Meet the men who make racing cars... and those who drive them : the aim - the fastest small car in the world.
- Courier Motor Review 1966, May 6. - pp.10-11
Bill Wakelin works on a gear cluster.
Chas Seammell fixes the steel bulkhead to protect the driver
The man behind it all - Alan Fraser - with his stop watch and lap charts
Norman Winn (left), chief mechanic, discusses a transmission problem with Ronnie Rye
Dave Martin at work on engine assembly
HILLMAN Imps can be seen regularly on the roads of this country and on the race tracks, too, where they are fast making a name for themselves for their speed and ability to hug the ground even in the tighest of corners.
And the man behind this phenomenal success - Alan Fraser, of Hildenborough.
He himself was a keen rally driver, and at times did some racing. Now he has turned his talents to producing a modified small car which he hopes will be virtually unbeatable in events for cars up 1,000 cc.
His first event was the Alpine Rally in which he drove a Sunbeam Talbot 90 with Francis "Scotty" Scott as his co-driver and they finished fourth in their class and 14th in the general classification.
Their fourth place in the class was behind Murray Frame, Mike Hawthorn and Stirling Moss, all in Sunbeam Talbots.
But Alan Fraser put it down to "beginners' luck". Whether or not it was, the appetite was whetted and fast motoring gripped him.
Primarilly a rally man, he drove in eight of the eleven Monte Carlo rallies from 1953, always with Sunbeams except in 1958 when his vehicle was a Singer Gazelle. At times he raced a Cooper Bristol and Sunbeams on tracks up and down the country but his first love was rallies and his 1ast effort in this field was in 1963 when he was in the Scottish rally.
In 1960, when saloon car racing was beginning to get popular he raced a Sunbeam Rapier. After two seasons he formed the Alan Fraser racing team, his drivers including Peter Jopp, Peter Pilsworth, Cuff Miller and Peter Harper.
For the 1963 season he continued with Rapiers, adding Les Leston to his list of drivers and on one occasion giving young Chris Amon one of his first drives in this Country.
Then, when the smaller car craze hit the tracks, he decided to develop a team of Hillman Imps.
It was natural that it should be this particular car for he had always driven vehicles manufaclured by Rootes and he had parlicular ideas on how he could improve the smaller models to give more power and better adhesion on the race track.
He himself took the first of the Fraser Imps round the tracks but he has now reluctantly given up driving in favour of team management.
There are occasions when he still takes the wheel and at the Brighton Speed Trials he took three awards with his Sunbeam Tiger and his Jensen. His effort in the Tiger won for him the Walter Edlin trophy for the fastest time of the day by a Brighton and Hove club member.
His main concentration however is on the racing Imp and he has just recently come to an agreement with the Rootes organisation to do their racing development at his Hildenborough garage.
There, with John Griffiths, his development engineer, Leslie Sherley-Price, his racing manager, and a team of mechanics under Norman Winn, he contines with his idea of producing the fastest small car in the world.
Spring 1966, the Alan Fraser Racing Division consisted of Norman Winn, number 1 mechanic and foreman, with 2 more mechanics and an apprentice. Another mechanic was being added
John Griffiths (who did some work on the 1965 cars) had recently joined as Development Engineer, and Leslie Sherley-Price was Alan Fraser's personal assistant and team manager.
A new development section began work on Fraser treatment Imps, which were going to be offered for sale - not as conversion kits, but as fully converted cars. John Griffiths was going to head this section.
At other premises just down the road 2 more mechanics would concentrate on the preparation of the Tigers.
Alan Fraser said:
"We're not tremendously large, but I have some splendid chaps who know what they're doing and are prepared to work like stink."
Mr. Vernon Stenning (who died in 1999) worked for Alan Fraser at his Hildenborough garage. He had one of the first production Imps. (Pete Stenning's father)
Mr. Gordon Streeter
Article supplied by Robin Human, National Weekend 2011 (Bangor)