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1937 Frazer Nash BMW 319/1 Type 55 Sports

One of less than 30 original right-hand drive Frazer Nash examples produced, original coachwork & formerly the property of Brian Redman

Chassis No. 56143

Registration No. CPO 819

+44 (0)1869 244 255


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The Frazer Nash BMW 319/1 Type 55 Sports, offered for sale here, has been restored to its original colour scheme and with a responsive high-performance engine it is ready for race, rally and road use. Agile, refined and rapid ‘CPO 819’ is sure to be a worthy contender at numerous historic events and has the added accolade of being one of the first sports cars ever owned by the highly successful and utterly charming former BMW and Porsche works racing driver, Brian Redman.

Of the smaller capacity sports cars produced before the outbreak of WWII, it is those produced by BMW that are widely regarded as the most technologically advanced and well-engineered. Piloting any six-cylinder BMW of the era is a pleasure and the overall driving experience undoubtedly belies the age of the car. Indeed, with many sports cars produced during the 1950s & 60s falling short of, or merely equalling the driving experience of the BMWs produced in the 1930s it is not hard to understand why, in 1934, AFN Ltd. had the foresight to become importers and assemblers of BMWs in right-hand-drive form.

A development of BMW’s original inline six-cylinder, the Type 303, the 315 and 319 models were produced between 1934 and 1937, the former with a capacity of 1,490cc and the latter 1,911cc. The 319 Type 55, as offered for sale here, featured the added benefit of triple Solex side-draft carburettors increasing the power to 55bhp at 4,000rpm – figures that have been substantially exceeded with modern day restorations. The twin-tube chassis is rigid and with transverse leaf spring front suspension with lower wishbones and integral single acting shock absorbers, the handling is sublime for a car of its age. With sports two-seater coachwork, the 315/1 and 319/1 sports models laid the foundations for the later all conquering BMW 328s – giant killing cars that won their class at Le Mans, bettered single-seat voiturette racers at “The Ring” and gained outright victory at the 1940 Mille Miglia. With active clubs in the UK and overseas and a multitude of historic events in which to shine, the sporting Frazer Nash BMWs are ever popular with both owners and event organisers alike and this fine example would be no exception.

Copy sales ledger records in the history file denote that this Frazer Nash BMW 319, Chassis no. 56143 was supplied new to the Cresta Motor Company Ltd. of Broadwater Road, Worthing in West Sussex. The Cresta Motor Co. was well-known at the time as a purveyor of sporting motorcars and had commissioned a number of N-Type MGs clothed in sporting bodies by ‘Harry’ Bertelli of Aston Martin fame. They also supplied a number of Frazer Nash BMWs from new, including this car. Chassis no. 56143 was finished in Green with knock-off disc wheels and registered CPO 819.

The first owner of the Frazer Nash BMW is a little unclear on the ledger but by 1938 the car belonged to a Mr. Coleman of Lancing in West Sussex. Various servicing works are noted. There is a slight break in the known ownership history during The War but early Post-War it is photographed on the 1948 M.C.C. Derbyshire trial with a copy on file from Ferret Fotographics. The continuation buff log-book in the file shows that by 1953 it was owned by a W. R. Birtwistle of Rossendale, Lancashire before passing to Lancastrian racer Brian Redman in 1956. ‘CPO 819’ was one of the first cars that he owned and an old magazine article reproduced in the file states that:

“One of the first cars owned by racer Brian Redman was a ’36 Frazer Nash BMW Type 55, which he bought in Halifax, when he was training at Blackpool Catering College. In 1956, he took it with him on work experience in the Lake District, but on his return, he did some work on the car in his father’s garage in Burnley and it burst into flames. Redman was so disheartened that he sold the fire-damaged car for £45. He was recently amazed to discover that the car remains unused since the fire and is still owned by the same man he sold it to!”

From Redman, ‘CPO 819’ was sold to an engineer named Hargreaves Massey who kept the, remarkably complete, Frazer Nash BMW 319 for over fifty years but never completed a restoration. Photographs on file show the car at Mr. Massey’s premises with Frazer Nash BMW guru Mark Garfitt. Garfitt is somewhat of a legend in Frazer Nash BMW circles having owned his 319 Type 55 for over 45 years competing in all manner of events and covering over 250,000 miles! He remains a great ambassador for the model. From Hargreaves ‘CPO 819’ passed to Michael Parr and Roddy Macpherson who completely restored the car with a fast road/race engine. Invoices are on file from the likes of Mitchell Motors, South Cerney Engineering and Racing Car Restorations together with photographs showing the clever conservation of the original Type 55 body.

The current owner acquired the Frazer Nash BMW in 2017 and has returned it to the original colour scheme. Furthermore, the car has been fitted with a 327/80 ZF synchromesh gearbox that is VSCC eligible and a significant improvement on the original Hurth box. It should be noted that the engine is not the original to the car but is the correct type.

It is thought that just twenty-six of the c.178 BMW 319/1 Type 55 Sports produced were Frazer Nash RHD models, of which, around twenty survive in varying degrees of originality. Fast, nimble and extremely advanced they are an excellent choice for anyone looking to adventure into pre-war motoring without wanting to immediately tackle the challenge of a centre throttle or crash gearbox. They are eligible for and extremely effective on a plethora of endurance rally events, a left-hand drive variant having gained outright victory on the last Shamrock Challenge.

Equally at home on road or track ‘CPO 819’ is sure to provide its next owner with many miles of enjoyable motoring – we just can’t promise that you’ll go on to be one of the most successful sports car racers of all time!

A note on Brian Redman:

Brian Redman raced successfully in both Formula 1 and Formula 5000, but perhaps gained greatest notoriety in international sports-car racing from the 1960s through to the late 1970s, and era perhaps now regarded as the halcyon days of the sport. He drove for the famous John Wyer Gulf Racing Team, The Porsche Works Team as well as piloting Ferrari 512PBs and Alfa Romeo Tipo 33s. He gained numerous victories at The Spa 1000kms, The Nurburgring 1000 kms, The Monza 1000 kms, The Daytona 24-Hours, The Sebring Twelve Hours, The Brands Hatch 6 Hours, The Watkins Glen Six Hours. He also gained outright victory in the Targa Florio for the Porsche Works. He also drove for the BMW works team in the famous CSL “Batmobiles” winning the Sebring 12 hours in 1975.

In 1976 Redman was seriously injured in a practice session for the new F 5000 based Can-Am Series. He suffered a broken neck, fractured sternum and shoulder, plus bruising of the brain. The ambulance blew a tire on the way to hospital and he was declared dead! Thankfully this was incorrect and after he lengthy recovery period he returned to racing with a superb victory at the Sebring 12-Hours in 1978.

Brian Redman is nothing short of a motor racing legend. Your author had the distinct honour and pleasure of briefly meeting Mr. Redman at the 2009 Monterey Historics event. Not only is he a brilliant driver, but also an excellent raconteur. He is far humbler than a man of his talent should be. At the age of 72 he went on to win the race that weekend in a Porsche 908/3 beating two 917s, one of which was piloted by Derek Bell. He is a national treasure and we are delighted to have a car in our midst that, although doesn’t form part of his long and distinguished racing career, we hope might have contributed to his later greatness in some tiny way. A more recent photograph with Brian Redman standing aside the freshly restored Frazer Nash BMW is also included in the file.