After I discovered that recent Mercury Turnpike Cruiser on eBay, I also found this sorry thing on eBay, and I just had to share it with you. One of these was shown on CC earlier this year in a 1950s black and white photograph, but this is the first contemporary sighting posted. Even though it doesn’t look it, this may be an easier project than the ’57 Mercury, and I’ll explain why…
Look at that face! I never used to be a big fan of these ’50s Nashes, but lately as I’ve been learning more about them, I’m finding that they do have a certain appeal…
This beached whale is located in a place called Mattituck, New York, which is on the far eastern end of the north shore of Long Island. The ad claims that the car is virtually rust free (it looks as if that could be true) and RUNS, but would need to be towed.
I love the blue! If it’s original paint, it’s probably “Solitaire Blue”, which I like the sound of. I have an optimistic belief that a good compounding and waxing would shine this right up!
Nash for ’56 came in two sizes: the big Ambassador (209″ length) and this Statesman (7″ shorter). I actually think the trimmer dimensions make the Statesman better proportioned.
As I look at these photos, I’m finding all kinds of fascinating details. There was a Hudson version of this car called the Wasp, and it’s interesting to compare the two.
Is that original upholstery? It looks almost unblemished! The dash looks good too. Have to find a Nash chrome steering wheel center…
Back seat and door panels look great too! I hope that’s the missing front fender trim piece.
No obvious signs of rear fender rust. The original gas cap is still there. Looking good so far…
The speedometer is a work of art! American Motors used these stretched, arcing single digits for a long time. I wonder who came up with this design?
This is a 195 cubic inch overhead valve six. Easy to work on, and in proper tune probably runs real smooth. This car is not going to be fast, but I don’t care. This Nash is about cruising along in style (with economy), and experiencing the unique sound and feel of a genuine vintage engine. Although the ad says this has an automatic, the clutch pedal in the interior shot says otherwise.
But the optional improved-for-’56 4-speed Hydra-Matic should provide smooth shifting and good ratios at all driving speeds.
Here’s what Consumer Reports had to say…
I like the idea that the Nashes and Hudsons from this period give you a real “snug” feeling while driving. You have the solid unit body, firm but well-cushioned and upholstered seats, the “Deep-Coil” ride, a quiet, roomy interior, and better-than-average quality and design refinement in the little things. This is not quite like the run-of-the-mill stuff from the Big Three!
Now I have experience resurrecting a car like this, which explains my enthusiasm. In 2008, I had the opportunity to buy a 1962 Imperial Custom 4-door hardtop rotting away under some pine trees–it was covered with needles instead of leaves. It had been off the road for years. The engine ran, but started clunking when I pressed “D”. The seats, dash, and headliner were very good, and the body had no visible rust. The brakes were shot. I paid $900 ($800 for the car; $100 to tow it out of the woods).
I ended up spending about $4000 on the Imperial. It needed the differential rebuilt, a new motor mount (source of the clunking), brakes re-done, and various other repairs. It’s amazing how taking care of little things one by one and polishing and cleaning small details start to transform a car from a wreck to something rather nice–especially when you’re working on a desirable model in the first place.
I have to say this Imperial drove beautifully, both on the highway and local streets. That 413 engine may deserve the title “bulletproof” to survive being neglected for so long and then coming to life with no problems.
I ended up selling the Imperial to someone from Brooklyn, NY for $5500. I sold it because I found a 1962 Mercury Monterey 390 for sale which was in amazing original cosmetic condition (but not running) for $2000. It too needed a couple thousand dollars worth of work, but it was another excellent looking/driving car when the work was done.
So here’s my point: If you could pick up this Nash for say, $2000; and let’s say you’d have to spend $4000 to get it running and nice (but not perfect–keeping as much originality as possible), you’d have $6000 into it. NADA says its Average Retail value is $8900 and Low Retail is $4950. So in the end you may not make money flipping it, but you’re not going to take a bath either. And what a unique car you’d have!
If this car were for sale in my local area, I’d definitely take a look at it. But I have three ’50s cars now, and no more room. Someone else will have to step up. I can’t save every lost puppy!
I’m not much of a Nash guy, but this car has a definite appeal. You may be right about the original upholstery. There is a picture of a Statesman back seat, and the odd thing is that the pattern is the same, but the plaid and solid colors are reversed in the subject car’s seat from that in the brochure picture. Perhaps buyers could choose either pattern.
