SALUTE THE JUPITER!
“Motor Sport” Undertakes a Fast Run to the West Country in Jowett’s Long-Awaited Flat-Four, Tubular-Chassis, II-Litre Sports Model
THE JOWETT JUPITER has been a long time a-coming but, having tried this interesting newcomer, our opinion is that it will be deemed worth waiting for.
At one time the 14-litre class was a popular domain of British sports cars, but of recent times this useful category has been neglected. Consequently, When some two or more years ago Jowett of Bradford announced that they intended to install the smooth, powerful fiatfour engine which so ably powers their successful Javelin saloon into a light, rigid tubular chassis to carry a sporting two/three-seater body; enthusiasts were agog the world over for technical details and performance data.
The facts of specification and development were duly revealed at the 1940 and 1950 Bails Court and other Motor Mows, and now it is possible to give our candid impressions of the Jupiter, after over 500 fast miles in one of the only three at present in circulation. To say that we looked forward keenly to this long-awaited trial of the 14-litre Jupiter is no exaggeration. To remark that in certain minor respects we feel Jowetts have failed to do justice to their sports version of a brilliant design is merely being just. But to say that the Jupiter left a firm impression by reason of a number of outstanding characteristics in most attractive combination is to state the sincere feelings of more than one critical tester. This Jupiter is exciting, and particularly beautiful, in appearance—the vivid red version handed over to us evoked warm admiration wherever we
left it, and particularly when parked under the kind lights of London’s West End after dark. But beauty in a motor car isn’t everything, so we will declare at once that the Jupiter cunningly contrives to be as economical as its engine capacity would suggest and yet to• ” perform ” in a really big way. This performance is apt to be deceptive. Take a measuring tape, a stopwatch and someone’s airfield runway and the figure that result, while quietly complimentary to this newcomer, do not reveal quite the quality that you come to appreciate after a long run in a hurry under trying conditions. To elucidate : maximum speed would doubtless be comfortably in excess of 90 m.p.h. if the windscreen could be folded horizontal or removed. Acceleration is abundant if the lower gears are meshed as soon as merited, and something like ft-SO m.p.h. in 11 seconds or thereabouts is both a useful accomplishment and a significant yardstick. Yet comparable figures were attainable a dozen or more years ago, from the Meadows-engined 14-litre H.R.G. for instance. So, rather than confront you with a table of seconds to ,reach this and distances covered in that, we prefer to present the new Jupiter as a unity. As a smart, appealing little thing which two, at a squeeze three, of you can get into on a misty, wet, cheerless night and set off, let us imagine, for better places and arrive at theta to the tune of over 50 m.p.h. averages at 20 or so miles per gallon, Insulated from heat, fumes and roadshock, yet warm and snug. Moreover,
speaking now expressly for the driver (who is likely to be he who has paid for the privilege!) you will arrive fatigue-free and enjoying every minute of the manipulation.
You see, the Jupiter possesses so many of the salient, factors necessary for sueh motoring attributes. The steering is light, smooth, has ample castor action and transmits no messages from the front wheels, while its lock is adequate. Very rough roads cause a vibratory reaction at the wheel that is also felt at floor level, and we will confess that our twin nightmares of burst tyre and sheet ice gave rise to a slight distaste of the steering ratio, the three-spoke wheel asking three turns from lock to lock, when something nearer two would seem safer. But it is good steering, very good.
Then there is the suspension, one of the really difficult aspects of a fast, shortwheelbase car to lay. out correctly. Jowett engineers have seen to it that excess roll is absent and the movements properly damped, using Woodhead Monroe shock struts, yet have contrived to iron out disgraceful road surfaces in a thoroughly comfortable, praiseworthy manner. Couple these factors of steering and suspension with cornering that builds up confidence and is just about the perfect balance between what is termed overand under-steer and you will, or should, begin to feel a desire to drive a Jupiter ! The tail breaks away first, tail skids, easily corrected, seemed to occur rather frequently, probably because fallen leaves made the wet roads more than usually slippery and the rear Goodyears were somewhat worn. This tendency kept the driver alert and, as stated, he would have liked slightly higher-geared steering. Yet we do not remember the tyres protesting.
