In the world of motor racing there are privateers, and then there are privateers. On the one hand you have those that would fall into the former category. These privateers would be merely happy with competing and would purchase entire race cars and components in order to ensure the easiest way to go racing. However, there are those that fall into the later category. Such privateers would come about as close as one could get to being their own manufacturer. In the case of Brian Naylor and his JBW Cars effort, he would definitely fall into the later category.
Based in Stockport, outside of Manchester, England, Brian Naylor would, by no means, be a small time player in the motor trade. By the 1950s, Naylor would oversee no less than six companies. He would need, and take advantage, of every single one of them too as he would look to begin a racing career that would kick off in 1953 and would run until 1961.
Naylor would begin his racing career around the national scene taking part in sportscar races. But despite the fact there were more than enough competitive sportscars out there in which he could purchase and use, Naylor wouldn't be happy merely paying to take part. Naylor wanted the full experience. Not only did he want to race, but he also certainly fancied himself to be a man capable of following along the same path as others like John Cooper, Vandervell and McAlpine.
Therefore, Naylor would turn to a friend, and mechanic, Fred Wilkinson. Wilkinson would then take the sportscars that Naylor would purchase and would make refinements to them; at least what they considered refinements. This partnership would constitute the beginnings and the etymology of the JBW name.
It wasn't as though Naylor was without success and experience. In 1955, Naylor would earn an incredible 13 victories and 7 second place results driving in various club events around Britain. Therefore, it is not surprising that Naylor began to shift his focus toward creating the more perfect racecar.
It would be nothing for Naylor to look for a certain type of car based upon reliability or performance instead of by the type of racing in which he planned to compete. Therefore, Naylor and Wilkinson would be constantly improving upon a car's short-comings in an all-out pursuit to fashion the perfect racecar.
Not all of Naylor's cars would be his creations. Alongside his sportscar creations, Naylor would also drive a Cooper T43 chassis in a fair number of Formula 2 events. So, while Naylor would campaign the Cooper T43 Formula 2 car, Wilkinson would be busy stripping down and rebuilding their own 'in-house' designs.
Naylor would continue to take part in a number of races with a number of different cars, many of which would be conceived by Wilkinson's own hand. Unfortunately, such a practice did come with some difficulty and danger. This would never be more obvious than in 1957 when the Maserati-powered Lotus 11, in which Naylor was driving, would have a weld fail on the car's suspension pieces. The failure would result in Naylor losing control and crashing the car heavily. The car would be completely destroyed in the accident. Naylor would survive but would suffer a broken leg nonetheless.
But while most would see such an event as a setback, Naylor and Wilkinson would see it as another opportunity to build their own car, taking the best to fashion an even better car. Therefore, the two gentlemen would pull the engine and the gearbox from the wrecked Lotus. Around it, Wilkinson would design a car that bore a great similarity to the Lotus 11, but bearing some very important updates.
Famously, Stirling Moss would take and use the JBW sportscar after his own car failed. Coming back after starting at the tail-end of the grid, Moss would take the JBW and would earn the victory. In all, Naylor would take and enter the sportscar in no less than 21 events throughout the 1958 season and would come away with an astounding tally of 14 wins.
Naylor had taken part in a couple of Formula One races prior to the 1959 season. The most recent entry had been in the German Grand Prix at the wheel of a Cooper T45. Unfortunately, this would result in a retirement. However, after the success his own marque had managed to score in sportscars, Naylor would determine it was time to commission Wilkinson their own Formula One car.
Being a small privateer team, Naylor and Wilkinson would not have to fight a board or anything of the kind when it came to layout of the car's design. As a result, Wilkinson would recognize the future of motor racing and would determine to follow Cooper's lead closely to produce their own mid-engined single-seater grand prix car.
Wilkinson would follow Cooper's lead in more than one way. It was the end of the 1950s and the mid-engined revolution was really just beginning to kick off in Formula One. Wilkinson would recognize the benefits of the layout when it came to handling and performance. He would also have experience with Cooper's T43 and realized then and there that the company represented the future of Formula One.
Wilkinson would determine to build a car similar in design to that of Cooper's line of chassis. He would take and adapt a body-styling around a 4-cylinder Maserati 250S engine. Combined with a 5-speed transaxle, Wilkinson had his basis for the Formula One car.
Wilkinson would start designing and building a car around this 4-cylinder engine and the 5-speed transaxle. Having a mid-engined layout, Wilkinson would have little need to make a big car. In fact, if he made too big a car the handling would be compromised. Therefore, the JBW Formula One car would follow along the same line as Cooper as would build a small, tight package.
Interestingly, Wilkinson would design a car with a slightly different nose than that which would be found on the Coopers. The oval-shaped radiator inlet would be positioned down low with a forward angle to it. Therefore, the top line of the of the car's bodywork would feature a dramatic drooping nose. This design of the nose of the car would help to hide the driver down inside what is a rather shallow car.
The rear suspension of the car would feature a rather conventional layout using transverse leafsprings. The front suspension, however, would utilize a double-wishbone, coil-spring arrangement that would help with the handling of the car. The front suspension arrangement would be partially hid within the bodywork.
