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Multicultural Show Car: 1953 Nash-Healey Roadster

An abiding interest in photography brought George Mason, head of Nash Kelvinator, and Donald Healey, head of Healey Motor Company, together on the RMS Queen Elizabeth in 1949, as each was making the crossing to America. George Mason had a camera of interest to Healey and the resulting conversation eventually turned to cars. It was that chance meeting that birthed the Nash-Healey roadster, which began production in 1950. The styling was penned by Healey’s company, the bodies were made of aluminum at Panelcraft in England, and the motor was a Nash six-cylinder. Just over 100 of these early cars were made and sold by Nash in the US, at the princely sum of $4,063, quite a price for the day. In 1952 the Nash-Healey was restyled, this time by Pininfarina in Italy. Now each car traveled to three countries before it could be sold, and the price rose to well over $5,000. Consequently, only 506 road cars were constructed before Nash pulled the plug on the project. Here on craigslist is 1953 Nash-Healey roadster number 367, for sale at $110,000, serious inquiries only. The car is in Kansas City, Missouri. Thanks to Gunter K. for this unusual tip!

The engine in the Nash Roadster was the Ambassador inline six-cylinder. By 1953 this motor displaced 252 cu. in., up from 235 cu. in. in 1950. Healey fitted the motor with an aluminum head, reducing its weight. By this time, the factory had switched from the twin SUs supplied with the earliest cars to Carter carburetors. The combination was good for 140 bhp, but thanks to the higher steel content of the Pininfarina body, there wasn’t much improvement in performance over Panelcraft cars. The transmission was a three-speed manual with Borg Warner overdrive. Zero to sixty time is about 12 seconds. Handling is less sporty than luxury, with roll in the corners and a soft ride.

This car is done to show standards. The seller has owned eleven Nash-Healey roadsters and says this is his favorite. It is said to be rust-free (while some panels are aluminum, most of the car is steel) and has a claimed 86,212 miles from new. We could wish for some documentation on that mileage claim, which the ad doesn’t offer up.

Pininfarina’s restyling was a departure from the earlier car which didn’t particularly resonate with Nash dealers. The oval grille is a motif common to Nash cars of the day, and the vestigial fins on its rear flanks are reminiscent of the 1950 Cadillac. There’s certainly nothing like it on the road. While the asking price is stiff, it’s not out of line for this rare roadster provided it proves as clean upon inspection as it appears in the ad.

Comments

  1. Rixx56 Member

    Always wanted one, just not at 100k! If only…

    Like 2
  2. That AMC Guy

    Clark Kent drove one!

    https://www.imcdb.org/v055761.html

    Like 10
  3. TheOldRanger

    Love this car. It will take someone special to take this car, but wow, what a classic.

    Like 3
  4. Gary Thompson

    Bought a ’51 during the mid 80’s for $8000..un restored..My brother did the body and mechanical work – sold it for $23,000…I believe I saw it once on
    Gas Monkey Garage show..The owner wanted $100k……

    Like 4
  5. Solosolo UK Solosolo Member

    A friend of mine owned a restoration shop and was in the process of completing his own Nash Healey. He had done a magnificent job and was hoping to have it completely assembled about two weeks after I saw it as there was a yearly “Cars in the Park” event coming up where he wanted to show it off. Didn’t happen as he had a break in and the grille disappeared along with lots of other car parts, for scrap he thought. He tried for two years to obtain another grille without success so sold the car on auction. About three months later he went to a swap meet and there was a good, used, grille for sale! He contacted the buyer but he had already sourced another grille from the US. Murphy’s Law as the saying goes!

    Like 6
  6. MikeH

    Never knew the early car existed. It is so much better looking than the Pininfarina cars. Never cared for those bulbous fenders on either the Healy or the big Nashes.

    Like 3
  7. Matt C

    There was one in a junk yard that I saw when I was a kid with another car on top of it … if they only knew .. 50 yrs ago

    Like 1
  8. chrlsful

    I like the other better due to the headlght/fender arrangement (earlier is more my style). Never knew of the alu v steel change tho so that’s 2 points for earlier). Even the coup looks g r e a t .
    Love to see a ‘1 carb per’ with 6 keihins, some TR6 break/suspension goodies, etc (or modern, need to do my research). It DID have OD transmis.
    Almost looks like the frnt badge on ur fav model cars, eh Michelle? Thnx 4 da write-up/pic! The make AND model were toooo short runned.

    Like 0

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