- 1937 Frazer Nash BMW 315/1
- One of only 16 BMW 315s exported to the UK
- Rare bodywork by Tanner Bros of Fulham
- Restored by marque enthusiast Tim Pryke
This Frazer Nash BMW 315/1 was painstakingly restored by the late Tim Pryke, a well-known figure in marque circles. When they were born, Tim and his brother Hugh had been driven home from hospital in their father’s Frazer Nash, and Tim went on to be Captain of the Frazer Nash Car Club. He was the ideal custodian for this rare car and there was no one better placed to bring it back to life.
Originally registered DYV 514 on 30 June 1937, chassis number 51.553 was one of only 16 examples of the Frazer Nash BMW 315 that were brought into the UK. Pryke described it as being unique in that it was imported from BMW as a rolling chassis plus a basic body tub that included seats, dashboard and front wings, but no windscreen or its support pillars, no hood and no rear wings.
Rear wings were subsequently made for the car by Tanner Bros in Fulham, London. They had a rare ‘wraparound’ profile and no hood tray – features that were shared with only two other 315s. Tanner Bros also fitted a screen and support pillars, hood and hood frame, and spare-wheel cover. When it was finished, the roadster body sat lower than it did on BMW-built cars.
The first owner of DYV 514 was Dr Whittaker of Mere in Wiltshire. Records in the Frazer Nash Archive show that by 1947 it had passed to Major OA Batten of Heathfield in Sussex, then a Mr Moseley-Webb in 1950.
In 1957, this Frazer Nash BMW 315/1 was owned by William Rheason of Mitcham in Surrey, and the following year it was bought from him by Peter Fry of nearby Epsom. Fry subsequently ran it as his only car and at some point he replaced the original engine with a pre-war SS unit, but it then spent the best part of 30 years off the road.
Marque enthusiast Mark Garfitt heard of ‘an old, open BMW’ in Surrey and arranged to meet Fry and take a look at it. Garfitt noted that it was still fitted with the SS engine but he quickly located the chassis number and recognised the car’s rarity and significance.
At that time, the Fry family was still hoping to restore it and return it to the road, but in the end it was Tim Pryke who took up that challenge after he’d bought the car. An engineer with a keen eye for detail, Pryke was meticulous with the rebuild and the history file is full of detailed instructions that he passed on to the specialists who he entrusted with jobs such as the respray.
A new body tub was constructed, Pryke noting in correspondence that ‘the old body and steel inner pan were so badly rusted through that to call it like a colander would be an insult to colanders!’
Crucially, however, the signature rear wings could be rescued and repaired, while the aluminium panel joining the wings in the centre is also original. When it was complete, the car was painted in Black and Light Ivory, echoing the colour scheme that Pryke had seen in an old photograph of DYV 514.
Now being offered for sale after Tim Pryke sadly passed away in 2022, this Frazer Nash BMW 315/1 is a rare example of this compact pre-war sports car. Presented in superb condition and once again fitted with a correct-type BMW Frazer Nash engine, it is ready to be enjoyed by its next owner thanks to the years of hard work that Pryke put into its restoration.
Built between 1934 and 1937, the BMW 315 was an important model not only for the German marque, but also Frazer Nash. Managing Director HJ Aldington was so impressed after his chain-driven Frazer Nash cars had been beaten in the 1500cc class of the 1934 Alpine Trial that the company became BMW’s UK importer, starting a new chapter in its history.
The 303 had been the first BMW to use a six-cylinder engine – as well as being the first to feature the famous ‘kidney’ grille – but it had a short production run and in 1934 it was replaced by the 315. This new model had an engine that had been enlarged to 1490cc, and the triple-carburettor Sports roadster – referred to as the 315/1 – was good for 40bhp and a top speed of 74mph. Other 315 models were fitted with a twin-carburettor engine that produced 34bhp.
Its chassis featured independent front suspension, plus a live rear axle with semi-elliptic springs and hydraulic lever-arm dampers, a basic specification that would be shared with the larger-engined 319. Both models could be fitted with a variety of body styles, including a saloon and a convertible, but it was the 315/1 roadster that was the most sporting and exclusive.
It’s thought that only 230 examples of the 315/1 were built, out of a total production run of almost 10,000. Thanks to its competition success during the 1930s, it helped to establish BMW as a maker of sporting cars and laid the foundation for the legendary 328 model.