No Rust: 1949 Nash 600 Custom

This 1949 Nash 600 Custom looks much larger than it really is, it’s only about 9″ longer than a new Honda Accord. I know that I should want a 2020 Honda Accord than I want this ’49 Nash, but I don’t. This one can be found here on eBay in Columbia, Pennsylvania and there is a single $6,000 bid on it, but the reserve isn’t met. Let’s check it out.

With a classic shape and an egg-crate grille, this Nash 600 is one interesting design and one slick ride. So slick that its name refers to how many miles a typical tank of gas will carry its passengers: 600 miles. It’s also well known as a bathtub shape, which helped give it such good MPG for the time.

There’s the famous bathtub shape. The photos here aren’t the best, which is an understatement, but what is shown really highlights a great looking car. The seller says that there is no rust on the body and no rust on the floors. These cars are unibody or unit-body, depending on which side of the tracks you were raised on. In fact, the Nash 600 was reportedly the first mass-produced unit-body car back in 1941.

There aren’t many interior photos and none that really show the seats and none of the back seat area at all, or the trunk, headliner, etc. But again, what they do choose to show us shows what looks like a very good condition car inside, too. Nash had the famous Uniscope gauge cluster on the top of the steering column and a 3-speed manual. This car has 61,000 miles on it and it needs a starter switch for the rebuilt starter. I’m not quite sure I understand why that wasn’t taken care of at the time the starter was rebuilt but who knows.

This clean-looking engine should be Nash’s 173 cubic-inch L-head six with just over 80 hp. Thankfully being a unit-body car, the Nash 600 eliminated around 500 pounds, but that 82 hp will not seem like enough power for those of us who are used to 2-3-4-5-6 times that horsepower. There is no word how this car runs or if it runs but it sure looks like a nice example. Are there any fans of the classic bathtub Nash out there?

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Comments

  1. Snotty

    Peculiar, that’s what comes to mind when I see a Nash. Without front fender wells how do you have tire clearance when turning, not too mention changing out a tire.

    Like 2
    • Fred W

      Nash must have had to severely limit the steering angle with enclosed fender wells- took me a while to find the numbers, but turning radius was increased by 10 feet over the previous Nash (33/43ft). As far as changing a tire, I’ll bet when Junior watched dad change one he discovered a whole new vocabulary.

      Like 15
      • That AMC Guy

        In addition to limiting the steering angle, the front track was narrowed to allow some room for the front wheels to turn.

        The L-head engine is a smaller-displacement version of the one that powered the base Rambler American through 1965, and was the basis for the OHV 195.6 Rambler six.

        I really don’t “get” why so many people submit photos with the edges blurred out. Make no sense and is just annoying. Also this is another instance where there are no underside photos. The unibodies on these cars are very rust-prone.

        When these came out they were considered very futuristic looking. Most cars in 1949 didn’t even have one-piece windshields yet let alone this kind of aerodynamic design. To me they look like the head of the creature in the movie “Alien”.

        Like 12
      • nlpnt

        I know when they opened the fenderwells on the Rambler for 1955 the turning radius decreased by a similarly significant amount. Likewise when the Rambler American was reskinned for 1961 – still around the old 1950 Nash Rambler inner unibody – overall body width was reduced from 73″ to 70″ (in new-Honda terms the difference between an Accord and a Civic) just by finally trimming away the extra width needed to keep the front wheel cuts under sheetmetal.

        Like 1
    • Robert

      Nash salesmen were used to jacking up cars on the showroom floor and changing a front tire without a special lift or other tools, to prove to skeptical prospects how easily it could be done at roadside.

  2. F Again

    Magnificent vehicles. This one is not bad at all.
    One thing I’ve learned from watching movies made from late ’40s to the mid ’50s is the majority of the cop cars are Nashes.

    Like 6
    • nlpnt

      Product placement. Although modern but retro-set Superman comics have run with this and depicted the Metropolis police using bathtub Nashes in this era (and, incorrectly, as early as 1946) as an homage to the ’50s TV show.

      Like 3
    • Howard Kerr

      I used to think it was product placement but then began to wonder if it was a case of being able to get a load of cars dirt cheap.
      Watching Superman on tv, I saw a few episodes where they started to move away from Nashs, there are 1 or 2 episodes where the fleet was a series of independents. Then they switched to Chrysler’s.
      BTW, Nash isn’t the only manufacturer that used this “bathtub” design, Packard used this same type of styling at the same time.

