MOTORING SPORTSMEN. Capt. A. FRAZER NASH.
By THE EDITOR.
THE records of the motor industry contain no more outstanding example of personal achievement than is exemplified by the career of Capt. A. Frazer Nash, who needs no further introduction to our readers.
Shortly after leaving school, at the time of the RussoJapanese War, young Frazer Nash, scenting adventure, went to sea, and shipping before the mast on a merchantman, took part in a number of thrilling episodes during the ticklish business of carrying special goods for the Russian Government. Among his cherished possessions is a perfectly good Ordinary Seamen’s Ticket, marked “Very Good,” which shows that he acquitted himself well in one of the hardest schools in the world.
Early Engineering Training.
Even the fascination of the sea could not keep Frazer Nash from his natural bent, which undoubtedly was engineering, so a few years later we find him qualifying at The Finsbury Technical College, where he gained another diploma, this time for Mechanical Engineering. It is interesting to mention in passing that among his fellow students was Mr. H. R. Godfrey, who joined him later in the development of the G.N. cyclecar.
Frazer Nash and his colleague were both pupils at the Rugby works of Messrs. Willans and Robinson, Ltd., and gained valuable experience in the theory and practice of internal combustion engines, including those working on the Diesel principle. Then, adopting the course which had been taken by so many eminent engineers before, he started in on the bench with a small firm of Press Tool Makers, and put in a period in gaining further experience of working to very accurate limits.
Assisted by his natural resource and experience in technical details, Frazer Nash then conceived the idea of constructing a small car, and in 1909 produced the first British four-wheeled cyclecar. The power unit of this car was a 7 h.p. Peugeot engine, the transmission including a flat crossed belt, with final chain drive. Clutch, brakes, gears or differential were not used, and as no component parts for this type of cyclecar were available at that time, everything had to be built by Nash in his temporary ” factory.”
In19r0 he was joined by H. R. Godfrey, and the first ” G.N. ” was the result of their work. The ” part of the little machine was Godfrey’s initial—who joined in the venture in 1910, the ” N ” of course being Frazer Nash’s contribution.
The first ” G.N. ” cars, ()w.f. of which is illustrated on this page, were built in the stable of the Frazer Nash home at Hendon: the machine shop, comprising a lathe and a few small tools, occupying a corner of the harness room.
Help from the Motor Press.
The merit of the design of the “G.N. “soon attracted the technical press, and Frazer Nash attributes his early success to a review of the machine which appeared, in December, 191o, in our contemporary The Motor Cycle, following which inquiries poured in from all parts of the world. Many orders were taken, and the two partners started on serious production at Hendon, having formed a small company for the purpol,e. Things went on better and better, the activities of the firm soon outgrowing the first factory, until new premises were built, near the site of the old one.
In the year 1913, the “G.N. “made its appearance at Brooklands, and in the hands of Frazer Nash won the first cyclecar event from scratch, at a speed of over 6o m.p.h. This was a standard model of the exact type being sold to the public.
In the R.A.F.
Frazer Nash joined up with the Royal Air Force, and during the greater part of his war service was engaged upon technical work in connection with machine gun synchronising gear. Strictly speaking, this was a job on the ground, but Nash felt that he could only do full justice to his work by learning to fly, and after some difficulties he finally gained this end.
In 1919, when civil aviation was again permitted, he bought an Avro aeroplane, in which he and Godfrey flew to the Paris Motor Show. He also flew regularly each morning and night from Hendon to Eastbourne and back, to spend the evening with his family, who were holiday making at the sea. Questioned as to the sporting aspect of flying, Frazer Nash replied that he is keen on flying, but that with the
exception of “hedge hopping,” which, although very good fun, is not to be recommended, the sporting aspect is less attractive than that of sporting car events.
The Commercial Development of the ” G.N.”
When the works at Wandsworth were taken over, the output of the now popular ” G.N.” went up by leaps and bounds, in one month as many as 196 cars being turned out and delivered to customers. At this time the ” G ” and the ” N ” divided their duties, the former looking after the technical side of the production of the business at Wandsworth, and the latter carrying on the arduous and sometimes risky work of winning hill climbs, races and competitions. Not that there was anything dangerous about handling one of these little machines at speed in the ordinary way, but Frazer Nash attained very high speeds in competition work. He is one of the few people who have been through the fence at Brooklands and survived.
Readers will remember the account of his exploits which appeared in this journal just one year ago, and, in passing, we may mention that during the years 1920 and 1921, Frazer Nash lifted more cups and gained more awards than any other racing motorist.
A Unique Contest at Brooklands.
Frazer Nash is nothing if not original, and on one occasion challenged four famous racing motor cyclists to race him round the track, his own mount being a pedal cycle. The handicap was duly arranged, the event organised, but with the excitement of the affair Nash entirely overlooked the fact that he had not provided himself with push bike. There were his rivals at the starting point, with their machines ready for the contest, when the challenger arrived on foot. Happily,
however, the ubiquitous small boy was discovered, and he happened to have a cycle which was impressed forthwith. Temple, who had hurt his hand, was unable to start. Dequin, on a Wooller, who had to do two laps came in first, Pullen, on a Rudge, with four laps was second, and Frazer Nash, who pedalled round the track in 9 min. 15.25 sec. was third, Longman having retired.
New Frazer Nash Activities.
In March, 1923, after the failure of the G.N. Company, Frazer Nash produced the first car bearing his name, with the object of marketing a small fast car at a popular price. A team was sent over to the Boulogne Meeting in the same year, and gained the team trophy offered by Mr. Pickett. The World’s Record for Brooklands Test Hill, which he put up recently with one of the new four-cylinder Frazer Nash cars, is fresh in the minds of our readers, and there is no doubt that the new model will become very popular with sporting motorists.