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Classic car named Jibuti?

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Hi, I am a historian (not of cars) but a British gentleman in the 1940's who consistently refers in his diary to a Jibuti in the context that it is his car. I cannot find anything online. He is not referring to the country, Djibouti.


He also refers to a Buick.


He was wealthy, but not ostentatious.


Any ideas on what car he's referring to?


Thank you.




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Djibouti was also called Jibuti in the past. So maybe he is referring to an offroad type vehicle like a Jeep or Landrover. In other words, maybe for him Jibuti was a generic way for him to refer to his offroad vehicle, a vehicle suited to use in Africa, his Jibuti.


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Hi Jeffrey,

                            Interesting query.

                            I cannot offer an explanation either but my own curiosity in the ways of regional vernacular has driven me to ask (without disclosing his identity) whether the gentleman you quote was from a literary/fictional work or a bona fide journal from an actual person?

Cheers and welcome aboard,


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2 hours ago, Terry Harper said:

One of the Jowett models misspelled? They produced a very interesting series of cars including the Jupiter which was a really neat sports model and the Javelin during the late 40s and 50s

My family had Jowett javelin, it was fathers favourite car , was it a flat 4 engine 

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Wow. I see I've come to the right place for all my classic car queries! Might sound trite, but these little details make all the difference when writing a biography. So thanks for the help.


FYI, the gentleman is Maurice Nicoll (1884-1953). He was in WWI in both the Dardanelles and Mesopotamia arenas so using Jibuti to refer to an off road vehicle is intriguing. I would be a bit surprised since he refers to it as his "car," but it's possible. Despite being a neurologist and intellectual he was a very pragmatic down-to-earth man.


He refers to the Jibuti in his diary/dream-journal ten times in seven years (1941-48), e.g.,


"Then it seems as unknown expert will attend to Jibuti. The trouble is that connection between car and engine – a leather belt. He twists it in and expert way – to make it tighter? or rougher. Some one says one of the brake drums smoked...              
Well, there will be more drive I pray

[picture of Z-bend]

Why is C on wrong side in Buick. 
No later     
Buick looks a light structure of wood."



I put Jibuti in a sort of garden garage.

Tell man I leave it pointing that way under the tree so as it can be easily driven out.

Jibuti has to have two carburetors.

Fit one with rubber tune etc.

wonder if it can have two exhausts  




Going up hill with Jibuti – some one or two people inside – the car begins to clutch-slip.

I back to side.

Yes, I had not changed down to bottom.

No, you attempted the hill on second.

Yes – it was long hill – not very steep.

The engine seemed alright.

Yes – the transmission was given too much strain.

Yes – by not changing down.

Well, that means let the engine go faster and the car slower."


"Mrs. B. in her car and C in Jibuti – it has no brake – I get in and try –

brake (hand) seems little use."




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It could be a slang term or pet name,  Some things in the description bring to mind the Scripps-Booth, some variations of which had belt drive.  They were made in the 1914-1922 timeframe.  Lightweight cars, Some with V-8 engines, and claimed to be quite fast, they reportedly suffered from reliability issues.  

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19 minutes ago, Akstraw said:

It could be a slang term or pet name...


I'm inclined to agree.  There is no article "the" or "a"

in the quotations you've given as examples.

People sometimes give anthropomorphic names

to their vehicles, even to this day, since the vehicles

are such a part of their everyday lives.  Does he

refer to the car as "he" or "she" as people also may do?

That may further indicate that the car is anthropomorphized.


Mr. Adams, does the word "Jibuti" have a meaning

in any languages he would have encountered?

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1 hour ago, Jeffreyadams100 said:

The trouble is that connection between car and engine – a leather belt. He twists it in and expert way – to make it tighter? or rougher. Some one says one of the brake drums smoked...

Sounds like a description of this type of drive in a different application:

Good belt drive implement for shows - Yesterday's Tractors


Names and terms suffer greatly from colloquialisms. It differs quite a bit between phonetic learning and book learnin'. The book learned guy is usually the dumb one so research isn't always the way to go.


