Unusual British Barn Find: Jowett Javelin

Brought to our attention by reader Dik S., this Jowett Javelin barn find located in Maidstone, Kent, United Kingdom is listed for sale here on eBay UK. This is a fascinating little oddity of a car with some very distinctive engineering features, despite what some would call humdrum looks. Bidding is only up to 1,220 pounds ($1,579 today) and there’s no reserve, so a bargain may well be had.

The vaguely Volkswagen-ish or Tatra-ish shape was a huge jump forward from previous designs for Jowett, and was presumably styled that way to enhance aerodynamics. Although we don’t know the year of this car, they were produced from 1947 to 1953. About 23,000 were made over that period.

Believe it or not, somewhere down there is a water cooled flat four engine! In case you’re wondering, the fan is run off a jack shaft, and the radiator is towards the rear of the engine compartment. Never let it be said Jowetts were traditional!

Here’s a cutaway drawing of that engine courtesy of the North American Jowett Register. You can get an idea of how low the engine is in the chassis by comparing the fan position in this drawing with the picture above. I’ll bet not too many of you Subaru, Porsche & Volkswagen owners knew there was a British flat four as well. Not only that, but there was a sports car version of the Javelin called the Jupiter, that had pretty decent performance for its day.

There’s nothing quite like the smell of an old, neglected British car. It’s more organic smelling than a similar American find. I don’t really know how else to describe it. Apart from the tears at the top of the driver’s seat, some of this could actually be reconditioned with some work, at least to an acceptable driver standard. Unfortunately, the rust, although relatively minor in appearance, might relegate this Javelin to parts car status. Personally, I hope not. Are any of our UK readers interested?


Fast Finds


  1. Sam

    Interesting car to restore. Not an AMX Javelin….Jowett sounds like a cut of pork.

  2. Doyler
  3. Brakeservo

    Well, Jumping Jowett Jupiters – it was a real hot diggity car back then boss!

  4. vintagehistoric

    The car pictured is an early Deluxe model, so 1949 to 1951. That’s a leather interior and English walnut dash. 1.5 liter, 4 speed, all corners are torsion bar and it came from the factory with a Panhard rod, in what we now call a 5 link rear axle set-up.

    Car looks to be largely complete, but parts are easy to source and the Jowett Car Club in the UK is quite active: witness the link to the restoration project. The NZ and Australian Clubs are also very active.

    How are they to drive? With two of my buddies on board, we drove mine from Los Angeles to the Arctic Circle and back last June, by way of Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff, Denali and a lot of stone and mud roads. No interstate, except when there was no other road.

    A couple of flat tires and one broken door hinge (rewelded by a woman so perfectly there was no need to replace it upon return). Fantastic trip.

    • steve..

      About 20 June, heading south on the Dalton? NOW I know what that was!

    • Brian the Fiat,

      This Jowett is registered in 1950 according to the numberplate, and
      First registered in Gloucestershire,

  5. Ken Nelson Member

    The Jowett Jupiter, built from ’50 thru ’53, for a total run of around 900 cars, was an all-aluminum bodied roadster that Jowett built to bring US $$ to the UK after WW II, when MGs and Austins were all the rage, vs the Jowett sedan. As loads of airplanes weren’t needed anymore, and no tooling for production could be made from aluminium (Britspell), loads of UK cars had alum. bodies, and these Jupiters had all hand-finished panels out of rubber/hydraulic one-sided stamping dies. Each car’s panels were numbered as to build, and were not exactly interchangeable due to the hand-flanging and fitting. To prevent electrolytic corrosion of the aluminum where it was attached to the chrome-moly steel tube chassis, brass bolts and padding were used to fasten panels to the tubing. The Jupiter used the same engine/gearbox as the Javelin, but of course a different chassis. Jupiters did quite well at Lemans and other racing venues, taking their class – 1500 ccs.
    Sadly, Jowett folded after ’53. Part of the reason may have been that the flat four crankshaft tended to crack – not a great recommendation. It was only after the car went out of production that the crank was fixed, but too late. Gearboxes were also an issue – there were two different manufacturers, and several troublesome problems showed up, but have been corrected often on restored cars. There is a good club in the UK, and much smaller ones elsewhere.

    • Graywolf

      Please make me a GASSER!👍🏁👏

  6. KEN TILLY Member

    Jowett Jupiter. Quite a radical design for a British car.

