Personal Experiences of the Managing Director of “Motor Sport” with one of these popular 1½-litre Cars.
I was first attracted to the Javelin on account of the favourable remarks made by the Editor after he had road-tested the prototype car.
Later, the production saloon came along for test, and, although I only drove it for a brief part of the mileage covered, I was so impressed with the excellent acceleration and fair turn of speed of this roomy newcomer, that I placed an order for one. Years ago I rode Douglas motor-cycles, and ever since have had warm regard for the horizontally-opposed engine, so the under-bonnet aspect of the Javelin particularly appealed to me.
I was informed in due course that I could take delivery, and I commenced to run-in my black saloon with infinite care, for such treatment of new cars has never failed to pay dividends in the past. The car was all that I had expected—comfortable accommodation for five people, and luggage space second to none—but the first 2,000 miles were to reveal some rather startling troubles.
The first cause for alarm was the working loose of both carburetters. The radio suppressors also fell off, and the dash-lights failed to work. Some toil with spanners and screwdrivers restored these departments to good working order, and then the next bunch of troubles arrived. The trafficator arms lit up only when they felt like it. The dynamo lead came adrift when miles from anywhere, and proved extremely awkward and difficult to replace. The starter bendix developed a playful habit of sticking, rendering the car immovable, so that I bought an outsize screwdriver with which to probe it free, carrying this in the car.
More serious still, the rear plug on the near-side cylinder block began to oil up continually, and final consumption failed to better about 20 m.p.g. I experimented with many jets and at last found a combination for the Zenith carburetter that gave good steady acceleration with no flat spots, but still not the 30-35 m.p.g. that I had been expecting. After two or three foggy days the petrol consumption got considerably worse, and the engine was obviously resenting a too rich mixture. Worried, I lifted the bonnet while the engine was running, and as I stood gazing at the “works,” the engine purred sweetly, as if to say, “thanks for the little fresh air.” It was then that I became conscious of a piece of felt stretched across the air intake chamber in the bonnet and realised it to be a primitive air cleaner. This I removed, and since that day have averaged 30 m.p.g., getting 35 m.p.g. on runs some 50 miles or more out from London.
When the engine became free I drove the car really hard everywhere, and its performance proved exceedingly good, very high average speeds being possible despite the remarkably economical running. In London the splendid acceleration and good visibility made light of traffic driving.
When I say the car was driven really “hard,” I mean exactly what I say, but the bearings began to show their dislike of too hot oil, and finally the big-ends were useless. This was a disappointment to me, and no doubt the makers were not completely happy. An engine with lead/bronze-lined bearings was supplied, and since then some 11,500 miles have been completed, at even higher speeds, absolutely trouble free. All Javelin engines now have bearings so lined.
From Motor Sport office to Hastings in 1 hr. 35 mins. pleased me immensely, and eastwards from Romford on many occasions, 55 miles in 61 mins., four-up with luggage, and still, remember, all on 30 miles per gallon. Can you wonder why I am such an enthusiastic Javelin owner?
Jowetts excuse for all the trouble at the start was unskilled labour at the factory. This difficulty would seem to have been surmounted, for it has been my pleasure to help run-in and drive another Javelin, some 12 months younger, and this car has shown none of the original troubles.
Garage hands are now prepared to give a little intelligent help. When I first started out they looked and said: “Don’t know anything about these new-fangled things.” But the “new-fangled thing” has established itself, and I have no hesitation in saying that many years will go by before we see anything better.
To sum up, the Javelin is not only a joy to handle, but I know of no other car in its price class that would give me the same brisk performance, look so pleasing to the eye, or get anywhere near the economical petrol consumption.
Offering a surprising amount of room and such excellent speed and acceleration, the 1½-litre Javelin saloon, in my opinion, is in a class of its own.—W. J. T.