THE EX-ARCHIE GRIPPER & JOHN TWEEDALE ALPINE TRIAL
1932 FRAZER NASH TT REPLICA TWO SEATER SPORTS
U.K. Registration No. MV1620
Chassis No. 2045
Engine No. 10272
Green with brown leather upholstery
Engine: Meadows 4-cylinder in line, 1,657cc, twin SU carburetors, c52bhp at 4,000rpm; Gearbox: four speed selected by dog-clutch and chains to bevel box on solid rear axle; Suspension: quarter-elliptic cantilever leaf springs to front and rear beam axles; Brakes: hydraulically operated drum. Right hand drive.
The Frazer Nash TT Replica is one of the most beloved of all English sports cars; hand-built, and produced in small quantity in a tiny factory in a London suburb. Within a few short seasons, it built a reputation out of all proportion to the numbers manufactured. The TT Replica's chassis design was already dated when it appeared in 1931, there was little attempt to streamline the compact two-seater body, and its chain-drive transmission was, even in the early 1930s, regarded as highly idiosyncratic. Under the strict guidance of managing director, H. J. Aldington, the company was never prepared to provide much more than encouragement to the eager private owners who raced and rallied its products, or an engraved Dunhill cigarette lighter to those who succeeded. And successes there were: Frazer Nash performances in the grueling International Alpine Trials of 1932 to 1934 are legendary, with four out of six cars entered in 1934 completing the course without loss of a single mark. The company's wordy advertisements had their own flavor, In the International Alpine Trial both Frazer Nashes entered lost no marks and won Glacier Cups. One of these cars then competed in the Tourist Trophy race and had a trouble-free run.... at an average speed of 68.86mph. Later in the same year the car was first to finish in the MCC high-speed trial [at Brooklands], averaging 85.43 mph, the highest speed of the day.
With the Frazer Nash steering taking less than a turn of the wheel from lock to lock, the lightweight, taughtly-suspended TT Replica was one of the most responsive cars of its era. Controlled by that famous rigid outside lever, gear-changing was close to instantaneous. It was originally powered by the forthright four-cylinder 1500cc Meadows, which was later much tuned by the factory before they produced their own engine, and later they turned to Blackburne engines. It must be conceded that any extra power the latter unit produced merely helped to offset its greater weight. Carrying its complement of quick-release filler caps, outside exhaust headers, racing-type fly-off handbrake, bonnet louvres, spring-spoke steering wheel, fold-flat windscreen, and a full stock of instruments, the Frazer Nash was the beau ideal of the 1930s enthusiast and still has great panache.
MV1620 is undoubtedly one of the most famous of all TT Replicas and played an important part in establishing the competition record mentioned above. Archie Gripper was an enthusiastic customer who had competed in the 1931 Alpine Trial driving a Riley. The event comprised of a challenging drive through the mountains of Austria, France, Italy and Switzerland. He purchased this Falcon model Frazer Nash in March 1932, competed in a few events and then, in July, decided to have his car re-bodied to the lighter and more fashionable TT Replica style. His enthusiasm for the event persuaded H. J. Aldington, known to all as Aldy, to also enter the event in a new TT Replica. The event ran from Munich to San Remo, taking in numerous mountain passes and some 1,500 miles. The two most challenging passes, against the clock, were the Stelvio and Little St Bernard. On the Stelvio, MV1620 stormed the hill (48 hairpins, over 9,000 feet and 17 miles) in 27 minutes and 43 seconds driven by Grippers co-driver, Leon Maxwell. This was easily the fastest time of the day for their class (1,500cc) which had over 22 entries. At the end of the Trial both Nashes finished without the loss of a single mark, winning the much coveted Alpine prize, known as a Coupe des Glaciers. This remarkable feat was repeated in 1934, when MV1620 returned to the Alps, this time driven by John Tweedale and he too finished the grueling event without the loss of any marks.
Up until 1959, MV1620 remained in the U.K. passing through four different ownerships (it is known to have been raced in some Frazer Nash club 'Chain Gang' events during this period, notably by Dr. Peter Chapman who also modified the brakes to hydraulic). The car then moved to the U.S.A. In 1961, William Snyder acquired the car and used it occassionally. By the late 1960s this highly original Nash was rather scruffy and Snyder decided it should undergo a total rebuild in the restoration facility of Tom Lester in Cleveland, Ohio under the guidance of Shop Foreman, Ed North. The restoration took nearly seven years to complete (some delays were due to the difficulty in locating parts from England). In 1983 this car was judged a National First Prize Winner by the Classic Car Club of America. It comes equipped with a particularly fine set of Carl Zeiss headlamps and a Bluemel's Brooklands steering wheel. The current engine fitted is the correct type and dates from just four months later than the chassis. Judging from the current condition, this car has seen very little use since the restoration and still appears to be in pristine condition. William Snyder recently confirmed his very fond memories of the car and believes he still has the original bonnett and seats for the car which he would be happy to discuss with a new owner. He sold MV1620 in the early 1980s to Tom Lester who in turn sold the car to Bill Lassiter in 1987. Lassiter drove the car immediately to his West Palm Beach garage only 20 miles away.
There is a highly enthusiastic and supportive Frazer Nash section within the Vintage Sports-Car club of Great Britain. They offer technical support, replacement parts and a very full program of social, competition and touring events. Ownership of a 'Chain-Gang' Nash has always provided an enthusiast owner with an action-filled social and sporting life. This famous TT Replica is well documented in the definitive books on the marque, The Chain-Drive Frazer Nash by David Thirlby and From Chain Drive to Turbocharger by Denis Jenkinson.
(please note the term Replica was the factory name for this model)