Rare 1953 Nash-Healey Found

1953 Nash-Healey

Everyone knows the Austin-Healey sports cars, but we would understand if you had never heard of a Nash-Healey. This car was the result of a joint project between Donald Healey and Nash Motors. It was actually the first American sports car built by a major manufacturer after the war. With a Nash Ambassador engine under the hood, it may not have been the hottest car out there, but with only a little over 500 produced, it is a very rare sight today! This particular one has seen better days, but these don’t come to market in project form very often so it’s worth a look. Find it here on eBay where it’s listed with a reserve.

Stripped Interior

The engine is missing as is the title. There rust in the frame and a cross-member has been cut. Unfortunately, it looks like someone has stripped most of the trim inside too. Without all the model specific bits, this thing is going to be a challenge to restore. With such low production numbers there aren’t many spare parts floating around, but we hope that someone with the right resources is able to restore it. These were handsome cars with lots of interesting history behind them so every single one deserves to be saved.

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Comments

  1. Jason

    Maybe Mike and Frank will buy this one, too.

    • Scotty G

      Nice American Pickers reference, sir! Seeing that AMC dealership was pretty wild.

    • Glen

      As soon as I saw this listing, I thought of Mike and Frank.

  2. Rex Kahrs Member

    Wait, YOU were the first sports car built by a major manufacturer after the war? Proofreading…it’s a good thing for a writer to do. It really is.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      Thanks for catching that Rex. All fixed. We do proofread, but there’s bound to be a few errors when you crank out the amount of content we do everyday.

      • Rex Kahrs Member

        Sure Jesse, I understand. I suppose I’ve blown my chance to write for you guys now. D’oh!

      • Rob

        Errors or not, I appreciate the quantity (& quality) that you guys are posting nowadays. I remember not too long ago when we’d get an update every few days…. I’d say that you guys are rocking it now! Thx!

  3. ed

    love these but how exactly do you get the title for this ( or any car ) ?

  4. Brian

    this is the same one you featured back in Oct 21, 2011

    • Patrick McC.

      I noticed that, too!

  5. Matt Tritt

    My pappy, Bill Tritt, of Glasspar, collaborated with Donald Healy on the building of the fiberglass bodies for these cars. Healy was so smitten with the G2 and Glasspar boats that he attempted to get production rights for all Glasspar products for the UK a few years later.

    • Hector

      Don’t know how to break this to you, but I’m damn near sure no Nash Healey including prototypes came with a fiberglass body, and I am absolutely 100% certain no production Nash Healey had a fiberglass body. George Mason at Nash considered fiberglass for a while when he mulled over building the whole thing in the U.S., but all the Tickford styled 1951 models had aluminum bodies built by Panelcraft in the U.K. http://www.acmefluid.com.au/nash/panelcraft.html and all the the cars from 1952 to 1955 were Pininfarina manufactured steel bodies. The one-off Bill Flajole styled Nash Healey (http://m.cdn.blog.hu/au/autohistory/image/Flajole/Bill%20Flajole%20design%20for%20Nash-Healey_02.jpg) built for Ted Williams by Johnson Wax might be fiberglass, but that only possibility I can think of, and it was a custom and not from Nash.

      • Andy

        What makes you think it’s a fibreglass body?

      • James

        Thanks for reminding us of the “Ted Williams Special”. After reviewing the July 2006 article by Pat Foster and comparing your photo and Foster’s photo with pics of ’51 Nash Healeys it is obvious this car is a customized Panelcraft car. William Fljole’s restyling as explained by Foster certainly mimics to some extent his earlier design for the Nash NXI concept car that led ultimately to the production Metropolitan. One item not mentioned is gas cap was moved from inside the trunk to left rear fender. See Foster’s article:

        http://www.hemmings.com/hcc/stories/2006/07/01/hmn_feature12.html

        Like you I’ve never heard any mention of a fibreglass bodied Nash or Alvis Healey nor have I seen/read anything about a wrecked Healey being returned to the road with a fibreglass body from any source.

