When R. P. Gordon Jones, who, incidentally, is a nephew of the late J. G. Parry-Thomas, offered to write this article, he apologetically said it would be mostly about Frazer-Nashes owned by himself and friends. I retorted that you can’t have too much about Frazer-Nashes.–Ed.
IHAD my first driving lesson on my mother’s 1925 ” Grand Sport ” Amilear. This came to an abrupt end when I attempted to engage reverse when travelling forward at some 35 m.p.h. ; fortunately the gearbox resisted my efforts, but not before the exhibition had convinced my brother, who had himself only just readied the oftivial driving age, that for me I he time had not yet come. Sul ire three years later my education continued, this time on one of the early 1Volseley Hornets, again under the instrti(.1ion of my brother. This car had a rather awkward gear shift, or so it seemed then, and after one lesson on double-deelutehing, his verdict Was : ” If you want to learn you must go by yourself ; it’s more than I ean bear to sit here and listen to that.” (The car was his.) So I went by myself and had some pretty exciting times until sheer necessity taught me to change :gear and steer simultaneously. Steering was some feat, as it was necessary to do a sort of tack across the road to gather in the play in the box and get ” on Ow right side of the gear.” (Please note thatthese remarks are directed at caw particular NVolseIey, doubtless a gros-dy lita 11,1′(!tted one.) Never again is driving quite such a thrill as it is those first kw times : apart from the novelty, there is the ine; italde lack of a driving licence. But perhaps, in any ease, we couldn’t stand that tempo for long. My first car was shared with .a friend with whom I was enduring an apprentice. ship. This was a 1921 air-cooled Rover Eight flat-twin, bought for 30s. Our ambition was to do it up and, on the occasion of our summer holidays, drive it home—some 180 miles where it would be Sold for a good t-10. (A fairly nOrmal outlook for apprentices in their early stages ; the scheme being a progressive one, finally leaving the salesman in possession of an Alfa-Romeo—the acme of motoring !) We worked hard our it for 8011w t ‘W() ii Knit! is, but I cannot for the life of me remember what we did apart from painting it and setting the slow running. Setting the slow running was a mighty task, probably due to aspirationthrough the valve guides, and if I remember aright it was never achieved, as the engine always went straight to its modest but frightening maximum speed as Soon as it started—which was never Very soon. The cash having been raised, the Rover was taxed and insured a few days before
the holidays and placed on the read ; ” placed ” is the word, as it was lifted over a hedge by a vast assembly of apprentices who knew a good laugh when they saw it. For three wonderful days this car, between the periods when it was on fire or suffering from over-flooding, actually ran. The maximum speed was all of 25 m.p.h. ; the engine r.p.m. and gear-ratios Were calculated by counting the power impulses i)Ct.ween telegraph poles, but this data is lost to memory. Finally, on the great day, having driven out to fill up with fuel, the back axle failed, leaving us stranded unpleasantly close to our place Of employment. “
pleasantly close ” because we had taken the afternoon off, quite without permission, in order to effect a good start on our marathon. With the inevitableness of all such events, our tow car arrived just as the blast of the ” bull ” discharged the 20,900 employees. To make matters worse, the Rover would only move backwards, a matter of thrust On One Of the misplaced differential pinions, and there was I, proceeding, aft, uncertainly, at some 5 m.p.h., to be absorbed in the maelstrom of ‘buses, ears, motor-eyeles, trams and push-bikes. Finally we gave it up, and sat down in the ruins to eat, disconsolately, our sandwiches—sandwiches which we had hoped to eat the other side of Oxford. That was the end of car number one, which later reached the set:an yard. However, the effort, misdirected as it was, had its beneficial consequences in that my friend’s father presented us with the necessary funds to buy “a good, reliable vehicle, :something that will bring you all the way home.” This resulted in the purchase of a 1926 12-11.p. side-valve Riley ” Redwing.” This car had had only one owner, and although it was then sortie scvcil years old, it looked nearly perfect. l’nfortunately the spit and polish administered in the showroom had not penetrated to the internals of the engine, which were tired and rather put out. But it functioned pleasantly for some 7,000 miles, during which time it took us home more than once and enabled us to get some idea of how to drive. My friend’s driving lessons and my own changes down at 50 hastened the inevitable, which occurred one dark night, fortunately just near Banbury, in the a
form of a run big-end. After this the rot set in, and ” one datim thing led to another.” When the back axle finally began to miss a beat we got shot of it, with the loss, relatively, Of a la Of money. This loss of funds was serious, but probably ill the long run the training was well Nvorth it. When you have lain for limas under a car straggling with split pills, when your wrist aches so that you just long to put your hand down, then you drive ever after with much more discretion and sympatliy.*
