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1949-1951 Nash Airflyte

1950 Nash Airflyte

Let's consider the 1950 Nash Airflyte. It had cost Mason $15 million to put the 1949 Nash Airflyte into production -- a large pile of money in those days. But the firm was in good shape then, having worked its production up from a Depression low of 14,973 cars in 1933 to 118,621 in 1948, only the second time the company had exceeded the 100,000-unit level since 1929.

1949-1951 Nash Airflyte full view
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The 600 line was renamed Statesman. Here it is shown as a Super.

Profits in 1947 and 1948 were $18 and $20 million, so this was a gamble Mason felt he could afford to take. The man on the street loved the new Nash, although some prospects reportedly made salespeople prove to them, before they would buy, that a flat tire could actually be changed.

Nash belted a home run with its new bathtubs. Car production rose to 130,000 for the 1960 model year, 142,592 for the calendar year. The latter was an all-time record, and profits of $26 million were the best the company had registered since the consolidation of Kelvinator and Nash. Mason's gamble on aerodynamics had paid off big!

1949-1951 Nash Airflyte full view
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The longer-wheelbase Ambassador, also a Super, could be told by the longer distance from front wheel opening to front door.

Though styling for 1950 remained static, the rear window was widened 10 inches and the bumper guards were smoothed out. Other refinements included Nash's famous "glove-locker that pulls out instead of spills out" and Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, purchased from GM as an option for Ambassadors. The latter boasted "Selecto-Lift Starting" -- lifting up the shift lever engaged the starter.

Meanwhile, the 600 nameplate was dropped in favor of "Statesman," clearly more in tune with the Ambassador nameplate. The Statesman's engine was stroked a quarter-inch to 184 cubic inches, upping horsepower to a still-modest 85, while the Ambassador's six got a new cylinder head that increased output to 115 horses.

1950 Nash Ambassador full view
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
As in 1949, the most popular Ambassador for 1950 was the Super four-door sedan, seen here with optional hood ornament and fog lights.

Seat belts became optional on both series, a first for an American car, as did a five-position Airliner Reclining Seat for the front passenger.

With not much else new to talk about, buyers were reminded that "Only Nash has a curved, undivided windshield in all models!" As in 1949, a rear window wiper was offered, a novel touch at the time.

Check out the next section for details on the 1951 Nash Airflyte.

"Miss Upside-Down Bathtub of 1949"

Tom McCahill began assessing new cars for Mechanix Illustrated right after World War II, quickly establishing himself as the dean of American road testers. Affectionately known as "Uncle" Tom, he was widely read, highly respected, and much beloved for the witty manner in which he described the cars he tested.

Among the hundreds of cars he evaluated were the 1949 Nash 600 and Ambassador, both equipped with overdrive, which he had driven at Nash's proving grounds in Burlington, Wisconsin. A few excerpts from his report follow:

Nash . . . has gone overboard for the newest fad in car designs and come up with two hot candidates for Miss Upside-Down Bathtub of 1949. I found the 600 and the Ambassador had jumped into the latest fashion with both faucets wide open.

It's smart to have no fenders, and there are no smarter cars on the road now than the new Nashes. The Ambassador . . . is a magnificent-looking automobile, inside and out.

The 600
The 600, which flies the Nash colors in the low-priced market, is miles ahead of competitors on two counts -- economy and comfort. At average speeds the 600 will give between 25 and 30 miles to a gallon. This puts it a good five miles ahead of its closest rival among the big three of the popular-priced cars. [The 82-bhp six mated to the overdrive] has pepped up the 600 so that it's no longer a dog on its feet. It still isn't a bearcat in performance but it's definitely far away from its former snail class, From 0 to 60 mph through gears, the time was 20.1 seconds. Top speed in [overdrive] high after buildup is 74 to 77 miles an hour.

If you want zip-zip performance, this is not the car for you. The performance isn't outstanding but, considering the economy, the comfort and the ultra-modern design, the new Nash 600 is one of the best buys in America today.

The Ambassador
I'm glad to report that this 112-hp, overhead-valve chariot can climb a hill like a goat and skim over bumpy block roads like a sponge full of oil on ice. This car is remarkably agile and fleet. . . . [A]n average of many, many runs made show . . . 0 to 60, through gears, in 17.4 seconds. The Ambassador is extremely fast footed on the getaway and has been a big winner in stock-car races. Maximum speed of this model varies between 86 and 89 mph.

The Ambassador is a top-flight, luxurious car that can cruise over the road at speeds higher than anyone in his right mind should want to go. In view of all the features offered in this
car -- such as looks, roadability, performance, interior comfort and last, but far from least, the bed feature -- I don't know of a better dollar-for-dollar value buy in its class than the Ambassador.

An exclusive feature of all Nash sedans is the convertible double bed that you can set up in the car in a jiffy. This bed arrangement takes no space from the extra large trunk compartment and can be made up in either single or double section by dropping the hinged back of the split front seat so that it forms a comfortable mattress with the rear seat. Another Nash innovation is the Uniscope, a compact instrument panel streamlined on the top side of the steering column for easier "cockpit control."

The Ambassador and the 600 both now have coil-spring suspension of both front and rear wheels as well as torque-tube drive. Like other car manufacturers, they also are using the jumbo balloon tires -- those 24-pound wonders that, for my dough, could be better off stuffed right back on a rubber tree.

Both cars are standouts in looks, luxury and riding ability. After proving the quality of each in grueling road tests, I feel the major auto companies had better start looking to their laurels. They won't outdo these two numbers by feeding the public any more milktoast models.

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