GREAT RACING MARQUES.
XV. G.N —FRAZER NASH.
By E. K. H. KARSLAKE.
THE fact that this article is headed by the names of two firms does not mean that in this number of our sidelights on the history of motor racing two separate stories have been combined in order to cover a greater area of time. The Frazer Nash is so mudh the descendant of the G.N. that it is really impossible to tell the story of the one without the other ; and in actual fact it will be seen that the narrative presents a continuous outline of the racing development of one of our foremost sporting light-cars.
The first appearance of the G.N. in the field of racing was at the Whitsun meeting of the B.A.R.C., when Frazer Nash, who drove the car, profited by the ignorance of those concerned on what his productions were going to be like, by winning the first cyclecar handicap ever held by them. The machine was fitted with a V-twin engine with Zephyr pistons and belt drive, and Frazer Nash followed up his win at Brooklands by making fastest time of the cyclecars in the South Harting hill climb. The same year, it was decided to enter a car in the French Cyclecar Grand Prix at Amiens, and Frazer Nash proceeded to make the fastest lap of the cyclecars entered before he was forced out by a broken crank link. This, however, only made him determined to return to the event in 1914, and with .this object he
set about designing a new engine. This unit had overhead valves in a bronze head, and a chassis equipped with it proceeded to exceed 80 m.p.h. at Brooklands, although, as it was accomplished without shock-absorbers, the driver did not find it entirely a joy-ride. However, that year France was too busy over other things to hold her Cyclecar Grand Prix, and the new engine went into temporary retirement.
In 1919, however, it re-emerged with aluminium pistons and a new chain-driven chassis, and the famous Kim I had appeared to the world. It proceeded at once to show its prowess by a win at Sutton Bank, in the process in a memorable skid, and annexing the record for South Harting hill ; and then, after a succession of wins at Brooklands, Kim I sang his in the August meeting of 1920 and took Frazer over the banking at 94 m.p.h.
Fortunately, however, both driver and engine vived, and the latter, having been equipped with a chassis and body, became Kim II. The new machine lived up to its predecessor by more wins at the track September, and in 1921 won the Kop hill-climb by the Essex Club. The Boulogne meeting of that year provided more opportunities for Frazer Nash’s enterprise. Kim was taken across, and on the Thursday and Friday won its
classes in the hill-climb and sprints, after which Frazer Nash brought it back to England and ran it in the Spreadeagle hill-climb. That event over, he returned to Boulogne and -started in the Cyclecar Grand Prix on Sunday in the ,overhead-valve two-seater! In this event there was also a G.N. built under licence by Salmsons and driven by Lombard, and this machine :finally won the race, Frazer Nash having retired after running a big-end.
In the Cyclecar Grand Prix at le Mans, in the same year, two French G.N.’s started, with Bueno and Hanel as their drivers., but neither of them finished the course. The great win of the season, however, was in the first 200 Miles Race, which was run that year, and which was won by Frazer Nash on the G.N. in the 1100 c.c. class at 71.54 m.p.h. Incidentally this is the only time that this class has :ever been won by a British car. By the end of the year, also, Frazer Nash and the G.N. held every record up to 200 miles, including that for the testhill.
In the 20 Miles Race of 1922, three G.N. ‘s, driven by Frazer Nash, H. R. Godfrey and G. L. Hawkins, again started in the 1,100 c.c. class. Nash took the lead after a dozen laps and held it until quarter distance, when he broke a piston. Nothing daunted, he fitted a new one at the pits, which took over forty minutes, and managed to finish the race at 61.6 m.p.h. ! In the meantime, however, his team-mates had been unable to catch the flying Salmsons, and Godfrey finally finished third, with Hawkins fourth and Nash fifth. If their last year’s win had not been repeated the G.N.’s had., at least, th honour of being the only team to finish complete. The next season opened with the entry of three Frazer Nashes, driven by Frazer Nash himself, Cushman and Ringwood, in the Boulogne Grand Prix. The chief rivals of the twin-cylinder British cars were the more orthodox 4-cylinder French Salmons, and between these two teams a ding-dong fight was soon in progress. Finally the Salmsons captured the first two places, but Ringwood, Nash and Cushman finished third, fourth and
fifth, and thus secured the Pickett Cup for the bast team performance. The story of the 1922 200 Miles Race was therefore repeated.
In 1923, Frazer Nash started alone in the latter race on a twin-cylinder racer, now called a Frazer Nash. At half distance he was holding fifth place, but thereafter he was overtaken by a series of troubles, and after 58 laps he was forced to retire.