Our next car was an Austin ” 12/4 ” which had first seen the light of day in 1922. This cost us A.:11, and no words can describe the behaviour of this wonderful car ; it was a paragon of reliability and fetched £12 10s. approximately one year later, after P2,000 miles, during which time only the dutch-thrust race was replaced. In spite of its lack of speed (53 in neutral clown River Dill was the alldirne high), remarkably good averages were achieved owing to its acceleration to the cruising (and all-out-level maximum) speed of 43. On one occasion 40.4 miles were managed in one hour on the Coventry-London road. high-speed cornering (a relative term) was merely a matter Of whether the stomach muscles could take it ; if you could turn the wheel the car would go round, but you were advised to remember that it took some turning. During the year that we ran the ” old 12 ” I had many miles in a rather unique Austin Seven. This was a 1925 model, run for the first I wo years by the makers for experimental purposes, and was of the original ” lirooklands ” type ; not to be confused with the ” Ulster ” of sonic years later. This model was guaranteed by the firm to do a timed 73 with one Carburetter, or 80 with two, in racing trim. ‘clic car in question was of the twocarburetter variety, these being fitted on the underside of the composite .inlet and exhaust manifold. This manifold was pleasant. in conception, but very thin, and every now and again a Spot of awkward .welding had to he applied to keep the exhaust .gases inside. The cylinder head was aluminium, the pistons of the type fitted to the ” Ulster,” as also were the valves ; tappet adjustment being by shims. The connecting rods and crank
shaft were, so I was given to understand by the makers, a one-off job. The big. ends were fully force fed (45 lbs./sq. in.), the oil being conveyed across the long crank webs by external copper pipes.
The shaft was only diameter, and quite why it never collapsed is a complete mystery to us. As is well known, these early shafts were very flexible and subjected to considerable vibration, which led eventually to crystallisation and subsequent failure. It was certainly no lack of r.p.m. that saved it ; 6,000 was a frequent occurrence in second as well as bottom, and 6,500 appeared on the ” clock ” whenever the good name of Austin was in dispute. Several people disbelieved the rev.-counter in spite of truly amazing speeds in the gears with a standard gearbox, and one of them even went so far as to remove the rev.-counter from his ” Ulster ” and substitute it for our suspected unit. (Actually a RollsRoyce speedometer converted.) We were exonerated, however, when the everwilling Seven shot it round to the ” S ” of “Smith ” in the twinkling of an eye. Maximum speed was a genuine 66 m.p.h., in full road trim, and rather more could have been obtained on a lower axle ratio. 11Iuch more was certainly obtained down hill, which, in conjunction with the brakes and steering, was remarkably exciting. One occasion stands out forcibly in my memory. Coming fairly leisurely back from Brooklands one summer evening, a lady in another Austin Seven crossed our bows, having emerged
from a very minor cross-roads. We navigated a right-angle turn—our only possible manoeuvre to avoid collision— and proceeded parallel to her for some 40 yards, after which we managed to disengage and turn round. Throughout the proceedings the lady never so much as acknowledged our presence! On another occasion I was motoring very steadily, well above ” maximum ‘ speed, tucked in behind an Alvis Speed Twenty on the Slough road. Unseen by me a road obstruction occurred ahead and the Alvis came comfortably to a standstill in front of the barrier in a space and manner which we could not possibly emulate. So we flashed by on the inside, with barely diminished velocity, to halt, 20 yards further on, just in front of the final plank and the deep pit it guarded. Only the nature of the obstruction saved us from an unpleasant end. If the brakes were poor, the acceleration was excellent. One afternoon, while
waiting for the lights to change at the beginning of the Purley Way, a very smart Ford V8 coup6 drew up alongside. The three occupants were much amused by the Austin. However, even if we looked funny, we did not intend our performance to be a laughing matter, and when the lights changed we went through all the gears and were in top before the Ford V8 caught us. When it did come by it was gathering the knots in no negligent manner and, unfortunately, the driver was tempted to turn round for a further view of our radiator. ” Unfortunately ” because he apparently got caught up in his two girl friends, and the Ford V8 crossed the road crabwise and connected with the opposite kerb. However, nothing was coming the other way and the driver regained control and proceeded, leaving us in the rather rare possession of the last laugh ! At this time most of our friends ran Austin Seven ” Specials ” with the .special emphasis on the engine, the height of had form being to put a standard engine in what looked like a sports chassis. There was opportunity for considerable experimental work and, in the face of limited finance, we took it. One ” 65 ” with the aid of an ” aluminised ” cylinder head, Delco-Remy coil, and downdraught S.U. carburetter, would go gaily up to 61 in third on its very uncertain, ribbon-type speedometer, but the improvement in torque at lower r.p.m. was insufficient to cause much increase in top gear. The “75,” with its lighter body, appeared a better proposition, especially when relieved of its rather futile V-screen. I well recall the occasion when the owner of one “special,” having stalled his engine in the middle of a traffic jam in New Street, Birmingham, calmly climbed Out, produced a jack, lifted the car On to it and swung the rear wheel. There wasn’t any room to push, there wasn’t any starting motor (naturally) and the front suspension baulked the entrance for the starting handle. Another Austin Seven which went very creditably was a standard 2-seater with the addition of two S.U. carburetters, the usual valvegear modifications, and a 7 to 1 compression ratio. For actual performance, personally, I should classify the “Ulster” as the fastest of the various types of Sevens, and certainly the one with the most endearing manners. The characteristic valve clatter, amplified by the thinsection outside exhaust, will always remind me—and may I hear it again oft.(11 1—of ii e’ wonderful week-ends, wind’ commenced Avii II I hat rush to the car park ill. :?“:M nil :1l 1?1;3y evening to warm up. At his time n f` hail a number of informal talks from the late T. AL Jamieson’ who t old us many interesting things about the white ” works ” Austin side-valve ; how its engine started life in a road-equipped ” Ulster ” which could accomplish 0–n0 in 11 sees., and how the ultimate size of the crankshaft
was some I I1 the limiting factor being the eon.-rodjeamshaft clearance, vliiIt Wati only about 00.
