Jowett Javelin

The Jowett Javelin is an award-winning British car that was produced from 1947 to 1953 by Jowett Cars Ltd of Idle, near Bradford. The model went through five variants labelled PA to PE, each having a standard and "de luxe" option. The car was designed by Gerald Palmer during World War II and was intended to be a major leap forward following the relatively staid designs of pre-war Jowetts. Just over 23,000 units were produced.


The flat four overhead valve engine of 1486 cc with a compression ratio of 7.2:1 was water-cooled and had an aluminium block and wet cylinder liners. It developed 50 bhp (37 kW) at 4100 rpm (52.5 bhp in the case of the PE) giving the car a maximum speed of 77 mph (124 km/h) and a 0-50 mph (80 km/h) time of 13.4 seconds. Two Zenith carburettors were fitted and PA and PB versions had hydraulic tappets. The radiator was behind the engine. A four-speed gearbox with column change was used. Early cars had gearboxes made by the Henry Meadows company, whilst the remainder of the cars had gearboxes made by Jowett themselves. The decision to make the gearboxes in house proved to be a costly mistake for Jowett.

Design features

Design features included aerodynamic styling with the headlights faired into the wings and, for the time, a steeply sloped, curved windscreen. The body was of pressed steel, incorporating a box-section chassis and was made for Jowett by Briggs Motor Bodies in their Doncaster factory. The suspension used torsion-bars on all wheels (independent at the front) and internal gear-and-pinion steering. PA and PB models had mixed Girling hydraulic brakes at the front and mechanical braking at the rear. Later versions were fully hydraulic.


The car had a wheelbase of 102 inches (2,600 mm) and a track of 51 inches (1,300 mm). Overall the car was 14 feet (4.3 m) long, 5 feet (1.5 m) wide and weighed about 1 (Imperial) ton (depending on model and year). The car was expensive costing GBP819 at launch.


A de-luxe saloon version tested by The Motor magazine in 1953 had a top speed of 82.4 mph (132.6 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 20.9 seconds. A fuel consumption of 29.1 miles per imperial gallon (9.71 L/100 km; 24.2 mpg-US) was recorded. The test car cost £1207 including taxes.

Sporting achievements

An early example won in its class at the 1949 Monte Carlo Rally whilst another won the 2-litre touring-car class at the Spa 24-hour race that same year. In the 1952 International RAC Rally a Javelin again won its class and also took the "Best Closed Car" award, while the 1953 International Tulip Rally was won outright by a privately entered Javelin.

Popular culture

  • A Javelin features in How to Irritate People sketch "Car Salesman".
  • In the film Vera Drake, Vera's car is a Javelin.
  • In episode 104, "Fallen Angel", of the television series Ballykissangel, Father Clifford inherits a Jowett Javelin. The car was used throughout the rest of Series One and all of Series Two, until it went off a cliff in episode 301 "As Happy As A Turkey On Boxing Day".
  • The song "Jowett Javelin" appears on the Harvey Andrews album "Snaps" and describes a ride in the automobile.
  • A Jowett Javelin is used in the Simple Minds video for 'see the lights'