1,971cc DOHC Bristol Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
150bhp at 5,750rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
4-Wheel Hydraulic Drum Brakes*One of the most original Le Mans Replicas in existence
*1952 Earls Court Motor Show feature car
*1953 Sebring 12 Hour participant
*Ex-Stuart "Duke" Donaldson and George Waltman
*Two owners from newin present ownership since 1959The Frazer-Nash Le Mans Replica MkII
Introduced as the High Speed Competition Model in 1948, a handful of examples were produced until TMX 545 powered to a 3rd place overall finish in the running of Le Mans 24 Hours the following year. Henceforth, the subsequent examples produced were named "Le Mans Replicas" to honor the strong performance in '49. 21 of these Le Mans Replicas were built but advancements in competition required further upgrading. In 1952, an entirely new chassis frame composed of two parallel four inch diameter tubes with similarly sized cross members replaced the old BMW 328-based architecture. While the new setup was lighter, thanks to the greater simplicity of its construction, there was some debate as to whether it was better than the old chassis. The newly christened Mark II rounded out the production run with a further eight cars. Production of the Le Mans Replica series ceased in 1954.The Motorcar Offered
This unrestored and completely original Le Mans Replica Mark II has had only two owners from new and an incredible history both on and off the track. Cars do not survive 61 years in such pristine nick without careful attention and care, both of which the Frazer-Nash has received in spades.
The second MkII produced, serial number 174 was promptly debuted at the 1952 Earls Court Motor Show in October of that year, and was featured extensively in Frazer-Nash's own brochure for the new MkII. Clothed in white paint and red leather, the car was first purchased by American Frazer-Nash agent Stuart "Duke" Donaldson and delivered in December, 1952. Donaldson, a New Yorker and accomplished racer in his own right, had entered a Le Mans Replica, serial number 421/100/160, in the premier running of the Sebring 12 Hours in 1952 (the first Sebring race, in 1950, had a duration of six hours). With Larry Kulok and Harry Grey at the wheel, Duke's Nash swept the field of Ferraris, Porsches, and Cunninghams to come in first place overall. Looking for a repeat of his performance the following year, Duke hoped his new MkII would be his ticket to back-to-back victories. Showing just as it had on the podium at Earls Court, Duke's MkII entered the race with a red number '1' gracing its sides and with Tony Bonadies and George Riceboth accomplished circle track racers who had found success in the Midwest and Northeastat the wheel .
Unfortunately, another victory was not to be had, as ten laps in the clutch failed and could not be fully repaired. In the mid-50s while the car was still actively competing, it was painted redto match the '52 Sebring winning carand the engine was moved back six inches to improve the handling characteristics, a change that would prove to be effective. Reports that a De Dion rear axle was also fitted at this time are spurious as the original live axle remains installed on the car with no records of this change ever being made.
In 1959, George Waltman, who had been racing for some time and was becoming a well known figure on the racing scene, purchased 174 and a wealth of spares from Duke for $1500. Waltman later remarked that he had, "bought it in favor of a Ferrari that Luigi Chinetti had offered me at the time. I've never been sorry of the choice..."
A true gentleman racer, he was known to bring a no-nonsense attitude to the sport while at the same time driving with a keen eye on having a good time. His fame would grow greatly with his solo endurance racing exploits. At the 1961 Sebring 12 Hours, his completion of the race in his Triumph TR3 would earn him the headline "Iron Man of Queens" in The New York Times
with a race review that mostly talked about Waltman and only briefly mentioned the actual winners. George's legend would be cemented with his solo running of the 24 Hours of Daytona seven years later, when he drove his Morgan Plus Four down from New York City to Florida and ran the 24 hours in its entirety. Despite having to stop for an hour after every four hours in the car to satisfy FIA rules, he finished only five laps behind James Garner's AIR team Corvette, piloted by four professional racers. After the race George changed the oil and drove back to New York in his Morgan, the only entrant to complete the grueling 24 hours of Daytona without a co-driver, and without a pit crew. He was the consummate gentleman racer and a very good one at that.
George Waltman considered his Frazer-Nash to be the crown jewel of his collection. Driving the car sparingly at Watkins Glen, Lime Rock, Bridgehampton, and various other tracks, it still received less use than his other racers. Though he was a man of simple pleasures and modest means he didn't coddle the car in a plastic bubble. In a 2001 letter to Frazer-Nash USA
registrar Bob Schmitt, Waltman said, "I always drove it on the road to all the race events, with my camping equipment aboard. It never let me down, and I always was able to drive it back from the events I ran it in."
In April of 1963, Waltman drove the Frazer-Nash to its second major show, the New York Auto Show, where this time it was shown as a decade old artifact. Later that year, Car and Driver
reviewed the Le Mans Replica in the July issue. While the cover featured a different car, the article itself was ladened with photos of Waltman's Frazer-Nash about which the C/D editors waxed about the car:
The racing car feel of brutal, open masculinity has never been more gently arrived at. It's the kind of head-turner that almost gets embarrassing to drive, and we found ourselves whipping along with an enormous grin.
The last big outing for the Nash was in 1975 when George shipped the car to the UK for the Frazer-Nash 50th Anniversary Gathering at Castle Combe. It is likely he would have driven it there, had that been an option. Into the later '70s and '80s the car continued to be gently used and shownGeorge's son fondly recalls riding in it as a boy in the early '80sbut by the early '90s the car was carefully stored on Waltman's Pennsylvania farm, rarely driven.
Quietly owning the car, George still occasionally spoke publicly about his prized Frazer-Nash, most strikingly in his scathing rebuke to a review of a Le Mans Replica Replica. His edited letter appeared in the March 1999 issue of Classic & Sports Car
noting that he'd "rather own a real Fiat 500 than a fake FN."
Waltman's practical ownership and frugal but spirited use of his Le Mans Replica MkII has preserved the car in the remarkable condition in which it shows today. Any modifications from its original delivery specification, including the color change, the repositioning of the engine, and the replacement of the transmission housing with a painted NOS unit were all completed in 1960 or prior. 174's stunning preservation status is best summed in George Waltman's own words:
I still have it fitted with Dunlop diamond tred (sic) race tyres. The interior is still original, and actually, nothing has been butchered up or screwed around with since it left the Sebring Circuit.
With George's passing in January of this year, it has come time for his Frazer-Nash to move on to its third owner from new. One of the last true American gentlemen racers, George raced for fun and enjoyment, becoming a legend in his own time thanks to his unrepeatable accomplishments. His Frazer-Nash was the crowning achievement of his collecting career and the jewel of his garage.
Le Mans Replicas are remarkable for their eligibility for the most prestigious vintage events, including the Mille Miglia, Targa Florio, Le Mans Classic, California Mille, Colorado Grand, and many more. George certainly proved its dual-purpose nature as a mount with which to drive to the track, race, and then drive home. With its storied history, stunningly authentic originality, and mountains of character, one can only hope that, in George's own words, "the FN finds an honest home."