John Bowles

A lifelong motoring enthusiast, John (“Joby”) Bowles, has died, aged 83. He had associations ranging from friendships with WO Bentley to Colin Chapman. It began when as a boy he joined Bentley & Bentley, agents for the DFP. This led to Bowles being present at New Street Mews in London when the prototype 3-litre Bentley engine was started up for the very first time. He continued to work on DFPs, his enthusiasm having been fostered by an FN motorcycle he was given when he was very young.
When the DFP agency changed hands in 1925, Bowles set up in business on his own, at the bungalow near Thewdon Oak in Essex, which he had discovered empty some years earlier, while out on test with Mr Bentley on a DFP chassis.

He remained essentially an enthusiast, his personal cars including several Bugattis, two Marendaz Specials, a blown 2-litre Lagonda and many other exciting ones. I recall going to see “Joby” for MOTOR SPORT in 1951, when I drove his ex-Bagratouni 2.6 Monza Alfa Romeo and admired his supercharged Ulster Austin 7. He was in at the beginnings of the 750 MC and joined the West Essex CC, remembered for its lively magazine Wheelspin. Colin Chapman picked up much useful information about tuning A7s at Bowles’ workshop and “Joby” himself did well with the Ulster at Prescott and elsewhere. He retired in 1970 and concentrated on model steam engines. WB

*Reportedly near Coopersale rather than Thewdon Oak. The Theydon Oak (rather than Thewdon Oak) is a pub half a mile from Joby’s bungalow (27/01/2015)