Nash had a very attractive product line for 1941 -- some of the most exciting cars in the company's history. Although the biggest news for the year was the innovative new 1941 Nash Ambassador 600, strategy-wise that car was just one leg of a three-legged stool.
The 600 was Nash's entry into the market's lowest-price segment, and its mission was to attract a new crop of buyers, folks who traditionally shopped at Big Three dealers. But Nash also had a loyal owner base and a strong image with the public as a well-built, medium-priced automobile. For those traditional buyers, Nash offered big new cars that represented the other two legs of that product plan stool: the sumptuous and courtly Ambassador Eight and Ambassador Six models, proud flagships of the new Nash line.
Nash president George Mason had long wanted to move the company into the low-price market but realized it would take a radical new product to make inroads into the Big Three's territory. Ordinarily, that would have forced Nash to tool up for two separate types of cars: a budget-priced car to battle the Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth; and a traditional big-car line. That would have been an expensive proposition. The problem was solved by developing the unit-bodied 600 on a 112-inch wheel-base and using the same basic body, with a stretched wheelbase, for the line of big Nashes.
The 600's basic unitized body structure was developed by Nash's Ted Ulrich, who had been hired away from the Budd Company. Although Nash can't be credited for being the first American automaker to use a unibody, it was Nash that introduced the modern Budd-type fully unitized body design and was the major factor in its universal acceptance in the industry It's still the standard today.
As used on the 600 series, the body was a pure unitized design, with the usual separate frame discarded in favor of a series of heavy sheetmetal stampings welded together to form a rigid unit chassis. But for its "big guns," Nash chose to hedge its bet on unitized design by utilizing a conventional frame underneath essentially the same unit body (though there were some differences under the skin). This would provide the biggest Nashes with an even more rigid foundation and ward off any potential fears from buyers that the new cars might be a little too far out engineering-wise.
The 1940 Ambassador Sixes had been built on a 121-inch wheelbase, while the big Ambassador Eights rode a 125-inch wheelbase. For 1941, however, both senior lines were built on a 121-inch chassis. The new cars featured all the traditional Nash virtues: spacious interiors, high-quality fit and finish, and innovative engineering.
Also traditional was the Eight's engine. This was the 260.8-cubic-inch, nine-main-bearing Aeropower straight eight that produced 115 horsepower at 3,400 rpm. A noteworthy feature was its novel use of two spark plugs per cylinder, a setup Nash termed "Twin Ignition," to promote more complete combustion and ensure against misfires.
A holdover from America's classic era, the Nash Twin Ignition Eight was recognized as a smooth, powerful performer. Prospective car buyers were urged to "Listen to the soft, deep whisper of its 115 hp. Compare...its thrilling performance against the L-head sixes or eights that sell in this popular price field. Compare...the long life of its nine-bearing crankshaft against the usual four or five as in most cars. Compare...the fineness and staunchness and honest engineering represented in Nash rifle-drilled connecting rods, complete cylinder cooling, full length water jacket." Still, the 1941s were the final series to feature engines with Twin Ignition.
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