The Nash Ambassador

When you think of the automobile line Nash, the first car that comes to most people’s mind is the Ambassador.  This is because the Ambassador was the name applied to the senior line of Nash automobiles from 1932-1957 (AMC took it over after) and was the “flagship” of the Nash brand.

The Ambassador name was first used in the 1927 model that was a specially trimmed, four-door, 5-passenger club sedan version of the “Nash Advanced Six”. It was the most expensive car on the line at $2,090; however, it lost its most expensive title in 1929 when Nash introduced its 7-passenger sedans and limousine models.  The ambassador remained part of the “Advanced Six” line through 1930, then moved to the “Nash Twin Ignition Eight” series in ‘31 and then to the “Eight-90” model.

In mid-1932, the “ambassador Eight” was established, which was the first time that the name stood alone.  This model offered a number of body styles, including coupes and victorias. It had a 125hp, 322c.i. straight-eight engine with twin ignition and overhead valves.  It earned the title “Kenosha Duesenbergs” due to the engine and design.  Nash was the only other automaker besides General Motors to make a profit during this year.

In 1934, the new “Speedstream” styling came out; it was Art Deco and influenced by Russian Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky. It had bullet-shaped headlights, horizontal hood ribs, rear-wheel spats, built-in luggage bouts and had a full beaver-tail rear end.  It only came in the 4-door sedan.  In 1935, the Ambassador saw another re-styling with the “Aeroform”. This came in both 2-door and 4-door models with a trimmer body style and a shorter wheelbase.  As of 1936, the Ambassador would no longer be a big, classic car. The in-line six was offered (after only having the in-line eight before) and the wheelbase was made smaller yet again.

In 1937, Nash acquired Kelvinator Corporation which allowed Charlie Nash’s hand-picked successor, George Mason, to take over as President of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation.  During this change over, the coupes and convertibles were reintroduced and the senior Nash models used identical bodies.  For the ‘41/’42 models only the wheelbases were offered in both long and short. Nash built a 112 inch wheelbase for the Ambassadors that was the first popular automobile to use a single-weld “unibody” type of monocoque construction.  This was used from ‘41-’48 on top of a conventional frame, which created a solid and sturdy automobile.  Also, this was the first “low price” market segment with coil spring suspension in the front and back, “giving it the best ride in its class”.

During WWII, as ordered by the government, Nash stopped production of all of its vehicles. When production began again, they no longer produced the Ambassador-Eights and the Ambassador-Six became the topline.  The Ambassador name remained on the plushest models of the Nash vehicle line from 49-51.  During this time, the “Airflyte” body was made.  This came in 2-door and 4-door only and had a fully reclining seat that could sleep 3 adults.  Though this was dubbed the “makeout auto of choice for teenagers”, sales increased significantly.  The 1950 model was the first non-GM vehicle to use the GM Hydramatic automatic transmission.  Also, after the war, Mr. Mason thought the best plan for the survival of Nash was to find a product that no other US automaker had – a compact car.  This is when the Rambler marque was revived.

In 1952, the Golden Anniversary Pininfarina Nash that was styled by Pinin Farina received many prestigious awards for design, but then materials were restricted due to the Korean War, which dropped sales sharply.  This was also a time when the Ford and GM sales war was going on and they were offering deep discounts on cars that independent like Nash could not compete with.  So, in 1955, the “Airflyte” model got its last facelift with a “scenaramic” wrap-around windshield, a new front-end, a V8 engine for the first time by Packard, and Packard’s Ultramatic automatic transmission.  The 56-57 models of the Ambassador name were heavily remodeled in the rear and offered two and three-tone color schemes.  The ‘57 was the first model to offer quad headlights as standard.  Also, some of the models offered an air conditioning unit that was small, compact, under the hood, that could circulate fresh or recycled air, and was far less costly ($345 versus Oldsmobile’s $550 and Chrysler’s $570).  At the time, most cars didn’t offer A/C, one of those being Ford models.

Finally, after the merge of Nash and Hudson Motor Car Company in January of 1954 to make AMC (American Motor Company) and the release of the wildly successful Rambler under both the Nash and AMC name, the Ambassador saw sales plummet.  The last Nash Ambassador rolled off the line in the summer of 1957.  The name would carry under AMC through 1974, but would never again be a Nash.

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