  7. KEN TILLY Member

    Jowett Jupiter Rear end

    • Brian the Fiat,

      1952 registered, Wolverhampton county council, (Birmingham),

  8. Mike H. Mike H

    Did anyone else catch the reference to Volkswagen styling immediately below the rear view, and the “KDF” number plate?

    That was amusing to me.


    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Me too. I wondered if anyone else would notice :-)

  9. Howard A Member

    Yarrr matey, you calls that a Javelin? The 2 cars, share nothing in common, except the 4 tires and a gas motor. Looks like great little car, but again ( and again) not exactly the thing for roarin’ across the desert. vintagehistoric, you’re a brave person. Bet that was fun. This car? IDK, horribly inept for the US, but for a “what the heck was that?”,( you’d have plenty of time to turn and look) it would be great. I heard the Jowett was a really nice car.

  10. angyl

    Restoration might not be that tricky, there’s a whole host of panels available in another listing that look like they might even be the same colour. A different seller too, what are the chances?

  11. steve..

    Holy smokes! I was in my Westfalia heading up the Dalton highway last June and saw this…..car….heading south.. NO idea what it was…So…vintagehistoric, that must have been you! I thought I was a brave soul with a 33 year old car…

    • MikeH

      You never know what questions will be answered by reading Barn Finds.

    • vintagehistoric

      I do recall seeing a few VW Westfalia on the trip, as I was paying attention to the types of RVs that were on the road. If we were headed south, it was after June 21.

      We made the Arctic Circle sign in late afternoon on the solstice and popped champagne at midnight as the sun moved sideways across the horizon. Totally cool.

  12. Beeman on Nevis

    The British registration number will indicate the year of the car, provided of course it is correct for the vehicle in question. KDF was first issued in late 1950, (likley October or November, considering the number) and the letters DF tell you it was first registered by Gloucestershire County Council, which is on the other side of England to Kent where it was found. We are indebted to the late Les Newall who wrote “A History of Motor Vehicle Registrations in the United Kingdom”
    for this kind of imformation.

  13. JRATT1956

    I owned a 1951 Jowett Jupiter in 1975, that I traded a 1962 Chevy Impala with the 409, that cost me $150. I sold the Jupiter in 1977 for $1,200. I had enlisted in the USAF and was in VA and the car was in Bakersfield , CA. I should of kept it, they go for about $70K today. I need my crying towel,lol. As a matter of fact, I would not mind having the 62 chevy back either.
    From what I know there were only about 50 imported into the USA. Aluminium body, fiberglass doors, steel tubular frame. The hood and fenders when opened were supported by the same type mechanism that was used on the
    F-106 Delta Dart aircraft electronics compartment doors. I worked on the
    F-106 avionics systems from 1977 to 1981.
    I have a booklet somewhere that gives the history of the Jowett brothers company that was started in 1906 and closed in 1955. The Jupiter won in it’s class at Le Mans in 1951.

  14. Tim

    My father still reminices about his Javelin and what a fantastic car it was to work on. He was an airframe fitter and later RAF pilot, so knew his mechanics very well, and loved the Javelin. The whole front end could be unbolted, where the radiator would usually be, so you had complete and uninterrupted access to that flat four engine. You could almost walk in to the engine bay to work on it!

    He eventually traded it, going from Jowett to Triumph Herald convertible, to Hillman Imp and Singer Chamois, to British Ford Corsair. Despite the collection of oddball classics he still talk about the Javelin most. If only it were a driver, I’d buy it for him. At 85, he’s in no fit state to be restoring one. A shame.

  15. Ian

    Gerald Palmer designed – say no more !!
    They are very able cars even now with a strong following
    Regretfully – one or two lost on the demolition derby tracks here which tells
    you how strong they are

  16. Bill McCoskey

    I owned a Jupiter roadster for a few years in the late 1970s. my only real problem was the engine access on the Javelin Jupiter: The entire front clip opened, hinged from the rear, but it didn’t open far enough, so working under the hood meant I was on my knees most of the time, reaching into the engine compartment. With the front wheels up on some 2X6 boards, sometimes I would sit in front of the car, my legs & feet under the engine area. The attached photo shows the limited access available; The bottom front of the bonnet was lower than the base of the windscreen.

  17. Alan Alexis

    JRATT1956. I tried to buy a Jowett Jupiter in 1983 in Bakersfield. It was behind a Junk Store, out on East Edison Hwy. Car was intact, but not running. Wanted 1800.00 for it, but I was in High School, and could scrape up the money. Oddly enough, I joined the USAF then, and never saw the car again. It was gone, went I went back to try to find it, in 1987.

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