Jappic: the little car that punched well above its weight

For many years the Austin 7 was the popular small car that was raced at Brooklands, its 747cc engine usually declared as 749cc presumably to cover any oversized engines which might have been used in record attempts. The Vagova which might have challenged the Austins in the 1924 JCC 200-mile race had been specially built for this event and entered by Spencer Grey, but it never appeared from France.

Therefore surprise and interest were invoked in 1925 when an even smaller-capacity machine, the Jappic, first appeared at the March BMCRC meeting. It gained a very favourable reception. Designed by H M Walters and built by Jarvis and Sons of Wimbledon, with a JAP motorcycle engine of 74x80mm (344cc) and weighing under 4cwt, the body could accommodate two people. The driver wore a pad on his right elbow because his arm came so close to the off-side rear tyre. The nose was perforated to admit air to the engine but resembled the front end of a normal car and all mechanisms were enclosed. The single-cylinder Jappic also made an appearance at the Easter meeting, entered by T B Prestwich and driven by Walters, who was one-third the weight of the car. Although unplaced it lapped at 66.85mph. In the Whit Monday 75mph Short Handicap the Jappic, which started from the limit position with a lap speed of 68.03mph, was piped into fourth place by an Alfa Romeo which had started from scratch.

Apart from racing the Jappic secured a number of class records including the 10-mile at 68.79mph. After this the engine was changed for one of 85.7x85mm (495cc) and Kaye Don took several records with it, up to the 10-mile Class 1 at 69mph.

The scheme to sell production cars at £150 each was never proceeded with, and to my knowledge only one was made, which was photographed standing beside a London omnibus to emphasise its small size.

It had been renamed during its later years with the larger engine as the HS, which presumably were the initials of Douglas Hawkes and Mrs Gwenda Stewart.

In 1928 at Montlhéry, Gwenda Stewart set records in the smallest category, Class J, averaging nearly 71mph for 100 miles. Unfortunately the Jappic was lost in the fire which destroyed the Hawkers’ under-banking workshop at Montlhéry.