I have read with interest letters in recent issues relating to the well-known Frazer Nash “Patience”, and would like to correct some of the statements made by previous writers.
“Patience” was built by John G. Clarke, who owned this car for 16 years. He first purchased the car in 1930 when it was powered by an Anzani engine, and it was then a standard 1926 Frazer Nash, with three-speed chains, and with no front brakes and the normal round-back, two-seater body.
In about 1932 John started rebuilding the car—he inverted the chassis and fitted front brakes and later made a four-seater body—with the two rear passengers facing backwards—this was when I first met John, for at the time I had made a similar body for one of my “Barson Specials”—our rear passengers could easily see where they had gone, but not so easily where they were going, which maybe was perhaps just as well.
John raced the car with the Anzani engine for two or three seasons at Donington and various hill climbs, but at his last race at Donington (1937 I think), he had by then fitted a Meadows engine. He built up the present engine from another Meadows engine from a Lea-Francis, this engine had ERA connecting rods and special pistons, and was meticulously prepared.
The present body was made up by John after he had acquired the tail from a scrapped Amilcar. At which time his wife christened the car “Patience” I do not know, but I believe in the mid-’30s. It was already called “Patience” before we put on its now well-known front suspension.
The front suspension about which much has been written, was an experimental Dubonet type manfactured by Messrs. Alford and Alder. This was intended for the 20-h.p. V8 Standard, but was used experimentally on a Standard 14 by the late Mr. Maxted, who was at that time chairman of Alford and Alder, and who was a close friend of mine. I purchased the only two sets of these axles from Mr. Masted with a view to fitting one to my “Barson Special”. However, my plans were changed as I had to go overseas, and I sold them to John Clarke. I do not think Mr. Raymond Mays was over-interested in this suspension as such.
We fitted this suspension in the winter of 1938/39, and the writer first raced this car at the Crystal Palace early in 1939, which was the first time that this suspension appeared on “Patience”. The car was very successful in one race, but the driver’s exuberance overcame his discretion after being subsequently re-handicapped, and we came to grief on Stadium Dip Bend and the front suspension was wrecked.
However, after much midnight oil was spent, the car was ready by the following weekend for Prescott, using parts of the other suspension, so that this present suspension is now a one-off job!
The writer saw the car on his last visit to England in 1968, and it appears that very little change has been made, except that the car is now fitted with SU carburetters in place of the original Solex, maybe a doubtful advantage, as John attributed a lot of the success of the performance of the car to the Solex carburetters which used barrel type throttles and which gave completely clear gas flow at full-throttle.
Cape Town, S. Africa.
In view of the references to this car in recent issues, perhaps your readers would be interested in the following facts given to me by John Clarke, her constructor.
“Patience” started life in 1926 as an Anzani-engined car with three speeds, no front brakes, hand-brake acting on one rear drum and foot-brake on the other.
The independent front suspension units, fitted during the winter of 1937/38, were specially made by Alford & Alder for a prototype V8 Standard, and when no longer required, these were bought from an executive of Standards by Challenor-Barson, who passed them to John Clarke.
At this time, “Patience” was fitted with a Meadows engine from a scrapped Lea-Francis, which subsequently had been considerably modified—special push-rods and rockers, lightened con.-rods from a Talbot Darracq, with pistons and camshafts to John Clarke’s own design. Two large bronze Solex carburetters with barrel throttles were used, and a selection of solid copper gaskets gave a choice of compression rations, the highest being 10:1.
“Patience” had a very successful pre-war sporting career. On one occasion, Challenor-Barson drove her at the Crystal Palace, where he won the Frazer Nash race by a large margin. Re-handicapped, he started in the next race from scratch, and passed the entire field in the first lap, which, even by Nash standards, was thought by many spectators to be the most frightening performance ever witnessed, surpassed only by his subsequent crash during the second lap.