1955 Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupe
s/n 421/200/203 engine no. BS4/1/415
Metallic Green with Tan Leather Interior
Frazer Nash is a special marque with interesting history. Initially, the company produced chain-drive cycle cars starting in 1910, and by 1934, the company was importing BMW’s for sale in the United Kingdom. After World War II, they produced approximately 85 cars, and a variety of models, almost all of which were powered by the BMW-Bristol six-cylinder powerplant which was also found in the Arnolt Bristol and AC Bristol. The models ranged from a somewhat ungainly cycle-fendered car called the Le Mans Replica to the classically proportioned and attractively styled Mille Miglia and Targa Florio Roadsters. Additionally around eight Le Mans Coupes were produced, of which one competed at Le Mans in 1959.
This car is the very car that raced at Le Mans in 1959, and it also raced at Goodwood in 1960. Period photos show the car running with such motoring legends as the 250 TR and TdF as well as Porsche RSKs, and of course the winning Aston Martin DBR1. Additionally, because another of the Le Mans Coupes raced at the Mille Miglia in period, this car is eligible for the Mille Miglia as well. The car was actually sold new to a Kitty Maurice (closely associated with Castle Combe raceway) on the 17th of March 1955, and this was her second (!) Frazer Nash. She returned the car to the works, who sold the car to John Dashwood on the 28th of February 1959, and he raced the car at Le Mans in 1959, along with co-driver W.E. Wilks. The car was fitted with disc front brakes for the event, as well as a 3.5 to 1 rear axle, which, according to Wilks, made the car good for 140mph at 6000rpm. The car was also fitted with the engine from a different Frazer Nash, a Targa Florio model (s/n 198).
The car is extremely well-documented with dozens if not nearer to 100 period photos of the car, including at Le Mans and Goodwood. There are many photos of the car from Le Mans including during the race, in at the garage, in the pits, at Technical Inspection and Scrutineering, in the town of Le Mans, of the drivers signing autographs, as well as car to car photos taken from an Aston Martin DB2. There is even a blurred photo of Wilks jumping into the car following the running “Le Mans” start. There are also a few photos of the car on track at Goodwood. The car has a file of letters and invoices from 1970 to 1977, as well as invoices from the 1990’s, when the car received significant mechanical work. The car has had much recent work and has been used in a number of events without incident, including the Tour Auto and the Colorado Grand in 2009 and 2010. The car received significant work in the late 1990s including major mechanical systems, installation of an overdrive gearbox, and new paint. Since the 2010 Colorado Grand, the car has been freshened as required to include overhauled braking system, new shock absorbers, suspension setup and adjustments, and some electrical fixes.
The car is in very fine condition. It was restored to essentially the same specification in which it competed at Le Mans in 1959. The paintwork is excellent, with almost no signs of wear or use whatsoever, only the occasional small chip from road use. The body is in great shape, with no visible corrosion and very straight panels. The chrome ranges from excellent on the door handles to a bit less fresh in other areas such as the headlight rings and trunk latch, which show some pitting. The car sits on wire wheels with vintage style Englebert tires, while the glass is in great shape. The rear window and rear quarter windows are Perspex. The trim and badging are excellent, including the Le Mans lights for the number balls. The car is fitted with a quick release fuel filler as well. The lights and lenses are excellent, including the Cibié headlamps.
The interior has a lovely patina, with nicely broken in leather, although it is a bit soiled. There are no significant creases or areas of wear. The carpets are in good shape as well, and the steering wheel is a lovely wood-rimmed Moto-Lita. The gauges are in excellent shape and all appear to work properly, while the dashboard is replete with switches, all of which are labeled. The dashboard paint shows plenty of patina with a number of chips.
The engine compartment shows signs of maintenance and is serviceable and relatively correct in appearance. There are a few concessions to modern usability such as a conversion to spin on oil filter and an aluminum catch tank for the oil breather. There are signs of maintenance as well, and the overall condition is of a tidy and usable event car. The trunk is upholstered with carpeting and contains the spare, in addition to a plumbed in extinguisher system. The trunk is absolutely huge, which is ideally suited for touring.
The car runs and drives well. The engine sounds good, and the gearbox shifts well. The overdrive works properly, which is yet another valuable attribute for using this car for tours. The brakes work properly, and the chassis is quiet and reassuringly solid in feel. The suspension works properly as well.
This is an exceptionally rare opportunity to acquire a special car with interesting and distinguished history. Not only did this particular car race at Le Mans and Goodwood in period, but its type also competed in the Mille Miglia, making this car a virtual shoe-in for any prestigious touring event worldwide. It makes an excellent touring car because of its large trunk, closed bodywork, and overdrive transmission, in addition to being event-proven. Because of the car’s rarity and attractiveness, it is likely to be a sought after entrant, while it is also considerably less expensive to acquire than cars of similar history from the same period. For example, Ferrari 250’s of the same vintage that also ran in the World Sports Car Championship start around $2 million and continue well above $10 million. The car’s history is interesting nevertheless, and it is sure to appeal to those seeking something a bit less mainstream than other cars of the same period. The car comes with FIVA identity card and FIA papers (issued 2003), as well as some spares including the non-overdrive gearbox, windscreen, shock absorbers, and a variety of other bits.
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