Past Event Reports

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The Chain-Drive Frazer Nash

Automobile Division Yorkshire Lecture 28 October 2014

Speaker:  Louise Bunting and David Leigh of the Frazer Nash Car Club

In the School of Engineering and Informatics at the University of Bradford

Louise Bunting, current Captain of the Frazer Nash Car Club, opened the meeting by outlining the history of GN, starting with Ron Godfrey and Archie Frazer-Nash, who had been together as apprentices, producing their first cycle-cars in 1914. These vehicles had a wooden chassis, wire-and- bobbin steering and belt-drive from a transverse crankshaft mounted J.A.P  V-twin engine, and were soon developed into more conventionally steered cars with their own Peugeot influenced V-twin engine. This had an overhung crankshaft installed longitudinally, and drove a bevel box and thence by chains to the back axle.

The cars were used successfully in competition, but in 1922 the company was put into receivership and ceased production in 1924. The introduction in 1922 of the Austin Seven hastened the demise of several companies producing less sophisticated small cars and cycle-cars. By this time both Godfrey and Frazer-Nash had left the company, and Frazer-Nash started his own company, producing cars with 4-cylinder engines and 3-speed chain drive - as GN with a solid back axle and no differential.

These were progressively developed, using proprietary engines from Pluspower, Anzani, Meadows, Blackburne and Gough, some supercharged. In 1925 front wheel brakes were introduced and four speeds replaced three in 1927. By then Archie Frazer-Nash had left the GN company, now being run by the Aldington brothers, and the last chain driven car was produced in 1939. Between 1924 and 1939 not many more than 300 cars had been produced, a high proportion of which still exist today, and are actively campaigned in rallies, hill climbs and race events in this country and abroad.

In 1923 GN produced a single-seater V-twin racing car “Spider” which for many years in the hands of its owner Basil Davenport had a very successful competition career. David Leigh, its current (and only the third owner, has for several years competed very successfully with it in hill-climb and speed events, and brought Spider's chassis to the lecture for all to examine closely.

The lecture was illustrated by numerous period photographs of the many different body styles fitted to the cars, the engine and transmission details, some of the personalities involved and the cars in action. The speakers then enthusiastically answered many questions from the audience, including how to get round corners without a differential as quickly as possible.

52 people attended the lecture.

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