Vintage flat-twin Jowetts: “The little engine with the big pull”

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In 2003 Tempus Publishing of Stroud published Mr Noel Stokoe’s My Car Was A Jowett. He had been press officer and libr arian of the Jowett Club since 1985 and after some memories of his Jowett ownership, including in 1934 buying a 1933 Jowett for £29 and keeping it until 1939, the rest of the 160 pages contain contributions from club members and others, with many pictures of their cars, from early ones through to the Bradford, Javelin, Jupiter and CD.

I have owned two vintage Jowetts and much respected their flat-twin 907cc power units – “The little engine with the big pull”. I road-tested the later sporting versions. Excellent cars, the Javelins and the Jupiters. The proprietor of Motor Sport liked them too and I remember going with him in one of them for servicing at the works in Bradford. A few miles from the depot there was a bang and a bulge appeared in the top of the bonnet. He had driven so hard that the fan had come adrift. Service staff looked surprised by the dent.

My two vintage Jowetts were a 1923 short-chassis two-seater and a 1925 long two-seater. The first I saw advertised for sale for £3 in a breaker’s yard with a spare back axle in the boot, so instead of returning to Farnborough, Hampshire by train, I bought it and it took me back faithfully. Untaxed, none of the police cars I saw noticed me, and I could claim the licence papers were in the post, as it was Boxing Day (I was escaping from the partying and could post them next day). The other, the long two-seater, was the ex-Dick Shuttleworth one which Joe Lowrey, also at the RAE, towed back from Bigglesworth on a tow bar behind his HRG.

I tried to start it but it only ran a short distance before stopping. My friends, experts with aero engines, arrived to help. Clean petrol, battery charged, fuel at the carburetter jet – all to no avail. It must be an ignition fault, they said.

I then remembered that Delco-Remy had a London depot (until they joined with General Motors) and I asked them if they would test the coil (which had the condenser enclosed within it). They rang back to say it gave a reasonable spark for such an old coil. I then asked if they would keep it on test for longer. They did, and reported that as the thing warmed up it stopped giving a spark. They gave me one of their oil-filled coils, which cured the trouble.

I wonder if anyone recalls such a problem, or whether it may help anyone now?

And if you ask why such utility cars are mentioned in Motor Sport you have forgotten the records there by J J Hall, a most amusing writer, who with a Jowett two-seater weighing about 8cwt and helped by Grimley, set the Class-G 12-hour record at 54.89mph in 1928 in spite of having to change three gaskets, the engine having non-standard detachable cylinder heads, giving a 5.25 to 1 compression ratio. The Jowett lapped at 65mph.