The Le Mans Replica
There isn't much written about the series
of cars known as the Le Mans Replica "replicas". Geoffrey Bewley
wrote an article, "Frazer Nash Le Mans Replica Replica", for the
March/April 1990 Vintage Motorsport magazine. Geoff Dowdle, Andrew
Blow, David Starling and other published sources have provided more
data on these cars.
Some of these "replicas" have been regarded as "almost
proper" by a few observers, probably meaning their accuracy of
copying an original Le Mans Replica. Many other automotive
historians ignore the existence of all "replicas", whatever
their source, or note these cars are not truly "Frazer Nash" or
AFN, Ltd. in origin.
Because there isn't any comprehensive published
documentation or complete identification of these cars, this web page will collect, preserve and present
reports and data as they become
Crosthwaite & Gardiner
According to publications and direct sources, Crosthwaite
& Gardiner built up a number of "replicas", probably
starting when this firm restored a LeMans Replica with a frame salvaged
from a racing accident. This was probably in the 1960's or 1970's,
much after AFN's production of the post-war cars had ceased.
Mr. Bewley wrote about Dick Crosthwaite's
"He produced a small batch of
duplicate tubular chassis, and collected engine and running gear from
scrapped Bristols. A set of cars were finished with copies of the
Le Mans Replica body featuring correct instruments and generally correct
trim. These were definitely small 'r' replicas."
C & G are reported to have made about 6 - 9 chassis, bodies or
complete "replicas" in the 70's:
Engine 85A/1374 (identity from Bristol 400?)
by Ian Mac
Nee, Castlemaine, Australia for many years. Sold to UK to a Mr. Procter,
possibly a dealer. Then
to USA? See photo below.
engine 3044 (This is the AFN serial number of the author's Mille
Miglia - I can only speculate on the reasons for this choice!)
David Starling UK. Sold in 1984 to Japan; later returned to
UK. Advertised by Coys 1/12/94. Was for sale at Dragone
Classic Motorcars, 2005-2006 as a "1952 Frazer-Nash Lemans
Racer". New owner, Peter Fino, posted a YouTube video,
which is no longer available.
(formerly XMG 6). Currently identified as "CG2"
engine 100B2; FNS 11 engine, originally fitted to XMX 4, now
Crosthwaite, Chris Drake Collectors Cars, Ltd., sold by J.
Bradburn, (Classic & Sports Car, 10/96, p. 262) to
Graham Chittenden, sold to Ken Hawes, 12/99. For
Sale October, 2001. See 7/2002 note below.
Reported to have a body built by Peels (like other C&G
replicas) all modeled on FN 158.
Later owned by Peter Mann. Then brought to 2009 Monterey Historic races
(see photo below) by new owner with rebuilt engine, gearbox, de Dion,
etc.; this work was done in the UK.
by Robert Yung, Hawaii (Mr. Yung was the original owner
of Mille Miglia 421/100/124).
Partly restored by
Mike DiCola, 1999 Massachusetts.
Restored by IN Racing,
sale, May 2013 - January 2014.
|YHV23 (formerly STB 333)
at Pendine Historic Cars, July 2015; previously for sale in
T&CC, 9/86, Alan Dunkerley. See photo below.
For sale in 2017 at Fender
Broad Classic Cars. New registration number, black
wheels and leather changed from red and a new steering wheel.
(formerly YRO 405)
owner was Francesco Di Lauro (see photo below). Previously long
owned by David
Starling (Waikanae Beach, NZ), who sent a detailed
history of this car. Car sold in 2008 by Auto
Classics near Wellington, New Zealand; then sent to Italy (August,
Simon Park bought it in 2013 from Francesco di
Lauro and repatriated it to England. The New Zealand registration number, YH 7559, has been replaced by its original UK number, YRO 405.
It retains the historic "Mille Miglia" FNS engine.
