Nash's sports car again did itself proud in 1952 competitions, competing in both the Mille Miglia and the LeMans 24 Hour, making the Nash-Healey's 1952 racing record rather impressive.
In the Sicilian road race -- the Mille Miglia -- a special coupe, driven by Donald Healey and his son Geoffrey, crashed, but a second car piloted by Leslie Johnson and W. McKenzie came home fourth in class and seventh overall, a fine achievement in that notoriously rugged event.
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The roadgoing version of the race-winning 1952 Nash-Healey, priced at $5,868.
But the Nash-Healey's finest hour came at LeMans. There were two entries: an open sports model built over from the 1951 Nash-Healey coupe for Johnson and Tommy Wisdom, and the 1950 prototype, fitted with an experimental cylinder head, to be driven by Pierre Vyron and Yves Giraud-Cabantous.
Both were obviously no match for the big Ferraris, Jaguars, and Cunninghams, but Donald Healey had decided to run a conservative race, hoping the more powerful cars would drop out before the finish due to driver mistakes.
By the 18-hour mark, the Nash-Healey prototype had retired, but the Johnson/Wisdom roadster was running sixth, behind two Talbots, two Mercedes, and an Aston-Martin. By the 20th hour it had passed one of the Talbots to claim fifth. Then the Aston pitted with rear axle problems.
The Nash-Healey now lay fourth. The leading Talbot then dropped out with engine failure. The Nash-Healey moved up to third. While the German cars held on to finish 1-2, the Nash-Healey's third-place showing was tremendously impressive.
Johnson/Wisdom averaged 91.5 mph for the 2,190 miles and hit up to 140 mph on the long Mulsanne Straight. They handily won the Gold Cup for first in the 3000-5000cc class -- ahead of a Ferrari and a Talbot -- and took second in the Index of Performance. Besides besting its prestigious rivals, the Nash-Healey delivered 13 miles per gallon and needed no oil or water for the entire 24 hours.
What would 1953 have to offer in honor of this victory? Continue to the next page for details.
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