Before passing on from the Austin Sc veil, wit ic ii gave iJam to an open Talbot Ten, as being better fitted for my friend’s business purposes, I should like to recount one memory which has nothing to do with brakes or r.p.m. or compression ratios, but everything to do with motoring Sport. Every now and again in our lives some event occurs to remain, as it were, filed in our minds. Usually the happening is not of particular importance, not very remarkable in itself, yet it persists, and I can only think that it persists because, generally, it holds in it the ingredients for an unusually vivid recolleion.of how one lived one’s life at sonie period in the past. The occasion was a night drive to London in order to see the Hendon Air Display. We had borrowed an Austin Seven owing to trouble with the “old 12.” (A surfeit of “Never Leak” having rendered the radiator of that car non-operational.) The Seven had just been fitted with Specialloid pistons and Nitralloy liners, and required running-in. This, coupled with an almost complete lack of lights and a very late start, saw us still some 50 miles from town when dawn broke. Somewhere in the region of the Stratfords, on the Coventry–London road, a serious accident had occurred, and all the traffic was held up, the queue of lorries being nearly a mile long. An obliging driver, however, leant out of his cab and shouted down to us that there was a road round, a narrow one where his E.R.F. could not pass. After some five miles we came to a ” Y ” junction and the signpost, which stood in a triangle of grass, was old and indistinct, and could not be read from the road. With much labour my friend climbed out and waded through the grass, and it is this picture of him trying to decipher the legend on the post that remains with me so clearly. The dew on the grass was silver in the oblique rays of the sun ; his footsteps black pits in the tall grass before the post ; his figure quite shapeless, draped in two macs, the outer being torn and revealing the other inside it, his left arm soaked dark brown With mud and moisture from the country road. Not a very inspiring picture, deserving of no other name than commonplace, and yet —doesn’t the interpretation of” motoring Sport” hinge on just such a scene ? Before selling the Austin Twelve we had bought a side-valve Amara engine, which was to be the power unit of a special. We liked the engine for its simplicity and light weight, added to which we were financially restricted to a narrow choke. At first it was intended to use the engine in conjunction with a Riley gearbox ; this, however, finally gave place to chains. In order to purchase the chassis it was necessary to sell the Austin, thereby leaving 0111’Se1Ve4 Nvithout transport, The
chassis NVaS a ; the side mentbers and the two cross members, which together compose the frame, were new and the engine-mounting had to be effected from scratch. Our troubles were increased, in this matter, by having been sold an A.C. Anzani, the engine arms of which overlapped the G.N. chassis by some inches. Much argument ensued as to the necessary gauge of the angle-pieces to hold the engine at the rear and also as to the most advantageous spot at which to cut the engine arms. Finally, with the aid of two spirit levels at right angles on the block face, the engine was roped in and tied down. The next jOb was replacing the front and back axles with Frazer-Nash components, these latving been obtained from two enthusiasts who lived at Mill Hill. My first real run in a Frazer-Nash was with one of them ; the car was a 1926 three-speed “Boulogne,” in very good condition, and it performed in a most becoming manner. The rock steadiness and instantaneous ratio-change delighted me then, and has continued to do so to this day.
A detailed account of the 18 months’ work which Was needed to get the “special ” on the road would make very tedious reading. Much of that done in the early stages had to be undone later, as a more practical understanding of engineering in general was reached. Some of the ramifications of that all-important word ” compromise ” made themselves unhappily apparent. In all we spent some £100, used parts from nine makes, had specialists from nearly every department in the works to put us right, wrote 156 (to my definite knowledge) letters of enquiry, and, perhaps most important of all, made countless new friends. The one outstanding lesson was never try to build a car from the component parts. This is, of course, a well-known rule to most enthusiasts, and even we, at the time, realised that the method was fundamentally incorrect, but we just hadn’t the patience to wait and save. During these 18 months out trips to Brooklands, or London for such events as the Motor Show, depended on the good will of our friends, whose motor-cars varied from an “Airstream ” Singer to an S.S. Jaguar ” 100.” All our journeys to .” teck ” (Birmingham Central Technical College), some seven miles, were made in an old but staunch Lea-Francis which, according to the owner, would do “97 on its Pride and Clarke radiator ther
mometer ! ” The qualilication—” on its . . .” was usually uttered in an undertone inaudible at more than a few feet, with the result that what went before often evacuated a bar-room of would-be sightseers eager to inspect this ” fast ” car.