Click the images below for full-size photo
at 2009 Monterey Historics
XME 253 and TME 924
(421/100/006) - 1983
It's not certain if all the above cars are C & G "replicas" and
there may be more. Note that one replica used registration
XMG6. This was formerly on Le Mans Replica Mk 2, S/N
421/200/176. This car was destroyed in a 1955 racing
YRO 405 (formerly YH7559)
at the 2009 Vernasca Silver Flag hillclimb in the Apennine Mountains
near Parma and Piacenza
at Goodwood, 2008
482, in the US, 2008
Bradburn sent a note in July 2002 about RCD 305:
"I currently own the Crossthwaite and Gardner car
registered RCD 305 which I bought from Ken Hawes. It is a car that I
have owned before. I have carried out a full overhaul of the brakes and
have replaced all wheel bearings and fitted a close ratio gearbox. Also
rebuilt water pump and presently am having a new cam bearing fitted.
Engine is FNS 11. The car was fitted with a works de Dion axle by Dick
Crossthwaite and FN hubs with heavy duty FN wheels. As my other Le Mans
rep is nearing the end of a long rebuild, I will sell the car. Asking
price is £75,000.
Over the years I have owned many other Nashes, ACs, Tojeiros, Listers,
Lotus 10s and the like. I rebuilt the Reardon Smith Targa Florio after
the previous owner (a Mr. Forbes Procter, I believe) rolled the car. Our
family business was motor trade - my grandfather built his first car in
1904 - and, amongst other dealerships that we had, we were Bristol
dealers up until 1964."
Werner Oswald Replicas
Another series of replicas was started in
about 1990. Werner Oswald, with a few associates, laid down parts for 10 "replicas", possibly copied from
a Le Mans Replica Mk 1 owned by Frank Sytner. Mike Robinson has been also
identified as associated with the "Werner Oswald Kits" (WOKs),
as they came to be known, which were never sold in built-up form. He
was reported to also have a WOK, not yet fully completed.
It was reported that one of the partners in the project found that the
business name, Frazer-Nash Cars Ltd, had not been registered for a few
years and bought it from Companies House, seemingly a proper business
transaction. A possible goal was to reduce threats of
litigation on the issue of "identity" for the cars produced by Mr. Oswald
if advertising claimed they were made by
"Frazer-Nash Cars, Ltd". No records have been found of
this transaction or advertising. In 2014, Tim Frost clarified that
"Frazer Nash Cars Ltd" was wholly owned by him and had no
connection with the Werner Oswald project.
These cars reportedly still do not easily get a "proper
registration" in the UK, and various methods were used to avoid
"kit car" registration (which usually includes a "Q"
in the registration number).
The Le Mans Replica "replica" sold in 1999 by Andrew Blow had a
"Frazer-Nash BMW" identity, indicating it to have been made in
1938! This could also imply a legitimate claim to its FNA 436 registration
number - all adding up to a "proper provenance". However,
because the identity of this car is well
known, there is little UK that anyone in the UK would seriously
identify it as a "true" Le Mans Replica. However, if it
were imported it to the USA or elsewhere, the paperwork could look
"proper" up to a point.
from Oswald to Peter Mann. Not
sold at Brooks auction, Olympia, April 30, 1992. For
sale, January, 2014.
||B. Heath to Mick Walsh
to Guy Janssen (2001)
||Owned by John Teague,
1, 2008 at a Bonhams auction.
||B. Linnhoff to Brian
Flegg (New Zealand)
offer, June, 2011.
||Brian May sold in 1996
||Sold in June 2008 by
Blow to M. Ormond. Photo below. Also sold long ago by B.
Williamson & D. Martin
For sale by John
Peter Crowson, October 2011. Previously on offer, September 2008 by A. Blow. Former owner was Stephen Hall, sold by
A. Blow to J. Baker about 2001.
van Wegen from Neville Webb (2006, Australia).
Restored by new owner.