The next year’s race marked the appearance of a Frazer Nash of an entirely different type. This machine had a 4-cylinder engine of 69 x 100 in.m. bore and stroke (1496 c.c.), with overhead valves, while the transmission followed the usual P. N. practice. This car was driven by J. A. Peacock, but, at the same time, E. Ringwood started in the 1100 c.c. class on one of the old twincylinder veterans.
The 1500 c.c. machine started well, although it was dogged with tyre troubles, and after a time the oil pressure fell to zero, with the result that it was withdrawn at 50 laps before anything worse occurred. But in the meantime the ” old warrior” twin kept sturdily on and finally finished second in the 1100 c.c. class, having averaged 74.06 m.p.h. This model had another success in the course of the year, for with one of them Miss Ivy Cummings succeeded in capturing the standing start records for the half-mile, kilometre and mile in the 1100 c.c. class. The record capturing activity was continued in 1925, and in May, Frazer Nash made his first attempt on that for the Test Hill, succeeding in taking it from the A.C. at 29.83 m.p.h. This was followed up in July, when I. 0. le Champion brought out a veteran twin G.N. and took the flying mile and kilometre records in the 1,100 c.c. class. But in the meantime, the A.C. had recaptured the Test Hill record, with the result that Nash brought out the 4-cylinder car for the second time, now stripped even of its radiator, and retook the record in August at 30.48 m.p.h. But the fight was not yet over, for the A.C. again lowered the record, and in November, Nash went for it once more, and this
time, in spite of icy water at the foot, increased his speed to 31.227 m.p.h. In the meantime, one of the 2-cylinder cars had come out again, this time in the hands of J. A. Hall and annexed the standing records for the mile and kilometre in the 1,100 c.c. class.
This year saw the Frazer Nashes once more in force at Boulogne. In the 500 kilo class of the Grand Prix, B. Eyston ran a 2-cylinder car, while in the larger class, Frazer Nash, Ringwood and Gallop handled 4-cylinder machines. Gallop, having twice broken the lap record, finally won the bigger class, while Ringwood finished third, and Nash, after pulling off both front tyres during the race, fifth, a performance which gave them the Rickett Cup as in 1923. Thus did the 4-cylinder Frazer Nash prove its mettle.
One machine of this model was entered for the 200 Miles Race of that year, and was driven by C. W.
Johnson, while in the 1,100 c.c. class, E Ringwood drove one of the famous old twins. This car had run twice before, but Ringwood proceeded to make up for its infirmities of age by his masterly driving at the corners, which had been introduced this year for the first time, until, when only eight laps from the finish, he was put out with ignition trouble. In the meantime, however, Johnson’s privately owned 4-cylinder machine had run really well, and finally finished third in the 1,500 c.c. class, being only beaten by two of the invincible Darracqs.
The 1926 season opened with the J.C.C. production car race, for which G. W. Bagshawe and H. J. Aldington entered their cars in the 1,500 c.c. class. Both machines immediately got among the leaders, and stayed there uhtil Aldington had to retire with lubrication trouble. Bagshawe, however, went on to win the class for Frazer Nash, and averaged 61.7 m.p.h. for 185 miles on a ” hairpin ” Brooklands course.
At Boulogne this year, Frazer Nash was represented by only one car, a single example of the old warrior type, driven by Rogers. But, unfortunately, it was beset by tyre troubles and could not finish the race. In the 200 Miles Race for the first time since its inception there were no Frazer Nashes ; but the year brought a triumph when B. H. Davenport on his 1,500 c.c. 2cylinder Frazer Nash broke the Shelsley Walsh record by climbing in 48.8 seconds.
Frazer Nash himself began his 1927 season by finishing second in the Junior Grand Prix, while A. P. Glenny was fifth in the race. The latter driver also started in the J.C.C. Sports Car Race, but was forced to retire after a series of chain breakages. Then as usual, came a Frazer Nash effort at Boulogne. Nash, himself entered a car in the Grand Prix des Voiturettes, and another in the Georges Boillot Cup Race. In the Grand Prix he started with a beautifully streamlined machine, but he was attacked by magneto trouble at the outset and could not finish. In the Cup Race he was no more fortunate either, for before the end he was put out by clutch trouble after vainly trying to cure more misfiring.
In the 200 Miles Race of that year, he and B. E. Lewis startedon their supercharged racers, but again they were unlucky and could not finish. Again, however, B. H. Davenport supplied the year’s triumph by cutting down his own record for Shelsley Walsh to 47.8 seconds.