For two weeks (hiring this period we ran a 1928 Super Sports Anzani FrazerNash. This was bought with my friend’s ” untouchable ” savings, and was by way of a. speculation. This Motor had been very badly treated ; the engine stammered and the sproekets were not particular about keeping their place radially on the Intel: axle. After a de-coke and sonic. new keys –pii.hed in with the lingers wit hunt. taking t sprockets nIT –the perrorinatiee WaS (It tile refreshing, a good 70 m.p.h. being obtainable in third and top. We
had a grand run to London in this car, cruising fiat out until we thought a bigend had run. This fortunately turned out to be a blown exhaust joint, that created a forbidding noise. When we reached Mill 11111 the noise had just achieved that motor-boat ” beat ” which is so apt to attract the attention of the strolling constabulary, so we called in on some friends to do a general tighten up. They were, unfortunately, away, and the garages locked up, but their wives supplied us with something to eat, and did a highly successful combined action on a couple of cops, who had settled round the parked car in the belief that it was sonic sort of device for swelling the funds of the exchequer. Actually I have always found the police most reasonable and helpful, even in the presence of an old and suspicious-looking sports car ; when I have had trouble for “too much noise” or ” no sidelights,” on every occasion it has been the result of a report from some member of the non-driving public.
After the ‘Nash we ran an Austin Ten for some time. This was a good, reliable, unexciting motor-car, which went just as a new car should, and requires no comment here. It was rather a drain on our resources, deducting much front the weekly input into the ‘Nash Fund. During this time we became acquainted with several ‘Mollies, which made us very impatient to get our own on the road. One was a four-speed 1928 ” Vitesse,” then owned by Bill Grace. At a later date, when in different hands, the engine in this car was changed for a Meadows, and we procured the crankcase with its muchcoveted ” Boulogne ” camshaft. Another car which turned us green was the Alvis-engined G.N.-‘Nash built by H. Whitfield Semmence. This car achieved 0-50 in 8 2/5 sees. and a timed 94, Which was good for an unblown 12 h.p. even if stripped to the extent that it had no spare wheel. For some time Sernmence also had a very attractive deflector head Meadows ” T.T. Replica ” (blue) of about 193 t vintage. This car had the less usual third ratio of 5.2 to 1 that made confined motoring, such as the round-the
houses variety, most pleasing. On one occasion we circumnavigated the Marble Arch at a rather impulsive speed in second gear • this irritated the driver of a Morris Eight, who followed to the best of his ability and got ” gouged ” in the act. We did a vast tour of London, to my delight, to eliminate the possibility of running into trouble.
After a year of building the ” special ” we became known as “Frazer-Nash repairers” and, as such, attracted the attention of the late Philip White, who lived at Great Barr and ran a ” Colmore.” Philip had driven this car some 56,000 miles in two years, using it every day for work, and I think his driving Was better than that of any other amateur with whom I have motored. I had some wonderful runs to Littlehampton (160 Miles, usually completed in four hours with stops) in this car, where on one occasion we met another Philip White (tragically killed in an air raid recently), Who was then about to become the owner of the ” Alpine ” Frazer-Nash MV307-9. Actually, the introduction of the two Philips passed an awkward moment while a chain was being replaced on the latter car.
