At any meeting of the Vintage Sports-Car Club there will be hundreds of cars that will appeal to the enthusiast. One of these at the Silverstone Spring Start was ‘Cognac,’ a delightful AC/GN single-seater owned and driven by Tony Lees. What a great name for a car! Unfortunately though Cognac’s nomenclature has no direct link to the French appellation. It is an acronym composed from the maker’s name – Mr S. A. Cohen, the fact that it had a GN chassis and an AC engine. All together that gives CO-GN-AC!
The car dates from 1925 and has a 1991cc engine. It has been raced all its life, most notably by Ron Foottit. Now in the hands of Tony Lees I watched it battle for the lead for most of the VSCC All-comers race for pre-war cars, but unfortunately it ultimately did not finish the whole distance.
GN was the company that Archibald Frazer-Nash set up with HR Godfrey in 1909. Originally they built their cars in the stables at the Frazer-Nash family home, the GN being the direct forerunner of the Frazer-Nash models.
Cognac is not a car that is molly-coddled. There are six VSCC meetings a year and Cognac can be found racing in two races at each meet. Tony drives it flat out as it was designed to be driven all those decades ago. Cognac can reach speeds of 128 mph, and being a Fraser-Nash it handles superbly round corners.
It is wonderful to see vintage cars being driven and even more exciting to see them being raced. Cognac is resplendent in highly polished racing green, with leather armrests on the top of the doors. Now there’s a style that ought to be brought back!