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Parked For 20 Years: 1951 Nash Ambassador Custom

It is amazing how many cars we see here at Barn Finds that are real mystery machines. This 1951 Nash Ambassador Custom is a perfect example. It appears that it has previously undergone some restoration work, but it was parked in a barn shortly afterward and forgotten about. That begs the question of why this happened, and it is one to which we probably won’t ever get an answer. It has been dragged out of hiding and needs to find a new home with someone who can return it to active service. Located in Dallas, Texas, you will find the Nash listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the BIN at $6,995, but the option is available to make an offer.

The owner doesn’t know the backstory of this Nash, although he believes that it was treated to some restoration work by a previous owner around 30-years-ago. It wasn’t long after this that it was parked in the barn. The environment must have been pretty favorable because the car has survived remarkably well. The Cruiser Gray paint holds an impressive shine, and there is no evidence of significant flaws or scratches. The panels are just as nice, with no dings, dents, or visible rust. That isn’t to say that the vehicle is completely rust-free. The floors and frame are structurally sound, but there are a couple of spots in the trunk, the driver’s side outer rocker shield, and the front inner fender on the same side. None of these spots are particularly bad, and I believe that all could be addressed with patches as time and circumstances allow. All of the exterior chrome is present, including the full wheel discs that were one of the hallmarks of the Ambassador Custom. All of these items are in excellent order, and I can’t spot any issues with the glass. Once returned to active duty, the new owner should be able to slip behind the wheel of the Ambassador with their head held high.

Lifting the Hash’s hood reveals the 234.8ci straight-six engine that would have produced 115hp in its prime. Bolted to the back of this is a 4-speed Hydramatic transmission, and this combination would’ve allowed the Ambassador to cover the ¼ mile in 22 seconds. I know that figure is not fast, but if the driver gave it enough room, it would eventually find its way to 89mph. Neither figure is that impressive by today’s standards, but it still stood up reasonably well in 1951. The mechanical health of the Nash is unknown because the owner has made no attempt to coax it back to life. However, it appears to be mechanically complete and the engine turns freely, so getting it mobile again may not prove to be a major undertaking.

When we turn our attention to the Nash’s interior, the news still appears to be pretty positive. It looks clean and tidy, with painted surfaces that look surprisingly tidy, and plated components that sparkle beautifully. There is no appreciable wear on the wheel, and there are no missing items. The company didn’t offer many optional extras in the 1951 Ambassador, but the original pushbutton AM radio should make life quite pleasant on the road.

It isn’t just the painted and plated components that look good in this Ambassador, because the upholstered surfaces look close to faultless. There is no wear on the seats and no signs of stains or dirty marks. The door trims are equally as impressive, as are the headliner and carpet. I don’t think that this classic’s new owner will need to spend a dime in there, because it all looks close to factory fresh.

The 1951 Ambassador Custom was not a sales disaster, because Nash managed to sell 21,071 examples of the 4-door sedan in that model year. However, they still found themselves struggling against the Big Three, and the situation didn’t change appreciably when they merged with Hudson to form American Motors. Today, it is fairly rare to see a ’51 Ambassador Custom on the market, but good examples can still easily fetch prices of $12,000 or more. If this one has no significant mechanical problems, returning it to a roadworthy state could be easy and relatively inexpensive. If that is the case, it could represent a decent proposition at the BIN price. If you are searching for a classic on a budget, maybe you should give this old Nash a closer look.


  1. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Hub caps, wheel covers yeah, but discs is a little strange terminology. We used to refer to these cars as upside down bathtubs. Turning radius is one of those, give me 40 acres and I’ll turn this rig around. Yet, this car is in remarkably great condition and will be a head turner. You can expect a lot of conversation and may be mistaken for a Tucker by people who have seen the movie but are not true car lovers. There was nothing fancy about these cars just basic transportation and known to be very reliable.
    God bless America

    Like 20
    • James HGF

      40 acres, iconic 19th century American history imagery that arrived two decades before the first automobile trundled along the roads of Germany. Not useful to describe the turning radius of the ’51 Nash Ambassador. Leans toward Merriam-Webster’s definition of “old wives’ tale: an often traditional belief that is not based on fact”.

