What's this all about?
It's here - a web page about a car so rare that hardly anyone knows anything about it! This site will be an information source for owners, former owners, and fans of the post-war Frazer Nash sports cars - perhaps details of the famous "chain-gang" Frazer Nash model built before WWII will be added later. Of course, you can't really understand the Frazer Nash mystique without knowing the history of the car and its builders.
Frazer Nash History in a Nutshell
Archibald Frazer-Nash (Archie's name is always with a hyphen after 1938) started building GN cars in 1910 with his friend Ron Godfrey. These were chain-driven "cyclecars" and stayed in production until 1922. Godfrey went off to other enterprises, later becoming the "G" part of the H.R.G. sports cars.
In 1924, Archie began production of a "proper" sports car, the chain-driven Frazer Nash (the car name is never used with a hyphen). These were light, efficient cars that had a very good record of successes in trials, rallies and races. A downturn in the business in 1928 coincided with a serious bout of nephritis for Archie (he later recovered and started an engineering firm which exists to this day, Frazer-Nash Limited) and the Frazer Nash Company was sold to H.J. Aldington ("Aldy"). Aldy's brothers Donald and Bill joined him in the business and about 360 chain-drive Frazer Nash cars were built, in many models, by AFN Limited (AFN, A.F.N., Ltd.) until production ceased in 1939.
While racing and touring in Europe in 1934, Aldy recognized the merit of BMW's sport/touring car, the 315 Model. AFN then became the importer of BMW's to England, rebadging these cars as the "Frazer Nash-BMW". The BMW Model 328 later became well known for its advanced design and performance after its introduction in 1936. Three Model 328s with special aerodynamic aluminum bodies, competed in the 1940 Mille Miglia very successfully, in spite of their relatively small 2 liter engines.
Immediately after the end of WWII, Aldy returned to Munich while still on active duty and rescued one of the factory-team BMW "Mille Miglia" sports-racing cars, bringing it to England under the guise of his personal 328, which had been left at the factory before the beginning of the war. This same car quickly assumed a third identity as the new 1946 Frazer Nash "Grand Prix" model.
Aldy then managed to bring the 328 designer, Fritz Fiedler, to England, where he updated the 328 design for intended production by both the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Frazer Nash. A plan to directly share production didn't work out, but Bristol tooled up for the production of the BMW-design engine, now the "Bristol", for use in their newly designed touring models. Bristol intended to diversify from airplane manufacturing. Bristol also agreed to supply AFN with engines and other mechanical parts for their planned line of sports cars, which was based on an update of the BMW 328 Mille Miglia chassis.
Bristol Cars Ltd. produces very highly regarded sports touring cars to this day. Since 1961, Bristol cars have used a Chrysler sourced V-8 from Canada (318-400 cu. in.) and TorqueFlite transmissions. The Bristol Owners' Club actively supports all these cars.
The Cars and Models
AFN Limited produced approximately 85 cars after WWII. Rebodies and re-use of some chassis makes an exact count difficult. The models were:
High Speed, Competition, Le Mans Replica Mk 1, Le Mans Replica Mk 2, Single-Seater
The most easily identifiable and recognizable post-war Frazer Nash is the "classic" cycle-fendered Le Mans Replica. 37 of these models were built, most of them the Mk 1 series. These cars had great success in races and rallies in much greater proportion than their production numbers would suggest. A third place finish in the 1949 24 Hours of Le Mans caused the renaming of this model from "High Speed" to "Le Mans Replica" late in that year.
Shown here is Ned Curtis' Le Mans Replica (s/n 421 100 119) as it appeared at the inaugural Los Angeles Grand Prix, August 30, 1997. (Photo by author)
This car was originally owned by Bob Gerard and raced very successfully in England for many years before being brought to the United States.
A Le Mans Replica won the first 12 Hours of Sebring in 1952 driven by Larry Kulok and Harry Gray (s/n 421 100 160). A Le Mans Replica also won the Targa Florio in 1951 with Franco Cortese as the driver (s/n 421 100 109).
