1950 Jowett Javelin
1950 Jowett Javelin; photo courtesy of Fred Hislop. Click image to enlarge

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By Bill Vance

The first imported cars to establish a beachhead in North America in the late 1940s and early ’50s came from Britain. Struggling to get back on its financial feet following the Second World War, England implemented an “Export or Die” policy. One of its main export targets was North America, and what better product to send than automobiles.

The first English cars to arrive were based on pre-war technology, and weren’t really suitable for the speeds and distances of a large continent. Led by Austin with its 1948 Devon/Dorset, Britain soon developed models with contemporary engineering. North America quickly became Britain’s largest export market.

One of the most unusual, and rarest, marques to arrive from England during that period was the Jowett Javelin made by Jowett Cars Ltd., a small firm based in the unlikely location of Bradford, Yorkshire. Bradford was hardly one of the motoring capitals of the world, so to be the home of an automobile company, especially one that produced a car with unusual technical features, was a welcome surprise.

Benjamin and William Jowett had established a small bicycle repair business in Bradford at the turn of the century, and quickly expanded into motorcycles. They soon began producing their own motorcycle, and by 1906 had built their first prototype car. It was powered by a two-cylinder, horizontally-opposed (flat), engine, a configuration they would remain faithful to over their almost 50 years of car building.

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