 stroke horizontally opposed 2
cylinder engine was built and a car with a smooth running engine was a
possibility. Many experiments followed with different drives.
Eventually the AK 494 was born. 6’ wheelbase,
tiller steering 815cc horizontally opposed engine with the capability
of 2750rpm, driving at up to 48 mph. This car then underwent 4years
and 25,000 miles of trials and refinement
Jowett Motor Manufacturing Co started building
Production started on 48 cars in batches of 12 over the next 6 years.
The first car went sight unseen to South
Africa. An Englishman living in Cape Town advertised nationally. He
wished to purchase a car that could climb Table Mountain in one clean
ascent. He challenged a manufacturer to supply on a sale or return
basis. The first production Jowett was supplied on this basis and
never was returned!!
Resistance was being felt to the meagre RAC
rating of 6.4hp for sales so
the Jowett was advertised at 8hp(RAC) and sold well with no changes! A
waiting list of one year developed and business went well.
The final car number 1648 or the last of 48
produced in 1916 was sold
to a doctor in NZ, and is the earliest Jowett in NZ – still in
waiting to be restored.
Then came WW1 and War Work
After the cessation of 24 hour war work Jowetts
lacked any volume of work but couldn’t shed staff so they made a loss
for 1919. On 30th June Jowett Cars Ltd was registered with
£30,000 of shares of which £1500 was paid up equally between the
three. About this time a disused quarry at 5 Lane Ends was purchased
for £100 and the Bradford City Corporation paid for it with tipping
A newly built factory was moved into by January
1920. The first car rolled out by April. By late 1920 a new road
traffic act meant that by increasing bore and capacity to 907cc an RAC
rating of 7.04 hp meant £7 road tax per year. So the 6.4hp became 8 hp
and now 7 hp
Jowett Car Clubs formed and the “Southern Jowett Car Club” is now the
“Jowett Car Club” of today
The second car to reach NZ shores was
this 1924 Jowett 7 here today!!!
Two trips across Africa – in
response to challenges to British Motor Car Manufacturing Companies.
The First 1770 miles through Kenya and Uganda.
The Second across Africa 3800 miles from Lagos to Red Sea in 60 days
over mostly no roads averaging 30mpg + 77 miles/day.
changes to engine camshaft and clutch and 4 wheel brakes introduced.
Rubberised bushes on suspension points. "Silent
Bloc" bushes. And "Lay rub" couplings on drive shaft.
4 cylinder engine introduced in “Jason” and
“Jupiter models. Very raked radiator and twin carburettors.
Radiator rakes lessoned and back to single carburettor on 10hp 4
cylinder engine and 8hp 2 cylinder engine.
Jowett by now a public company. Both Jowett brothers
had retired, but still had majority shares.
Finally a synchromesh gearbox!
WW 2 and War Work
Gerald Palmer headhunted from MG. The start of
CA Bradford produced –
a van with the famous 2 cylinder engine designed in 1906
Javelin in production
Gerald Palmer leaves for MG May 1949. October London motor show ”Earls
Court” Jupiter chassis on display
March 2 Jupiters ready -One for USA April show.
3rd Jupiter entered for Le Mans in June Finished 16th overall. 1st
1500cc class and broke Aston Martins 1937 record with 75.8 mph
average. First of 3 consecutive class wins.
More rally and racing successes for Javelin and
Jupiter. Best production figures for Javelin. Early 1951 gearbox built
‘in-house’. April 1951 gear steel EN36 became unavailable due to
Korean war. Alternative steel caused major problems and gearboxes
became a problem.
Gearboxes became a ‘big’ problem but various other
shortcomings didn’t help.
In May delivery was halted briefly, for more gearbox experiments.
Sales of Javelin were dropping off badly. Christmas 1952 200+ bodies
stockpiled around stores and roads. Briggs asked to stop body supply
temporarily in Dec 1952.
