May 18, 2015
Gary P. Garry
Comments Off on Nash-Healey Redefined the Post-War Sports Car

Nash-Healey Redefined the Post-War Sports Car

1951 Nash-Healey

1951 Nash-Healey

The history of the American automobile manufacturing industry is very interesting when you start to delve into it. Many different twists and turns got us to where we are today, but it has always been an incestuous environment. Companies have swallowed up other companies along the way, and some very important pioneers tend to get lost in the shuffle.

One of these pioneering companies was Nash Motors Company. The company was founded by none other than Charles W. Nash, who had previously been the head of General Motors. This was back in 1916. He acquired the Thomas B. Jefferey company, and it became Nash Motors.

In fact, the Rambler that went on to have so much success over many decades was originally designed by Jeffery in 1897, and it went into production in 1902. At that time, you could get a basic Nash Rambler for $750.

Nash Motors withstood the test of time. Commercial automobile manufacturing was suspended during World War II, but after the war, Nash came out swinging with the 1945 Ambassador.

Ultimately, a happenstance meeting resulted in a great achievement in automotive engineering. On the famous Queen Elizabeth ocean liner, the head of Nash at the time, George Mason, ran into the highly respected British automotive designer Donald Healey.

Healey wanted to create a sports car with a Cadillac engine, but General Motors balked after hearing the proposal. Mason assured him that Nash could provide him with the engine that he was looking for, and a partnership was formed.

The result was the two-seat Nash-Healey sports car. The prototype made its debut late in 1950 at the influential Paris Motor Show, and the car went into production shortly thereafter. The first models could be had for just under $3800. There were just 104 true specimens produced for the 1951 model year.

It is hard to break into the top flight when it comes to auto racing, but the Nash-Healey turned heads right away. A Nash-Healey finished near the top of the LeMans endurance race every year that it was in production. The production years were 1951 through 1954.

The car has developed a legendary reputation among collectors of rare classic sports cars. There were just 520 models produced, and this would include race cars and one-offs.

They don’t come much rarer than the Nash-Healey, and I would conjecture that the best place to see one would be in a museum, because you’ll probably never catch a glimpse of one on the road.

 

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