A few weeks ago I happened on the most impressive array of vintage Jowetts, lined up, their paintwork gleaming in the evening sunshine.
They were attending the Jowett Car Club Tweed Valley Rally, in Peebles. Quite a drive from the birthplace of Jowett; Five Lane Ends, Idle, Bradford
When two Yorkshire brothers set out to try and build their own car empire, they had no idea that over a century later, their now classic cars would be selling for up to £28,000.
I decided to do a bit of digging into what is, after all, our most local car brand.
Brothers William and Benjamin Jowett first created their car prototype in 1906; by 1910, after rigorous testing, the first Jowett was ready for production. The pair slowly grew their company and had built and sold 48 cars in the first 6 years of production. However in 1916 the factory turned to WW1 ammunition and production of the cars ceased.
By 1920, the brothers where ready to restart their business in a new purpose built factory in Bradford, unfortunately, history repeated itself and once again production stopped in favour of WW2 ammunition. A short spell after WW2 saw the production of the most famous Jowetts, the Javelin and the Jupiter but in 1954 production of the cars stopped for good.
Jowett had some loyal employees through its years; Harry Esmond Gill started working in the Bradford factory in 1923 a 14-year-old-boy. Moving from engine testing, to the assembly shop, to rectification, road testing, finishing and final inspection. When the factory moved to ammunitions work, so did Harry. After the war, he was involved in developing prototypes and road testing new cars, he was once arrested for speeding but was discharged as Jowett claimed the cars needed rigorous testing in order to be exported to America!
Jowett was famous for being well ahead of its competitors at the time, they created one of the first truly light cars that made easy work of the notoriously steep Sutton bank. Their cars were economical (the 1923 Jowett full-four-seater ran on less than a half-penny per mile per person) and performed well, was affordable, had a roomy body and comfortable dickey seat. They were sold locally. The Grosvenor Garage, Bradford, were offering cars on sale for £139 in 1937.
One of Jowett's greatest achievement was supplying Mr Frank Gray, an ex-Oxford MP, with two cars in 1926 to cross the 'un-crossable' African continent. Jowett sold Mr Gray the standard 7h-p car, with a safari body built into the normal long two seater chassis. The men crossed Africa from the Atlantic coast to the Red Sea, crossing land devoid of roads and mostly desert in 60 days. The Jowetts proved capable of a terrific feat of endurance, towing trailers full of petrol and supplies for 1600 miles of the 3800 mile journey, over some of the worst travelling terrain in the world.
Classic 7HP Jowett
By Beate Kubitz at 30 Jun 2017, 00:00 AM