In the background of this week’s Snapshot is a Jowett Jupiter – but the car in the foreground is a Jupiter too: bodied by Farina, it is here seen at the 1950 Paris Salon in October 1950.
In 1947, Jowett introduced the highly advanced Javelin, with flat-four 1,500 cc engine, torsion-bar springing all round – independent at the front and live axle at the rear with Panhard rod location – and an aerodynamic body. This was followed in 1949 by the Jupiter, whose chassis was first exhibited at the Earls Court Motor Show of October 1949. The tubular frame with rack and pinion steering was designed at ERA (Dunstable) by the Auto Union engineer Dr. Robert Eberan-Eberhorst.
The torsionally stiff chassis Jupiter chassis was much favoured by coachbuilders, and bodies were made by Ghia-Suisse, Beutler and Radford – and in particular Stabilimenti Farina of Turin. Four Farina Jupiters were built in 1950 and 1951, with some very advanced features for the time: self-parking wipers; assisted door opening mechanism; headlight flasher and main dip-switch on the steering column; separate floor-level fresh air ventilation for driver and passenger; the facility to check and inflate the spare tyre externally; and a tilt-and-slide opening roof.
The Farina Jupiters had steel bodies, hand-made with at least 50 small separate sections skilfully butt-welded together to create the curves and large panels. For lightness, the boot, bonnet and sunroof were in alloy. The flowing lines of the body were uninterrupted by the fuel filler (placed in the boot), and flush door handles enhanced the streamlining of the car. Remarkable, too, was the single-piece curved windscreen, when the standard Jupiter had to make do with a two-piece screen with flat panes.
In more recent times, a restorer of one of the four cars discovered the Wilmot-Breeden coil-spring mechanism that assisted door opening. It is said that Giovanni Farina, originally a builder of horse-drawn vehicles, hated squeaks and rattles – and used this feature to place the doors under tension when closed, to keep hinges and catches silent.
The Jupiter in our Snapshot is the first of the four. Chassis number E0 SA 7R was delivered to Farina in August 1950 to receive body number 9409 for the October Paris Salon. The car survives in the UK after a period spent in Malaya (1953-58) and a longer spell in New Zealand. Sadly, it now carries a Jaguar grille – but the last of the four, chassis 109, has been beautifully restored to its original configuration and is also in the UK. The other two cars (chassis 33 and 59) still survive, in the USA and New Zealand respectively.