The car's fuel tanks would be situated in tanks to either side of the cockpit, and therefore, would add a rather bulbous look to the small car. The positioning of the fuel tanks along the side of the car would keep the weight of the fuel centered between the wheels.
No matter what, the car's small, and low, design would make for a very exposed driver position. Similar to the Cooper, Wilkinson would take and design the JBW-Maserati with a wrap-around windscreen to help with aerodynamics, but also, driver protection. Gear lever positioned on the right-hand side of the cockpit, it would be a rather tight fit for the driver with the presence of the windscreen. Snug and sparse, the driver's cockpit would be void of everything but the most essential instruments.
A later version of the JBW-Maserati would be built for the 1961 Formula One season. That particular car would be very similar in arrangement, but behind the driver would a piece of contoured bodywork that helped with airflow to the back of the car. The 1959 version of the car, however, would have a simple, lower contoured piece of bodywork that covered the 4-cylinder Maserati engine. Out of the left side of the car would protrude the exhaust pipes while the right-hand opening would see the inlet pipes protruding. Mounted to the back of the chassis, the Maserati engine would remain exposed in all areas except for on the top where the contoured panel would be fitted.
Completed with disc brakes, the JBW-Maserati would certainly be amongst those manufacturers on the forefront of the mid-engine revolution. Although the car would certainly appear to be promising, the car would not be able to take the fight to the top teams like Naylor certainly hoped. Still, considering the car was an in-house project, it would show some good form.
At the BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone, Naylor would be within 9 laps of the end of the race when the gearbox failed and brought the car's debut to an early end. Then, during the British Grand Prix, Naylor would be running right around 10th and 11th place throughout the first 15 laps of the race. However, gearbox issues would again arise with the JBW and his race would end up coming to an end after 18 laps. The final event of the 1959 in which the JBW-Maserati would be entered would be Gold Cup race held at Oulton Park. Unfortunately, a crash in practice would lead to Naylor to be a non-starter.
Although the Formula One events would not go well for the car, developments were being made to the car and it would shine in Formula Libre events. At Snetterton, in early September, Naylor would take the mid-engined car and would take the victory in a 10 lap single-seater race. This would then be followed up by victory in the 10 lap Scott-Brown Memorial Trophy race. The interesting thing about the Scott-Brown event is that Naylor would actually break the lap record during the event. So clearly the JBW-Maserati had the potential to be really fast.
Though the car would suffer from reliability problems, the JBW-Maserati would show some good pace. The fact the car was running right around top ten in the British Grand Prix certainly would have had to be an encouraging sign to Naylor and Wilkinson.
This would lead to Naylor entering the 1960 season with a willingness to take part in more races, including the Monaco, British and Italian Grand Prix. Naylor would even travel across the Atlantic, and most of the United States, in order to take part in the American Grand Prix held at Riverside.
While Naylor may have been excited entering the season, the car's unreliability would curb the enthusiasm. Constant, nagging retirements would see the JBW-Maserati struggle to even finish a single one of the numerous races in which Naylor would enter. Still, the car would manage to limp home across the line in 12th place in its home grand prix after starting 18th on the grid.
Another bout of retirement after retirement with the updated car during the 1961 season would weigh heavily on Naylor. Wanting to have the full experience of building his own racecar, Naylor would also share in an experience all-too familiar for small manufacturers. Certainly, the heartache and pain associated with all of the toil would take its toll on Naylor who would promptly disappear after the 1961 season never to be seen or heard of again, and thus, bringing to an end the sad saga of JBW Cars.
Naylor would be unable to emulate the kind of success Cooper and Lotus would achieve. But like all things, success would be a matter of timing. And, with a couple of the JBW-Maserati chassis remaining in existence, the JBW story would continue well beyond the company's disappearance from competition. At events such as historic grand prix and the Goodwood Revival, the JBW-Maserati continues to make an appearance, and therefore, carries on the legacy Naylor certainly wanted to be remembered for achieving. Sources:
'The Goodwood Revival Weekend 2002: Maseratis in the Paddock', (http://www.maserati-alfieri.co.uk/alfieri85a.htm). Maserati-Alfieri.co.uk. http://www.maserati-alfieri.co.uk/alfieri85a.htm. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
Muelas, Felix & Diepraam, Mattijs. 'Everything Out of the Ordinary', (http://8w.forix.com/jbw.html). 8W: The Stories Behind Motor Racing Facts and Fiction. http://8w.forix.com/jbw.html. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
'1959 Non-World Championship Grands Prix', (http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/archive/f1/nc/1959/1959.html). 1959 Non-World Championship Grands Prix. http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/archive/f1/nc/1959/1959.html. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
'1959 World Drivers Championship', (http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/archive/f1/1959/f159.html). 1959 World Drivers Championship. http://www.silhouet.com/motorsport/archive/f1/1959/f159.html. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
Wikipedia contributors, 'JBW', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 28 October 2012, 16:55 UTC, http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=JBW&oldid=520286677 accessed 13 December 2012By Jeremy McMullen