When returning from our first week-cud at Littlehampton, it was a dirty evening with a Highland-type drizzle, which had covered the roads with a dangerous slime. Ahead, the road changed direction by about 45°, choosing to do this in the middle of a hump-back bridge. The approach was downhill between high hedges, and, the vision being limited, our speed had been reduced to some 55 m.p.h. from the usual cruising 65. In the middle of the hump the back-eml decided to slide and, for what seemed an unbearably long time, I studied the near side bank as it rushed at us. Quicker than it takes to tell, fortunately, we were proceeding again approximately parallel to the hedges, and Philip was saying, “That’s what I like about a ‘Nash ; so long as you don’t provoke the front-end there is absolutely nothing to worry about 1 ” I remember sinking my bands further into my pockets and thinking : “It must be a — when the front goes ! “
Our hybrid ‘Nash in its early form was probably the slowest example that ever bore that name ; 0-50 took 21 sees., and the maximum speed was 63 in top ; 60 could be obtained in second after miles of trying. The trouble lay chiefly in the engine, which was to pure A.C. specification and, as such, not intended for a sports car. The situation was so serious that I went to town and persuaded Semmence to come to Birmingham and have a look. Not many people would have shut up shop for the day and gone 120 miles to examine an extremely elementary ‘Nash just for the fun of it. The latter statement is brought into line by the fact that the ” fee ” did not even cover the travelling expenses. Ilowever, we had a grand run down and I know Semmence enjoyed all of it ; that is, apart from a five-mile walk on the way back as a result of having run out of petrol.. The car Semmence used was a 1933 Meadows ” T.T. Replica,” one which MOTOR SPorcr had tested a few days before and brought in with a seized rear brake actuating arm. [The steering column also collapsed when at speed on Kingston By-Pass !-1D.1 No blame attached to them for this ; the fault lay with the makers, who failed to supply (until the 1935 model) any means of lubrication for the bearing of this brake arm which, after working dry for some 31 years, decided to seize at just that moment. Semmence fixed it in short time, while I stood by like a small boy, proffering various spanners and praying that all would be well. As a result of this visit we lowered the chassis, redesigned the anchorage for the rear shock-absorbers, fitted a spiral bevel crown wheel and pinion in place of the straight-tooth G.N. drive, altered top speed, and later fitted a proper ” Boulogne ” engine. In its ultimate form the car had a maximum speed of a shade
under 75 (mean on level with correction for speedometer) and reaehed 50 in 12i secs. Although this performance is not very impressive on piper. it gave pleasant results on the road, and the top-gear acceleration was smooth and attractive, provided the prop.-shaft was in adjustment. We had many runs in close company with another Anzani-‘Nash, a rebuilt 1925 car. The total cost of this motor was probably half that of ours and says much for the system of buying an old car, rather than building one up from scratch. This car had an unusual second speed on which 68 could be obtained against our 58; top-gear performance left nothing between the two. Some of our driving was done in the company of an M.G. Magna coupe, but although this car was faster on actual maximum, it was considerably slower on a point-topoint run, and I cannot recall any occasion on which it challenged either ‘Nash. A friend’s 600-c.c. solo Scott, however, performed very differently and, aided by his riding, invariably showed us a clean pair of heels. He was, of course, quite mad ! I remember One occasion when he drew alongside and yelled, “Stop at the next village, I want to buy a headlight.” Later he emerged from an ironmonger’s with a shilling torch, which he said was all that was needed for riding at 60. A sudden loss in oil pressure on the Anzani Whilst on holiday at Haywards Heath teak me to Littlehampton to investigate. This was found to be due to a broken oil pipe feeding the front main (always anneal a copper pipe on sight !) and had resulted in cutting up the hearing a little. While waiting for a replacement I was stung by a mosquito— never more conveniently, because my hand became swollen and the local doctor gave me a note to say that I wasn’t fit for work for a further week. This was very necessary as I had not had my first
job very long at the time, and to extend my holiday without leave would have been unwise. During the week I went to the Poole speed trials, the run down being conducted in a twin-o.h.e. (R.I.) Anzani ” Replica ” ‘Nash. An runisual engine for a ‘Nash, having the ” revving” characteristics of a six. On the way back I had the rather doubtful pleasure of being towed in the Semmence ” Special,” which had made fastest unblown time that day. The driving position, having been built for Semmence, did not suit me and I found my knees almost under my. chin, but the factor that made the situation serious was the consumption of two fried eggs and two bottles of pop at
about 1 a.m. In the face of the harsh suspension I found retention of this illconceived meal a major problem. However, when the danger from that direction had passed, I had the misfortune to fall asleep on a bend. Fatty got out and apologised for cornering so fast !
Some six months after the termination of our apprenticeship the Anzani passed exclusively into the hands of my friend. He had moved from I3irminghant, and it was hardly possible to share a car with someone living po miles away. Together we had covered some 12,000 miles and the car Was destined to approximately double this distance bef(mre it fit ally fell to pieces. The cause of this ear4 demise had its origin in the fact that n.y friend got. entangled in this Matrimonial business aad had little time to do anything to it other than clean it—or, perhaps, just one side of it. My motoring for the next six months was Carried out in the most orthodox types of saloon, and apart from being snowbound and taking seven hours to reach London in a Hillman Minx, I can only remember one incident. This was on Christmas night, 1938. Haying spent the evening with Semmence at Littlehampton we set out to motor home, some 40 miles, at about 2 a.m. It was quite the coldest night I can remember and the roads had a thick layer of snow which was well frozen, and limited one’s speed to 40 m.p.h. After passing through a cloud (at least that was the only explanation we could find) the engine just died and the car (it was the 1925 AnzaniNash referred to earlier) came quietly to rest. We were both :in cold and miserable that. we just sat there unable to make t he first move. After what seemed like ten minutes, tit,friend pressed the selfstarter and away went the engine as if it had never misbehaved in its long life. We were lioth so relieved that neither made any e(mtment until we reached home.
