Recently I heard from the owner of a car we sold that was shipped to Asuncion, Paraguay. That’s a new location for me! I wish I could travel the world like some of the cars we shipped over the past many years 🙂 Maybe just stow away and live on the transport ship as the car makes its way to its destination. In the meantime while I’m daydreaming, let’s learn a bit more about the special we had found.
American Special-Bodied Foreign Sports Cars
Recently here at Undiscovered Classics I’ve been sharing stories about some of the more rare specials that were built in America in the early postwar era. Some of the most interesting ones built used a chassis from rare foreign sports cars – at least rare for America.
We’ve opened up a section of our website on one such car – the Singer sports cars from the UK. Here in America several of these cars were custom bodied with some beautiful examples. To help celebrate these American Special Bodied Singer sports cars, we created a section of our website dedicated to Singers which you can click on and visit below.
Click Here To View American Special Bodied Singers and More
In today’s story, we’re highlighting another such car – this one built on a Jowett Jupiter chassis. Let’s learn more:
Jowett Jupiter – A Rare Sports Car Indeed
The Jowett Jupiter is another British sports car (as is Singer) that few American sports car enthusiasts have heard of. From 1950 thru 1954, just under 1000 of these sports cars were built and a few reached the American shore. It used an engine around 1500 cc and had a 4-speed manual gearbox. With a wheelbase of 93 inches, it was similar in size to the MG and Singer sports cars (perfect for one of our Allied Swallow bodies – by the way). Let’s have a look at a Jowett Jupiter sports car:
The engine makes this car even more unusual – it’s in front of the front axle. So the front design of the car goes bumper, body, engine, axle, and then radiator- something we rarely see. Check out the design below:
Back in 1953, a fiberglass bodied Jowett sports car was released and three were produced – two survive today. The elongated front of the car was needed to enclose the engine / drivetrain shown above. I like the look of the car shown below.
Jowett Jupiter Specials – American Style
I’m sure there were – or are – more than the one Jowett Jupiter American specials. I would hate to think our car was the only one built but you never know. Perhaps we’ll hear from more folks who will reveal the existence of others. We found our car in Maryland, but that’s where it ended up. Not where it was built. More on that in a bit.
The Jupiter would have been an exciting choice for an American Special for several reasons. It had a tubular chassis, torsion bar suspension, independent front suspension and is often considered by sports car enthusiasts as well-designed and miles ahead of its time in design (although probably a bit front heavy as you can see below).
Let’s Meet The Earnest Michaelson “Jowett Jupiter Special”
So I found a car for sale up in the state of Maryland. Actually, good friend Donnie Vivier of Fiberclassics found the car and passed the information to me. We headed up to Maryland to give it a look and bring it back to Tampa, Florida. Once home, we could sort out exactly what we had found.
The seller gave us the following information concerning the car from it’s builder and the son of the builder. It had been built by Earnest C. Michaelson in California in the mid to late 1950s. At some point the family lived in Alabama, and the car went with the family when they moved from Alabama to Maryland in retirement. A photo of the car when it was being built was given to the seller by the Michaelson’s son, and the title of the car confirms the donor car heritage. Both images are below:
Another piece of information passed to us was the original bill of sale for the Jowett Jupiter donor car on February 21, 1956 – see below.
Let’s check out some photos of our find.
Thoughts on the Michaelson Jowett Jupiter Special
As you may have noticed, this special has a different motor than the original Jowett Jupiter sports car. Given the shape of the body, it’s not surprising – and it may have happened more than once with any other Jowett Jupiter Specials given the extreme forward position of the engine in the original chassis. The engine in our car appears to have been changed in the 1970s given the heritage of the motor. It’s unknown what the original engine was when the car was built.
My friends who own Devin sports cars say’||||||||||||||||||| that the car above is not quite a “Devin” body and might be a Byers CR90. My Byers friends say that its not quite a “Byers CR90” body and must be a Devin. It’s probably not a unique body so it might have started life as one style or the other and been modified. Hopefully we’ll find the Michaelson family and more history will be revealed. Photos of a Devin and a Byers CR90 appear below.
The Michaelson Jowett Jupiter Special Finds A New Home
As with many of the cars we find at Undiscovered Classics, they find new homes so we can concentrate on other restorations. I would have loved to restore this car and pursue the history more but alas….so little time and so many cool cars to find and document.
The new owner is Marcos from Asuncion, Paraguay. His brother Alberto helped coordinate the sale and transportation of this car and sent me the following photos of Marcos and the Jowett Jupiter Special soon after the car arrived in Paraguay.