      1951 turning radius: Ambassador – 21 ft 2 in – Cadillac – 22 ft 6 in

      Pricing has the Ambassador Super & Custom squarely in Buick Special & Super territory minus convertibles and wagon. The Ambassador appealed to a middle class market segment looking for safety (unibody construction, comfort, and size) who could afford more than top of the line Fords and Chevys.

      BTW In 1950 the #49 Roy Connor and Bob Owen Nash Ambassador finished 3rd overall behind McGriff’s Olds and Deal’s Cadillac 62 in the Carrera Panamericana before being disqualified after heated debate. Co-drivers have to be listed on the original entry form, but Curtis Turner was not a “co-driver” on #49 – available after the Bill France and Curtis Turner #37 “Nash Official Nascar Pace Car” crashed early in the race. On the final leg Turner drove the Connor Nash and finished first with two Alfas 2nd & 3rd then McGriff’s Olds, and a couple of Cadillacs, Lincoln’s, Ford & Delahaye sprinkled in 4th through 10th.

      Like 5
  2. jmolsn Member

    Love the car!!! Just a little too much rust underneath

    Like 2
    • Jim

      It’s funny…..everything looks reasonable, until you get to that last picture. That one scares me.

      Like 6
      • local_sheriff

        Don’t really think you have much reason for that. It’s frickin’ 70 years old and its belly looks to have mostly superficial rust…? If driven on dry days or given a quality underside coating I’m confident this thick sheetmetal dinosaur will survive you, me and most likely also our descendants 😏

        Like 9
  3. Rodney - GSM

    Originally marketed by Nash as the

    Like 3
  4. doone

    What does that chrome lettering on the dash spell?

    Like 1
    • doone

      Ah, now I see, it says airliner

      Like 1
      • Brian


        Like 8
    • A.G.

      The script on the dash reads ‘Airflyte’ Nash’s name for its aerodynamic models.

      Like 7
  5. doone

    Ah, now I see, it says airliner

    Like 1
    • Doone

      Airflyte, I stand corrected and thanks

      Like 4
  6. DualJetfire

    Yes, it’s the fabulous Nash Ambassador! All new for 1951! Longer! Lower! Sleeker with Nash Airflyte aerodynamic design! Jetfire power with Hydramatic Drive gives outstanding fuel economy with passing power on demand! See your local NASH dealer for a test drive today!

    Like 11
  7. Jcs

    Design-wise, everywhere that you look the phrase “oh cool” comes to mind. Over and over.

    Like 8
  8. That AMC Guy

    The long bulbous hood and toothy grille on these always remind me of the monster from the film “Alien”.

    Like 2
  9. Mike

    I would probably prefer a ’51 Hudson Hornet, but this model might turn a few more heads.

    Like 5
    • Lance

      A man after my own heart.

      Like 0
  10. s robbins

    popular with traveling salesmen…..driving from town to town. You see, the seat lays “flat” making a bed, or so I’m told.

    Like 1
  11. HoA Howard A Member

    Sigh, you know the world has passed you by, when a car like this comes up, and nobody mentions the fold down front seats. Some of us may owe our very lives to a car like this. I know, too much info , but it’s true. Tell you what, it was well known, you pulled up to pick up your favorite gal in a Nash, you got some raised eyebrows from the old man, and for good reason. I believe, in the 50’s, it was the only car that had fold down front seats into a bed. While the ads suggest a more passive approach, with 2 adults sleeping soundly eliminating a motel, that usually wasn’t the case. Beautiful car, wouldn’t take much. Superman would be proud!

    Like 16
    • jmolsn Member

      Nash even sold roll up mattresses and screens to over the open windows!!

      Like 9
    • jack davis

      Is this the Nash that has bed capabilities?

      Like 2
    • Mountainwoodie

      HoA- I hear ya.

      It appears that the restoration stopped short of the undercarriage. Weird that the interior would survive in a barn.Wheres the critters? The floor must have been dirt or there was a heck of a lot of moisture about but none got in the cabin? Weird. Looks like smeone has put in a bid though it is sale pending. On a side note…..I just cant grasp someone flipping a car like this and not try to get in running shape………..my curiousity would be killing me……….

      Beautiful car……….

      Like 1
    • James HGF

      The wink, wink, nudge, nudge, Nash AMC fold down seats bunkum needs to disappear unless a social or cultural anthropologist documents it as other than puerile gibberish. No one mentions the 1937 Volvo P52 (full bed when parked), the 1937 – 1948 Nash bed option, the Peugeot 403 and 404. We can even toss in the 2CV with removable seats for le pique-nique. A couple of horses to far?

      The very complete Motorland listing for a 1939 Nash LaFayette Bed-in-Car they sold is impressive. Scroll through the large photographs for details of interest and several illustrations then roll the eleven minute tape of the 1939 Ambassador Six.

      1939 Nash Lafayette Bed-in-Car:


      Like 2
  12. BlondeUXB Member

    Lois Lane limousine…

    Like 4
  13. MKG

    I have a 1949 Airflyte 600 Super with 18, 6xx miles on it. Just put brakes and tires on it and have driven it about 50 miles. Smoothest ride I think I ever felt. 4 wheel coil springs. A real head turner, lol.

    Like 10
  14. Gerard Frederick

    What a beauty! I wish I were in a position to park it in my garage – what an absoluite gas!

    Like 2
  15. Guggie 13

    My Grandfather had one of these I think a 1950 it had a pod on the steering wheel with all insturments and gauges in it , very soomth and quiet riding car , Dad used to call it Pa’s, Nash .

    Like 3
    • Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac Diva Member


      Isn’t it amazing the things we used to do before the government stepped in “to protect” us!

      And we all survived

      Like 5
  16. Graham Line

    Turning radius on these was 21 or 22 feet. Needing four acres to turn it around suggests a problem other than the car. My mom had no trouble getting around in one in the early ’50s.

    Like 4
  17. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry

    Howard I do believe Kaisers also had gold down seats.
    God bless America

    Like 0
    • Eric_13cars Eric_13cars Member

      Our 51 Kaiser Traveler did not have fold down front seats, but given that the rear was the first hatchback, the back seat behaved like a standard station wagon back seat…seat rolled forward to vertical and the backrest folded down to create a large cargo area. We used to ride back from the swimming hole sitting in the back with the hatch up. That’s right, no seat belts but Ma was a careful driver for the 2 miles it took to get home from the Croton River.

      Like 3
      • MKG

        The Kaiser Traveler and Frasier Vagabond were America’s first hatchbacks.

        Like 0
  18. PeterfromOz

    (1) Note that there is really no inlet and exhaust manifold. Nash engineers don’t appear to have been concerned with gas flow. If they were, the engine could have been more flexible and powerful.
    (2) Note the old style waterpump on the side of the block driven through the generator. Other manufacturers stopped using this type 25 years earlier.
    (3) The two turbine air blowers for the interior look to be so large that you could turn them around and blow them into the carburettor for extra power on demand!!!

    Like 3
  19. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. Assuming all the parts are available, there are no serious rust problems to speak of, restoring such a car can be done.

    Like 0
  20. GT

    In addition to the Mash oddness PeterfromOz pointed out above, weren’t these 6-volt positive ground electrical systems?

    Like 0
  21. William Cockayne

    Crosley still had a water pump driven off the generator in 1951. And a 6 volt positive ground electrical system. Worked fine. My dad always had Nash and Rambler cars when I was young. Just going through some old papers and found a receipt for a muffler, 4 shocks and a tailpipe put on his 64 Rambler American wagon by Sears. $34.95 parts and $19.00 labor!

    Like 2
  22. Graham Line

    6-volt systems were pretty common through the early ’50s.

    Like 1

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