Sunday, March 25, 2007
Seeing a picture of a Rover KV6 cylinder head, it occured to me that this was the top half of a great unrealised engine. Mentioning the idea elicited a reminder that a three cylinder version of the K-Series powered the Mini Spiritual concept car shown by Rover at the 1997 Geneva Show, in this case mounted horizontally at the rear of the car.
Given the likely a cost saving over the four, it could be used to provide a higher level of sophistication - four valves per cylinder, injection instead of a carburettor in the early engines. There's also the possiblility of a 1350cc 120bhp K3-VVC, which would deliver more power than the 1.4 litre fours in the Metro, with a very different character.
Inspired and Informed
Austin Allegro and Ogle SX1000
The Ogle, built from 1962 to 1963 was a Mini-based sports coupe. The firm, bereft of its founder David Ogle, went on to greater things including the Reliant Scimitar GTE and Raleigh Chopper.
The similarity in parts, such as the grille, side window shapes and "buttressed" front wings is uncanny but, I suspect, coincidental. The Allegro's designer was well capable of creating original shapes, as was amply demonstrated in the 1975 Leyland Princess and Triumph TR7.
Perhaps the Jowett can now be seen as Yorkshire's equivalent of the NSU Ro80, another car form a small regional car maufacturer who had world-beating ambitions, withoout the depth of resources to see them through. Javelin production ended in 1953 with just over 23,000 produced.
An honourable departure
A near-contemporary of the Jowett Javelin was the Cemsa Caproni, designed by Antonio Fessia for the Italian aircraft manufacturer. The plan to move into car manufacture was abandoned not long after production started, and only two examples are thought to survive.
The similarities to the Jowett are clear, flat four engine and conspicuously aerodynamic coachwork, although the Cemsa had front-wheel drive, and an engine capacity of only 1100cc.
We may lament that Cesma never had the opportunity to become Italy's Saab or Bristol, but at least the Caproni’s designer had the opportunity to use the experience later in his career, as it provided the template for the design of Lancia Flavia launched in 1961, by which time Professor Fessia was head of the Turin manufacturer's Central Technical Office.