Fast Tourer, Fast Roadster, Mille Miglia, Mille Miglia Mk 2
The most attractive post-war Frazer Nash is the Mille Miglia, shown here (s/n 421 100 161, 1979 photo courtesy of Commander Gerald Brigham).
"Critics acclaimed this curvaceous little number as one of the world's finest looking sports cars." ("Frazer-Nash and the Brothers Aldington", Road & Track, January 1965) It seems that another English manufacturer agreed, as the later MGA borrowed some of this design!
Originally called the "Fast Tourer", this model quickly assumed the Mille Miglia name after good finishes by Le Mans Replica models in the Mille Miglia race in 1950. Not much logic, but good publicity! Eleven of these models were built, the last few using the revised parallel-tube chassis (Mk 2). The body is aluminum over a superstructure of light tubing (the same as the "Superleggera" technique of Touring), but otherwise the mechanical specifications are the same as the Le Mans Replica.
The factory weight is listed as 1680 lbs., which is 280 lbs. heavier than the Le Mans Replica. Although this was also a "series" production model, each Frazer Nash car is unique. Some Mille Miglia models had the traditional vertical Frazer Nash grill (shown above) and some had a horizontal grill with bars. Nearly all Frazer Nash models are true dual purpose touring and racing cars. Although most Mille Miglias are fully equipped for touring, with a trunk and divided bench seating, at least one was perhaps more oriented towards racing, with no trunk, no provision for a spare tire, and true bucket seats.
This is Frank Twaits driving his Mille Miglia (s/n 421/100/163) in the hairpin at Lime Rock Park, circa 1957. Frank owned this car until his passing in 2004.
I've long owned a 1952 Mille Miglia, discovered in Honolulu and restored at Leitch Motorsport, Invercargill, New Zealand. It was completed in February, 2005. This is the Mille Miglia exhibited at the 1952 Turin Motor Show (s/n 421 100 168). It is currently in the WOW-Classic Car Museum, Nelson, New Zealand (photo below)
Photo by Doug Barry-Martin, September, 2012
These photos, from the AFN archives courtesy of Jim Trigwell, show Targa Florio, s/n 421 200 169, FNS 1/41, which was finished at the factory in December 1952. The original color was blue and the registration was YMD 790. The distinguished owner shown in both pictures is Errol Flynn. (Mr. Flynn is in costume for the movie "The Master of Ballantrae". He is pictured below with his wife, Patrice Wymore Flynn.)
This was the first production Series
200 chassis. It was delivered to Elstree Film Studios. The current
location is unknown and the car has been rumored to be in either the USA
or Italy. This was the car built immediately after the Mille Miglia which
I own - mine is the last "first" series chassis. The Series 200
chassis uses simple parallel main tubes rather than the more complex 100
series. Debate continues on the merits of each.
Targa Florio S/N
421/200/185 under construction at AFN in 1953.
Owner Jonathan Procter wrote about this one-only the Austin-engined Targa Florio 421/200/173: "We have recently re-fitted the 2.6 litre engine to the Targa and I think that the car is likely to prove itself to be the fastest post war Nash. The engine has been professionally built to fast road/race specification and the power is phenomenal."
Le Mans Coupe
Although the Le Mans Coupe was contemporaneous with the Targa Florio, it is more than a Targa Florio with a roof and a horizontal grill opening. Rather this design includes curves which hint at the future Sebring model. 15 Targa Florios and 9 Le Mans Coupes were built. Three of the Le Mans Coupes actually ran at Le Mans and one of these cars is now located in California.
A very nice photo of a Le Mans coupe at a 1998 concours of the Bristol Owners Club was sent to me by Bob Charlton, the Registrar of the BOC.
This is s/n 421 200 202, which is a car built in late 1954. According to a later report on this concours, it was the first place finisher in its class!