One of my favorites in this topic happened in the 1980's when my field was shifting from mechanical-pneumatic control to digital electrical control. I had spent a year doing power plant operation and returned to environmental controls. Conversations came up about a device termed an "I to P" it was electric in nature. So using I, current (intensity) in Ohm's Law I took P to mean Power, electrically speaking. It didn't make sense. My head went: amps to watts? I spent some steering wheel time on it and then asked. I got the gap mouthed stare and the reply "Current to Pneumatic, don't you know nothing? Still sticks with me in some instances. The point is, many times the obvious is unthinkable.


The answer may be hidden in local history or misconception,  you can bet your Prince head screwdriver on that.

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The reference to a belt drive would hint at the car being a Bedelia cyclecar.  Made in France between 1910-25.  Also the mention of (apparently) a two speed transmission.  The belt drive was quite long which would contribute to slipping and initialiy two people were required to drive the car seated in tandem.

Since Djibouti was a French possession at the time, calling the car Jibuti might make sense.

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Posted (edited)

Cycle cars were quite popular in British and European countries from about 1910 into the early 1930s. There were literally hundreds of companies that manufactured anywhere from a few to thousands of them. They were small, lightweight, and relatively inexpensive. Most of them used what amounted to a motorcycle engine, both one and two cylinder versions were quite popular. Most British and European nations had a vehicle tax structure that taxed on the basis if engine displacement. So the small engines cost very little in annual fees. 

Many of the cycle cars, probably more than half, used a belt drive. Others would use chain, shaft, or other direct drive methods. They may or may not have had a friction disc or gear type transmission as well.

"Jibuti has to have two carburetors" would likely indicate a motorcycle twin cylinder type motor. Several early V-twin motorcycles did use two carburetors. Likely that some cycle cars did as well.


It doesn't really apply in this discussion. However, in the 'for whatever it is worth' department? Cycle cars in the USA had a much shorter popularity. They became 'all the rage' about 1912, just as Henry Fords model T was getting its foothold. The model T was still a bit expensive in those early years. By 1915, the price had dropped so low, that most people wanting a modern automobile decided to pay a hundred dollars more for the much larger and more useful model T. Because none of the states in the USA had fee structures punitive to the much larger engine, there was no real downside to having the new Ford instead. By 1915 in the USA, cycle cars couldn't hardly sell at all.


I agree with others that "Jibuti" is most likely a pet name for his car.

Edited by wayne sheldon
spotted a typo :( (see edit history)
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Thank you. There are often references in his diary to people, places, things that I am not aware and will check this list. I do not recall a motorcycle, but as someone explained, the cyclecars avoided taxes.


Thanks again. 

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OK. This is fascinating. Really brings the time period to life and might lead to having pics in the biography that are more engaging. The cars are fascinating.


Nicoll knew so many people and it was the custom of the day to abbreviate in one's diary for privacy. I see that below I thought Talbot was a person, but see now it is a car. So you guys are really a help. This entry is from 1943. Thought you'd enjoy the last line of the entry.


"Russians sweep on. Tripoli in our hands – new note of fear in German and Italian papers. Catherine well and Miss Corcoran, Pogson Rakmirova. Outside I hear the Talbot car move off in the moonlight and start climbing the hill on its way to Stroud. In my room the two clocks tick. I look at the screen covered with clothes. I hear Edith making the fire in the sitting room.\


I like a woman who has nothing against men."

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1914 G.N. Cyclecar | Hershey 2014 | RM Auctions

Hardy Hall Restorations - Historic Sports and Racing Cars


Example of CycleCar, with two fan belts driving the rear wheels, and a two cylinder V-Twin engine. which could have 2 carburetors or one.

( Just to give an idea of what they look like )

I still think that Jitubi means the country in Africa only, and if someone decided to apply that name to a vehicle then who knows why...

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In the second DREAM quote he says "going uphill with Jibuti - some one or two people inside."  That would imply a closed car which would eliminate virtually all cyclecars.

