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Nash-Healey (1951-54)

This article was written by Mr. John Conde of AMC public relations and released for publication on September 8, 1975.

1951 Nash-Healey
1951 Nash-Healey Roadster
Nash Motors (which in 1954 became a division of American Motors Corporation) early in 1951 brought out the Nash-Healey, the first sports car to be introduced by a U.S. manufacturer in 20 years.

Donald Healey, managing director of the Donald Healey Motor Company of Warwick, England had built a car using a Nash Ambassador engine and drive line which he entered in the 24-hour LeMans endurance race in July, 1950. So well did the sports car perform in the French race (finishing fourth) that Nash elected to contract for a limited number of the sports model.

For the new production Nash-Healey, the high-compression, 6-cylinder Nash Ambassador engine was fitted with an aluminum head and dual carburetors. Overdrive was standard. The prototype, which had an aluminum body built by the Healey company, was shown publicly for the first time at the Paris Automobilc Show in early fall of 1950.

Production began in December, 1950. In that month, 36 models were built. An additional 68 were produced in January, February and March of 1951 -- making a total of 104 Healey-bodied Nash-Healey two-door roadsters.

The initial 1951 Nash-Healey included, as standard equipment, leather upholstery, adjustable steering wheel, directional signals, chrome wheel discs, foam rubber cushions and five 4-ply whitewall tires. Standard colors were Champagne Ivory and Sunset Maroon. (No other colors were available.)

The 6-cylinder engine, of 234.8-cubic inch displacement (3847 c.c.), had 125 horsepower, 8:1 compression ratio, 7-main-bearing crankshaft; intake manifold sealed-in-head and two S.U. side-draft carburetors. Other details -- torque-tube drive; rear coil springs; tires 6.40 x 15; 20 U.S. gallon fuel tank; plexiglas side windows. Dimensions, -- overall length 170 inches, width 60 inches, wheelbase 102 inches, tread 53 inches front and rear, turning radius 17 feet 6 inches, road clearance 7 inches, weight 2400 pounds.

  1953 Nash-Healey Roadster
1953 Nash-Healey Roadster
No Nash-Healeys were made from April, 1951 until January, 1952, when an entirely new roadster body was created by Pinin Farina of Turin, Italy. A total of 150 of these 1953 roadster models were produced in Italy.

By this time, the Nash-Healey was truly an international car. The engine and main parts were manufactured by Nash at its plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin, then shipped to England, where the chassis with "trailing link" front-end suspension was added by the Donald Healey Company. The chassis with engines were then shipped to Turin, Italy, where the custom bodies were built by hand by Farina. The new Farina designed Nash-Healey was shown for the first time at the Chicago Automobile Show in February, 1952.

A Nash-Healey took first place in its class (behind a Ferrari and a Talbot) and third among all entries in the 1952 LeMans sports car race in France. Of the 58 cars that had started, only 17 finished.

In January, 1953, a Farina-designed hardtop model was added to the Nash-Healey series. In 1953, a total of 162 roadsters and hardtops were built.

Dimensions of the two models were as follows:

                       Overall   Overall   Overall   Tread,  Tread,
           Wheelbase   Length    Width     Height    Front   Rear

Roadster      102"     170.75"    64"       48.65"    53"    54.87"
Hardtop       108"     180.5"     65.87"    55"       53"    54.87"
All Nash-Healeys with the Donald Healey Company body had the 234.8-cubic-inch (3.8. litre) engine or "small six". A few of the early models with Farina bodies also had this engine. All others were powered by the larger bore 258.6-cubic-inch (4.1-litre) engine which used a pair of side-draft Carter carburetors in place of the earlier S.U. carburetor versions. How to ascertain which engine is in a Nash-Healey model is to check the car serial and engine numbers. If the serial number is under N-2250 and if the engine number. is below N-1163, it is a 3.8-litre engine. If the numbers are higher, the car has a 4.1-litre engine.

The 1953 Nash-Healey hardtop (designated as the LeMans hardtop) was awarded first prize in March of that year in the Italian International Concours D'elegance held at Tresa, Italy.

From January 1954 through August of 1954, a total of 90 hardtop Nash-Healey models (designated as 1954 models) were built, The 1954 hardtop featured rear window piIlars that sloped to the front. No roadsters were made in 1954. This brought to 402 the number of Nash-Healeys with Farina bodies. It also brought an end to the production of the famed Nash-Healey sports car, with a total of 506 having been built from December 1950 through August 1954.

Additional Information on the 1951 Nash-Healey

Provided by Michael Feingold.

     Suggested List Price, F.O.B. New York, N.Y.   $3,767.00
     E.O.H.                                            90.00	
     Retail Delivery Charge                            25.00
     Suggested Delivery Charge                     $3,982.00	
Source: Nash Marketing & Analysis Bulletin, September 1951
Actually, two versions of the 1951 model were produced. Although they shared similar styling, body proportions varied significantly. Less than two dozen of the first type were constructed. These were also distinguished by having the gas pedal positioned between the brake and clutch pedals as was the custom on race cars of the period. Most 1951 models had pull tabs to operate the windows although the last few produced were equipped with window cranks. My Nash-Healey was of the later style and was purchased new by Dr. Louis Fieser, the famous chemistry professor of M.I.T., from Pettingill Nash Motors of Stoneham, Mass.
Photos provided by Michael Feingold.