I am astonished that no knowledgeable expert has provided the correct story of the Frazer Nash “Patience” let alone Motor Sport itself, the highest Church of Vintage/Historic/Veteran religion. I feel I must do my best from sheer memory. “Patience” was a 1926 Nash, acquired in the early 30s by one John Clarke who modified, developed, did the work and named her. She had a crash, resulting in John devising the very attractive pointed-tail two-seater body; she first ran with an Anzani engine and later had a Meadows and in 1938/39 emerged with the Dubonnet i.f.s.
John Clarke absolutely dominated the 1,500-c.c. sports-car class in the speed trials of the 30s and continued his success in club races on the Donington Manufacturers’ circuit and at the Crystal Palace. At the Palace “Patience” was rudely pushed into a tree sadly upsetting the Dubtmnet geometry when driven, I think, by no less than Miss Joan Richmond. The story—I repeat story—is that when queried about the damage to the car she replied: ”My dear, I don’t know know about the car but it just ruined the tree”.
I am hazy about the i.f.s., except I’m certain it was Dubonnet principle. My recollection is that, unlike most of John’s bits, it didn’t come from a scrap yard but came from a Standard. I didn’t know what type or model but Mr. Robinson’s references to an Avon Special and yours to Raymond Mays could well he the right trail because both Avons and the sports car called the Raymond Mays had strong Standard connections. What is certain is that the i.f.s. was not made for Mays’ ERA and that John fitted it pre-war.
John Clarke was a delightful and very capable person who, during the week, was a bowler and umbrella City Gent whom none would suspect became a mad speed merchant at weekends. He lived at Walton-on-Thames with his very pretty wife and a then baby daughter within con.-rod-throwing distance of John Heath’s original HW Motors. He was a clever and imaginative engineer in both theory and practice and I would go as far as saying that “Patience” was, in 1939, well in advance of any British production sports car of equivalent power and specification, (If you publish this there’ll be an H.R.G. explosion!)
About the nearest I recall was the 1 1/2-litre BMW—the type 315, I believe. Being a relatively simple car, she could easily have been put into production at a competitive price and lasted into the 50s earning John a fortune. I don’t think the idea ever entered his head: he was the complete amateur of most modest means who just thought up his ideas and set about putting them into effect. I remember trying to draw for him a most advanced cylinder head he was designing for the Meadows and happily recall finding him in bed suffering a war-time bout of ‘flu surrounded by pieces of a hydraulic brake system he had previously obtained from a Morris 1515 in a scrap yard. I don’t know if “Patience” ever did get her brakes because the war sent us on different paths and since then I have unhappily lost touch with “Patience” and her creator, although I had read of the acquisition by the late Mr. Derek Parker.
I enclose a snapshot of John giving my mother a very illegal wartime celebratory drive on her 50th birthday; the Dubonnet is just about discernible.
John Clarke kept a meticulous record of “Patience’s” career, together with complete photograph albums. If, Mr. Editor, you could find John and those records you would have a Historical/Vintage article that was worth reading.
A.F. Needell, AMRINA.