Another Le Mans Coupe, s/n 421 200 196, located in the U.S. was featured in Automobile Quarterly, Volume 29, No. 4. This car was damaged in a vintage racing accident in 1996 and it has been restored by a new owner. It participated in the 1999 Colorado Grand.Sebring
The stylish Sebring was the last of the Bristol-engined post-war models. Only three were built. "Classic and Sportscar" magazine did a comparison test between a Sebring and an AC Bristol in their August 1996 issue. This test car is pictured below.
The photo above was taken by Jim Trigwell at Silverstone in 1997. It is a Sebring built in October 1954 and raced at Le Mans in 1955 (s/n 421 200 207, engine BS4/407). The original color was crimson before the 1954 Earls Court show, repainted green before sale. After this picture was taken, this car was sold and is now in the USA. Note the other Frazer Nash's in the background!
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Procter: the ex-Dickie Stoop Frazer Nash Sebring (421/200/205)
Continental, Cabriolet, Specials
The last two cars built by AFN, the Continental, had a BMW V-8 engine and were closed touring cars. A few other models were built in small numbers or one-offs. For example, the Cabriolet was a single car - a Bristol-engined, 4 seat drophead, styled by Fritz Fiedler.
One Frazer Nash was built on a DKW chassis!
Frazer Nash - DKW. Photo from Ken Hawes
Special Italian Coachwork
The Frazer Nash shown left was originally thought to be a special body by Rocco Motto. However Tony Adriaensens reported that while doing a complete history on the Fiat 8V for a comprehensive book, he came across a reference to this Frazer Nash with Italian coachwork. He said it definitely looked like a factory 8V body and he quoted the following from Denis Jenkinson's book:
Tony wrote that the car at left is the ex-Lurani car and not the Motto car. He also found the following information in reference to the license plate number on this car:
This, therefore, is the Frazer Nash that won the Targa Florio in 1951. Jim Trigwell notes a Motor magazine photo of this car (April 1, 1953) which states "...of Fiat design executed by Riva... in bottle green with red leather upholstery." Jim also says the June 3, 1953 issue of Motor has a picture of this car's interior.
Peter Marshall, the director of the Alfa Romeo 1900 Register in Great Britain, sent the copy of the picture shown above as it appeared in an Italian magazine. He wrote that the magazine had no more to say than the caption which appears in the copy. He also wrote that John de Boer (Walnut Creek, CA) lists the car shown in this picture as having been part of the Italian racing team Scuderia Ambrosiana and under that sponsorship the car raced in the Tour de France, 1953. This racing record does not appear in the archive reports.
Another report on this car appeared in the SCCA National Newsletter, May 31, 1953:
As quoted above from Mr. Jenkinson's Book, a Le Mans Replica chassis, s/n 421 100 112, was sent to Italy where it received a special aluminum body by Rocco Motto. However, the A.F.N. archive summary on this car states:
The "Fiat 8V type" part may not be quite correct. The archives also report that this was a show car at Turin in 1950. This car was later rebodied with a Le Mans Replica type body and is now in New Zealand.
The firm of Rocco Motto is not very well known today. Information on these Italian-bodied cars is being checked with the archives and any inconsistency in the records, elsewhere on this web site, will be corrected as soon as possible!
Sources and Bibliography
On another page of this site is a detailed reference to articles and books on the Frazer Nash and Archie Frazer-Nash. (see the Frazer Nash Bibliography) To learn more about the Frazer Nash, you should consult the primary reference books for the Frazer Nash cars. These are:
Over the years I've owned my car, I've corresponded with AFN Limited, the Historic Sports Car Club, the Bristol Owners' Club and the TT Workshops. Also with personalities associated with the Frazer Nash - Denis Jenkinson, Betty Haig, Nelson Ledger, and others. Using an old AFN factory production list and other lists of the post-war cars, we've created a database of model, serial number, location and other miscellaneous data.
This site for the Frazer Nash started in September, 1997 and is updated regularly, so keep checking back here for new data and pictures! Comments, corrections and contributions of material, especially bibliographic sources and pictures, are gladly welcomed!
Bob Schmitt - Burbank, California
The Frazer Nash - USA Table of Contents
Last updated October 3, 2012