Lot 237 - 1937 Frazer Nash BMW - Restoration project

Lot 237 - 1937 Frazer Nash BMW - Restoration project

Lot 237 - 1937 Frazer Nash BMW - Restoration project

Lot Number 237
Registration JHX 333
Chassis Number 90013
Engine Number tbc
Odometer reading 5,022 miles
Result Sold - £3,080

Archibald Frazer-Nash and Henry Ronald Godfrey founded the GN Cycle Company in 1922.  The company went into receivership in 1927 and emerged as AFN Limited.  A Mr. HJ Aldington (HJ) became the owner of AFN at the beginning of 1929 following the illness of Archie Frazer-Nash and the subsequent down turn for AFN. HJ later took ownership of the Aston Martin company from the Bertelli brothers, Augustus Cesare Bertelli, and his coachbuilder brother Enrico (known as Harry to his friends), in 1931. Harry also owned a coachbuilders' company next to the Aston Martin factory. This period was rather strange as HJ did not want to be known as the owner of both companies as the two marques were so different, each having an enthusiastic following.  However, Aston Martin sales were slow and the company struggled to stay afloat.  At the end of 1931, Aston Martin was rescued by Prideaux-Brune and after only seven months, AFN ownership was finished.

By 1934 it was evident to HJ and AFN that the BMWs were becoming too competitive on the continental rallies.  This was due to their advanced handling and suspension design.  BMW won the San Remo Rally in the 1500 cc class that year.  After the San Remo Rally in which AFN had taken 2nd place behind the BMWs in the team event, HJ drove straight to the BMW Head Office in Munich and presented himself unannounced to the General Director Popp.  Although Popp was in negotiations with Austin, he liked HJ's enthusiasm and awarded AFN the licence to import BMWs into England with an additional licence to manufacture motor cars. In December 1934 Aldington announced that AFN would be selling the Frazer Nash-BMW and would soon be importing rolling chassis for assembly to a British specification. The production of Frazer Nash built or assembled BMW's was never engaged commercially; the vast majority of the Frazer Nash-BMW's were imported from the factory in Eisenach complete as right hand drive cars already bearing the Frazer Nash BMW Badge. AFN were the official British BMW importers until the start of hostilities in 1939.

AFN did import a number of 319, 315, 320 and 326 chassis for the building of their own Anglicised BMW's.  On offer today is one of these Bertelli built Frazer Nash-BMWs and the only 320 2 litre four door saloon ever produced making it unique. This Bertelli 320 was a very advanced motor car for its day and powered by the well proven 6-cylinder ohv cast iron engine of 1971 cc providing 45 bhp at 3750rpm. Drive is through a single plate clutch to an aluminium cased 4 -speed gearbox with synchromesh on third and top. Braking is by a hydraulic system incorporating 11inch drums and a cable operated handbrake. The car sits upon 16 inch perforated steel wheels. A 'one- shot' chassis lubrication system is used operated by the driver's right foot.  The earliest FN-BMWs used the world famous tubular chassis frame. This car is of the later box section design with the coachwork fabricated in aluminium with a steel nose and wing sections.  The chassis incorporates the superb rack and pinion steering of the earlier cars with a transverse front spring, built in hydraulic shock absorbers below and conventional semi-elliptic springs to the rear. This car is the only one of its kind; the chassis (90813) was imported from the BMW Works by Frazer Nash and bodied by Bertelli in 1937. Frazer Nash intended to market a number of English Bodied BMW's for 1938. For reasons unknown this never came to be even though some marketing material was published; as a result this remains the only car completed and fortunately still in existence today. It is currently in a Barn-find condition and is missing its original engine, gearbox and steering rack (although a blank block, head and gearbox are with the car). Any potential purchaser may wish to note that the Bristol engines and gearboxes are virtually identical in looks and design to the BMW items. The rest of the car is remarkably intact and still has its original instruments and interior trim although these also require full restoration. This is a rare opportunity to acquire a unique prototype from one of Britain's most historic manufacturers.

Interested parties should satisfy themselves as to the description and condition of each Lot prior to the sale. Accordingly, buyers are on notice that each vehicle is offered ‘as is/as seen’ subject to the Terms and Conditions for the auction. All registration numbers, engine and chassis details are sourced from registration documents provided to Historics by the client or representative or HPI checks and buyers are to satisfy themselves as to the accuracy of these details. Buyers are advised to inspect the vehicle in person or use a professional to carry out this service. Historics will not entertain disputes over descriptions.

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