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1936 Frazer Nash BMW 315 / 319

  • Body off restoration, retrim and fully rebuild engine in 2016/17
  • 1 of only 3 examples with the sports body and attractive wrap-around rear wings
  • Single ownership for 32 years
  • Numerous awards won by first Scottish owner, Elliot Playfair

According the Frazer Nash Club Archivist, no lesser man than Dennis Jenkinson himself, AFN Limited took delivery of chassis 51560 on the 5th of August 1936 to Scott-Brown the Glasgow agents who then sold it to J.E. Playfair and it was registered in Glasgow between November and December 1936.  The registration being AGB 485, the number the car retains to this day. The original colour of the car is not known although many BMWs of this period were often painted in two tone and the black / red combination is an attractive match. AGB 485 also benefits from having the Whittingham and Mitchell, wraparound rear wings filled, 1 of only 3 cars to have this form.

Mr. Playfair was a very active Scots Clubman and he took part in numerous rallies and trials north of the boarder and in the north of England.  He started off his competition career with a Singer 9 Saloon competing in 8 Trials between 1933 and 1936.  After his acquisition of the FN BMW 315 2-seater sports in late 1936 he then uses this car for trialing from the start of 1937, his results being:

  • Feb, 1937 – Winter Half-Day Trial – 3rd Class Award
  • June 1937 – 24 Hour Trial – No details of individual awards but JEP was 1st in Driving Test
  • Oct, 1938 – Autumn Half-Day Trial – Winner of Team Prize
  • Nov, 1938 – Anniversary Trial – Premier Award – The Chairman’s Cup
  • 1938 – RSAC Rally – Team Caledonian Motor Club, 21/27 in Class
  • 1938, Annual Awards – SMTA Trophy (Team Prize) – JEP is one of two winning teams
  • Feb, 1939 – New Years Trials – JEP wins Driving Test
  • Mar, 1939 – Winter Half-Day Trial – 1st Class Award
  • May,1939 – Bo’Ness Speed Hillclimb – 1st (1100-1500cc Sports non-supercharged)

How long Elliot Playfair kept the car after 1939 is unknown but it appears to have remained in Scotland becoming the property of Mr Hartmut Bongartz of St. Andrews in January 1965. He kept the car 3 years before selling it to Charles Crombie in Oxford in January 1968, who sold it to Dennis Johnson of Leicester in 1969.  Dennis had the opportunity to buy a chain gang Nash soon after and so he sold the 315 on to John Muschamp in Leighton Buzzard in 1970. John is well known in the pre-war BMW world having owned and still owning a number of excellent early FN BMWs and he soon had AGB 485 in with the BMW specialists TT Workshops. They did extensive bodywork to the car as it had got into poor condition reshaping and repairing both the front and back the wings and stays as well as repair work to the body.  John then used the car regularly for 10 years during which time a 1911cc 319 engine was fitted to the car to give it extra power and torque and improve it as a touring machine.  Then in 1980, Mike Trutlein fully restored the car with various jobs such as the engine rebuild being done in partnership with TT Workshops. From the extensive invoices on file the car was clearly gone through front to back and all mechanical and coachwork components received exacting attention.

Following this work John used the car a great deal until an opportunity arose to acquire a long sort after car. Having purchased another Frazer Nash BMW John decided to let the car go and AGB 485 was sold through Sotherby’s Auctioneers in December 1988.

As a strange coincidence, the buyer of the car actually met John the evening before the sale and they discussed the 315 at length during which time John explained the depth and thoroughness of the restoration. This clearly worked as the gentleman not only bought the car but he has kept it for the past 32 years!

During these past 32 years the car has been used regularly for club rallies and tours including many trips abroad and the car has proven to be very capable and reliable. It has been kept in exceptional condition and there are mountains of invoices and servicing work on file to show the depth of care that was taken. Obviously, as the car was in good condition when it was acquired the majority of the work has been servicing and the usual running repairs of a pre-war car but by 2016 the car was again in need of further attention. The car was entrusted to CW Tomkins Ltd at Project Heaven who oversaw a body off respray and retrim. He stripped and rebuilt the 2-ltr engine with new crankshaft, rods, pistons, valves and camshafts. The block was bored, honed and refaced and all the usual bearings, sprockets, gaskets and sundry parts were replaced.  As well as the engine the carburetors, clutch, brakes and suspension were also gone through and overhauled at this time. The car is now back to her full glory and ready go for the next lucky owner.

These are exceptionally usable and easy to drive cars that have light steering and a health 65hp from the 1911cc, 6-cylinder, triple carburettor engine. One of the most attractive and capable cars of the period, this is a rare opportunity to acquire one of the earliest BMW models in even rarer Frazer Nash RHD specification. All we can say it that whom ever drives it first is most likely to buy it as it really is a joy to drive and would be an excellent touring car or a contender for the flying Scotsman and 1000 mile trial.  An extensive history file, VSCC eligibility form, a workshop manual and a 315, 1490cc engine, accompany the car which is now for sale and immediate inspection at The Classic Motor Hub.

Model History

BMW launched their first completely in-house designed car, the 303, in 1933 having previously built Austin 7 based cars at their Diki Works since 1928. The new 303 was a small family saloon, housing a 6 cylinder engine that displaced 1,182cc and it was the first model to feature the ‘kidney grille’ which has gone on to be the trademark feature of the brand.

The 303 was only in production until 1934 when BMW developed it into several other models including the 309 (a 4 cylinder version of the 303), the 315 (similar to the 303 but with an enlarged engine to 1,490cc) and a little later the 319.

The 315 was a corner stone car for the company and it was made available with a number of body styles including a saloon, an open cabriolet and the attractive and 2-seater sports. The 315 used a lightweight twin-tube chassis with independent front suspension, rack and pinion steering, a triple carburettor 6 cylinder engine, a synchromesh gearbox, prop-shaft and spiral-bevel rear axel. An advanced formula for the period and it proved to be both very reliable and quick. A 319 model was brought out in 1935 and built alongside the 315 and these differed only in the 319 having an enlarged engine of 1911cc and a slightly bigger 40 litre fuel tank.

BMW produced over 400 2-seater sports models of which 42 were imported into Britain fitted with right-hand drive and Frazer Nash-BMW badges. 24 of the 42 FN-BMWs still exist. BMW also produced many thousands of cabriolet and saloons using the same chassis, of which more than 600 were imported into Britain and sold as FN-BMWs. About 40 of these FN-BMWs still exist.

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