Nash president George Mason had high hopes for his compact Rambler when it was introduced in 1950, envisioning it as a high-volume line that could make major inroads into the low-price field. For a number of reasons, the going was slow at first. But a redesigned 1953-1955 Nash and Hudson Rambler served as the basis for an expanded model lineup that began to fulfill Mason's dream.
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The Country Club hardtop coupe accounted for more than half of the 31,790 Ramblers built for 1953. See more classic car pictures.
By the time World War II ended, most of the old-line independent automobile companies were already long gone. The remaining handful, however, were responsible for some of the postwar era's most exciting and innovative cars.
Studebaker debuted a sleek new look for 1947, Hudson introduced the modern "step-down" chassis design in 1948, and even Willys-Overland surprised folks with a Jeep-like all-steel station wagon in 1946.
Nash Motors, probably the most innovative of the independents, introduced its radically styled "bathtub" Airflyte Ambassador and 600 in 1949, then topped that the following year by introducing America's first compact car, the Rambler.
Nash president George Mason's original plan had been for the Rambler to be a volume seller. The company's 1950 annual report stated it plainly: "The Nash Motors division made an important move in fiscal 1950 entering the low-priced market with its new Rambler series. . . .
"A new Rambler body plant has been completely tooled for volume production. Its rate of operation will be determined by the amount of steel, copper, and other materials available. These factors also will govern the production of additional Rambler models to round out the new series of cars."
In the postwar years, material was allocated by a government agency according to past production levels, of which Rambler, being a new car, had none.
Unfortunately, obtaining sufficient resources was still a problem 12 months later when management noted that "(t)he story of Nash Motors division in the 1951 fiscal year is concerned principally with the difficulty experienced in obtaining steel, copper, and aluminum for the new Rambler series."
Nash was eventually granted an extra allocation of necessary goods by the National Production Authority after first showing that it had spent some $20 million developing the new car.
Even so, only 55,191 Ramblers could be built by the time Nash concluded its fiscal year on September 30. That was a lot more than the 11,428 convertibles and two-door station wagons built in 1950 but not enough to justify adding a lower-priced version.
Ultimately, output for the long 1951 model year came to 70,003 cars, but that pace proved unsustainable. Unluckily, the following year, strikes at suppliers held back Nash production, and exactly 53,000 of the 1952s were produced.
Go to the next page for more information on the Nash Ramblers that led to the 1953-1955 models.
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