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Just Surface Rust: 1951 Nash Ambassador

Barn Finder Roger has been keeping his eyes open, and he spotted this 1951 Nash for us to look at, so thank you for that Roger. This car is an interesting restoration project, and you will find it listed for sale here on Craigslist. It is located in Michigan City, Indiana, and the owner has set the price at $2,995.

As far as rust on this Nash goes, what you see in the way of surface corrosion on the vehicle appears to be about it. The owner supplies a number of shots of the underside of the car, and it is remarkably clean. I’m a bit unsure as to whether all of the glass is present, as some of the windows may be wound down. However, the glass that is visible does appear to be quite good. There are a few trim items missing, and some of the remaining will require restoration, but the seller does state that the car will require restoration.

There is not a lot that we can tell about the interior of the car, but we do know that like the rest of the car, it will require a restoration. What we can see is that the dash is complete, and while it is largely in good condition, some of the chrome trim pieces have started to peel, so these will need to be stripped and restored.

The engine of the Nash is a 235ci inline-six, which is backed by a manual transmission. The good news here is that the engine does run. Not only that, but the seller actually states that it runs well. He doesn’t give us any further information on the rest of the drive-train, but a running engine is a huge plus on this car. The owner appears to have had some prior experience with these cars, as he does state that they are a great driving car.

This Nash looks like a solid car for a restoration project. Financially it would appear to be well worth the effort. I found another project grade car advertised for $4,950. NADA list a low retail at $7,600, with a high retail at $28,000. This may sound a bit fanciful until you find that a restored ’51 Ambassador Custom sold at auction recently for $32,000. This is a restoration project that seems to make good economic sense.


  1. Keith

    This car is so ugly it’s cute……lol!

    Like 5
  2. Steve Yorks

    I would love to have this project. Currently own a ’54 Nash Metropolitan.

    Like 2
  3. LT1 Mike

    My dad owned a couple of Nash Ambassadors back in the 50’s, (before my time). He said they looked like a bath tub on wheels but they were inexpensive, dependable, transportation. He traded it in on a ’55 Olds 98 Holiday Hardtop and fell in love with Oldsmobile’s after that, owning many throughout the years.

    Like 3
  4. jw454
  5. Jeff

    If I had spare garage floor on which to put this car, I’d buy it. I absolutely love the rear end of this car. (I own a ’60 AMC Rambler American wagon, so I’m a bit biased.)

    Like 1
  6. canadainmarkseh

    I agree that this is in respectable condition for it age. I actually like the styling on it and Jeff I too like that long sloping back. I think that this is an ideal project for a DIY guy on a budget, but your going to need an over sized garage to work comfortably on this beast. Even though it’s a repeat its still a car with louds of potential, I think the price is more than fair which makes me wonder why it’s not selling. I think some of the late 40’s early 50’s cars are some of the most stylish cars ever made, but like the pre war stuff interest is waining. When I look at the modern cars today and I think of the future they will not be restored do to there complexity and body materials and the only ones that will be around are the pampered ones with low milage. Young people are missing out on an opportunity to get in on a car like this before they fade into history, not a lot of these will be around in another 20 years.

    Like 6
  7. Frank Sumatra

    I remain skeptical regarding the term “surface rust”. Rust truly never sleeps unless we can find a way to reverse the laws of physics. I’m sure it can be cleaned up and it will look good for a few years, but iron oxide will win.Take a look at the book “Rust- The Longest War” by Jonathan Waldman.Also very cool art images of rust at the website of Alyssa Eve Csuk also.

    Like 2
    • TreDeuce

      Laws of ‘Chemistry’.

      Like 2
      • Gerald


        Like 0
      • Frank Sumatra

        I was thinking “entropy” and the “Second Law of Thermodynamics” but I didn’t want to sound too preachy. Anyways, trying to beat rust is a mug’s game.

        Like 0
    • canadainmarkseh

      Have any of you guys herd of rust mort, it’s a product that changes and arrests the oxidization process. One of the main components is phosphoric acid, it will kill the rust and turn it from brown to black. Body work and paint can be done over it and with that it will hold back the rust for years. I have used it on a number of projects with good success. It’s actually fascinating watch the rust change colour to black. I have been buying it at NAPA for years.

      Like 0
  8. Gerald

    “It’s worlds most perfect car!” Quote from what movie?