In 1arch. Mo. I bought a 193.) o.h.e. ” T.T. Itei lica Frazer-Nash the result of t he utmost arduous saving. The engine was in a pretty had way. Although it had only seen 36,000 miles it had passed through the hands ()I’ several owners, and its 101-to-t emu ‘p ratio and high-speed capabilities had certainly k ‘rooked it about. If this hadn’t been so, the price would not have been within my reach, and in any yam. I prefer to buy a car ill poor condition and spend money on it, rather tIman spend to the limit on the initial purchase. At this time I was working in Coventry and had not got the necessary facilities for carrying out an engine overhaul. fly good luck mataig,ed to get George Brown, of lairwick Bomb Birmingham, to undertake the job. George is the sort or litter whom 011C often reads ahont lila is seldom fortunate enough h) meet. Normally his business is limited to the old-tyla. Betitley, and one rings up to make an appoint-I-Ilea for one’s car-perhaps three naint hS ahead. I don’t know why he eventually consented to overhaul my enaine. although it may have avert due to its relative rareness or, eurhops, to the slight similarity, outwariii>a to the Ilentle.‘a (The history of the desianer uiihl, acemint for this last.) 111 the cratikshaft hearings were replaced, the crankshaft rc-ground, and the block rebored and fitted with Specialloid pistons, Iwo cracks in the cylioder laad
were weldt.d and piece of block. acearently removed by a Nrandcriu,o’ core-rod at some time. pirt hack at the bottom of No. 3 cylinder, The compression ratio was reduced from 10.1to 1 to a to I, as the former ratio was too high for pump fuel. The last step called forth mitoy a gibe frt MI My frit:Mk, 011e UI W110111 WaS 1111111g a 10,12–t-o-1 o.h.c. engine in the plaee of the Meadows in a shortahassis T.T. • (This unhappy car was none other t tem Al I 195 t he crankshaft
breakine The valve gear was attended to, hut no replaeentents made. Nev valves, slirings and guidea were fitted at a later date, when one of the exhausts burnt out. Tlw usual trouble : it wafer-like periphery, a slight leak, and then — considerable distortion and much burning. (The final collapse occurred just after a dust up ?, it Ii ii 11.:11,‘V., which, although we ended up in front, was a horrid exhibition of driving and one that makes me twit,’11 it bit to think of even live years later.) This is an engine on which it is advisable to keep a careful cheek On the compression. If one turns one’s car several times before starting, this ean easily be watched.
The engine ran so tprietly and smoothly that I determined to run it in for 4,000 miles efore seeing how far round the revolution eounter would go. This did not prevent me from cruising at 70 after 2,000 miles, and having a thoroughly good holidav in Scotland. To the inexperienced driver, hills like ” Rest-and-be-Thankful or the ” Elbow are still 1.reat rim with it ‘Nash, even if Iimited to 3,50o or •a000 r.p.m. Many or them we went hark and did again:’ Scotland is certainly grand for variety plenty ()I places bl !knit MIV, W1111 ii CM* 11:V.111g Ilutr,11 …11,-1“..11.1till and P1′ ground clearance. to to m.p.h. and Lodge C.3 plugs for miles on end. and then some wonderful roads, like that alongside Loch Ness, where one cao pot the Champion lilts in apain. One evening I had my head under the bonnet :amining the progress of a certain oil leal . when heard the sertinch of wheels on gravel and a loud Nailer saving. ” al) ! my dear. hero is the car :old the young man who was conduet in”, it AN.re had just driven in at a rotaane pace as the roads roond Loch . frit. had kept us ill hot tom and second all day. This. I thotight. is going to be ooe of those occasions when someone much older than myself lays down the law about fast driving ; occasions Oil which I never hat e much to sa,y, always thinking of the correct remarks
some two hours later. Ilov:ever. I was wrong, and the owner of the voice turned out to be an enthusiast who was not satisfied until the 110((r1H(ards were removed and the terrilde chains revealed. During a week’s holida? we covered 1,600 miles and put 56 gallons of petrol in the tank ; Our only failure N’? a”, OW tka1:11 nr 11w I ? h /111111:11ely not fatal, as we hail as well). This NV:V.4 (111C to a sheared lona-pin connection. Some persistent person had forced in a pin
with thread to the discomfort of the metric boss in the magma°. .‘fter eoropletion of my prodigious rooido12.-iti Period, 1 dise”vered an unpleasant fiat-spot at 4.000 r.p.m. Until tIns had been eliminated ‘there was little point in measurita the oar’s performance. ‘rile trouble was eventually cured when the valve springs were changed, but by that time the war and pool petrol had arrived. llowever. apart from the had period, the performanee was satisfactory on Diseol, and the engine would pull away without a murmur from 25 m.p.h. in top gear. On one occasion I had 88 with someone sitting up in the lawk, and inlaid have had more had it not been necessary to slow down for fear that he’d have been blown out nit :mother occasion I eneouraaed the needle romah to ao for a fractional space or timi. hoth. however. WCre under favourable conditions. I imagine the timed maximum speed would have been 5011IC 85 m.p.h., but think that this could have been improved On with careful linal itdjusta merits : certainly. as new, t-it’ car achieved 90 in top and third. and my reduction in compression ratio, at the modest apan, of 4,500, should not have subtracted more than 3 m.p.h., all other thioas being equal. The general performance Nvos much improNed in 11S111.4 the alternative third ratio of t.8 to I in place of 5.I to as vithi [11C latter ratio it Mk lint pOSS11 te to exceed a0 consistently wit limo a t winge ColltiVienCe. alt 11011,011 I ()liCC Vent Up to 78 (5.2041 r.p.m.), (hi pool, plus one c.c. of T.E.I.. per gallon, standstill to 30 occupied 10.1. sees.(mean)„a disappoint ing figure, but one that suffered front retarded ignition ; on benzoic with the correct tinting under 10 sees. should he possible. My second gear of 6,8 to 1, although useful for reaching 60 (and the lirst owner used it up to 72) results in a slight loss, in comparison with the standard 7.0-to-I ratio, when initially changing. from first to second. 5,600 1%1).1n. are the highest I have ever used, and this was more by accident than (Jesse()) being on a st(Tp lane with a loose surface, considerable wheel-spin took