If you are able to gratify your desire to try a Jupiter you will find a comfortable driving position on a rather hard benchtype front seat, will not fret unduly at being virtually unable to see either front “wing,” but may take a strong dislike, as we did, to having to press the awkward accelerator really bard to get that “last ounce” of urge—the fun of having the effect of a supercharger under the big toe, as it were, lessens when big toe and fallen arch aches with the effort required ! As compensation for this, and a tendency to stick-throttle, you will discover a reasonably light clutch that likes, however, to be fully depressed, and really excellent Girling hydro-mechanical brakes —silent, exceedingly powerful, progressive, all-square on dry or wet roads, fade-free and all that good brakes should be, and not unduly heavy to apply, withal. The gear-change we dispose of here and now as a personal disappointment. That which serves well in a Javelin isn’t,
in the writer’s view, necessarily correct sportswear, and that on the car tested was unpleasantly stiff, while heel-and-toe changes are all but ruled out by the unfortunate juxtaposition of accelerator and brake pedals. This disappointment was accentuated because the engine isn’t happy at low r.p.m. and constant gear-shifting is called for to, as the purveyors of patent custards say, produce the best results. For instance, lumpy at under 1,400 r.p.m. (24 m.p.h) in the 4.56 to 1 topgear, the flat-four evens out at another 100 r.p.m. (25* m.p.h.) but doesn’t really bite until above 2,000 r.p.m. or 35 m.p.h. In the same way second is preferable to third for traffic crawling and bottom is needed for a snappy getaway. However, Jowetts, having caused us to write this, tell us that. a central-remote change is optional, so, pending trial and approval of it, let us pass to other things, after pausing to say that another driver expressed an opinion the exact reverse of ours and found the change delightful. The engine, as smooth, effortless and unobtrusive as that in a Javelin, which is stating something, does produce real performance. Even with stop-watch still in one’s pocket and in full doubt of the accuracy of speedometers (that on the Jupiter tested allowed one to stimulate the girl friend with a dash at 105 when, in fact, the car was doing around 90), the way the needle would go round to 60, 70, even 80 m.p.h. as a matter of fastcruising course, and the unassuming brilliance of the acceleration, could not fail to impress. The engine kept its Oil pressure at over 50 lb./sq. in., its oil temperature at very creditably under 50 degrees C., always started promptly and had no exhaust blast, although a typical “Javelin” combination of noises built up as the speed rose ; 6,000 r.p.m. doesn’t shock the Yorkshiremen responsible for it, and 5,000-5,500 r.p.m. comes up quite naturally to a fast driver, equal approximately to 23-25 m.p.h. in first 38-42 M.p.h. in second and 00-68 m.p.h. in third gear; 6,000 r.p.m. is about the limit. The highest reading achieved in top, gear, hood up, was 5,300 r.p.m., equal to approximately 91 m.p.h.—here let it be whispered that on this downhill occasion the speedometer indulged in a reading within 15 m.p.h. of its 120-m.p.h. limit 1 Yet, willing as the o.h.v. list-four power unit is to rev, in the indirect gears, in top gear 3,500 r.p.m. suffices for a cruising speed of nearly 60 m.p.h., which is restful both in thought and fact. Indeed, the Jupiter is essentially a high-geared car with its present ratios, and the decision
of its sponsors to lower the set originally envisaged seems, after trial, an apt one. Yet, durably high-geared as the engine is, it is easily coaxed to cruising speeds of 65-75 m.p.h. and 60 m.p.h. in third comes up as a matter of Course. This, and the safe handling and braking qualities aforementioned, spell averagespeed abilities that form one of the great charms of the Jupiter. For example, leaving London on a wet night, new to the car, and feeling slightly boxed in under the hood, we set off to see the finish of the Daily Express Rally at Torquay. Unaware that the passenger was logging journey times for intended publication, we covered 31 miles in the first hour’s driving, which involved crossing London from East to West with hostile traffic lights all down Oxford Street, and the delay of a police check at Notting Hill for no better purpose than checking motorists’ names and addresses (no confirmation demanded I), which surely displays a touching faith in the integrity of the criminal! On the open roadsfor 28 minutes we averaged 42.4 m.p.h. and 72 minutes sufficed for 45.5 miles, after which we searched for petrol, a thankless task in England even in time of peace. (During this search we discovered, to our discomfort, that the hiel tap had been set to ” reserve ” from the start and, moreover, that Jowetts do not see. fit to label the
settings of this under-bonnet tap.) On again, another rather sleepy hour saw 34.7 miles accomplished, with fog curtailing the pace. Coming home, tired after our all-night drive, the Jupiter really got going. After the rather too-small 10-gallon tank had been filled at Yarcombe Garage, Yeovil, 21 miles away, was reached half an hour later, and our stop-watch gazing passenger found 40.6 miles to have slipped away in the initial hour. From Mere, the outskirts of Salisbury were reached in another half-hour, an average of 23 m.p.h. Then; including negotiation of
Salisbury’sthrough-traffledetour,48.8mi lea were put into the final hour, an overall two-hour average of 44.4 m.p.h. by a mediocre, tired driver in teeming rain, with a good deal of traffic on the loath. Isolated average-speed claims mean little and all such claims are somewhat dubious as a means of comparison, but what we did in the Jupiter, checked by stop-watch and corrected odometer reading, does show this car to be something quite out of the ordinary for a 1*-1itre vehicle that makes no pretence of being in the “super sports” category and one which runs so smoothly, easily and above all quietly. These averages, which included 8.7 miles in eight minutes across Salisbury Plain, and two miles at 82 m.p.h.—speedometer reading 98 m.p.h.—were, remember, put up in torrential rain, over roads slippery with a carpet of autumn leaves.
