FRAZER NASH

Last update June 11, 2013

 

The Le Mans Replica "replicas"

There isn't much written about the series of cars known as the Le Mans Replica "replicas". Geoffrey Bewley wrote an article, "Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica Replica", for the March/April 1990 Vintage Motorsport magazine.  Geoff Dowdle, Andrew Blow, David Starling and other published sources have provided a little more data on these cars.

Some of these "replicas" have been regarded as "almost proper" by a few observers, probably meaning their accuracy of copying an original Le Mans Replica.  Many other automotive historians ignore the existence of all "replicas", whatever their source, or note these cars are not truly "Frazer Nash" or AFN, Ltd. in origin.  

Because there isn't any comprehensive published documentation or complete identification of these cars, this web page will collect, preserve and present reports and data as they become known. 

Crosthwaite & Gardiner

According to publications and direct sources, Crosthwaite & Gardiner built up a number of "replicas", probably starting when this firm restored a LeMans Replica with a frame salvaged from a racing accident.  This was probably in the 1960's or 1970's, much after AFN's production of the post-war cars had ceased.

Mr. Bewley wrote about Dick Crosthwaite's work:

"He produced a small batch of duplicate tubular chassis, and collected engine and running gear from scrapped Bristols.  A set of cars were finished with copies of the Le Mans Replica body featuring correct instruments and generally correct trim.  These were definitely small 'r' replicas."

C & G are reported to have made about 6 - 9 chassis, bodies or complete "replicas" in the 70's:

Registration Serial Number History
KYR 482 400/1/566, Engine 85A/1374 (identity from Bristol 400?) Owned by Ian Mac Nee, Castlemaine, Australia for many years. Sold to UK to a Mr. Procter, possibly a dealer. Then to USA?  See photo below.

XME 253 421/100/168, engine 3044 (This is the AFN serial number of the author's Mille Miglia - I can only speculate on the reasons for this choice!) Owned by David Starling UK.  Sold in 1984 to Japan; later returned to UK. Advertised by Coys 1/12/94.  For sale at Dragone Classic Motorcars, 2005-2006 as a "1952 Frazer-Nash Lemans Racer".  New owner, Peter Fino, can be seen in this video. 

RCD 305 (formerly XMG 6).  Currently identified as "CG2" Original engine 100B2; FNS 11 engine, originally fitted to XMX 4, now installed. Dick Crosthwaite, Chris Drake Collectors Cars, Ltd., sold by J. Bradburn,  (Classic & Sports Car, 10/96, p. 262)  to Graham Chittenden, sold to Ken Hawes, 12/99.  For Sale October, 2001.  See 7/2002 note below. 

Reported to have a body built by Peels (like other C&G replicas) all modeled on FN 158.

Later owned by Peter Mann, brought to 2009 Monterey Historic races (see photo below) by new owner with rebuilt engine, gearbox, de Dion, etc., done in the UK.

MNU 894
Owned by Robert Yung, Hawaii (Mr. Yung was the original owner of Mille Miglia 421/100/124).

Partly restored by Mike DiCola, 1999 Massachusetts.

Restored by IN Racing, Nottingham. For sale, May 2013.

STB 333 For sale, T&CC, 9/86, Alan Dunkerley.  See photo below.

YH 7559 (formerly YRO 405) FNS engine 1051 Current owner is Francesco Di Lauro (see photo below).  Previously long owned by David Starling (Waikanae Beach, NZ), who sent a detailed history of this car.  Car sold in 2008 by Auto Classics near Wellington, New Zealand; now in Italy (August, 2009).

Click the images below for full-size photo

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RCD 305 at 2009 Monterey Historics

 

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XME 253 and TME 924 (421/100/006) - 1983

 

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It's not certain if all the above cars are C & G "replicas" and there may be more.  Note that one replica used registration XMG6.  This was formerly on Le Mans Replica Mk 2, S/N 421/200/176.  This car was destroyed in a 1955 racing accident. 

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YRO 405 (formerly YH7559) at the 2009 Vernasca Silver Flag hillclimb in the Apennine Mountains near Parma and Piacenza

 

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STB 333 at Goodwood, 2008

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KYR 482, in the US, 2008

Jonathan Bradburn sent a note in July 2002 about RCD 305:

"I currently own the Crossthwaite and Gardner car registered RCD 305 which I bought from Ken Hawes. It is a car that I have owned before. I have carried out a full overhaul of the brakes and have replaced all wheel bearings and fitted a close ratio gearbox. Also rebuilt water pump and presently am having a new cam bearing fitted. Engine is FNS 11. The car was fitted with a works de Dion axle by Dick Crossthwaite and FN hubs with heavy duty FN wheels. As my other Le Mans rep is nearing the end of a long rebuild, I will sell the car. Asking price is 75,000.

Over the years I have owned many other Nashes, ACs, Tojeiros, Listers, Lotus 10s and the like. I rebuilt the Reardon Smith Targa Florio after the previous owner (a Mr. Forbes Procter, I believe) rolled the car. Our family business was motor trade - my grandfather built his first car in 1904 - and, amongst other dealerships that we had, we were Bristol dealers up until 1964."

Werner Oswald Replicas

Another series of replicas was started in about 1990.  Werner Oswald, with a few associates (including Tim Frost), laid down parts for 10 "replicas", possibly copied from a Le Mans Replica Mk 1 owned by Frank Sytner. Mike Robinson has been also identified as associated with the "Werner Oswald Kits" (WOKs), as they came to be known, which were never sold in built-up form.  He is reported to also have a WOK, not yet fully completed.