Entered in Australia vintage events. For sale by Oldtimer
Australia, May 2014, $249,500 AU.
||Tim Frost, who
later sold it still in kit form to Peter Lanfranchi
Note: WOK 8 reported to
have WOBS 01
stamped in chassis. Geoff's has WO BS 11.
WOK8, for sale May
WOK 6, April, 2008. Click here for more photos.
FNA 436, sold in 1999
by Andrew Blow
The car below, registration VHX
77, is believed to have been constructed by Bill Roberts as a "Le Mans
special". It used a body which was built from full-size body
drawings of a High Speed model, modified to replicate XMG 6 (a "works
cars"). The owner made the body hoops and the radiator grill and
it was then bodied professionally. The gearbox, axles and wheels were
originally fitted to Frazer Nash single seaters and the Mk1 chassis, or
parts of it, were possibly works spares. It has an overdrive and a Bristol
D2 engine also built from spares. It is located in Great Britain.
One observer has identified the main
differences between the C&G replicas and original LeMans Replica as:
Mostly Austin front and rear axles,
brakes, wire wheels (Note that authentic Le Mans Mk 2 Replicas used
Austin bits from new and some Mk 1 Replicas were modified to accept
Scuttle in front of steering wheel is
flat, not humped to fit speedometer and tachometer;
Body appears accurate, probably better
than most Oswald cars.
The same observer noted:
He was informed that Oswald Replicas
were made different from the original LeMans Replicas on purpose;
The cockpit shape, bonnet scoop and
grille were all different from an original;
The nose is too high between the top
of grille and bonnet opening (but this has been fixed on at least two
Overall they are quite well made and a
credit to Mr. Oswald and others involved.
"Replicas" turn up outside the
UK. Geoff Dowdle reported that the history of post-war Frazer Nash
cars in Australia probably began with a Targa Florio 421/200/198, which
was in a museum in Adelaide. He missed the opportunity to buy it
when it was advertised in Road & Track, as it was quickly sold to the
USA. In the 1980's, when prices of all classic cars went up sharply, this
put a genuine FN out of his reach. Geoff considered building his own
"replica" LeMans Replica, but could not get access to an
original for measurements.
When Werner Oswald advertised wheels for
the 328 BMW and the Frazer Nash in England, Geoff called him and learned
Mr. Oswald was building a batch of "replicas". Because
Geoff had numerous Bristol engines, gearboxes and other spares, he ordered
an Oswald kit. Eventually he obtained a chassis, body (but not
fitted), and grille.
Geoff built it up slowly over the past 8
years and eventually got it club registered in 1999. He has since
traveled only 600 miles with this car and plans to sort it out
mechanically before painting and trimming it properly.
In 1997, Geoff visited New Zealand and
met Bruce Clark, who then owned Mille Miglia 421/100/161 (XHX193, the
"sister car" to my Mille Miglia). He concluded it was the
most fantastic car he'd ever seen and stated:
"It certainly is one of the best
looking post-war sports cars ever - if I had my time over again I would
have preferred a Replica Mille Miglia. Bruce let me drive his father
Bill's LeMans Replica (421/100/112) which really spurred me on to
finishing my replica."
Some years ago, Geoff nearly bought the
last alloy body from XMG6, then being sold by Julius Thurgood. The
ultimate purchaser of that body is now reported to be building up XMG6
around this body. Dennis Jenkinson wrote Geoff at the time to advise that
if he did the same, it would only be a "replica".
There have also been reported to be other
Replica "replicas" made, possibly assuming the identity of
crashed and written-off cars. It could be very difficult in the
future to firmly distinguish an "original" Le Mans Replica from
a "replica". Denis Jenkinson was reported to have all the
"facts" on this, but there isn't a serious known, current
attempt to classify and identify all Le Mans Replicas.
If you have any information to share on
the Replica "replicas", please send it to me. Thanks!
(This webpage originally posted August 1999.
Updated August 21, 2017)