The short but startling life of the Jowett Jupiter

The short but startling life of the Jowett Jupiter

A 1950 British sports car with racing provenance on the docket for H&H Classics auction

A 1950 Jowett Jupiter with racing history that it took into storage from 1969 until 2015 is among the cars on the docket for H&H Classics’ collector car auction schedule for March 21 at Britain’s Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

The marque’s history would seem to make the pre-auction estimated value of £38,000 to £42,000 ($53,000 to $58,600) seem reasonable.

As author Mike Lawrence wrote in his encyclopedic AZ of Sports Cars Since 1945, “Jowett was founded in 1906 and for most of its life made worthy but dull cars. After the War, however, it startled the motoring world with the Javelin saloon which, by the lights of 1947, was a radical car which was very successful in rallies.”

The short but startling life of the Jowett Jupiter | ClassicCars.com Journal

The Jupiter on offer in its racing heyday

From 1950-54, Jowett produced a sports car called the Jupiter. It had a tubular chassis designed by a group headed by former Auto Union engineer Eberan von Eberhorst, whose team included a young Roy Lunn, who later would become the chief engineer for the Ford GT40 and other vehicles.

Jupiters were powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder engine and won their class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in the early 1950s. They also finished 1-2 in class the 1951 Monte Carlo Rally and posted an overall victory in the 1951 Lisbon International Rally. In 1952, Lunn and Marcel Becquart won the Royal Automobile Club’s International Rally in a Jupiter.

British magazine The Motor reported the Jupiter had a top speed of nearly 90 mph (138.6 km/h) and could sprint to 60 mph in a mere 18 seconds, yet averaged 20.9 mpg and cost nearly £200 less than a Jaguar XK120.

The Jupiter being offered at the auction was part of the 1951 Monte Carlo rally entry but did not compete in that event. However, H&H Classics reports that it has a documented racing history with photographs of it in competition at Dundrod, Silverstone and the Isle of Man.

It also reports that the car has undergone a comprehensive restoration since coming out of storage.

“In the Jowett Jupiter you are buying a rare and classy piece of British car racing history,” Damian Jones, head of sale for H&H Classics, said in a news release. “The car was a winner in its day against the toughest competition.”

According to Lawrence, Jowett produced 899 Jupiters, some of which were bodied by Pinin Farina. Though sports cars, the Jupiters had a three-person bench seat with the gear-shift lever mounted on the steering column.

In 1954, three Jupiter R4 shorter-chassis, fiberglass-bodied 120-mph prototypes of a new Jupiter were built. However, sales of the company’s Javelin sedan had fallen off to the point that Jowett shuttered its production line late that year and soon sold its factory to International Harvester, which used it to produce farming tractors.

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