To celebrate 50 years of legendary Frazer Nash Car Club ‘raids’, no less than 90 wonderful Frazer Nash cars, including the GN, Frazer Nash and Frazer Nash-BMW marques, will drive over 150,000 collective miles from the UK through France, Germany, Austria and onto Bolzano, Italy, from June 8–16. The event celebrates the club’s first raid which was also to Bolzano, which took place in June 1969.
Few car clubs enjoy the Frazer Nash Car Club’s reputation for organizing incredible and ambitious rallies to far flung destinations, known amongst enthusiasts and club members as “raids.” Frazer Nash enthusiasts are often considered to be a unique breed, never shy of taking on a challenge in their (predominantly) chain drive sports cars. Among the events set to challenge participants, is a regularity hill climb in the Dolomites, organized by the Veteran Car Club of Bolzano (VCCB). Competitors will also enjoy a day driving in the stunning Dolomites and run through the famous Passo dello Stelvio.
A history of the Club ‘raids’ to the South Tyrol
The first raid took place 50 years ago, in June 1969, and was organized by David Thirlby who was inspired by the historic Alpine Trials of the 1930s. After reading a Bolzano holiday review written in a 1968 edition of The Times, the destination was settled upon. Since then, there have been raids to a wide range of destinations, but each decade since 1969, the Club has organized a commemorative raid to Bolzano, making the 2019 event the sixth pilgrimage to the historic Italian town and, incredibly, some participants have done all six! On the 50th anniversary of the 1969 raid, the children of the ‘69’ers’ are organizing this raid in memory of their pioneering parents.
The word ‘raid‘ in the English language means a warlike foray. In Italian, the meaning is an historic journey. The Frazer Nash Car Club has adopted the use of the word ‘raid’ to mean a serious, but light-hearted foray, and this fully describes these commemorative events, the participants being collectively known as ‘Raiders’!
The club is also celebrating the 85th anniversary of the Frazer Nash entries in the Alpine Trials of 1932, 1933 and 1934. In the 1930s, Frazer Nashes enjoyed amazing success in the Alpine Trials and especially in 1933 when the Frazer Nash was the only un-supercharged car to ﬁnish unpenalized. The Frazer Nash is a unique British sports car, with chain-drive transmission to the back axle and no differential, which gives speed advantage when cornering hard on tight bends. With exceptional power to weight ratio, very light and direct steering and a ‘solid’ back axle, the cars are surprisingly quick and nimble, even by modern standards. Throughout the Twenties and Thirties Frazer Nash was dominant in all manner of motor competitions in the UK and Europe. In the mid-Thirties, A.F.N. imported and sold right-hand drive BMWs as Frazer Nash-BMWs.
After the war, the company manufactured Bristol-engined Frazer Nash sports cars with a conventional transmission; the Bristol engine being an almost exact copy of the pre-war BMW 328 engine. These cars did well in the post-war Alpine Rallies, Le Mans 24 Hours and won the 1951 Targa Florio, driven by Franco Cortese.