When I was 20 I would have been all over something like this, but I have less time now and less inclination to spend what time I do have free on a project like this. I hope someone rescues it.
I bought a Nash Statesman when I moved to Africa many years ago. They were assembled in South Africa with RH drive.
By far my best car, as I toured across Africa.
Comfortable and trouble free.
Wish I could buy another.
P.S.: I want to thank my dad and my brother for helping me out with the Imperial (and other) projects.
So if that Nash doesn’t grab ya, here’s another classic survivor (I believe this is also the first example posted on CC): 1954 Kaiser Manhattan. PATINA!
The point of all this is that there are a lot of fun and interesting old cars out there that need good homes, and won’t cost you a whole lot of money. Seek and ye shall find!
Wow, I love that Manhattan! Actually, I like the Nash quite a bit too… though sadly an old car is just about the last thing I need right now. But dang, that Kaiser even has a current NYS safety inspection!
These are some great finds – thanks!
I have uploaded pictures of the Manhattan to the CC Cohort, so they’ll be preserved in case the Craigslist ad disappears.
And you’ll be the only guy at cruise night with a Nash or a Kaiser. That Kaiser has some of the best tail lights ever.
Probably everyone here knows this, but the Kaiser tail lights and Buick XP-300 inspired front end along with the wrap around rear window were all part of a low budget Hail Mary pass face lift. As a little kid I too thought those tail lights were pretty awesome and still are. It didn’t work in the marketplace, but was a classic of face lifts that really worked to me.
Another one: Chrysler Sebring to 200. Go ahead, argue about that one. Also maybe the 1955 Packard. The Nash/Hudsons are a curiosity today, but then were really obviously badly tarted up oldies. By 1957, when Ford and Chrysler had all new cars on offer as did upper GM’s, with Chevy and Pontiac offering face lifted cars on bodies that were five or six years newer than the Nash/Hudsons, they were more like sad and a little pathetic.
You would have to look closely at the dashboards and rest of the interiors of both of these. A lot of old cars sitting around and leaking a bit end up with pitted and cracking everything, and some don’t.
Kaiser couldn’t afford to develop both their V8 engine and the new ’51 Kaiser. Perhaps the outcome would have been different with the V8 in the first-generation body shell, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Similar situation to the step-down Hudson.
The sources I’ve read had always stated that Kaiser had the choice between a V-8 or developing the Henry J. And supposedly there was a prototype that shorted the ’51 Kaiser into a compact that would have allowed them to do both. Given the car was his namesake, it’s obvious what old man Kaiser wanted.
Thank you for rescuing the Imperial! Certainly a good deed for posterity. Did all the electrics work? I would have thought the problem with these cars would be their complexity and the large number of things that could go wrong. Not for the faint of heart.
The only electrical problems I had were the power windows and the dash lights. I would fix the windows, and then they would freeze up again. I got tired of taking the doors apart to “massage” the motors to get them to run. I had the electroluminescent dash working, but then it burned out. Also the optional A/C was never operational. Everything else electrical worked just fine.
Here’s that magnificent dashboard:
Yes, thank you for rescuing the Imperial. Magnificent car.
Intriguing, but $4500 seems to be at least double what I would pay for this. Just because it is rare doesn’t mean it is valuable.
If no rust then the asking price is pretty much in the general ballpark. Of course there is that price and then the price one buyer would pay vs another.
Being complete and apparently not a mechanical basket case, $4,500 would seem achievable.
More intriguing to me, the owner is apparently enough of a car person to have procured it five years ago, and has now gone to the trouble and fees of marketing it on a major auction website, but could not be troubled to prepare it for sale.
Until recently, my mother’s car had sat for for several months on her rural property, and had not seen a garage in almost its entire life. It looked similarly neglected as the subject car.
I brought it to life, put a dozen hours into it, published it to a certain list with 17 glamour shots taken at my neighborhood park, and provided a gut-wrenchingly honest narrative that could have passed for a mini car review. I received 42 responses and got my asking price in 24 hours.
For the nicely refurbished Imperial and Mercury there are certainly buyers.
Is there a buyer, at any price, for the Nash – as is or restored? It was not admired when new and now who knows or cares?
