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Bathtub Beauty: 1951 Nash Airflyte

030916 Barn Finds - 1951 Nash Airflyte 1

Well, maybe it’s not a beauty yet, but it sure could be with a lot of work. This 1951 Nash Airflyte coupe found here on craigslist in Independence, Kansas is in surprisingly good shape, or it appears to be at first glance. The asking price of $1,600 seems like a bargain, but it isn’t all quite as squeaky clean as the exterior looks upon first glance.

030916 Barn Finds - 1951 Nash Airflyte 2

This is one uniquely-shaped car. I love the “bathtub series” Nashes and when you find a 2-door model it’s even better. This one is basically a rolling shell that looks like it’s been painted a bit to slow down the surface rust that’s on every square inch of this car, inside and out. It is somewhat rare to find a 2-door Nash that isn’t totally rusted out or hasn’t already been turned into a drag car or a restomod. Maybe you have what it takes to restore this car back to it’s original glory, or, dare I say, to turn it into a restomod akin to something from any number of tv reality shows would do.

030916 Barn Finds - 1951 Nash Airflyte 4

Instead of a bathtub beauty this is more like the shower scene in Psycho. You’ll need a media-blaster for this project for sure. As you can see, this car will have to be stripped clean and blasted of its rusty finish inside and out so you can add a color of your own. Would you go back to original colors and finishes or would you turn it into something of your own creation with a modern drivetrain and modern conveniences inside? Either way, you’ll have some work ahead of you. You’ll need a full interior here, there’s nothing but a rusty shell and an oddball steering wheel.

030916 Barn Finds - 1951 Nash Airflyte 5

Someone must have been planning to turn this car into an SBC-filled restomod from the looks of this aftermarket steering wheel. And, even that has rust on it! I thought that Kansas was supposed to be a dry climate?! I mean, other than when there’s a tornado..

030916 Barn Finds - 1951 Nash Airflyte 7

Yes, you guessed it, there’s more surface rust on the interior under the non-existent headliner. Luckily, it looks like this car isn’t totally shot and could be brought back by a person with some basic tools and a spray gun. According to the seller, the “Bumpers, Grill, side chrome, inside garnish moldings, sun visors are inside the car.” They’ll need restoration as much as the rest of the car will, but at least you won’t have to track them down somewhere.

030916 Barn Finds - 1951 Nash Airflyte 6

The big straight-six here looks like it’ll need a little help as will the whole area under the hood. It looks like most of it is there, including a couple of very, very corroded six-volt terminals on the battery. The owner says that the engine turns over so that’s a good thing.

030916 Barn Finds - 1951 Nash Airflyte 3

Luckily, the rear glass isn’t broken as that would be hard to replace, but every other piece of glass on this Nash is broken and will need to be replaced, even the curved, one-piece windshield. I literally have dreams about restoring a car like this 2-door Nash back to what it would have looked like when it left the plant in Kenosha, WI back in 1951. Would you restore this beauty back to original spec or would you restomod this bathtub Nash?


  1. Avatar photo Jacob

    I love it! This would go great in a garage with a Marlin.

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  2. Avatar photo Brian

    isn’t this a rustomod? It’s sure has plenty of patina. You could just clear coat it inside and out.

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  3. Avatar photo John

    At least the floor is holy..

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    • Avatar photo Mark Holmstrand

      lol, yeah. That’s a hilarious typo.

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Wayne

    I always thought the 1949 Packard was ugly. But these Nash’s take ugly to a new level.

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  5. Avatar photo Howard A Member

    It’s a “fixer-upper”,,,wow, going to have to use your imagination on this one. I’m sorry Wayne feels that way about “ugly” cars of the early ’50’s ( I had a ’50 Packard that was NOT ugly) it was the style of the times. I liked the diversity of the ’50’s styling. Are Buick’s with the “big toothy grin” any less ugly? Regardless, this has resto-mod all over it, just for the shape, I’m sure. It’s already half way there. Looking at old photos, 2 doors were actually quite popular, and this would be a great start. To return it to stock, would be a little much.

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  6. Avatar photo Wayne

    I quite like the Buicks, I wouldn’t think you’d describe their body style as bathtub at all. In Australia we described the 49 and 50 Packards as “pregnant elephants”.

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  7. Avatar photo Ed P

    The lack of a front wheel cutout always left me cold toward the Airflytes. However they are an interesting piece of auto design history. This one does have the extremely rare “Futuramic Steering Wheel” option.

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  8. Avatar photo Jim

    It’s so fugly it’s cool looking, guarantee you’ll be the only one at the local cruise night. Years ago I wouldn’t have spit at it but I guess I’m softening, I also like things that are different, this one rings the bell. I hope someone turns it into a nice driver without disturbing the outside or that dash.

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  9. Avatar photo james burton

    my dad dated my mom in one of these. i use to have pics of it. the front seat layed down and made a big bed with the front and back seats combined. i lost all of those pics after my dad died in 95.. had no comput. to save them on.

    Like 0

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