    Like 0
  9. Ikey Heyman

    “Lucky” Lee Lott used Nash automobiles, they were the only make of car that could withstand the punishment of his Hell Drivers thrill show.

    Like 0
  10. chinga-trailer

    Was this designed by Pininfarina?

    I like the looks of it, and perhaps one of these would have been more appropriate for Elon Musk’s car shot into space! And hey, in the vacuum of space, wouldn’t the rust be arrested??

    Like 0
    • That AMC Guy

      No, it was the totally restyled 1952 models that were credited to Pininfarina. However they were actually styled mostly in-house by Nash designer Edmund Anderson, incorporating some of Pininfarina’s ideas. They were a lot more conventional-looking than the 1949-1951 “bathtub” models.

      Like 0
  11. James HGF

    Let’s toss 1951 Nascar Grand National performance into the mix:

    1. 7th & 9th place finish at Daytona Beach & Road Course 1951.
    2. Curtis Turner wins 150 lap GN at Charlotte NC 3/4 mile dirt track.
    3. Johnny Mantz 2nd. to Hudson – 200 laps 1/2 mile Gardena CA.
    4. Johnny Mantz 3rd. behind Chrysler & Olds 250 mile 1mile dirt Detroit, MI

    Take the WABAC machine to the 1950 Carrera – Panamericana:

    1950 Nash Ambassador finishes 1st. on 9th and final leg with Curtis Turner beating Piero Taruffi’s Alfa Romeo with a 2 hr 55 min time vs 2 hrs 59 mins for the Alfa. The result – Nash race #49 finishes third overall in the first Carrera – well not so fast (pun intended). The Connor Owen #49 driven by Turner on the final leg was disqualified because Turner was not listed on the entry form as a co-driver. Taruffi was 4th overall behind an Olds and 2 Cad 62s.

    Like 3
  12. Graham Line

    The Farina-influenced Nashes started showing up in the 1952 line. They are generally identifiable by the reverse-kinked rear pillar that came into vogue in the early 1950s. Nashes seemed to sell well in the Midwest and in California.

    Like 0
  13. Beatnik Bedouin

    I’ve always liked the Nashes from this era.

    This one looks like a perfect candidate to recreate one of those ‘Generic Police Dept’ cars from any number of B-Movies from my misspent youth…

    Like 0
  14. B Bittner

    Ahh I can almost smell the aroma of a nicely aged mohair interior.

    It seems to have enough good steel to make a crusher smack its lips in anticipation of crunchy goodness to come.

    Like 1
  15. TreDeuce

    My brother and I slept in the trunk of grandpa’s Nash when we went camping. Grandpa and Grandpa slept ih the car as the seats made into a bed.

    Grandpa loved his Nashs and Hudsons.

    Like 3
  16. Lucky strike

    Also widely used in the 1950s Superman series.

    Like 0
    • That AMC Guy

      Superman was definitely Nash-friendly. Nash Ambassador police cars were usually employed by Inspector Henderson and crew. Lois Lane drove a Nash Rambler. Clark Kent drove a Nash-Healey sports car, which was actually owned by actor George Reeves.

      Like 2
  17. Sam61

    I would take this to ICON and do a sleeper/resto mod if I had unlimited 💲

    Like 0
  18. LAB3

    Some would say it’s a shame but I’m seeing it turned into a pickup or better yet having a pickup camper mounted on it.

    Like 0
  19. Robert White

    Rat rod it by just throwing in a GM SB & Powerglide. Flat black primer 2 coats & wash the glass n’ clean the ashtray.

    Good to go with new breaks.


    Like 0
  20. Bob V.

    Hi, I was the owner of this Nash. It has been sold and is going to it’s new owner in CHINA !!! Wow !!!! As was stated that it sounded like the owner has experience with these cars and that is correct. I still have two more of them. One has 50,000 original miles and I love driving it. The other is in better condition then the one sold and is going to be for sale for $4,000 if anyone has interest. Thank you for a GREAT web site !! LOVE BARN FINDS …..

    Like 3
  21. Bob

    FINALLY a rusty car listed as a rusty car instead of patina. This is a very good day! Thank you.

    Like 1
  22. Chebby Member

    These would look so good lowered, in glossy black with LSX power. Like the gangster cars in old cartoons.

    Like 0

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