The Jappic billed as ‘the smallest racing car in the world’ in a very bleak Wimbledon streetscape in April 1925…
The cars ‘main advantages are it’s lightness and portability’ is the prosaic caption.
My problem, one of the many!, is I struggle to finish projects, articles that is, I’ve started.
I have owed Rod Wolfe the next chapter of our Repco Engine story for about 12 months. I get distracted by the lure of ‘something new’ like this Jappic shot I’ve just spotted.
I see the picture, ‘go wow WTF’ and then can’t help myself with research and then jump from tangent to tangent, all of which takes loadsa time. In this case the Jappic led to Gwenda Stewart who drove it, she is an interesting character herself, then there is Montlhery as a record breaking venue and so it goes on.
End of confession! And yes Rodway, I need to complete my research of the ’67 Brabham Repco F1 year!
Isn’t the Jappic the most amazing looking little creation, though!? Other worldly.
It was a JAP engined cyclecar designed by motor-cycle racer HM Walters who intended it as a road racer for sale to special order, equipped with front brakes and fitted with either 350 or 500cc engines.
When announced in early 1925 the car was to make its first appearance at the Brooklands Easter Meeting on 11-13 April. Bill Boddy in a short piece about the car in the January 1983 issue of ‘MotorSport’ said that photos ‘were circulated of the car in front of a K Type LGOC omnibus…presumably…taken somewhere near the premises of Jarvis & Co Wimbledon, who handled the Jappic and made its shapely body. The day previously the Jappic (Reg MH3995) had broken Class1 (up to 350cc) records at Brooklands at from 63 to over 70mph, so it might have been returning’ to Wimbledon.
In fact it appears Jappic attacked the 350cc cycle-car record at the 6 June 1925 Brooklands meeting ‘races confined to drivers and motorcyclists who had never competed at the track before’ so the first photo above is probably either April or June 1925.
May the lord above bless MotorSport. If something happened in the UK, from circa 1920 you can pretty much guess Boddy, Jenkinson or one of their merry band covered it ‘in period’, which is rolled god for schleppers like me. Give me a report written in period, or the recollections of a dude who was there at the time over a modern interpretation any day.
In a more comprehensive article in the August 2000 MotorSport issue Boddy wrote again about the Jappic; ‘Cyclecars and other small cars had been encouraged to race at Brooklands before and after WWI, but the former were mostly crude devices, if one excludes the Morgans and the GNs, which had engines of around 1100cc. Anyway, apart from the latter two, the Austin 7 rather ousted cyclecars from the Weybridge scene as the 1920s rolled along. So when visitors to the Track opened their programmes on Easter Monday in 1925 and saw that a 344cc car had been entered for the second race they could be excused for being mildly surprised’.
‘The tiny racing car was called the Jappic, in deference to its JAP engine. It had been designed by motorcycle racer H M Walters, and built by the coachbuilders Jarvis of Wimbledon in London. The Jappic’s entrant was J V Prestwich of the JAP engine company’.
‘The baby was no lash-up. It was a proper miniature racer. The frame was of ash with 3/32in steel flitch plates and tubular cross-members, with another cross-member of T-section channel by the cockpit. The tubular front axle had forward-facing, underslung quarter-elliptic springs, the shock absorber anchorages adjusting the steering castor angle.
At the back, reversed quarter-elliptic springs supported an axle of tubular transverse rods instead of a solid casing, this enabling the final-drive sprocket to be accommodated in a three-armed spider, roller and ball bearings being used for the driveshafts. Expanding rear wheel brakes sufficed, and the wire wheels were shod with minuscule 650×65 tyres. The engine was a two-port ohv 74x80mm single-cylinder JAP, driving by chain to a three-speed gearbox giving ratios of 6, 8 and 12:1, and fitted with a kick-starter. Another chain drove the back axle’.
‘The slender body was actually a two-seater, because production of Jappics at 1,150 pounds each was contemplated, though this was in the end never proceeded with. But this Jarvis-bodied 5cwt car, its hemispherical nose admitting air to the engine, looked every inch a racing car. The cramped cockpit had seats of sheet aluminium and the bottom half of the steering wheel was cut away to improve access. The driver sat at a head level of 2.1/2ft. Minute gear and brake levers were mounted externally, as were the two exhaust pipes’.
‘On that long-ago Bank Holiday afternoon the Jappic was driven by Walters, who had l min 14sec start from the scratch cars, Victor Gillow’s sidevalve Riley and a 1914 GP Nazarro, with Reid Railton’s Amilcar, an entry probably prompted by Parry Thomas, leaving 1 sec after the tiny cyclecar, in the 5.3/4-mile race.
Walters was not placed, but did a lap at 66.85mph, implying a top speed of some 70mph. Enough for one day. But the Jappic was out again at Whitsun, lapping at 68.03mph and just missing a third place. Walters then used it to break records, such as the Class J flying mile at 70.33mph.
In 1926 Kaye Don, the famous Sunbeam driver, was not averse to driving cyclecars, attempting records with the Avon-JAP and the Jappic, the latter now with a 495cc JAP engine, which gave Don some Class I records of up to 10 miles, at around 65mph.
After which Mrs Gwenda Stewart, of Derby-Miller fame, took it over, changing the mite’s identity to HS (Hawkes-Stewart) and refitting the 344cc engine. At Montlhery in 1928 she set the Class J 10-mile record to 70.95mph. Alas, in the garage fire at that circuit in 1932 the HS was completely destroyed’.
The Jappic story isn’t entirely over, an exacting replica is being built by Adrian Ward so enthusiasts of today can enjoy HM Walters design brilliance 100 years or so after the cars original construction. Check out his progress on this link;
For ‘Facebookers’ there is a fascinating, ongoing diary by Adrian of his progress in recreating the car, its a ripper, with loads of information, just key ‘Jappic recreation’ into the FB search engine and ‘like’ in the usual way.
I’m on FB BTW, pop primotipo.com into the same search function.
Topical Press Agency, MacGregor, Light Car & Cyclecar, Stefan Marjoran, Adrian Harris/LAT
Graces Guide to British Industrial History, Adrian Ward