- The Washington Times - Friday, August 25, 2000

Most of the vehicles Jowett Cars Ltd. built for the British market from 1906 until immediately before World War II were either practical and unspectacular passenger cars or the reliable and well-liked Bradford trucks. After the war, Jowett introduced a four-door sedan of advanced design called the Javelin.
Witnessing the sales success MG was enjoying in the postwar U.S. market, Jowett decided the time was right for a sports model and what better name was there for a sports car than "Jupiter."
Because the Jupiter used the engine and running gear from the new Javelin sedan, the folks at Jowett incorporated the well-known Javelin name with the early Jupiters.
Jowett built 899 standard Jupiters from 1950 until 1954. The Jupiter was a big hit when it was introduced in April 1950 in New York at the British Motor Show. That same year it was victorious in the 1.5-liter class at the 24-hour race at Le Mans, France, the first of three consecutive such wins. The eager four-cylinder, overhead-valve engine produces 60 horsepower, but that has to propel the 14-foot-long, 1,865-pound two-seat car.
In 1972 Huntley H. Perry was working at the Naval Air Systems Command when a friend, who was restoring a Bugatti, told him about a Jupiter for sale in Kensington that he had seen when picking up some parts for the Bugatti. After a quick look, Mr. Perry bought the car.
After all, how far wrong can you go for $450?
He towed it to his parents' house in Northwest, where it sat. And sat. And sat some more.
Mr. Perry retired in 1984 and a year later moved to the wide open spaces of rural Laytonsville. That's when he brought the car out to his new home. It didn't receive any more attention there than it had the previous 13 years.
Another decade passed when Mr. Perry learned that the Jupiter Owners' Auto Club in England was planning a big rally for the 2000 Le Mans race to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Jupiter's first victory at the race.
That's when Mr. Perry got serious about his Jupiter, which incidentally, happens to be car No. 100. Dismantling of the car began in December 1997, and restoration began with the idea of making the 2000 Le Mans deadline.
Mr. Perry knew the engine block was aluminum, which needed some repairs, but he was unhappily surprised to discover that both cast-iron cylinder heads were cracked. During the rebuilding of the engine he was glad to learn that Volkswagen diesel engine valves were not only a perfect fit, but were suitable for unleaded fuel as well.
The four-bladed radiator fan is positioned behind the engine, with the radiator itself behind the fan. "That's part of the charm of this thing," Mr. Perry said.
Each of the 16-inch wheels is ventilated with a dozen holes to help cool the brakes.
The tubular frame supports the car on torsion bars instead of springs. Under the cockpit is a real wooden floor. The area beneath the horizontally stored spare tire is open to the elements. No floor here.
The horizontal panel between the two rear bumpers provides access to the spare tire. The same key used to open the spare-tire door is also employed in opening the engine hood.
Actually, that's a misnomer since not only the hood but also the front fenders, grille and headlights go up as a unit when accessing the engine. Pulling a lever or twisting a handle was all that most 1951 cars required to get to the engine.
Not the Jowett Javelin Jupiter.
The first of several steps is making sure the front wheels are aimed straight ahead. Then out of its cloth bag in the glove compartment comes the very same Budget Lock Key that also opens the spare-tire door.
The chrome-capped locks at the base of both front fenders must be unlocked. Moving to the front of the Jupiter you find two chrome-plated knobs in front of the grille, almost hidden behind the bumper guards. After these are turned sufficiently, the entire part of the body work forward of the fire wall may be lifted but not too much.
"Unfortunately, the shebang doesn't lift up high enough, so getting at the radiator cap is a feat for a topflight contortionist, especially on a hot day," wrote Mechanix Illustrated's Tom McCahill in a road test report in September 1950.
Inside the cockpit, behind the right-hand-drive, "T"-spoked, banjo steering wheel is the walnut veneer-over-plywood dashboard. In the center of the dashboard the trafficator switch is at the top of the controls. Right below the trafficator control is the headlight switch. To the left, top to bottom, are the fog light switch, heater switch and cigarette lighter. To the right are the controls for the windshield wipers, panel lights and the all important starter. The choke is under the dashboard.
Turning the trafficator switch on the dashboard in the direction you wish to turn activates an illuminated arm that flips out from the appropriate side of the car just forward of the door. The signals are not self-canceling, but do have a 10-second timer to shut them off.
Although the speedometer is set to register speeds up to 120 mph, a realistic Mr. Perry said, "80 mph is probably a good top speed in the car."
Both the top and interior were redone in tan, the original color. The top has a genuine glass window.
Behind the seat are a pair of six-volt batteries. Behind the driver's seat is a place for a built-in toolbox. That's going to be one of those "last thing to do jobs" for Mr. Perry.
Mr. Perry is a stickler for details, so when it came time to paint the Jupiter he insisted on the correct shade of scarlet. With no paint chips available, the chrome-plated "Javelin/Jupiter" hood emblem was removed to expose paint that hadn't seen the light of day since 1951. The correct color was determined after a computer color match was made, Mr. Perry said.
The restoration project was tackled with the philosophy of Mr. Perry: "If it hasn't broken, it will." Consequently, if any part was questionable, it was replaced.
After 29 months the jaunty Jupiter was restored. Mr. Perry took delivery on April 19th, but the shipping date for Le Mans was May 22nd, barely enough time for a complete shakedown. As with any rebuild, a few things needed to be adjusted or corrected, and since a cross-country trek awaited the car in Europe, Mr. Perry reluctantly removed his restored Jupiter from the roster.
Mr. Perry and his wife did fly to Brussels in June, and in a rental car they joined the 40 Jupiters that did make the trip to the site where a Jupiter 50 years ago was driven 24 hours averaging 71.9 mph.
The handsomely restored Jupiter's odometer has recorded 23,655 miles, a figure Mr. Perry believes to be true. As for his Jowett Javelin Jupiter, which is wider (62-inches) than it is tall (56-inches), and rides on 5.50x16-inch tires on a 93-inch wheelbase, Mr. Perry is quite content.
"I'm getting to be quite an expert on overhead fan shaft engines," he said with a smile.

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