Jowett Car Club of New Zealand (Inc)







About NZ JCC and Jowetts


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.

The 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 1 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 1 litre class in 1950, 1951 and 1952 also taking 1st place in the 1 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 Motorcycles!

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 photos.

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 cars!!
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 Christchurch
waiting to be restored.

Then came WW1 and War Work 1916-Nov 1918

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 rights.
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.

Minor 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 the Javelin
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 Bradford.
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

Mark 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.

"Robin 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 high....

"In 1952 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.

"From 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.

"The 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 recommended!

Note: there's 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


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