WB and the 'fallen woman'

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I feel I may have been a bit harsh in describing recently how cramped the back seat of a ‘Chain Gang’ Frazer Nash is when I had to share one with another passenger. I now remember an earlier ride in one of these sportscars when I occupied the rear seat in the body style known as the ‘fallen woman’, or ‘African’s belly’. This time I was alone, and it was not unduly uncomfortable, in spite of spare chains rolled up on the floor.

We were going from London to a 1934 Bugatti OC meeting at Malvem in A S Whiddington’s 1930 Meadows Frazer Nash, his girlfriend in front with him. He was an enthusiastic ‘Nash man with a new TT Replica on order. Duncan Robinson’s Brescia Bugatti and Brian Finglass’s s/c LeaFrancis were accompanying us until the LeaF developed problems en route. This was a 290-mile trip, including the hillclimb test. Soon we were cruising at 70mph, and cornering just about as fast. The chain-and-dog transmission gave rapid flicks from top to third — I was told that only once in 17,000 miles had a chain broken. In the hillclimb the ‘Nash did 4sec outside standard time with me in the back, when most passengers got out and walked up.

The following week we went to Brooklands, where this ‘Nash did a flying-start quarter-mile at 75mph and showed 87mph on the Byfleet banking. Against a very stiff breeze, 0-50mph took 11sec, 0-60 14.8sec, at 2600rpm. Compare this with 12.6 and 16sec respectively from a roadtest Frazer Nash of 1933, maybe with a more honest speedometer, and braking from 30mph to rest in 27ft.

There have been, and are, firms making almost entirely sportscars. The Frazer Nash works was very much in that category. Isleworth was definitely a Mecca for true-blooded enthusiasts; like those who did the all-night Lands End Trial and drove back to London on the Sunday to race at Brooklands on Easter Monday.

Before the Meadows, the sidevalve 69x100mm (1496cc) Anzani ‘Nash was in every way a car for fun driving and competition work. Costing £315 (front-wheel brakes £25 extra) in 1925, it was good for 70mph, 0-30mph in 4.4sec and 32 and 55mph in the lower two of its three-speed chain transmission.

I recall also a rather sad 1933 TT Replica I took to Brooklands in ’37: the police objected to it, and the steering column dropped onto my lap when I was winding it up along the then-new Kingston Bypass.

Anyone who meets ‘Nash (and GN) owners or reads The Chain Gang Gazette will soon see vintage motoring need not be taken too seriously.