Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Nash-Kelvinator Statesman? Huzzah!

Look at this thing! So much damn class in one car ought to be illegal. Contributor Max passed this beauty while it was parked for a film shoot and was kind enough to snap a few pics. This is a car you NEVER see even if you frequent car shows:
This is a 1954 Nash Statesman in two-tone Malibu Ivory over Black. Nash had several firsts in the auto industry including unibody construction and the seatbelts. Their fresh air heating and ventilation system is still used today a full 79 years after its 1938 debut!
This is the last year for Nash as a stand alone automaker. In early 1954 Nash-Kelvinator merged with Hudson Motor Car Company to form the basis for American Motors Corporation (or AMC). Nashes and Hudsons were both produced until 1957 when they were phased out in favor of the AMC Rambler.
From this angle you can just make out a major styling cue for Nash; the front wheels are covered! Yes most Nash bodies had wheel wells so diminutive that they are only 3 inches tall with the rest of the wheel hidden within the body. It's a neat trick because they can turn just fine without rubbing the inner fenders. Aerodynamics were important for the automaker and these enclosed fenders, rounded body lines, and slanted back window all played a part. These are known as Bathtub bodies since the front wheel treatment makes them somewhat like an upside-down bathtub.
*That hat on the rear deck is an old NYPD signal that an undercover officer is in the car on duty.
On the right side of the trunk lid there's a chrome emblem that says Hydra-Matic. This is the first fully automatic transmission, developed by GM before WWII. Nash contracted with GM to install them in their cars from 1950 on. All '54 Statesmans (Statesmen?) had inline 6 cylinder engines.
Well there you have it; a ridiculously classy ride still killing it in a tuxedo at age 63. If you follow the family tree from this ride forward eventually you get to Chrysler. 
Nash + Hudson = AMC who promptly swallowed up Kaiser/Jeep, partnered with Renault, begat the Eagle, before finally being bought outright by Chrysler. 
One last mildly interesting fact is George Romney was the man responsible for getting AMC off the ground with its Rambler brand in the '50s. He would go on to becoming the Governor of Michigan. One of his sons is the twice-maligned presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

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