Frazer Nash - The Le Mans Replica

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Today the word replica is grossly over-used and very often mis-used, just as the letters GT (Gran Turismo) are mis-used. In 1932 Frazer Nash produced a version of their famous chain-driven car which they called the TT Replica, the inference being that it was a copy of the cars they ran in the Ards Tourist Trophy races. A TT Replica Frazer Nash in those days was one of the best British sports cars. In 1948 Frazer Nash re-started production with a car using a version of the 6-cylinder Bristol engine, which itself was derived from the 1939 BMW 328 engine, and in 1949 one of these finished 3rd at Le Mans. This prompted Frazer Nash to name the model the Le Mans Replica, and it was in production for four years, about fifty being built. In its day it was a good yardstick for performance, for it would do well over 120 mph and cover a standing-start quarter-mile in 16 seconds. It handled well and apart from being a good road-going car it was a very successful racing car in its day, being sold “ready-to-race” in anything from the Targa Florio to a Goodwood Club meeting. In recent years an enthusiast was looking to acquire one but they were few and far between and those people who had them were keeping them. Despairing of finding one he commissioned a small specialist engineering firm to make him one. Bristol engines and gearboxes are not hard to find, the chassis was a fairly simple affair of two large diameter tubes with a lighter tubular superstructure. the suspension was pretty simple and the bodywork no problem at all to a skilled “tin-basher”. An original Le Mans Replica was available for measurements and detail work and the resultant copy was a credit to the craftsmen who built it. Having made jigs on which to build this “prototype copy” the firm thought about making some more cars, and when various people showed interest, with cash deposits, a line of six or seven was started. Although Frazer Nash cars are not made any more the name is still owned by AFN Ltd of Isleworth and when they got wind of this run of half-a-dozen “Replica” Le Mans Replica Frazer Nashes there was a bit of a rumpus and work promptly stopped, but not before the first three or four had escaped into the outside world and disappeared into “collections” or “the trade”. They were very nicely made cars and it would be very difficult to fault them in any way, either from workmanship or details, but they are all fakes. At the time they were priced at around £7,000 if I remember correctly, and a real Le Mans Replica was changing hands for about the same money. It was only the false value being put on twenty-year-old cars, that made it a viable proposition to make a “new” one. Somewhere in the wide world of “old cars” there are some Le Mans Replica Frazer Nash that are “genuine copies” — if you see what I mean, so anyone buying a post-war Frazer Nash should look closely into its history and parentage, unless, of course, they merely want an “old-type” car, in which case one of these copies would be a good buy as the chassis will not yet be suffering from metal fatigue. — DSJ

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