A possibility would be a Trojan Achilles or its successor the Trojan RE. They were mechanically crude but virtually indestructable vehicles with a two speed epicyclic  transmission, a single brake - yes one brake - on the right rear wheel which might account for the smoking brake he mentions and they had no differential.  In spite of their antiquated specifications, they were produced for about twenty years.

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3 hours ago, Jeffreyadams100 said:

Anyone have a list of car and or manufacturers similar to the motorcycle list above?


Not a list of makers but if you search the 'Festival of Slowth' you will see similar vehicles.

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Posted (edited)

Here is a list of all cars sold in the UK, post World War One. The previous link i posted was Pre- World War One.




All the "J's"


J. Bowen (of Didsbury)
J. J. Leonard and Co
J. Leslie Edwards
J. M. B. Motors
J. S. Fairfax and Co
Jackson and Kinnings
Jackson Brothers and Lord
Jackson Car Manufacturing Co
E. W. Jackson and Son
R. Reynold Jackson and Co
JAG Cars
Jaguar Land Rover
Jaguar Rover Triumph
James and Browne
James Boothby Motors
James McGeoch and Co
James, Talbot and Davison
Charles Jarrott and Letts
Thomas B. Jeffery and Co
P. W. Jenkins
Jennings Chalmers Light Car Co
Jerram and Pearson
Joel Electric Carriage, Motor, and Battery Syndicate
John Britten Garages
John Child Meredith
John Dennis and Co (of Harrow)
John Tavendale
T. G. John
Johnson Brothers (of Knaresborough)
Johnson, Hurley and Martin
Johnston and Co
Jones, Burton and Co
E. H. Jones (of Islington)
Joseph A. Mackie
Joubert Miles
Jowett Engineering
JSP Engineering

Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)
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Any thoughts on the diary entry below? This is not a dream, but account of his son-in-law's travels. 

August 20, 1946


Cold and wet.

For many days bad harvest weather.

John back from his people – 200 miles in his Snipe starting at 9.30 and here at 5.30.

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Jibouti is spelled differently in this entry from 1947 and provides some details of its mechanics. It is a dream however. [brackets are mine]

"Why go up it – do you not strive wrongly by going up.

Well, I come down to go along road – have left Jibouti [car] somewhere at local station. Realize I am going wrong way along vast road and have done this before.

By reflecting I realize Jibouti is at X, {picture] which is a station and I go down –

a railway – some reliable porters etc. – train – get through it to car –

several in it + a Miss Mary Wilkins? –

Drive off – train goes off too alongside same way – we nearly touch –

I complain this Mary person is sitting right in front of my wheel    


Later in London – white sailor hats on trees?

car is now bicycle – leave passengers to find shop to get it oiled –

seems very stiff.

Find shop on 1st floor.

Boys oil it – manager says 3 things to be oiled?

This that and that.

They take it down – steering pillar, hub etc.

I seem to recognize the workshop – remember a vice being on the bench on my left.

The boy doing the job has assistance from the manager or owner when the hub is opened out and some thick grease put in it. [picture]"

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Jeffreyadams100 said:

John back from his people – 200 miles in his Snipe starting at 9.30 and here at 5.30.


The Humber Super Snipe is a car which was produced from 1938 to 1967 by British-based Humber Limited.

Humber is a well known manufacturer. There are some on this forum who own some. Bernie, and Mike Mccartney come to mind. Mike had a Humber cyclecar. But the Snipe is a Humber model, other than a cyclecar.



Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)
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Posted (edited)
On 5/29/2021 at 7:31 PM, Jeffreyadams100 said:

7 Austin


Bernie has owned some Austin 7. They are very common. Light car. Meaning like small lightweight.


The Austin 7 is an economy car that was produced from 1923 until 1939 in the United Kingdom by Austin. ... Its effect on the British market was similar to that of the Model T Ford in the US, replacing most other British economy cars and cyclecars of the early 1920s.
Engine: 747 cc straight-4
Wheelbase: 75 inches (1.905 m)
Body style: 2-door tourer; 2-door saloon; 2-door .



Edited by mike6024 (see edit history)
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