Scrolling through the rankings of important races of the first post-war period, among famous brands such as Mercedes, Jaguar, Aston Martin, Lancia, Ferrari, and Maserati, the name Frazer Nash occasionally appears. What was it all about? Without question, it was one of those beautiful stories that unfortunately no longer exist today. A passionate English engineer named Archibald Frazer Nash, who was born in India at the time of the British Empire, decided to create racing cars capable of competing at the very highest levels of motorsports.
The history of this marque began in the 1920s and continued to intertwine with the importation and assembly of a right-hand drive version of the BMW 328 into England. Even though financial difficulties forced Frazer Nash to pass on to other hands, he remained inside the company and set down many ambitious objectives. It was in the post-war period, however, that the name Frazer Nash entered the arena of major competitions.
In 1951, a Frazer Nash sports racing car called the Le Mans Replica (LMR), built to celebrate the 3rd place overall finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1949, was driven by Franco Cortese to first overall at the Targa Florio. Two interesting things to bear in mind: Cortese was a talented racing driver who had previously led Ferrari to victory in 1947, and the Frazer that won the Targa Florio had been purchased by an Italian team, Scuderia Ambrosiana in Milan.
Frazer Nash’s achievements were not limited to the Targa Florio and the Le Mans Replica’s victory, however. Briggs Cunningham brought one to the United States to participate in the 12 Hours of Sebring. Although the marque didn’t win, it repeatedly proved to be a formidable competitor in other major races, including Le Mans and the Mille Miglia.
The engines used in these cars were of BMW origin: Frazer Nash had a business relationship with BMW dating back to the 1920s, and the company assembled BMW cars in England. Due to the war and the challenging conditions of the German industry during the post-war period, the relationship with BMW continued through Bristol. These engines were six-cylinder in-line 2,000cc units, tuned by Bristol, and capable of producing up to approximately 140 horsepower.
During the post-war period, despite the brand’s successes in racing, it struggled to keep up with the rapidly evolving industry. British manufacturers began focusing on rear engines and simpler and lighter chassis designs, making the previous generation of cars, including Frazer Nash, outdated and uncompetitive.
Frazer Nash’s attempt to envision a coupé with a BMW V8 engine that could also be marketed for road use proved to be fruitless, ultimately leading to the demise of the brand in 1958. Nevertheless, Frazer Nash’s legacy in the automotive industry is significant and certainly worth getting to know.