We have not been able to reach Ernest Michael’s son since we bought the car. Hopefully we’ll hear from him via the story we’re posting today, and learn more about his father’s handbuilt sports car.
We also wish the best of success on the restoration to Marcos and his newly acquired Jowett Jupiter Special. I’m looking forward to getting updates as the restoration progresses. When it’s finished, it’s sure to be the nicest Devin Special or Jowett Jupiter Special that the folks in Paraguay have ever seen. Wouldn’t it be funny, though, to find another Devin or Jowett-Jupiter down their now – stranger things have happened though 🙂
By the way…. more and more of our cars are going overseas – both restored and unrestored examples. Those of you interested can click on the link below to see some of these cars and their new overseas homes:
Cars Shipped Overseas by Undiscovered Classics
Hope you enjoyed the story, and remember…
The adventure continues here at Undiscovered Classics.
My Friend, you can email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org Will call. Cheers!
@Michael Lugo…Just sent photos to you via e-mail. Geoff
Great to read of this unique Jowett. The original motor was a 1500cc horizontally-opposed (“Boxer”) unit, water-cooled (not air-cooled like a VW) and despite how it may look, the weight distribution was spot-on. Standard Jupiters (and the mechanically similar Jowett Javelin sedan) had several racing and rallying successes, including class wins at Le Mans (the Le Mans car also raced at Watkins Glen in ’51).
The Jupiter chassis was designed by Robert Eberan von Ebrhorst and was exhibited at the New York show in April 1950. Suspension is torsion-bar all round, independent at the front, live axle at the rear and chopping it about to accommodate a different engine is definitely NOT a good idea!
As editor of JOWETTEER, the Jowett Car Club magazine, I would be delighted to hear more of the Devin Special. Although our club is based here in the UK, we have members world-wide, including several in the USA.
John….we’ll keep you informed. I’m told this week by Alberto who is part of the family that owns the car that they are about half-way through the restoration so pictures should be forthcoming. Good to hear from you and hope you enjoy our next story on the car. And by the way….I have another story of a Jowett Jupiter Special here in the USA I’ll be running in the next few days so stay tuned. Best, Geoff Hacker, Undiscovered Classics.
One last thought, the body in question was laid up with good quality fibreglass cloth. It was very smooth, translucent and Ivory color. Not with a chopper gun.
Dear Geoff, I no longer have photos of the Byers body due to a flood in the basement of my Mother house.(northern N.J.). Where I would keep my auto library. Everything turned into a mountain of wet pulp. God I still want to cry when I think about it. It was priceless, especially my collection of signed Grand Prix drivers photographs. Every year on the grid i would take head shot of the drivers, I would print them in 5×7, and the next year have them sign them. It was almost every driver of the 1-1/5 liter formula. Jim Clark hated to be interupted on the grid but I found him after in the pits. I help push his Lotus BRM16 into Victory lane, god what a mob! Graham Hill was as rude as could be. Dan Gurney was everybody’s friend, you could engage him on any subject. Oh sorry, I got lost, the Byers body was small and translucent. It was unpainted. The rear fenders were a straight copy of the Devin. I thought that I had gotten a Devin at first, but a friend showed me the difference. The Devin had a marked creast on the inside line from the headlights pods. It is the “tell” on all Devin bodies My brother Ali sold it at the Lime Rock Fall Festival, in the swap meet. Will try to call you this evening. Cheers, Michael.
Michael – I look forward to the phone call. What’s your e-mail address? I’ll send you the photos – may not be of your Byers CR90 though.
It is my belief that the body is a Byers 90. Having owned one, I am familiar with the style and shape of the nose. The back part of the body was a straight copy of the Devin. I suspect that Jim Byers did a straight splash of the Devin. My Byers body was sold at the Lime Rock Vintage meet. Last I hear it was cut up in quarters and extended to cover an MG chassis. if you look at photographs of the Bat Masterson Chevy special that ran on the west coast, you will see the difference.
Michael…I have photos of your Byers CR90 body at Lime Rock. Do you have any photos of it too?
Motor is a Ford 2.0 or 2.3 liter usually found in a Pinto. Car will handle abysmally as the tubes supporting the front suspension were chopped out to drop in the motor. There were many attempts to swap motors into the Jowett chassis, from 4 cyl flathead Jeep to Offenhausers, with the most common a V8. Almost all cut the chassis without thinking of the flex that would occur. Several are known to have been destroyed in crashes caused by ill handling or steering failure.