I agree. For me this is the best part of the hobby, bringing back a formerly loved and neglected unique automobile from the clutches of the crusher or being stripped. My 1967 LeSabre coupe came out of Mattituck in 2008 and is currently under restoration. The effort is in remembrance of the former owner and dear friend who passed away in 2006, Alexander Sosiak, the founder of the Squarebirds website. I’d sure love to have this Nash too!
The Hudson doesn’t do much for me, but the Kaiser … wow! As a native of Kaiser’s home turf in the San Francisco Bay Area and born at a Kaiser hospital when they were still mostly local, it strikes a few chords. Too far away though.
Interestingly enough, I never realized that Henry Kaiser founded Kaiser Permanente healthcare — I probably should have made the connection, but never did until now.
Back in the fifties full-size Nashs were rare, weird cars driven by weird people. Usually elderly, having owned Nashs in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s when they were a more competitive brand. I mean, what guy in his twenties would cross shop this with a new Bel Air or forward look Plymouth and conclude that the Nash was it? The reclining seats perhaps? Ironically, this might make a rehab of this one worthwhile. There are probably a thousand tri-five Chevys still around for every one of these. Rare, weird old cars are always interesting.
When I was a kid, 60+ years ago, my parents would send me and at least 1 sister to spend the weekend with my father’s foster mother who lived with a dog on an old dairy farm. A couple of times a year our visits would coincide with visits from Aunt Mary’s brother Will and his wife Nellie (starting to form a picture?) I remember Uncle Will having a string of Nashes, always the top of the line models. Then, 1 weekend he had a NON-Nash new car…a top of the line Rambler, a 58 or 59. Like the Nashes that preceded it, the Rambler was painted in 2 or 3 colors and had a Continental kit.
Apparently, Uncle Will bought a Nash early in his life and was faithful to the brand and/or dealer until his death.
I think it depended on where you lived. Nashes were not all that rare and driven by ordinary people of all ages in small town Midwest when I was growing up in the 50’s. For a brief time my Dad worked for his friend’s Nash dealership and we owned several models, my aunt and grandparents had multiple new Nashes, as did others in the community. By 56, though, Nashes were becoming rare because the price wars between Chevy and Ford made them less competitive and rumors of the company going down were rampant.
This is a photo of the home of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz (designed by Paul Williams) in the Palm Springs area. If you look carefully I believe that is a Nash in the carport. IIRC from other photos I’ve seen (but can’t find today) it is a 54 Ambassador Lemans Country Club hardtop. Perhaps the Arnazes, pretty independent thinking people, could be considered a little weird for their time☺.
Not rare? There were 6,248,000 automobiles manufactured in the U.S. for 1956. 83,420 were Nashs. That’s about 1.3%. Pretty rare to me.
I meant not rare in small town Midwest, not in the country as a whole. That’s why I wrote specifically that it depended on where you lived. The closer to Kenosha, the more common they were (though Lucy and Desi’s car most likely was built in the El Segundo plant in SoCal).
I like that ’54 Kaiser Manhattan. Great styling, and those tail-lights are super-cool! Too bad Kaiser diverted its attention away from the V8 engine they were developing. If they had brought out the V8, they would have had something really special. By 1954, the flat-head Continental six was a downer in terms of market appeal.
Still amazed that Nash had air conditioning via the dashboard before GM, Ford, and Chrysler.
Today, hard to find a car without A/C as standard.
Nash and Pontiac both offered in-dash A/C for their 1954 models, but the Nash “Weather Eye” A/C was fully integrated with the heater and ventilation system, basically the standard for auto A/C to this day. The Pontiac A/C system, although featuring in-dash vents, had separate ductwork and controls from the heater.
My Dad brought home an Ambassador Lemans Country Club dealership demonstrator that had A/C, the only one I remember seeing so equipped. None of our cars had this option but the Weather Eye heating system alone worked brilliantly in winter, perhaps another reason these cars had some popularity in the Midwest.
Our Methodist Youth Fellowship group’s 1957 trip through the Smokies was ferried by four men driving their own cars. George, the minister of the church over in Casey, IL, had a newish one of these. George not only had the clumsiest car, his driving was a good bit worse; we fought each other (behind the chaperones’ backs) to ride with anyone else in any other car. I’d lost that argument, and was in the back seat between two girls on a leg over a very narrow dirt road winding very tightly up a mountainside. The girls were close to panic, and I was getting there … and George, having caught on to this, sought to reassure us by saying, “Hey, you kids, I’m just as scared as you are!” I heard Vivian, to my right, suppress a shriek …
As CPJ has noted, the Nash did have an excellent A/C system, but that failed to compensate for the car’s overall clumsiness, not to mention the driver’s. The best I could say about this is that it got the looks it deserved.