place and last, 1,000 r.p.m, just arrived. Never lieforc, or sinee, have I felt so like a raeitta driver ! Aetually_ this engine should be quite safe at that speed, but the pisbal speed and the valve problem make it inadvisable ; to iny mind 5,000 r.p.m. is quite enough for the 100-intn. stroke. Should it ever be possible. I would like to add a mild boost, say 7 or 8 lbs.jsq. Ill, in conjunction with a 6-to-I compression ratio ; at one time I also had ideas about a modern body, but now I rather faiwy rimming the car as near standard as possible, apart f’rotn, perhaps, some sli!dit, weight reduction. t ‘ertainly ‘.-En. I With a blower I don’t think the performance will lie anything to be ashamed of for quite some time yet.
A word on chains might not he out of plata.. When I bought this car and took oft the chains to soak them iii ‘,lolling oil I found them to be the worst I laid ever seen. NVhen held out, with the links vertical. the result looked like the are of it circle, almost a seini-eirhae. ‘However. I wa exhausted finaneially that 1 ,jost couldn’t afford new chains, and it is an interesting fact that 1 ei)vered 10,000 miles before one fell off ! The chains are still on to this day, although there :ore now four new ones reposing ill the back compartment, licking their links in anticiInn ion of wearing down my sprockets. With the two earlier ears we lost some hall’ a dozen chains, in every ease due to lateral movement of the sprockets on the hack axle. In the larae mileage I covered with Philip “%Vitae he lost but one chain and replaced it in exactly seven teimites, Generally speaking, if the chains and transmission are looked after, that is, kept in adjustment and the sprockets kept tight On the axle, the chains will stay on indefinitely, but they are very human and may take a personal dislike to one, of which more anon. The worst transmission failure I have experienced was the occasion when all the rivets in my Anzani’S clutch sheared. Actually, they went one by one over 4 period of some 200 miles, but we were not sharp enough to diagnose the source of the zwparerit bullets flying round under the floor boards. I have never before or since heard of a similar failure. What made things really disheartening was that I had to be towed in by An M.G. Still, it
was a very sympathetic had sheared sonic five half-shafts itself !
Throughout the early months of the war, when I was having a modified enginemounting incorporated by Paul Wakefield, of Messrs. Wakefield & Son, Worcester, I had many miles in a 1932 ” Nurburg ” Frazer-Nash—the ex-Fane car. This belonged to Pat McCormick, the owner of the 1925 Anzani referred to earlier, and was notable for its consistent reliability throughout all hardships. The night of the first real Bristol blitz—a Sunday— it had arrived back from Taunton beautifully repainted, shining like a new lawnmower (green) and had to remain in the street throughout that memorable event, with shrapnel bouncing off the pavement all around. On one occasion the oil pressure was raised from zero by tilling the ” holes ” in the big-ends with solder ; other low tricks were played on the transmission from time to time, but in spite of all this “asking for trouble ” the car never let its owner down. But with me the story was different. For some reason it took .a great dislike to me, and this after I had spent long hours rigging up fancy controls for a Frani oil cleaner and doing other kind services. On one occasion I brought three chains off in as many miles and, on another, the magneto leapt from its pedestal and disorganised the timing, chewing up the Sinus coupling in so doing; and on yet a third occasion, the distributor cover of the magneto came half off, situating itself just right for the still rotating rotor arm to swipe it and thereby cause its destruction. It showed its displeasure in other lesser ways, Such as eonsistently nipping my lingers every time I opened the back to get out a suit case. However, in spite of all this I still have a warm regard for the car and hope to see it really cracking with its Centric blower and Lockheed brakes modifications which have been progressing as time allowed. Anot 114•1! ‘Nash in which I have motored a considerable mileage is the ex-Fane, short-chassis Blackburn Six (the fact that my car is not ex-Vane takes some living down !). This is a beautifully smooth and well-behaved car with slightly better performance than toy car, a state of affairs which will be reversed when decent fuel again becomes obtainable–I hope ! Mien Inv car WaS ill Worcester, iliekell011, the present owner of the Six, ran me up two nights in succession to sort out some oil-pressure trouble. On each occasion we managed 53 miles in as many minutes without exceeding 75. I
don’t want to start an average speed argument, and I had better explain that this performance owed much to deserted roads. With reference to the shortversus long-chassis controversy, the shortchassis is certainly quicker round acute .bends–roundabouts arc I3ick’s speciality —but I don’t think that there is any difference on fast bends ; the variation between one ‘Nash and another is likely to be greater than any caused by chassis length. I have known some impeccable and some shock-horrid ‘Nashes, quite irrespective of chassis length.
