Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Not A Nash Fan...

1950 Nash Ambassador: I rest my case, Your Honor.

While I don't always agree with Jay Leno, I usually get where he's coming from, even on cars that have little interest for me: steamers, a hot-rodded Olds Toronado, his resto-modded Buick.  Often, he nails it from my perspective: his Lotus Elan, his Jags, etc.  (His aversion to Ferraris remains a mystery.)  Here's his video presentation of his 1950 Nash Ambassador, and I don't get it:

He describes his Nash as a Good Old Girl, capable of road trips at Interstate speeds, and a good-handling, nice-driving car.  Nope.  He says Nash built "strong, stout, cars" and certainly got that right: as in overweight.  He points out that "everybody collects tri-five Chevies, but not Nashes."  Right again, and there's a reason for that.

Offhand, I can't think of a turn-of-the-decade 1950's car that's uglier than this Nash, although some other marques and particularly other American Motors offerings gave it a run for its money.  I grew up in the back seats of cars like this.  My dad had a '48 Ford, a '54 Chevy, and a '57 Dodge--all with boat anchor straight sixes.  The Dodge's was a flathead to boot.  We drove on family vacations from Cleveland to Cape Cod, and one of those trips nearly finished the Dodge.  These cars could manage Interstate speeds, but they didn't like them.  Their handling was terrible, by the so-so standards of other American cars at the time.  This was obvious even from the back seat.

My Uncle George had a '50's Nash Rambler.  While it was better than the Ambassador (it was lighter), it didn't handle as well as, say, my dad's '54 Chevy.  For a year, in 1967-68, I myself had a 1960 Rambler, which was used mostly to commute on the Pennsylvania Turnpike on weekends.  It had passable, conventional, styling by early 1960's standards.  But it retained the trunnion-style front suspension that made the earlier cars handle poorly (and which was notoriously failure-prone).  Nash deserves the raised eyebrows and buyer indifference it earned in the 1950's.

1950's Nash Rambler like my Uncle George's.  It was a segment-creator--a compact car before the likes of Corvair, Falcon,
and Valiant.  But no better a car than the Ambassador.

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