1926 Frazer Nash 1 1/2 Liter Super Sports
Year of manufacture1926
Number of seats2
1926 Frazer Nash 1½-Litre Super Sports
Registration no. PE 9094
Chassis no. 1081
"A nickname as evocative as the 'chain gang' is guaranteed to raise the eyebrows of any fast-car enthusiast not too conversant with the intimacies of the pre-war Frazer Nash." Bruce Hudson, British Light Cars 1930-1939.
The Frazer Nash was the direct descendant of the GN cycle car, a twin-cylinder, chain driven vehicle produced until 1922 by the partnership of Captain Archie Frazer-Nash and H R Godfrey. Archie Frazer-Nash then formed a new company and in 1924 the first Frazer Nash appeared. The new car used the GN-type transmission, which consisted of a separate chain for each speed, the drive sprockets being engaged by dog clutches. Three forward speeds were offered at first, with a fourth added later, power being transmitted via a countershaft to the rear axle. Reverse had its own chain. In many ways this system represented the sporting motorist's ideal; it was lighter and absorbed less power than a conventional gearbox, while the sprockets could be changed quickly to suit different types of event: trials, sprints, hill climbs, circuit races, etc. Once mastered, the Frazer Nash's chain-drive transmission can be operated more briskly than any conventional vintage 'box.
Although the chain drive was highly unusual, at least for a motor car of the period, a chain is more efficient than almost any other form of transmission and Frazer Nash's system was one of the best. References at the time to "smoking or red-hot chains lying on the road" after the rare breakage were mistaken. The reason chains were handled with care was because they were dirty, and many lasted over 40,000 miles. With their unique form of drive, Frazer Nashes over-steered dramatically under power and it was said at the time that "Frazer Nashes never go round corners, they merely change direction". In 1928 Captain Frazer-Nash left the company, which then came under the control of H J and W H Aldington. Between 1924 and 1954, when production effectively ceased, approximately 450 Frazer Nash cars were produced, of which 350 were pre-war 'Chain Gang' models.
As first conceived, the Frazer Nash chassis employed quarter-elliptic springing, rack-and pinion steering and cable-operated brakes on the rear axle only, though four-wheel braking was soon standardised. The Power Plus 1.5-litre overhead-valve four-cylinder engine was used for the first dozen-or-so cars before the similar-size sidevalve Anzani 4000 series was standardised in 1925. The Anzani engine's power characteristics make for a lively balanced sports car with long-legged vintage touring ability. This car's engine is modified with a Phoenix Engineering crankshaft, con-rods, and shell bearings that have given confidence over its many years on Continental adventures. Like many Anzani Nashes, 'PE 9094' has a polished aluminium body with nickel-plated lights, screen, and fittings. The 'three-seater' body has carried parents and two children happily over many miles.
According to the Frazer Nash Register, this early Frazer Nash was "Delivered March 4th 1926 Wide front axle fitted January 1932, otherwise no pre-war history known". The vendor purchased 'PE 9094' from Clive Hamilton Gould in 1977, since when it has been regularly and enthusiastically rallied throughout the UK and Continental Europe, including three Frazer Nash 'Raids' to Bolzano and three circuits around New Zealand. Well known within the camaraderie of the Frazer Nash Car Club, 'PE 9094' has been continuously maintained over the course of the last 42 years and comes with a detailed list of all works carried out. The history file also contains notes on starting and managing 'PE 9094'; an old-style continuation logbook (issued 1953); various V5C Registration Certificates; assorted tax discs; FIVA Identity Card; VSCC Eligibility Card '2799' as a Standard Car (14/10/2003); Eligibility Form (13/9/1989); and many other interesting and useful documents. Accompanying spares include alternative chain sprockets, driving chain, cylinder head gasket, fibre transmission coupling, and shell and ball bearings.
A splendid Vintage-era sports car more than able to hold its own against contemporary opposition, 'PE 9094' wants only for another equally enthusiastic custodian to continue its colourful career.