Whilst my crankcase was being modified we had the good fortune to meet the late Roy Cutler, whose successful ‘Nash was ” produced ” by Paul Wakefield. This car, which weighed barely 10 cwt., had a terrific performance on the road, as can be imagined from its climb of Prescott in 52.t t sees. at the 1938 Bugatti Owners’ Cltib meeting (August 27th). On one oc:casion we had an unofficial Shelsley meeting with Roy’s car, the ” Nurburg,” ilickerton’s short-chassis Six, and Douglas Osborne’s long-chassis big Six. Roy was a grand person, and his death was a blow to all Frazer-Nash owners.
In 1941 I bought my last car, its sole purpose beimg to get me to and from work, for although at that time I could still get petrol for the ‘Nash, the idea of running the latter through the winter did not appeal to me, from the cold corrosion aspect. So I bought a 1925 Austin Seven for £6. Another wonderful Austin ! Tfol,v or why it ran, week in, week out, without any attention, goodness knows. It proved to be the ideal car for getting in and out of the traffic! ; no wings to worry about and a remarkable amount Of urge up to the maximum speed of 40 or so. I used to sail by all my confederates, in their highly respectable motorcars, on the inside if there wasn’t room on the outside, at well over 30, to the tune of an almost unsilenced exhaust—that had been eaten away by some 16 winters. One of the interesting features of this car was the speedometer. With one up the maximum speed was 42, with two up :35, and with four up, barely 5 m.p.h. On looking underneath the reason became evident. The speedometer was driven by a pulley on the prop. shaft, and as the car was loaded the distance between the pulley centre on the prop. shaft and the pulley centre on the frame got less and less ; with four people up the piece of string (yes, it was driven by string) was quite loose and the pulley on the frame became disinterested ! Lookin!r Intel: on what I have written I find a terrible Frazer-Nash preponderance. This is naturally no surprise to me, but it may have been a little trying for some ; to clear the air I feel I should put down my views on these cars. There are people to-day who are inclined to belittle the ‘Nash ; for example, one sometimes hears it said that ‘Noshes don’t really go round corners, that they are not really fast, or that the chains are very noisy. Ten years ago 1 should have got NW); ilOt round the collar about all this 41141 argued vcry considcra My. Now I am more tolerant and, I hope, Ill1111! understanding. It no longer worries me if I meet someone who looks on the
‘Nash as mechanical poison. For myself, I have known well 14 examples and have had acquaintance with a further 10, and in them have covered a good 70,000 miles, and I no longer have any need to convince myself, by means of arguing with ,others, that I still like the Frazer-Nash best of all—it’s a foregone conclusion. I like the speed of the gear shift ; the lack of tyre squeal when one goes round a Corner faster than one should ; the ease of altering gear ratios ; the harsh suspension ; the accurate steering and, above all, the handling qualities after a shower of rain —my favourite driving conditions ! But I’m not trying to sell chains, and I would never advise anyone who was not prepared to put in a little work on their car to buy 4 ‘Nash. The chains need looking after ; some might hate that, I think it’s rather fun. Furthermore, I don’t necessarily Consider the ‘Nash as the best 1I-litre sports car; experience of AstonMartin, if and *litre Alfa-Romeo, and 1 I-litre Bugatti, blown and unblown, revealed much that is attractive, but I still prefer the ‘Nash and I would like, above all, to see how a really modernised version of the ” Shelsley ” would acquit itself in open competition. Personally, I think the best brand of enthusiasm is that which centres round one make, and the proof of this lies in the fact that certain names are associated with certain makes—I don’t need to give examples in this paper. At the same time, I do feel that one should take an intelligent interest in all cars. There is so much to learn, and life is so short ! •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••