The first Nash automobile appeared on American roads in 1917. For the next four decades Nash the independent manufacturer produced cars.
after World War II, Nash introduced a dramatically different looking
car with what was termed “Airflyte” styling. The body was of
unit-construction and all four wheels were skirted.
Lockwood, now of Lafayette, Calif., recalls that in his high school days
in Berkeley, his father owned a top-of-the-line 1951 Nash Ambassador
Custom sedan. When it was new the base price of what Nash advertised as
“The World’s Most Modern Car,” was $2,501.
Those halcyon teenage
years are long gone, but the memories linger. With the Internet,
searching for an old car today is almost painless.
years ago Lockwood was surfing the Web when he saw for sale a 1951 Nash
Ambassador Custom sedan, much like the one his father owned. The car was
in Missoula, Montana. Fortunately, Lockwood had a friend in Montana who
lived nearby and agreed to give the Nash an inspection. He reported back
to Lockwood that the Nash, painted Chocolate Brown above Light Beige,
seemed to be in very nice condition.
“I was looking for something to tinker with,” Lockwood says. “It ran well, so I bought it sight-unseen,” he says.
story that came with the Nash is that it was restored about 10 years
prior in Alabama and used to pay a debt to the owner residing in
Montana. Lockwood arranged to have the Nash trucked to California.
Lockwood first saw the vertical bars in the grille, it was as if he
were transported back to his youth. Records indicate the engine and
optional Hydramatic transmission were rebuilt, and the interior was
On his first excursion in the Nash, Lockwood
found the steering was very, very hard. Then he discovered the tires
were inflated to only 15 psi. Another discovery made on that initial
trip involved the push-button AM radio. Lockwood turned the radio on and
nothing happened, leading him to surmise that it did not work. A few
miles down the road music began pouring from both the front and rear
speakers. “I had forgotten that the tubes had to warm up,” Lockwood
order to assure reliability, the new owner replaced and/or rebuilt the
shock absorbers, brakes, generator and water pump. The 235-cubic-inch,
overhead valve, six-cylinder engine develops 115 horsepower, sufficient
to handily move the 3,445-pound car.
“It’s a big car with big
bench seats,” Lockwood observes. The Nash rides on a 121-inch wheelbase.
Surprisingly, the skirted front wheels are not hindered in turning
corners. “There is not any kind of detriment in the turning radius,”
A popular feature of the Nash was a bed. By
lifting the rear seat cushion, a pair of metal brackets was exposed that
could be pulled forward. After replacing the rear seat cushion, the
back of the front seat could be pushed back until the metal brackets
supported it. The final step was to open the sloping lid of the trunk,
remove the two mattresses and install them on top of the now horizontal
seats. The mattresses were only about 3 inches thick, Lockwood says.
Nash has many interesting features. In the trunk, next to the
vertical-mounted spare tire are the two original mattresses. In front of
the one-piece windshield is a fixed cowl ventilator that draws air into
the Weather Eye heating system. On the end of the turn signal stalk is a
small light that flashes whenever the turn signals are activated.
is very quiet and runs nicely,” Lockwood says as he sits behind the
spectacular pilot panel instrument panel. “I take it slow and easy,” he