Ted Williams' 1951 Nash-Healey
In the summer of 1951, S.C. Johnson & Son of Racine, Wisconsin, bought one of the new 1951 Nash-Healey roadsters with the idea of featuring it in a contest as part of a promotion in the United States and Canada for two of its car waxes. Ted Williams, star outfielder for the Boston Red Sox, was signed to appear in national advertising and would receive the car as a gift when the promotion ended.
To make the car even more appealing, Johnson Wax commissioned William Flajole of Detroit to design and build a one-of-a-kind roadster body for it. A year earlier, he had devised the small NXI experimental that evolved into the British-built Metropolitan, and he later became involved in the body design for several early Rambler models.
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The standard 1951 Nash-Healey. Only 104 of these cars were built.
Built by hand, the body for this special car cost about $25,000 and sported a one-piece curved windshield and a front end that was markedly different from the standard car's. Most Nash-Healey diehards describe the latter as ugly.
Johnson Wax showed off its newly re-bodied 1951 Nash-Healey at a press conference staged at the Dearborn Inn near Detroit on July 5, 1951. Bill France of stock-car racing fame gave personal demonstration rides to reporters and Nash executives, including George Mason. The car then toured the country to promote Johnson's products and its contest, where the top prizes were all-expense-paid trips to the World Series. All you had to do was give the car a name.
This car was widely shown and generated considerable publicity. Surprisingly, no one at S.C. Johnson & Son seems to remember the winning name to this day. "I attempted to find out on numerous occasions during my career with Nash and American Motors -- writing the Johnson company and perusing newspapers and trade journals of the period," says John A. Conde. "Unfortunately, nothing turned up."
"As a postscript to this reminiscence, I wrote to Ted Williams in early 1985 to find out what happened to the car after it was given to him," says Conde. "His response: 'All I remember is that I sold [it] to someone in Detroit. I wasn't interested in the car. In fact, I never drove it.'"
Fortunately, there were many people more interested in the Nash-Healey than Ted Williams. Find out about the 1952 version of the car on the next page.
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