      Like 1
      • Robert

        The Airflyte design was far superior to the “bathtub Packard” in terms of aerodynamics. Its coefficient of air resistance in wind-tunnel tests was only .35-.42, IIRC, whereas the Packard’s was .72 or thereabouts. The Packard thus faced a few hundred pounds’ more weight of air at highway speeds than did the Nash Airflyte. Hudson had a similar shape, but I dunno how it stacked up.

  3. YooperMike

    I remember these cars from when I was little. My Pops made fun of them. Bathtub on wheels. We were Ford people. I still own one.

  4. Kenbone

    Used to see them on Superman tv show,saw a few on the road when i was a kid. They are interesting i might want to drive one, but i dont think id want to own one. Changing tires doing brakes ball joints ect seems likeit would bevery time consuming and require alot of diligence and patients

    Like 1
    • Duaney Member

      These don’t have ball joints

      Like 1
  5. Skorzeny

    I love the look of these, front, side, rear, but I would have a good body guy cut those wheel wheels for me. I don’t care what the Nash guys think, I just hate covered wheels like that. Very neat car otherwise.

  6. Ben T Spanner

    In the late 1960’s I had a friend who was one of the later victims of the Polio epidemic. He had full metal leg braces and crutches. He lived with his grandmother who had a 1950 or so Nash. Crude hand controls had been added. They required frequent adjustments and tightening. He later had a three wheel Harley, which he started by hand, using the kick starter.

    Like 2
  7. Tucker Callan

    Great Ceaser`s Ghost??

    Like 4
  8. Tom S.

    So cool. Looks like it’s right out of the comic pages.

    Like 1
  9. dogwater

    Cool car, the way they placed the 100 on the speedometer.

    Like 1
  10. Tort Member

    Never cared much for the styling of Nash cars but over time have come to the point I could take this car out for a nice Sunday drive and leave my 55 Chevy in the garage. Nice car and curious what the reserve is.

    Like 1
  11. lc

    I just want to squeeze it :)

    Like 3
  12. MOTRV8D

    Which came first: 40’s-50’s Nash cars or bumper cars?

    The details and photos for this listing are soooo inadequate. Some ppl just don’t know how to sell stuff. SMH.

    Like 5
    • Niles Ingalls

      so very true, some people just don’t know how to sell, and some are so on the fence that they scare off prospective buyers. That’s how you find the special deals though.

  13. Jim Fox

    I had a ’49 Nash sedan back in the late ’50, I think I paid $50.00 for it. It was a great car to take dates to the drive-in movies since the seats made into a bed.
    Eventually the motor was vibrating pretty badly so I decided to work on it myself. I put it up on jacks and removed the removed the oil pan. When I removed the bearing caps I found the babbitt bearings were completely shot. I couldn’t afford new bearings so I used pieces of a leather belt to replace them, an old Model T trick.
    When I put it all back together and filled the motor with oil it wouldn’t start. I was so frustrated after all that work I picked up a piece of 2 x 4 and started beating on the car. I worked over the hood, the roof and the fenders but I was careful not to break any of the glass or lights. When I was through working my frustration out I tried to start the car again and it fired right up.
    When I took it to work the next day my fellow workers asked me if I had rolled it.
    It ran O K for a few months and I finally junked it.

    Like 1
    • Duaney Member

      You’re not the only one who vandalized your car for no good reason

  14. Nashguy

    I have a 1950 Nash Statesman, the 1950 version of the 600. Actually the front tires are not that hard to remove as along as you lift the car by the body. When lifting the body with a bumper jack (or similar) the coil springs let the wheel drop down to where it is very manageable. Mine is a 2 door. Love the car.

    Like 3
  15. Duaney Member

    The whole reason for the skirted front wheels and bath tub shape was for aerodynamics so that Nash’s would have very little air resistance and would achieve top fuel economy. And they did very well. Other cars following this logic was the Packard and Aero Willys. Later years most American cars had no streamlining at all and were like bricks going through the air. Modern cars today are very streamlined. Studies have show fighting the air resistance takes a significant amount of engine HP.

    Like 2
  16. ramblergarage

    The tire changing problem is an old wives tail. Jack the car up with the bumper jack and the wheel hangs down and is simple to change. So get over it!

    Like 4
  17. Matthew Gowdy

    Having skirted wheels also makes the car appear to float down the road rather than roll. I just found a 1949 600 Super with 18,000 documented miles! I’m ecstatic. It is all original never wrecked nor repaired with original shiny paint. Obviously garage kept and gorgeous in Black over light green. Even has the original sleeping gear IN the original Nash bags. I’m going to get it road worthy, wash/wax it, treat any minor rust problems and drive it.

    Like 1

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