Start up negotiations with Briggs stall. New commercial
vehicle range tested, but not to be put into production. No new
Bradford CD! Trading improved and backlog of cars sold, and 1953 saw
profit of £25,000 and 1954 of £74,000
In July employees were told the factory and most jobs
and machines would be with International Harvester from October. Last
Jowett left Idle on Nov 4th 1954, a Jupiter
Jowett Cars Ltd sold to Blackburn Aircraft. No debts
and shareholders paid out pound for pound!!!! Jowetts promised to
supply parts and service till Dec 1963, which it did at Howden Clough
Jowett Car Club of Australia formed.
Blackburn Aircraft became part of Hawker Siddley Group.
Jowett Car Club of New Zealand formed!!!!
Jowett finally closed and 30 tons of parts sold at
scrap prices to 5Star Motors Auckland.
For the last 40 years clubs in UK Aust, NZ USA, & Denmark, have kept
spares and the Jowett flag flying!!!!!
Prepared by Neil
Moore of Jowett Car Club of NZ
Jowett Assembly in New Zealand
Webster's great new book,
Assembly - New Zealand Car Production 1921-98
(Auckland: Reed Books, 2002), has an interesting
account of Jowett car assembly in New Zealand on page 59. Here's the
story: "In 1948, Arthur Turner and his adopted sons Noel (who had
trained as a mechanic) and Harry started assembling Bradfords for the
north in central Auckland - on the third floor of a building in Greys
Avenue (now Aotea Square) not far from Campbell Motors' new Queen
Street showroom. They made good money: commercials were very scarce,
and bodying them upped the profit margin considerably.
Vernon, Arthur Turner's nephew, remembers the Bradford assembly
process when he was a schoolboy: 'The crates were unpacked on the
street at dawn and then the components were carried into the basement,
loaded onto a massive car lift as big as a room, and they were taken
up to the third floor and assembled. Then the finished Bradford
commercials were taken down on the same lift, it was that big. The
lift just happened to be there - it wasn't purpose built.'
"Assembly shifted in 1951 to Otahuhu, on the corner of Great South
Road and Fort Richard Road. Some estimates put the total number of
cars assembled by the Turners at 10,000 Bradford commercials and 2000
Jowett Javelin and Jupiter cars, although these figures seem very
the English parent company, Jowett Motor Manufacturing Company, slowed
production right down due in part to Ford acquiring Briggs Motor
Bodies - Briggs had built the striking Javelin saloon bodies for the
Jowett brothers. In 1953 Arthur and Noel Turner visited the Jowetts,
who still had their engine and chassis factory, in the hope of getting
parts to use with bodies from another source, but the brothers were
hard to motivate. [The Turners] criticised the English for being
difficult and slow and not wanting to get going.
England the Turners went to Germany to look at the Goliath factory,
knowing full well that commercials were what had set them up and
wanting to continue the tradition. The idea was, could Goliath
commercial bodies be made to fit the Jowett chassis and engines? A
Goliath/Jowett hybrid vehicle would be relatively easy for the
Turners' staff to service and maintain, as these early Volkswagens had
flat-four engines similar in layout to the Jowett, though air-cooled.
plan was to have the Goliath bodies shipped to Britain, where they
would be matched with Jowett engines and transmissions and on-shipped
to New Zealand. But the Turners had no luck persuading the Jowett
brothers, who soon ceased all car building. [Turners' then began to
assemble Volkswagens from CKD packs instead of the Jowett vehicles.]"
Mark Webster's fascinating and
well-illustrated book is available from major booksellers, or direct
from the publishers, Reed Publishing (NZ) Ltd, 39 Rawene Rd,
Birkenhead, Auckland NZ. Its ISBN is 0 7900 0846 7. Highly
something a little odd about this account. Not only are the
production figures too high, but it says that the Turners dealt with
the Jowett Brothers, who had not been actively involved in the running
of the company for some years. An ex-employee's reminiscences,
perhaps, confused by the passage of time? - Alex Davidson