Life in the 1940s fast lane!

Torbay Weekly

The post-war scramble to get new cars out on the showroom floor saw a mix of old pre-war designs churned out, but also some radical new models.

Typically, the older designs would have a separate chassis and sweeping front wings with headlamp pods attached.

However, some manufacturers got ahead quickly with new-age designs fit for the modern motoring era. Such cars had unitary bodies with integral headlights and more advanced mechanicals, such as independent suspension.

One such car was the Jowett Javelin introduced in 1947, which even featured a sloping fastback, torsion bar suspension, a sporty flat four engine for lower centre of gravity and was 10mph faster than the competition.

Gerald Palmer designed this car from scratch and had learned his craft from his time at MG and the Nuffield Organisation. It handled superbly, yet was a comfortable family car with leather seating for five. There was also a two-seater sportscar variant called the Jupiter. Between them, these cars had great track and rally success, which helped sales along.

Unfortunately, Jowett did not have a great dealer network to take on rivals Austin Morris and Ford but also endured serious warranty issues, particularly with gearboxes. This meant they took their eye off the ball and a subsequent lack of investment prevented the firm from moving forwards into the 1950s.

In seven years, some 24,000 cars were made but the firm went bust in 1953. A nice Javelin today will set you back around £6-8,000, while the Jupiter is worth nearer £25,000. Jowett has a good following today and any of their cars are a stylish way into classic car ownership.

My parents owned a Javelin but it suffered electrical issues from wet weather on Dartmoor as I recall. I also went on to own a Jupiter when a student in London, which is currently undergoing restoration.

The owner has invited me to take a look at the old girl but a classic car chum has warned me not to touch it, in case it licks me back!