Roominess, Good-handling and Outstanding Performance are features of THE PRODUCTION JOWETT ” JAVELIN “
IN June, 1947, we published a cornprehensive road-test report of the Jowett “Javelin “saloon, from which it was evident that here was a 75 m.p.h.
• 11-litre car possessing brisk acceleration, very comfortable riding characteristics, and a commendable fuel-economy. Since this test was carried out we have been able to put in 500 miles in a productionversion of this up-to-the-minute Britisher.
The Javelin we tried differed from the prototype in being properly soundproofed and in having the bow-shaped windscreen that has been decided on for the final version of this car. It also had a transparent Perspex roof over the front Seat, giving the good vision of the coupe de vine -with none of the obvious inconveniences of this style of coachwork.
So easy is the Javelin to handle that we were able to rediscover many of its excellent features while threading it through London’s rush-hour traffic. The wide front seat, which accommodates three persons in comfort, will slide easily forwards or backwards by operating a central winding-handle. The near-side wing is out of sight, but visibility is really excellent on account of the big screen and the tapering bonnet. Entry and egress is dignified, thanks to four wide doors, the umbrella-handle r.h. handbrake under the facia functions nicely, and the steering-column gear lever is well placed for the left hand, if with rather long movements, its ” gate ” easy to memorise.
The facia is modern in the extreme, and very nice if you like this kind of thing. Centrally-grouped press-buttons cause the air-conditioning plant, starter, wipers and panel lighting to obey your whim, the ignition key and lamps-switch also being incorporated in this group. To the right is a rather vague fuel-gauge (it ensures that you seek a garage long before you are stranded I), an 80 m.p.h. Smith’s speedometer with trip and total mileage recorders, and a water thermometer. On the left, before the passenger, is the truly generous cubbyhole, lined, and with a lockable lid. Below the centre switches is a small clock, and the oil and ignition warninglight windows—personally, we much prefer an oil-gauge. Below the facia is the radio, by His Master’s Voice, which deserves the highest marks for its tone and its reliable reception. It requires no irritating re-tuning at frequent or even long intervals and the only place at which we noticed interference was beneath the maze of trolley-‘bus wires at Shepherd’s Bush. To the right of the radio set are the knobs for releasing the modern alligator-bonnet and for choking the carburetters, each knob clearly labelled. The direction indicators are operated from a tiny lever set centrally below the screen base, its position showing what the indicators are doing at any given moment and how long before they “cancel “—a good feature. A purple light from a minute window on the facia reminds you not to leave the car in the garage with the screen wipers “on,” but immobile, an instance of the careful
attention to detail that has gone into the Javelin’s design. There is no handthrottle. Leg room in the body is more than adequate and the seating comfortable and spacious. The transparent roof called forth warm praise from our front-seat passengers and rendered the car’s interior pleasantly light, while the extra visibility was certainly well worth having. Heavy rain pattering on this roof was in no way disconcerting, nor were any leaks apparent under the worst possible conditions (although so heavy was the rain that a little water did come in round the base of the screen). The screen does not open, but has de-misting ducts. Two pull-out blinds are provided to cover the front passengers on sunny days, these clipping easily to the top of the screen. Possibly_ the weather was abnormally humid when we tried the car, but we did feel that the interior became somewhat stuffy, an impression that persisted even with the windows open and the cold-air fan in operation. Incidentally, the lever that
selects ” hot ” or ” cold ” is tucked away rather inaccessibly under the facia.
No door pockets or ” pulls ” are provided, but there is a very deep parcelshelf behind the rear seat. The luggage space, lit at night, is most commodious, and the lockable lid of the boot lifts easily. The tools are stowed within the boot and the spare wheel is in a tray beneath it, which winds down when encouraged by the wheel-brace. The rear-lamp is duplicated, to be visible when the lid of the boot is up, another commendable detail. The light-alloy wet-liner flat-four o.h.v. engine is a never-failing source of attraction and one is constantly asked to reveal it, which one does by lifting the bonnet (fumbling a little to release the safetycatch) and raising also the radiator grille. Oil filler and dip-stick are then easily accessible, as are the mechanical and electrical components and auxiliaries. The air-cleaner is incorporated in the bonnet-top, rubber sleeves connecting the air-intakes of the two downdraught
Zenith carburetters with it. The 14 mm. plugs are fully waterproofed, and the engine started easily with a minimum of choke. The Javelin presents an easy-to-clean exterior and has lines that somehow convey a happy air of awaitibg its owner’s command before accelerating briskly away.
On the road we discovered again how smooth is the 1i-litre 72.5 by 90 mm. engine, and how willingly it propels a ton of six-seater motor-car. It makes some noise when under load it is true, but never conveys a vibration or tremor to the car’s occupants right up to maximum r.p.m., while the rocking-movement that accompanied idling on the prototype is absent on the production models. A slight hesitancy when accelerating was apparent at about 30 m.p.h. in top or 15 m.p.h. in 3rd gear, which carburetter adjustment would probably have cured.
We did not have the car in our possession long enough to secure perfornpuice figures, but it will be remembered that the prototype did 0-50 m.p.h. in 15.7 sec., a standing 1 mile in 22.6 sec., and recorded 72.60 m.p.h. oN er our rather restricted test course. We again got the speedometer needle round to its stop with the car now under discussion, suggesting a genuine maximum of 75-77 m.p.h. The acceleration is such that not only can one leave most other ears hopeful of competing, from traffic stops, but congested areas encountered after enjoying empty roads pass almost unnoticed to the driver of a Javelin, so briskly and willingly does the car negotiate traffic hazards. The light steering and progressive braking, and particularly the good visibility, contribute in no small measure to this peace of mind.
