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Manufacturers / U.K. / Jowett


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Jowett vehicles


1900


The company was founded by the brothers Benjamin and William Jowett who started in the cycle business and went on to make V-twin engines for driving machinery; some found their way locally into other makes of cars as replacements. In 1904 they became the Jowett Motor Manufacturing Company based in Back Burlington Street, Bradford. They designed their first car in 1906 but as their little workshop was fully occupied in general engineering activities, experiments with different engine configurations, and making the first six Scott motor cycles, it did not go into production until 1910. This car used an 816 cc flat twin water-cooled engine and three-speed gearbox with tiller steering. The body was a lightweight open two seater. Twelve vehicles were made before an improved version with wheel steering was launched in 1913 and a further 36 were made before the outbreak of the First World War when the factory was turned over to munitions manufacture. Two tiller steerers still survive.


1920


After the war the company moved to the Springfield Works, Bradford Road, Idle, outside Bradford, and they changed the company name to Jowett Cars Ltd. Car making started at the new factory in 1920. The first vehicle was the Jowett Seven using an enlarged version of the pre-war flat twin first to 831 cc and then to 907 cc in 1921. The engine developed its maximum torque at low revs and was soon famed for its pulling power, reliability and economy. Commercial vehicles based on the car chassis were also built from 1922 and became an increasingly important part of the company's output. Jowett first exhibited at the London Motor Show in 1921 and gradually broke out of their previous local market. In 1923 coil ignition and electric starting were added and the four-seater "Long Four" was introduced in tourer form priced from 245 followed in 1925 by a closed saloon model, the previous short-chassis two-seater continuing in production. In 1929, the engine received removable cylinder heads to ease maintenance and braking was on all four wheels. Production was briefly suspended in September 1931 when fire swept through the works.


1930


1934 saw the launch of the Jowett Kestrel with four speed gearbox and in 1935 there was the oddly named Weasel sports tourer. The first four-cylinder (flat four) car arrived in 1936 with the 1166 cc twin carburettor Jowett Ten which continued until the outbreak of war alongside the traditional twin cylinder models which grew to 946 cc in 1937. In 1935 the company went public and in 1936 Benjamin Jowett retired. Brother William carried on until 1940.

Production of cars stopped in 1940 but engine production for motor-generator sets continued alongside aircraft components and other military hardware. The company was bought by property developer Charles Clore in 1945 and he sold it in 1947 to the bankers Lazard Brothers.


1950


Jupiter
Jowett Jupiter   (1950)

When production restarted after the Second World War, the twin-cylinder engine was dropped from the range of new cars, but continued in 1005 cc form to the end of production in the commercials, now comprising a light lorry, the Bradford van, two versions of an estate car called the Utility, and chassis front-ends and kits for outside coachbuilders, many abroad. The new cars were a complete change from what had gone before with the streamlined Jowett Javelin designed by a team led by Gerald Palmer. This had such advanced features as a flat four push-rod engine, independent front suspension with torsion bars front and rear and unitary body construction. The car was good for 80 mph (130 km/h) and had excellent handling. In 1950 the Javelin was joined by the Jowett Jupiter sports with a chassis designed by Eberan von Eberhorst who had worked for Auto Union. Javelins were designed for production levels never before attempted by Jowett with Javelin and Bradford body production out-sourced to Briggs Motor Bodies who built a plant at Doncaster. The Jupiters were always built in-house. The new mechanicals had teething troubles but Javelin bodies were still being mass produced to the original schedule leading to them being stockpiled.

This over-optimism was the company's downfall and even after the engine and gearbox problems were solved the Idle plant was never able to build, or the distribution network to sell, the expected volume and this led to the inevitable suspension of Javelin production in 1953 together with the by now outdated Bradford. Jupiters remained in demand and were built up to the end of 1954. The company did not go broke, but sold their factory to International Harvester who made tractors at the site until the early 1980s. Jowett then switched to manufacturing aircraft parts for the Blackburn & General Aircraft Company in a former woollen mill at Howden Clough, Birstall, near Batley. Jowett was later taken over by Blackburn in 1956, although spares for the postwar cars were kept available until 1963, when the remainder of the Jowett company was closed due to the rationalisation of the aircraft industry.



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