21/12/2009 The Post-War Frazer Nash A new book from Palawan
The legend of the Frazer Nash sports car of the early post-War period is inextricably linked to the brilliant BMW 328s of just a few years before. Another sumptuously presented book from Palawan Press tells the story of the sophisticated cars built in Isleworth, West London, utilising (mainly) BMW-based straight-sixes.
Palawan Press needs little introduction to Classic Driver readers. It publishes definitive, superlative-quality books in limited editions. As with others in the catalogue, the new Frazer Nash volume comes in a slipcase and every page oozes high production values. This time, however, there is little photography of cars in ownership today – a trademark of other Palawan titles. Instead, the book concentrates on the convoluted relationship between Bristol, BMW and the Aldington family that begat the post-War company, its ensuing development, and the individual history of each chassis built thereafter.
And what a history many of them have. James Trigwell, the Frazer Nash Registrar and a Trustee of the Frazer Nash Archives, co-authors the book with well-known motoring writer Anthony Pritchard. The result is a well-set-out homage to the legendary card index first compiled in the 1970s to track each chassis.
A fantastic performance by Norman Culpan/H.J. Aldington meant the marque finished third overall at Le Mans in 1949, and two years later Franco Cortese won the Targa Florio outright in the fifth Competition Model (not yet carrying the name ‘Le Mans Replica’). This was the only time a British car had won the notoriously tough Sicilian event and a ‘Le Mans Replica’ also finished first in the 1952 Sebring 12 Hours.
The Targa, Le Mans, the Tourist Trophy and the Mille Miglia all feature, as do stars such as Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks, Mike Hawthorn and Roy Salvadori. There’s even a section on the Frazer Nash ‘Targa Florio’ ordered by the actor Errol Flynn for his wife, Hollywood actress Patrice Wymore.
After a history of the marque detailing its significant moments, chassis history and profiles of the leading 10 'Nash drivers, a section showing reproductions of catalogues, road tests and press descriptions completes the picture.
Unlike other stories of 1950s motor racing, the history of Frazer Nash is a strait-laced and simple one. The company was clearly professionally run, made very well-engineered cars for serious buyers and knew exactly when to stop. The last Frazer Nash (a Continental Fixed Head Coupé) appeared in both the 1957 and 1958 Earl’s Court Motor Show, first in red than repainted white. By then, the cars were too expensive and lacked the performance the market expected for the money. AFN’s British agency for BMW finished in 1959, but it went on to develop its Porsche concession profitably until the Stuttgart company bought the Aldington family’s remaining shares in 1988.
It’s another superb Palawan book; essential for owners and Palawan collectors alike and a fine treatment of one of Britain’s most significant marques.
Text: Steve Wakefield
Photos: Palawan Press
The Post-War Frazer Nash book is available in two editions:
Limited to 500 numbered copies, bound in black buckram with foil blocking on front and spine, encased in a green buckram slipcase with foil blocking on spine. £300 plus Postage & Packing.
Limited to 100 signed and numbered copies, handbound in green Morocco leather with grey leather onlay on front, and foil blocking on front and spine, encased in a handmade felt-lined solander box with leather onlay on front and foil blocking on front and spine. £700 plus Postage & Packing.