Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

1941-1948 Nash Ambassador

1946 Nash
The Suburban model, shown here as a 1947, is a rare and therefore desirable collectible.
The Suburban model, shown here as a 1947, is a rare and therefore desirable collectible.

When the war finally ended in Allied victory, Nash was one of the first automakers to convert its plants back to building autos. On October 27, 1945, the first 1946 Nash models rolled off the assembly line.

As with most other manufacturers, these postwar models were warmed-over versions of the 1942 cars. However, there were several important differences. First, Nash made some notable appearance changes. Most altered was the grille area. The grille louvers were now broader than those of the 1942s, and the Nash name no longer rode beneath them. New rectangular turn signal lamps sat in the space between the headlamps and the grille, and slightly altered headlight rings were installed.

Four thin chrome bars sat just above the bumper, replacing the three heftier bars that formerly occupied that space, and the center section now jutted outward a bit. Nash somewhat revised the bumper guards and hood ornament, and adorned the front edge of the hood with a handsome new Nash emblem.

Bigger than all that, however, was the change in models. No longer were there separate Six and Eight series; now only one Ambassador was offered, powered by a six-cylinder engine (the former Ambassador 600 series was renamed simply 600), Though displacement of the six stayed the same, a slight compression boost nudged advertised horsepower to 112.

The Ambassador was offered in a slimmed-down lineup that comprised the Trunk and Slipstream sedans, and Brougham coupe, all only in Deluxe trim, plus a new model, the Suburban, offered on a limited production basis. The reason for only offering top-line models was simple economics: The postwar demand for cars was so overwhelming that people would pay almost anything for a new car so there was little incentive to produce lower-profit base models.

The glamour car of the 1946 range was the elegant new Suburban. Nash produced it by skinning the doors, quarter panels, and decklid of a regular Slipstream sedan in real wood, making it look much like the Chrysler's famed Town & Country. But this was by no means an attempt by Nash to create a new high-volume market segment; the Surburban's price was a lofty $1,929 and Nash built only 275 for the model year. Not surprisingly, Suburbans today are considered one of the most desirable of the 1941-1948 Nashes.

The rest of the line was priced at $1,453 for the Brougham coupe, $1,469 for the Slipstream sedan, and $1,511 for the Trunk sedan. During the fall of 1945, Nash built only 6,148 cars, though for fiscal-year 1946, Nash production totaled 72,861 cars (including 600s).

The Automotive Golden Jubilee, celebrating the first 50 years of America's automobile industry, was held that year and Nash history was well represented in the grand parade that wound through Detroit on June 1. Included among the cars that parade viewers got to see were 1902 and 1909 Ramblers, a 1918 Nash, and a 1923 LaFayette. Also on parade was a factory-fresh 1946 Ambassador Brougham.

Charlie Nash and 13 other automotive pioneers became the first inductees into the Automotive Hall of Fame. And, out of thousands of hopeful entrants, Mary Grace Simescu, a secretary in the Nash-Kelvinator advertising department, was chosen queen of the jubilee.

George Mason was in an expansionist mood and he began to make Nash a larger company. Nash purchased plants in El Segundo, California, and Toronto, Canada, and, in anticipation of increased car production, began construction on a new 204-acre proving ground in Burlington, Wisconsin.

For more information on different types of cars, see: