Packard V8: 1955 Nash Ambassador Custom

Trying to choose between cars is sometimes like trying to choose a favorite child, it’s almost impossible to do. This 1955 Nash Ambassador Custom is one of those cars for me. This big, black boulevard cruiser is listed on eBay with heavy bidding and a current bid price of $6,000 and the reserve isn’t met. It’s located in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and it sure looks like a person could drive it home but I don’t know for sure. Hey, you only live once, what the heck, fly in and drive it home!

I’m torn between the 1955 and 1956 Nash Ambassador even though they’re fairly similar with some front end/grille changes. Either one would work quite nicely for me and since I haven’t seen too many black ones, this ’55 would be my choice as of now. This grille and more-simple front end and side treatment is hard to beat for me. Although, one of each is always better.

I believe this is a Nash Ambassador Custom Series 5580 because it’s a V8 car – an added bonus. The seller is quite understated, saying that the car “is in good condition”. Good grief, compared to what some sellers say this thing makes Pebble Beach cars look like beaters. The Continental spare tire kit is a factory piece, of course, not an add-on one like a person sees a lot at shows featuring 1950s cars. This is one Continental kit that I can live with, I’m not a fan of the add-on ones but that’s just me.

“No rust or corrosion – looks great underneath with undercoating.” The seats appear to have been reupholstered, or maybe not? The pattern is fairly 1950s like and I’m sure that after 63 years some soft bits and pieces always need to be changed, especially in a hot climate like Oklahoma. The trunk may or may not have had a rattle-can-restoration, again I’m not positive but it sure looks like it to me.

Here’s the world’s smallest air cleaner on the world’s biggest car. I’m not sure what’s going on there but I would sure want something more in scale and style with the rest of this beauty. The engine should be Packard’s 320 cubic-inch V8 with around 210 hp and it should be backed up by Packard’s Ultramatic transmission but there’s no mention of that in the listing. Things look tidy in the engine compartment but I’d want to work on the period correctness a bit. For a driver’s car this one is probably pretty decent as it is. It has a “new battery, starter and tires. Starts, runs and drives nice.” Have any of you owned a Nash Ambassador?

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  1. Had Two

    Wow. Looks like someone hosed down that trunk area with a case of
    mixed spray cans of black, gloss, flat, matte….
    And the air cleaner….PLEASE

  2. Beatnik Bedouin

    It’s a two-barrel carb, so someone put an aftermarket (Cal Custom?) air cleaner on top. It does look kind of lost amongst all that Packard V8.

    Anyone here keen to buy a car with ‘the rakish Continental Look’..?

  3. Fred W

    Good thing it’s not near me and I don’t have garage space for it. I’m a sucker for these, but the turning radius is football field size.

  4. Canadianmarkseh Member

    Nice car. But I’ve thought that Nash was trying to fit the grill out of a much smaller car into the front of this car. It looks out of proportion to me and throws off the whole look of the car. JMO.

  5. Royal

    My Dad had one of these that he bought used from a dealership on Staten Island where he lived following WW2, and, sure as hell, it had a cracked block. It was a 6 cylinder, and he repaired it using an old technique used by the Coast Guard to repair diesels on board ships where tearing out the whole engine was not possible, which was the case for him being he didn’t have a lift or a garage to do this. Apparently, he added several screws to the drilled out area where the crack was and then ground them down until flush with the block surface and the cylinder wall. He showed me when I was a little kid on paper how he went about doing this which was fascinating as hell. Ran great once he got it all back together, and he sold it a few years later to a guy who ran it until it rotted out so bad, the body was visibly sagging on the midpoint. Not sure of the year he had, but it looked close to this, but may have been a 53. The experience swore him off of buying used cars from a dealer until 1985 when he bought my first car for me. Amazing guy my father, he could do anything he wanted to, a true genius. A testament to the Greatest Generation. He would be 94 today if he were still alive.

    • Ensign Pulver

      As a fellow Staten Islander, I am proud of your dad’s ingenuity! My dad was also a WWII combat vet (South Pacific) and needed some decompression time coming home….built a sailboat from scratch! Steamed the wood, made the spars..the works. Those guys living on “the rock” knew how to make do.

    • chad Member

      great story, thnx –
      my dad is 94 on Sat

    • ninja3000

      I grew up in one of these not too far away in Jersey. My dad (WWII combat vet, France) had just begun his job in PR for American Motors, and this is what he brought home.Two years later, replaced it with a ’57 Rambler wagon. He left the account in the mid-60s– just before AMC got heavily into racing. I’ve never forgiven him for that (jes kiddin’), and I remind him of it still — he just turned 95 and is as ornery as ever!

  6. Fred H

    I owned two 1956 Nash Ambassadors at the same time ,one was stick the other automatic . Loved them both. Had to sell due to health.

  7. Ken Tilly UK

    Lovely car but is the dash offset to the right or is it an optical illusion?

  8. Wayne

    Pity about the missing ring of the continental kit. Air cleaner, what air cleaner? Oh its OK, I see it now, I just got my magnifying glass out.

  9. DRV

    It’s crazy cool and looks to be in a perfect preserved driver condition. I would rather be driving this around than any Lamborghini or muscle car.
    I want.
    Why am I so attracted to the “oddball” stuff?

  10. Ben T. Spanner

    I knew a guy with a small town junk yard/car collection. There was a black and yellow Hudson Hollywood which looked nice to the casual observer. When they picked it up from the rear to tow it, it broke in half, held together by the roof.

  11. Bob C.

    I like the Pininfarina look to these compared to the stacked headlight look to the 57s. They certainly weren’t a hit.

  12. Tom Justice

    It says bidding has ended; does not mention a sale. Did it get the front end from the Nash Healy or was it the other way around?

  13. Bob C.

    Hi Tom, Pinin Farina was responsible for making all Nash models have that same basic look beginning in the 1952 model year.

  14. Pete Phillips

    Dashboard layout is correct–everything is symmetrical from the center, which leaves the gauges to the right of the driver. I have two 1954 Ambassador two-door hardtops. Both are projects–one a little further along than the other. Both are extremely rare. Love these oddball cars of the 1950s.

  15. Hank from illinois

    Love the oddball stuff. Nice car. No worries on air cleaner, I hear salvage yards, after market.. Might have what you want. No worries on the small stuff.

  16. Al

    My dad worked for Kelvinator, a division of Nash, and had a number of Nash company cars from the “bathtub” version to a couple very similar to this one. As a kid I remember thinking them quite lackluster. That said, they were roomy, comfortable and very reliable. I’d take one of these as a town runaround ride in a heartbeat.

  17. chrlsful Member

    “6K$ & gone, reserve not met”

  18. chad Member

    Y were they NOT popular – what was the competition? I don’t remember any down side – except the company. Folks saw them as dodgie, backward (in style). Looking today I don’t agree…

  19. Ron

    Love all those stories guys our Dad were all from that era WWII born then and my Dad was a Defense worker in the Ship Yards in Mobile Ala heard many of those great stories, those guys could fix anything and did and I had heard the method Royal speaks of on repairing Cast Iron Blocks I think they weled the screws afterward or some sort of fix, it was/isn’t many who had the skills to weld cast Iron. I have always loved the orphan cars and collected them, and I am pretty sure that is why I don’t have any money or any valuable cars today, because they don’t typically command great respect in collection or value eventhough I think most all of them were ahead of the Big 3, I am down to Studes only now andam finishing a 60 Lark Converible now for which I am afraid I am going to come out at a loss on just watched a beautiful 62 Conv sell on Ebay way below what it should and below what I have in mine, but I guyess it is just what it is in the Orphan World, a Labor of Love

    • Ensign Pulver

      Yea I agree. I listed my 54 Packard Patrician last year and learned the difference between offers and sales! So I still have it. The orphan sedans may just slip under the waves…

  20. dweezilaz

    Scotty, I found that upholstery job a little hard to believe myself, but checked Old Car Brochures.

    No real interior pictures of the 55, but 54 shows the exact same design as the car in the ad, at least for the vinyl and button tufting.

    Very plush.

  21. Joe

    I wonder if Johnney. Cash, Drove a Nash ?

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