Historic Car Brands
It all started with the 1909 GN cycle-car that was named after its builders, Ron Godfrey and Archie Frazer Nash. After the cycle-car company folded in 1922, Archie went on to make cars under his own name.
1913 GN – Stefan Marjoram
The GNs were very lightweight cycle-cars – typically tipping the scales at less than 350kg – powered by V-twin motorcycle engines from JAP and Antoine. By 1911 GNs had their own engines that used Peugeot cylinder barrels.
The early GN design had its crankshaft parallel to the front axle, driving through a two-speed transmission by chain and dog-clutch, to a belt final drive. It prompted the following ditty, whose author is unknown:
Nash and Godfrey hated cogs,
Made a car with chains and dogs.
It worked, but I wonder, would it if
They had made it with a diff.?
GNs, like subsequent Fraser Nash cars, avoided the need for a differential by having narrow-track rear axles.
1921 GN – Buch T
After 1913, the engine was turned through 90-degrees and the cylinder heads poked through the bonnet sides. GN entered a team in the French Cyclecar Grand Prix that year and that prompted sales of sports models.
After Word War I GN moved into the British Gregoire Ltd works and the design evolved to include a steel, not wood, chassis; a three-speed and reverse transmission and chain drive to the rear wheels.
Frazer Nash chain drive – Giddins Racing
However, the cycle-car craze was waning and, by 1921, GN was in financial trouble. A new owner took over the company and implanted design changes that made the GN a small car, not a cycle-car. Godfrey and Nash left the company in 1922.
Godfrey went on to found HRG and Nash did his own thing.
Frazer Nash – Thomas’s pics
Frazer Nash was financed by F N Pickett, who made his fortune salvaging unexploded ordinance for the French battlefields.
The initial cars were GN-derived, but the first true Fraser Nash was launched in 1924. It was powered by a Plus Power, 1.5-litre, four-cylinder engine and cost around one-third the price of an equivalent-performance sports car.
1934 Frazer Nash TT Replica Kop Hill Climb – DA Warwick Photography
When Plus Power went out of business Fraser Nash cars were powered by Anzani engines. However, numbers sold were small and profits were meagre. By 1927 AFN Ltd had taken over and two years later it was H J Aldington’s turn. The three Aldington brothers ran the show and Archie Frazer Nash was relegated to being the company’s technical advisor.
Business improved and Frazer Nash chain-drive vehicles continued in production until 1939. Total between-Wars sales approached 350 vehicles.
1929 Frazer Nash Super Sports – MIlborne One
Meadows four-cylinder engines were introduced in 1930 – with supercharging on some models – and Gough overhead-camshaft four-cylinder and Blackburne twin-overhead-camshaft, 1.7-litre sixes were also available.
1937 Frazer Nash BMW – BuchT
Alongside the Fraser Nash chain-drive range, AFN imported BMW cars from Germany, from 1934, unit the outbreak of War. These cars were branded Fraser Nash BMW.
After Word War II AFN Ltd produced about 85 more cars between 1948 and 1957.
These cars were entirely unrelated to the chain-drive pre-war Frazer Nash and were a direct evolution of the sporting BMW 328.
AFN owned the UK rights to the BMW 328 engine and licensed Bristol to make it for Bristol cars, conditional on an agreement for its supply to AFN. Post-War models included Le Mans Replica, Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Le Mans Coupé and Sebring.
Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica CastleCombe – Laurence Penney
Competition successes included a third place at Le Mans in 1949) and wins in the Targa Florio in 1951 and the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1952.
Formula 2 cars produced by the company contested various races, including four Grand Prix events.
1956 Frazer Nash Mille Miglia – Graham Robertson
In 1954 AFN Ltd added Porsche cars to its import stable and that soon became the mainstay of the business, until Porsche Cars UK was set up in 1965.
Considering the small number of Fraser Nash vehicles produced between 1924 and 1957 there are a surprising number of them still in collectors’ hands.
Frazer Nash Continental at Prescott – Laurence Penney