We have said that in achieving these speeds the engine is notably unobtrusive. The same can scarcely be said of the rest of the car, for the body is inclined to rattle, the indirect gears emit considerable whine, and wind-noise with the hood erect at over 60 m.p.h. is excessive. The doors are provided with rather stiff wind-up windows so that it was all the more regrettable that considerable quantities of rain came in under the hood. This is a matter which Jowetts will undoubtedly get down to right away, although in a 90-m.p.h. car hood sealing is a major problem. Another point which prospective purchasers may eye dubiously is the lack of a luggage boot. Actually this is not so serious as it seems at first sight, because two fitted suitcases are accommodated behind the seat and can be withdrawn reasonably easily when the squab is hinged forward, while coats and other impedimenta can be stowed behind the seat.
Later there was an opportunity to take the Jupiter round the little one-mile circuit at Brands Hatch. After laps in 67 and 65 see., it finally went round in the excellent time of 63 see., lapping anti-clockwise.
THE JUPITER IN DETAIL
In an age of standardisation and proprietory-ism, the Jupiter owns up to some pleasing individual details. The whole front lifts for inspection of the engine, although this is rather a drawn out process involving turning a look on either side with a special key, and unscrewing two fasteners at the front. When raised, engine access is good from the front, but another foot of lift would make things at the side easier to reach. The spare wheel lives behind a panel under the tail. The doors have pull-out external handles; lock in the driver’s, and sliding button inside catches. The walnut facia has a lockable cubby hole opened by a push button, small pull-out switches for fog lamp, wipers, panel lamps and heater (neither fog-lamp nor heater were fitted, but the latter proved unnecessary for, even on a wet November night, the interior kept pleasantly snug, although not a trace of fumes or excess heat were evident), starter push-button, cigar lighter, a rather wobbly lamps switch, and, before the driver the instruments, comprising a big 120-m.p.h. speedometer with trip
and total mileage indicators and a 6,000-r.p.m. counter with rather hazy needle, accurate fuel gauge, ammeter and combined water thermometer, oil gauge and thermometer. There is also a choke knob amongst the minor controls, which are white finished like those of a Javelin. There was an irritatingly bright little light that shone in our eyes, adding to fatigue at night, to say please our wipers were working. Unfortunately we had no red nail varnish with, us, or we could have dealt summarily with this nuisance. Another light told us that the headlamps were on full beam, but usually the furious flashing of approaching headlamps, fog lamps, spot lamps and searchlights reminded us first I The handbrake is tucked away under the right-hand corner of the dash but is not too terribly inaccessible and holds well. In the centre of the facia is a drawer divided into two sections ; this is where the radio is stowed for those who consider this adjunct appropriate to a sports car. A “grab’ is provided on the dash for the passenger’s comfort. The inbuilt headlamps, allow of up to 70 m.p.h. or more at night but their beam was too narrow for full vision ; they dip by a foot button. The engine pinked on the first tankful of fuel and much more so on the second tankful purchased near Ilchester, but it does not run-on and starts easily. Fuel consumption appeared to average better than 25 m.p.g., sparing the car hardly at all and inclusive of much town driving. Some oil was needed but no water—and over 1,000 miles were covered in three days and a night. The Zenith Carburetters salted the engine admirably. • The rear-view mirror is inadequate with the hood up, in spite of a very generous rear window, but forward visibility through the sloping V windscreen is very adequate, although the wipers didn’t clean all of it and were in any case unable to cope with a combination of speed and heavy rain. The interior of the body is rather well provided with bits and bobs, mainly concerned with t he hood, that served to keep awake a lolling, morpheus-bound passenger. A central
switch controls self-cancelling t niflicators, one of which tended to stick. The trailing doors assist easy entry and exit from this low-built car, and the leg and head room earned praise. Midgets apart, the Jupiter is virtually a two-seater. This detailed analysis of the latest Jowett product reveals a number of shortcomings, but they are mostly minor ones, happily masked by the excellent average speeds, the comfort, handiness; and economy of this 88-m.p.h. newcomer. The I i-litre class of sports car, extremely well represented in this country before the war, has been sadly neglected of late, and the Jupiter is a welcome recruit and, moreover, a car of outstanding performance for this engine capacity, as emphasised by its class win in this year’s Le Mans 24-Hour Race, when it averaged 75.8
We predict a very successful future for the Jupiter, at home and in overseas markets, and we shall watch it in 1951 sports car races with our interest magnified by the excellent impressions we formed of it during an arduous roadtest.—W. B.