About the same time, one of the partners in the project found that the business name, Frazer-Nash Cars Ltd, had not been registered for a few years and bought it from Companies House, all apparently a proper business transaction.  This implied that cars produced by Mr. Oswald could be advertised as made by "Frazer-Nash Cars, Ltd", somewhat reducing a threat of litigation on the issue of "identity".

These cars reportedly still do not easily get a "proper registration" in the UK, and various methods were used to avoid "kit car" registration (which usually includes a "Q" in the registration number).

The Le Mans Replica "replica" sold in 1999 by Andrew Blow had a "Frazer-Nash BMW" identity, indicating it to have been made in 1938!  This could also imply a legitimate claim to its FNA 436 registration number - all adding up to a "proper provenance".  However, because the identity of this car is well known, there is little UK that anyone in the UK would seriously identify it as a "true" Le Mans Replica.  However, if it were imported it to the USA or elsewhere, the paperwork could look "proper" up to a point.

Serial Number Registration History
WOK 1  625 PPO Oswald prototype, Peter Mann
WOK 2  991 EPC B. Heath to Mick Walsh to Guy Janssen (2001)
WOK 3 MKR 103 Owned by John Teague, sold December 1, 2008 at a Bonhams auction.
WOK 4 B. Linnhoff to Brian Flegg (New Zealand) On offer, June, 2011.
WOK 5 Brian May sold in 1996 to ????
WOK 6 141 JLB Sold in June 2008 by Andrew Blow to M. Ormond. Photo below. Also sold long ago by B. Williamson & D. Martin
WOK 7 FNA 436 For sale by John Peter Crowson, October 2011. Previously on offer, September 2008 by A. Blow. Former owner was Stephen Hall, sold by A. Blow to J. Baker about 2001.
WOK 8 ??? Rob van Wegen from Neville Webb (2006, Australia)
WOK 9 Mike Robinson
WOK 10 Tim Frost
WOK 11 005 Geoff Dowdle (Australia)

Note: WOK 8 reported to have WOBS 01 stamped in chassis.  Geoff's has WO BS 11.

WOK 6, April, 2008.  Click here for more photos.

FNA 436, sold in 1999 by Andrew Blow

Another replica

The car below, registration VHX 77, is believed to have been constructed by Bill Roberts as a "Le Mans special".  It used a body which was built from full-size body drawings of a High Speed model, modified to replicate XMG 6 (a "works cars"). The owner made the body hoops and the radiator grill and it was then bodied professionally.  The gearbox, axles and wheels were originally fitted to Frazer Nash single seaters and the Mk1 chassis, or parts of it, were possibly works spares. It has an overdrive and a Bristol D2 engine also built from spares.  It is located in Great Britain.

Differences?

One observer has identified the main differences between the C&G replicas and original LeMans Replica as:

  • Mostly Austin front and rear axles, brakes, wire wheels (Note that authentic Le Mans Mk 2 Replicas used Austin bits from new and some Mk 1 Replicas were modified to accept Austin parts);

  • Scuttle in front of steering wheel is flat, not humped to fit speedometer and tachometer;

  • Body appears accurate, probably better than most Oswald cars.

The same observer noted:

  • He was informed that Oswald Replicas were made different from the original LeMans Replicas on purpose;

  • The cockpit shape, bonnet scoop and grille were all different from an original;

  • The nose is too high between the top of grille and bonnet opening (but this has been fixed on at least two Oswald cars);

  • Overall they are quite well made and a credit to Mr. Oswald and others involved.

"Replicas" turn up outside the UK.  Geoff Dowdle reported that the history of post-war Frazer Nash cars in Australia probably began with a Targa Florio 421/200/198, which was in a museum in Adelaide.  He missed the opportunity to buy it when it was advertised in Road & Track, as it was quickly sold to the USA. In the 1980's, when prices of all classic cars went up sharply, this put a genuine FN out of his reach. Geoff considered building his own "replica" LeMans Replica, but could not get access to an original for measurements.

When Werner Oswald advertised wheels for the 328 BMW and the Frazer Nash in England, Geoff called him and learned Mr. Oswald was building a batch of "replicas".  Because Geoff had numerous Bristol engines, gearboxes and other spares, he ordered an Oswald kit.   Eventually he obtained a chassis, body (but not fitted), and grille.

Geoff built it up slowly over the past 8 years and eventually got it club registered in 1999.  He has since traveled only 600 miles with this car and plans to sort it out mechanically before painting and trimming it properly.

WOK 11

In 1997, Geoff visited New Zealand and met Bruce Clark, who then owned Mille Miglia 421/100/161 (XHX193, the "sister car" to my Mille Miglia).  He concluded it was the most fantastic car he'd ever seen and stated:

"It certainly is one of the best looking post-war sports cars ever - if I had my time over again I would have preferred a Replica Mille Miglia. Bruce let me drive his father Bill's LeMans Replica (421/100/112) which really spurred me on to finishing my replica."

Some years ago, Geoff nearly bought the last alloy body from XMG6, then being sold by Julius Thurgood.  The ultimate purchaser of that body is now reported to be building up XMG6 around this body. Dennis Jenkinson wrote Geoff at the time to advise that if he did the same, it would only be a "replica".

There have also been reported to be other Replica "replicas" made, possibly assuming the identity of crashed and written-off cars.  It could be very difficult in the future to firmly distinguish an "original" Le Mans Replica from a "replica". Denis Jenkinson was reported to have all the "facts" on this, but there isn't a serious known, current attempt to classify and identify all Le Mans Replicas.

If you have any information to share on the Replica "replicas", please send it to me.  Thanks!

Bob Schmitt

(This webpage originally posted August 1999)

 

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