After saving long and hard I eventually became the proud owner of a Jowett 7 Horsepower, twin-cylinder saloon that seemed to go on forever and ever. It sat fairly high, had hard springing, narrow tyres and a slow revving side-valve engine. In heavy snow I had chains on the wheels, but in icy conditions I used the rope from around orange boxes wrapped round and round the rear tyres and spoke and tensioned by a few brake shoe springs. That was an innovation that really worked well and enabled me to get though with my deliveries in the severest of winters.
I had the old Jowett for 16 years. During that time it was out every day collecting and delivering groceries throughout the area. We also traveled back and forth to Chesterfield visiting relations every weekend. We went on numerous holidays and day trips in her as well.
It was the most remarkable car that I have ever driven, and I have been behind the wheel of a host of different ones during the course of fifty five years motoring. It would do over fifty miles to the gallon, when petrol was around 11 ½ d. (less than 5p.) per. gallon. It had only one replacement silencer, and that was a second hand one! It may sound incredible but I was stopped only once with a mechanical fault, and that was only the distributor cap that had come adrift. I had only two punctures as well.
The old girl was not very comfortable by modern standards and it was a fairly hard ride for passengers. I always said though, that if I ran over a penny I could tell if it was “heads or tails”. It was cheaper to Road Tax then the more popular Austin 7, as the tax then was £1 per horse-power; the Austin was 7.5 h.p. and cost £8., while the Jowett was only 7 h.p. and cost me just £7. per year. Oh, happy, happy days of cheap motoring!
I had a good way of saving on oil too. The Jowett never had the luxury of a pint of brand new oil. It ran on oil that had been drained from Teddy White’s buses. I kept the drained oil in a five gallon drum for six months, then I carefully poured it into a funnel which I had lined with one of my wife’s old silk stockings. The result was remarkably clear, refined oil. Oil filters were not renewable then, being merely cylinders of wire gauze which were simply washed out in petrol and reused.
The engine never needed a new bearing and I never adjusted the big ends. Oil consumption was around one pint per month, most of that being lost through the engine casing, which wasn’t exactly oil-tight. There was no water-pump, no fan or belt of any kind and nothing so refined as a thermostat! But she started well in cold weather, on the handle of course. There was no heater, so I improvised with an old two gallon petrol tin filled with boiling water and wrapped in an old jumper. I feel sure that I must have been well wrapped up as well.
It was a sad day when I reluctantly decided to sell the Jowett. My wife wanted to be seen in a more up to date model. When I bought the Jowett it was just three years old; after sixteen years of faithful service to me I then sold her for £45, making a profit of £25 on the original price that I had paid. I am sure that inflation was not desperately high then, car prices may have risen steadily but my old Jowett had not depreciated at all. It continued to give its new owner good value and reliable service for many years. The chap who bought it was a bus driver for Hulley’s, and I can remember that whenever we passed through Baslow the children would all shout to me to slow down at the end of Hulley’s yard for them to see if they could get a glimpse of the old Jowett.
Shortly after the car had gone an old lady who lived across the road from the shop came in one day. She called me out from the back of the shop and said,
“Mr. Jacques, I have just been told that you have sold the Jowett. I am sorry to see it go. It has been a part of the village for such a long time. You know, you should really have had permission from the Parish Council to sell that car!”.
She was serious about it as well……..