I have to smile at your “in the back seat between two girls on a leg over a very narrow dirt road” comment. I know you meant a leg of the journey, but in British slang, to get a leg over = to have sex.
At least no one in this story tried to bum a fag off of the minister. More British slang that means ” Can you spare a cigarette?” Clergy smoking back then wasn’t unusual. Doctors smoked too.
Interesting story on the Nash and your Imperial & Mercury. It’s fun bringing old things back to life.
It is worth noting that the rather distinctive Nash interiors were the work of designer Helen Rother, one of the first women to work in the industry:
What are the chances that interior turns to dust the first time someone drags their butt across it?
Wow that Nash was taken care of for a very long time. Probably garaged for that period. It is not a desirable car to a guy looking for a Chevelle or Camaro but now would be a unique car to display at a show. It looks like it would be aeasy to maintain it’s originality, that’s what would make it special, besides it’s oddball appeal. The Kaiser is a bit rougher but if you like patina… Your Imperial was a great find. I now prefer a stock, original type car, instead of a customized version. I have a photo of my Dad from the 1950s standing in front of his bathtub Nash, I would love to have that car. I suppose that I have to adjust my sense of value, cars like this were 200-300 dollars when I was growing up. Well that was 45 years ago so I guess that there has to be some adjustment for inflation. Maybe I’m just too cheap now!
I got my ’51 Jag a few years back for 1,000 bucks in similar condition to that Kaiser but non running. The engine cranks over easily though. He would have thrown in a parts car with a good motor and synchro 4 speed, but I just didn’t have the room for both. The biggest problem I’ve had is getting the brake and clutch master cylinders repaired. Parts are very hard to get, but I’m making progress. The only piece of trim that was missing was a headlamp trim ring. I found one a couple of months back on CL for 40.00. I’m taking things slow, spending more time than money, which I don’t have anyway. I cut and polished the paint and some of it came back up a bit. Not a priority right now. That Nash would really respond to some love.
Jose – your Jaguar is so very much more desirable than that Nash. It is interesting; the Nash is just ugly and odd. The Imperial or the Mercury would be fun to own and they’d look good in my driveway. The Jaguar too. But I would be ashamed to have the Nash; it is just that goofy.
I think it was suggested that owners of Nash cars of this era were strange. I can confirm that. For a person of my age, who was alive when there were still Nash dealers, I must say that Nash and Nash people were to be avoided then and I don’t believe that has changed. No matter how nice that Nash could look it is still a Nash.
Was Pinin Farina responsible for that face ? Not their finest hour…
I’ve never liked the fact that the wheels were hidden behind the body panels. Was there a rationale for this, or were they just trying to be different? Interesting the angle of the steering wheel: almost like a bus (or a Peugeot?).
Actually the front wheels were uncovered on the 1955 and later models. The enclosed wheel feature came out of the research for a more aerodynamic design that culminated in the 1949 “bathtub” Nash.
I like the Imperial. The 4 freestanding headlights are so over-the-top garish that they’re cool.
I like the Nash because it is so well preserved and different. It would be an unusual choice to own as a collector car. Desirability is the key to value in collectible cars, the more people that want one, the more they are worth. Supply and demand, as simple as that. A ’51 Jag XK 120 in the same condition as my Mark VII is probably worth 15-20 grand. Restored examples are selling for 100-120 grand. Restoration costs are very high, many XK120s and E Types undergo 100,000 dollar professional restorations so even their value only exceeds the costs of restoration by a bit. Restoration costs for most regular cars are pretty similar, the values of the cars afterwards are not. Caution is called for when investing any money, there is no guarantee of assured value. Sometimes the best course is to find the best particular example of any car. They can return a lot of satisfaction to the DIY hobbysist. And I agree with kaf, my ’56 Cadillac had a rear seat in beautiful original condition. As soon as I started using the car the foam rubber in the seat began to crumble to dust and the fabric began to deteriorate and pull apart.