    • James

      Matt – Here’s a link with several great photos of Panelcraft building the alloy bodies for the first series of Nash Healeys.

      http://www.acmefluid.com.au/nash/panelcraft.html

      Facts often get jumbled over the years a bit here, a smidge there, and what was becomes transmogrified into something alien…that’s life.

  6. Rick

    Clark Kent drove a Nash Healy in more than one of the early episodes of the old b/w Superman TV series.

  7. Al8apex

    Early Buick Riviera steering wheel is worth some $$$

  8. 64 bonneville

    many 1953 Nash parts will work on this car. much of the interior nd drive train were factory Nash parts. start pricing Nash parts to get a real rough idea as to what it would cost you. I think the seat cushions were stock Nash units, but done up in leather.

  9. Howard A Member

    These are pretty cool cars. I think the 2 biggest problems with them, was it should have had the Cadillac V-8, that Healey originally wanted, and the price. Almost $6,000 ( $53,000 today) when you could get a new Corvette for half that in ’53. Wiki claims, the drivelines were made in Kenosha, shipped to England for the frames, and then to Italy for the bodies, then shipped back to the US. While this car still retains the look, this would be an astronomical costing restoration. Since there are so few, every one, as stated, I suppose, is worth saving. Another little known fact ( to me, anyway) Donald Healey gave the 1st production car to Petula Clark in 1951. Hmmm, I wonder what that was all about?

    • Hector

      The Petula Clark Nash-Healey story has another level. Ann Hedges, the daughter of one of the Panelcraft directors, who was photographed in the driver’s seat of the first Nash-Healey when she was four (http://www.acmefluid.com.au/nash/hedges.jpg), has allegedly said that Nash nor Donald Healey ever paid for the first car built, and it was Panelcraft who gave the car to Ms. Clark, not Healey.

      • James

        Ann Hulme’s (the former Ann Hedges) story of Cecil Hedges (her father) saying that Panelcraft “was never paid for the car” and that it was Panelcraft who gave PET 1 to Petula Clark sounds apocryphal.

        The Healy company would have owned all the completed Nash Healey chassis from number one on. They of course contracted with Panelcraft Sheet Metal, Ltd for the bodies. It’s difficult to imagine that the Healey company would have paid for constructing all the bodies except one particularly the first production unit.

        Here’s the Nash Healey Owner’s photo (same as yours) with Hulme’s story:

        http://nashhealeyowners.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Nash-Healey-number-1.pdf

  10. Marty Member

    One of these rare cars also appears in the movie “Sabrina”. Not the1990s Harrison Ford remake, but the 1954 original with Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. It belongs to William Holden’s character, and is shown numerous times throughout.

  11. dm

    One of these was occasionally parked in the street on my way to grade school back in central Iowa. The car had no Nash-Healey emblems on it, but that name was still visible on the left front fender. The name showed where the missing emblem had been painted over.

  12. mike young

    Great stuff. Thx for all facts guys !…esp the “Pet” story….

  13. Matt Tritt

    It isn’t fiberglass! The brownish color showing through the top paint appears to be the same as polyester resin used in early glass bodies, but it isn’t. The low resolution of the photos doesn’t help much either. The glass bodies for Healy never happened and Pinifarina wouldn’t have made them if they had.

  14. Tom Householder

    FYI
    I do find evidence of Panelcraft using fiberglass resin to do fine filling over the welded joints of the larger panels they put together

    • Matt Tritt

      Probably polyester resin with a sandable filler. We used chopped asbestos as the filler at the Hudson River Boat Company, which dad formed after leaving Glasspar in 1961. Because of the hazardous filler compounds commonly used in those days, it’s prudent to use a good particulate mask when doing body work on low production/custom cars made from 1950 through 1974. My stepmother died of asbestos poisoning just from washing my dad’s work clothing.

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