You can propel the Javelin lazily, changing-up at speedometer indications of 10, 20 and 30 m.p.h. in the indirect ratios, or you can wind things up to the equivalent of 35 in 2nd and 60 in 3rd gear, the genuine 3rd gear speed being approximately 55 m.p.h. The engine will actually pull-away from 5, 10 and 20 m.p.h. in 2nd, 3rd and top gear, respectively.
Gear noise is evident to by-standers rather than to the occupants and is of no consequence, wind-noise at speed is not above average, and the Javelin generally is a notably quiet and refined car. Its ready acceleration is helped by a quick gear-change, responding well to downward double-declutching, the lever being spring-loaded towards the 3rd and topgear positions and perfectly natural to operate. A knob has to be depressed to select reverse, which position it was occasionally tricky to locate. The clutch is light and positive. Cruising speed is habitually between 55 and 65 indicated m.p.h., but in a hurry we held 80 m.p.h. on the speedometer literally for miles along the Oxford By-Pass. This ability to amble along at around 70 m.p.h. and regain speed quickly after a check makes the Javelin a very quick means of transport across country. Its point-to-point speed, and
its ability to quickly catch another fast-moving car after a pause, of which we satisfied ourselves during the test, is quite as impressive as the timed performance.
Allied to such briskness are good Ferodo-lined Girling hydro-mechanical brakes, which are progressive, free from deviation and light to apply. There is some return-motion through the pedal on really heavy application, together with a slight tremor of the floor, and a notdispleasing rubbing-noise, but retardation is adequate for a system using 9-in. dia. drums. Crash stops produce absolutely no vices, for the wheels do not lock disconcertingly, nor does the nose of the car dip.
The steering provides a good compromise for town and open-road drivin ,r. Very little return-motion is conveyed to the wheel, which asks 2i turns, lock to lock—and it is a very generous lock indeed. There is good castor-action, the Javelin steers well when reversing, and this is smooth steering, if inclined to be a little heavy at low speeds. Road irregularities have no effect on it and at fast cruising speeds it becomes light and accurate, the car becoming a real pleasure to put round corners or to hold at speed through open bends. The tendency, as would be expected, is distinct understeer. Actually, the Javelin designer has cleverly made the best of two worlds. He has endowed his car with soft suspension (torsion bar all round, wishbone i.f.s.) and given it a big ground clearance, the radio aerial, for instance, being beneath the chassis and still clear of the worst we could find in the way of roughstuff. Such suspension and ground clearance are essential in export markets. Such a combination is bound to result in some rolling when cornering fast and at low speeds the car has a tendency to wander and feels noticeably supple, but it does ride magnificently, permitting mile-a-minute negotiation without any discomfort of truly bad roads and worse, in the way of level crossings, etc. Increase speed, however, and the supple feel that endows the Javelin with its outstanding degree of comfort largely vanishes, giving place to accurate steering and enjoyable, understeer cornering. Such Jekyll and Hyde handling and riding characteristics will be much appreciated in the markets of the world.
Moderate speed cornering produced some tyre-protest, so that we stopped to check the pressures. They were a pound or two above those recommended, so there was nothing more we could do. Many cars offend in this respect to a far greater degree, but possibly larger tyres than 5.25-16 are called for in this instance. A change of surface produces a change of note from the tyres which the disc wheels probably amplify.
This experience of the prototype Javelin confirmed all the praise we willingly bestowed on the prototype. It stands out as a roomy car, essentially modern, that gets along extremely effortlessly on its 1i-litres, handles very reasonably, and cruises unconcernedly at 60-70 m.p.h. when called upon to do so, while possessing acceleration and braking fully in keeping with such speed capabilities. The rest of the story is soon told. The engine, in spite of a 7.1 to 1 compression
ratio, did not ” pink ” on Pool fuel and required no oil and little water in 500 miles, although we pushed it distinctly hard. Its water temperature never rose above 75 deg.-80 deg. C. Minor irritations were confined to a rather loose lamps-switch, an erratic roof lamp, rather a loud ” tick” from the clock, a defect in one rear window, and some free-play that developed in the accelerator-pedal linkage, possibly due to the use of an abnormally-strong throttle spring. The wipers tended to smear the curved screen during heavy rain, but parked effectively. Grips on the doors to facilitate closing them from within the car would have been appreciated; the front doors hinge at the back, but the rear doors are “trailing.” For night driving the lamps are immensely powerful, but the dimming arrangements proved inadequate, resulting in visible displays of wrath on the part of other road-users—and one cannot alight and slap built-in lamps into happier positions 1 The foot dimmer seemed rather close to the seat. Two interior vizors, matching the interior, effectively combat day or night dazzle. The fuel filler, in the near-side rear wing, is of sensible size. It is generally known that the Javelin’s pedals are off-set to the left of the driver, but this occasioned no inconvenience,
nor did the brake pedal location immediately beneath the steering column trouble us after the first few brake applications.
Central arm-rests are provided for front and back seats, in addition to which there are detachable outer-rests for the rear-seat occupants and small clip-up rests in the front doors. Pullout ash-trays are provided in both compartments. The horn, with steeringwheel button, is rather blatant. Normally the Javelin averages over 30 m.p.h., but we drove it really hard for much of the mileage we covered in it and for our sins consumed petrol at the rate of 25.1 m.p.g. The lift-up door handles work admirably and the leather upholstery is in keeping with the good quality demeanour of the car as a whole.
The Jowett Javelin has those performance and handling characteristics demanded by present-day fast-car drivers, it has far greater refinement and ease of control than most utility ears, it rides with the comfort of an American production, and it offers economical transport for up to six persons. It is technically outstanding, and well-suited to both home and overseas markets ; in the latter field it should be of great appeal to former users of American cars. We foresee a promising future for it, which is no more than its sponsors deserve.—W. B.