One of only eight produced & formerly the property of Betty Haig,
1935 Frazer Nash Shelsley Sports
Chassis No. 2156
Engine No. DC 123
Registration No. CMT 744 (UK)
Trying to explain all of the various models and factory options that were available to buyers of the circa 350 chain-driven Frazer Nashes produced is rather like asking a certain Shadow Home Secretary to recite the two-times table correctly – it’s perhaps not impossible to achieve, but it would certainly be both difficult, frustrating and time consuming! The fantastic story of the chain-drive cars is more than adequately covered in the various publications on the marque, particularly From Chain Drive to Turbocharger by Dennis “Jenks” Jenkinson and Fraser Nash by David Thirlby – both of which make for most enjoyable and interesting reading.
Suffice to say that in the world of pre-war motoring few sports cars capture the imagination of the period better than the chain-drive Frazer Nash. Due to the personalities who owned and campaigned them in period, the sideways nature and performance of the cars and the bunch of brilliant lunatics that own them today (otherwise known as The Frazer Nash Car Club) it is doubtful that there is any other sports car in the world that is actually quite as much fun to own.
‘CMT 744’ offered for sale here, is one of a very rare batch of “Shelsley” Frazer Nashes that were built towards the end of the production run of the chain drive era. As stated, trying to explain all of the various types of chain-drive Frazer Nash cars is rather difficult and the Shelsley model is a good example of this. The most famous ‘Shelsley’ model of all was ‘CMH 500’ the ex-works/A.F. P. Fane record breaking car. This ‘Shelsley’ featured a twin-supercharged four-cylinder Gough engine and an Elkington/Compton “standard style” body whereas the Shelsley offered for sale here ‘CMT 744’ is fitted with a six-cylinder normally aspirated Blackburne engine and carries the body style more associated with the Shelsley model, featuring an enclosed fuel tank within a sloping tail and longer shapely front wings.
According to the records available, chassis no. 2156 was first owned by a Mrs. Gore of Aldershot in Hampshire and registered ‘CMT 744.’ Although the early history of ‘CMT 744’ is unknown, in From Chain Drive to Turbocharger “Jenks” notes that ‘CMT 744’ was sold to H. Bickerton in 1938. The April 1990 edition of The Chain Gang Gazette includes ‘Harry’ Bickerton’s obituary and notes that he had owned two Frazer Nashes before ‘CMT 744’ including: ‘MV 158’ which he used extensively abroad including North Africa and a TT Replica ‘BMK 102.’ It also notes that, in 1964, he bought ‘CMT 744’ back and this tallies with the buff log-book in the history file that accompanies the car.
The buff log-book shows the ownership history of ‘CMT 744’ from 1956 onwards when it was owned by an army officer named Thomas Smith who served at the School of Artillery at Larkhall, Wiltshire. From Smith ‘CMT 744’ passed into the ownership of Betty Haig. Betty Haig was a well-known and highly respected rally/racing driver who had successfully competed in numerous events during the 1930s with both Singer and MG. After The War she continued to compete successfully in high profile events such as The Monte Carlo Rally. She also piloted a Ferrari 166M at Le Mans in 1951, finishing 15th overall and 3rd in the 2,000cc class, having contested for the lead throughout. Haig enjoyed a successful hill-climb career, holding the ladies record at Prescott for a number of years. As well as her more professional racing and rallying exploits she also enjoyed historic and club competition events and ‘CMT 744’ was one of the historic cars she owned, presumably for this purpose.
From Betty Haig ‘CMT 744’ passed to Keith Moore in 1960, Maurice Bethell in 1963 before being re-purchased and registered to ‘Henry’ Bickerton in 1964. `From Bickerton ‘CMT 744’ went to Julian Ghosh. By the 1980s ‘CMT 744’ had been purchased by Roger Buxton (his first Nash) who had the Blackburne engine by Barrie Gillies and wrote a number of articles about this rebuild and his subsequent adventures in the car for The Chain Gang Gazette. During the 1990s ‘CMT 744’ was sold to Germany where it remained for over 20 years being used for numerous events and proving itself on The Stelvio Pass on a number of occasions. One of only a handful made, this rare and original Frazer Nash Shelsley Sports will be welcomed by both the Frazer Nash Car Club and the Vintage Sports Car Club as is most suitable for the famous “raids” organised by the former.