September 28, 1949 – The Jowett Jupiter debuts

It’s a small car with a big name. Jowett Cars Ltd debuted their first and only sports car, the Jupiter, on this day in 1949 at the London Motor Show. The Jupiter was designed in just four months by Austrian engineer Dr. Robert Eberan von Eberhorst and Jowett’s own body stylist Reg Korner. In total, about 900 Jupiters were built by the time production ended in 1954. Despite its size and limited run, the Jupiter achieved great success in auto racing. 

It was a flat four, 1486 cc engine that powered a Jupiter to a class win at the 1950 Le Mans 24 Hour race and the 1951 Monte Carlo International Rally. It also nabbed an overall win in the 1951 Lisbon International Rally, and a class one-two win in the public road race at Dundrod in Northern Ireland in September 1951, just to name a few of its victories.

Jowett Jupiter
Above: Jowett Jupiter with open bonnet. By GTHO – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0. Top: 1952 Jowett Jupiter by Nabokov, CC BY-SA 3.0

Brothers Benmain and William Jowett, along with partner Arthur Lamb, founded Jowett in 1901. Originally intended to be a cycle business, 1906 saw their first prototype car completed. Exhaustive testing and other projects delayed its entrance into production until 1910. Following World War I the company reorganized as Jowett Cars Limited. For the next two decades the company would build reliable passenger vehicles. The founding brothers remained with the company until Benjamin retired in 1936, followed by his brother in 1940.

1923 Jowett
1923 Jowett. By Redsimon, CC BY 2.5

During WWII Jowett continued to produce engines and other components for the war effort. After the fighting stopped the company returned to automobile production. When the government dropped the purchase tax on new cars by 25 percent in 1953 there was a surge in demand for new cars throughout the UK. This resulted in Ford Motor Company purchasing Briggs, which manufactured bodies for Jowett. A shortage of automobile bodies was imminent.

Jowett Javelin
1949 Jowett Javelin. By Charles01 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

By July 1954 car production ceased. International Harvester soon purchased the  production facility, minus necessities for service and spares departments. All shareholders received value for their shares by the end of 1955 and the company closed permanently.

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