CARS I HAVE OWNED
—continued from page 614 hack is nobody’s darling and everybody’s slave, and the car which fills that role with credit must have the constitution of a rhinoceros. The Standard had. It didn’t need the petting which it never stood a dog’s chance of getting. And on it went, for thousands upon thousands of uncomplaining miles. Often we should have been “lost ‘ without that car, and I remember it with the affection and gratitude one feels for a faithful draught horse.
Rover, in common with Bentley, is nwrque of which I never tire. More than anything else, it is Rover’s superb finish which appeals to may fastidiousness. Between 1989 and the present day 1 have been lucky enough to own six Rovers —two Tens, a Fourteen Sports, a Sixteen Sports (all these were pre-war models) and, since 1945, a P3 Seventy-Five (i.e., the Old Look job with the new i.f.s. chassis and other improvements) and finally one of the P4 Seventy-Fives with New Look bodywork. This last is still in my garage, daily impersonating Bentley manners in the most endearing fashion.
All these Rovers have behaved amazingly well, despite the fact that an accelerator foot attuned to Bentley impregnability does not exactly spare the horses. I have in fact driven all the Rovers the way I drive a Bentley—flat out ad infinitum. And they love it. After twenty, thirty thousand miles, it would be difficult by feel to distinguish their engines from just-run-in. Their wearing qualities are phenomenal for a relatively small unit. And their bodies stay silent longer tlum the bodies of any car you can cite for comparison on the basis of cost, wheelbase or engine-size.
The Fourteen Sports served me right through the war, and after, and knocked up 70,000 miles. The P8 aggregated 80,000 miles. Between them, these six Rovers have totalled 200,000 miles in my hands. On all counts, I should rate the current P4 as one of the most attractive cars it has ever been my lot to handle. Effortlessness itself, it simply asks to be driven on the Wait., and no amount of hard treatment fetches a creak front its coachwork.
The Bourne family of Rovers, like the Bentley clan, have a recurring registration number—DCT 17—which is” handed down from father to son.” I have a slight ” thing ” about the numeral 17, which happens also to be my ‘phone number. Five more ears, three of them small and relatively inexpensive, a Triumph Roadster, a Standard Eight drophead, a Wolseley Eight, an A40 Austin and a Hillnum Minx have served me sine the war. The Wolseky, now of course obsolete, was sturdy, reliable and perhaps the best finished 8 ” ever marketed, while the Austin and the Hinman both very strikingly exemplify the enormous advance—revolution would be hardly too strong a word—that has taken place since pre-war days in the cars of this lowprice field. I ant, as may have been gathered, a subscriber to the Laurence Pomeroy school of thought in the sense that I refuse to nurse a car, no matter what its soiling price, no matter what its
engine’s piston speed at maximum road velocity. If it blows up under the stress of my kind of driving, that isn’t my fault, that’s the designer’s fault, or the fault of poor materials and workmanship. Before the war one couldn’t have got away with this attitude as regards quantity-produced small cars. Today, anyway with the A40 and the Minx, one can, thanks to the astonishing durability of their engines and chassis generally. Before the war one wouldn’t have wanted to get away with such driving of such cars, because the contemporary hard springing and high unsprung weight would have involved too much personal punishment; today, on either the Austin or the Hillman, I find myself averaging 45/50 m.p.h. over long distances without the smallest discomfort.
That is progress. That is the kind of service which makes a modern car owner’s fingers itch for pen and paper when letters appear in the motoring Press regretting the passing of the “good old days” and insisting that design has stood still—or even retrogressed—since the ‘thirties. Nonsense !
The Triumph Roadster, black-bodied with blue upholstery, was my first postwar car, while the little Standard was the contemporary of BCT 82, No. 1 in the Mark VI Bentley series The Standard sticks in the memory as the most economical vehicle I ever operated (some of its consumption figures, of’ which unfortunately I haven’t a record now, were phenomenal) while the Triumph is remembered for its line road manners and the vast impression it made on Continental motorists at a time when post-war British cars were as yet something of a curiosity across the Channel. At Geneva in 1946, occasion of the Grand Prix of the Nations which virtually marked the post-war renaissance of motor-racing, the sleek roadster had crowds around it the moment one parked it, and from the comments it was obvious that in the opinion of discriminating Swiss, Frenchmen, Italians and the rest, the Triumph augured well for Britain’s export trade in the years to come. Appearances didn’t lie. During that 1940 season the roadster earricd me all over the Continent at speeds which, but for the corroborative evidence of Laurence Pomeroy, who was so enchanted with a road-test sample that he subsequently acquired a replica for personal use (and wrote of it in The Motor with uncharacteristically extravagant superlatives) would have taxed the credence of friends to whom I extolled it.