Rub a Dub Dub: 1949 Nash Airflyte 600

Even though it isn’t Saturday night, it’s time for your weekly bath! This bathtub is a 1949 Nash Airflyte 600 and it’s on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $2,000 and there are only two days left for someone to jump in, or jump on this auction. This one is located in West Shokan, New York. There is also a 1951 Nash Statesman Special parts car that comes with it! According to Nash literature of the era, “Now you’ve seen EVERYTHING in postwar styling! No more ugly fender openings! Now a complete sweep of racing curves from massive front to perfect tear-drop back . . . from road to roof . . . and inside and out! Every line sings with action! There’s nothing like it on the road.”

Most of you already know that this era of the Nash was known by the bathtub nickname, obviously from its shape. The Nash 600 was made until 1949 and then the company renamed them as the Statesman. The 600 was named as such, reportedly, because of its ability to go 600 miles on a single tank of gas! It was also the first mass-produced unibody car in the US when it came out in 1941. They saved around 500 pounds in weight by eliminating the separate frame, that’s not an insignificant amount of weight, to say the least.

Yep, it’s easy to see why they got the nickname of the “bathtub”. This is a four-door sedan but they also made a two-door sedan in the same basic body style. In 1949, this new design was introduced based on the Airflyte series. The 600 was the lower-end series that competed with Plymouth, Ford, and Chevrolet, compared to the Nash Ambassador which moved up a notch to compete with Oldsmobile, Buick, Chrysler, Hudson, Mercury, and DeSoto. This particular Nash 600 looks really, really solid, but it has been stored in a barn for over 25 years and it’ll need some restoration work.

You’ll need new upholstery, windlace, door cards, and a few other things for the interior. If you don’t have enough legroom in the back seat area of a 1949 Nash 600, you know that you’re taller than most humans are. The trunk has a 28.5 cubic-foot capacity so you’ll have room for luggage for every one of your passengers. This would be a fantastic road trip car, smooth and quiet. Those enclosed wheels at both ends and the overall shape generated just 113 pounds of drag at 60 mph! Not to mention the unibody construction cutting down on squeaks and creaks. Jump in with 3-4-5 of your friends and go 600 miles between gas stops.

But, before you hit the road, you’ll have to do some troubleshooting to do in the engine compartment. This Nash 173 cubic-inch inline-six with 82 hp is apparently stuck from being stored for so long. It’s always unsettling to see an engine partially disassembled, you never know if everything was saved or how it was taken apart or if the parts are all there. I’m sure that most of the Barn Finds family of readers could have this engine purring again in no time.  Are there any fans of these bathtub Nashes out there? Would you restore this drivetrain or turn this car into a sleeper?

Fast Finds

Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Good heavens, West Shokan is where I stayed last summer ( Olivebridge, actually) Right on the Ashokan Reservoir, beautiful area, except for the police presence now. Ashokan Reservoir ( and 4 others) provide all the fresh water for NYC via underground aqua ducts. Amazing undertaking 100 years ago, they built them BY HAND! After 911, the DEP came in, built a huge facility, ( was 1 small house, and 2 patrol cars) with dozens of police cars, 4×4’s and air boats to patrol the area, for fear of a terrorist attack on the water. People from NY have the same sense of value as California, like everybody is a millionaire. It’s good to see a plausible amount for this. Be a great project, but unlike the Packard, I’d put a hemi in this thing, who’s frumpy now?

    Like 1
  2. JCW Jr.

    I normally prefer stock. This car just screams to be a sleeper. Should be enough room to put most any driveline in this one. With the right set up would be a good tow car and/or road trip car. Before cancer I was known to go a ways to look at and buy a car. So maybe a nice turbo diesel?

    Like 1
    • Jeffro

      I like your turbo diesel idea!

      Like 1
    • Larry K

      Agree and agree.

      Like 1
      • Bmac Bmac Member

        Excellent idea, will have to give it some thought!

    • Trickie Dickie Member

      How ironic to call this car a sleeper, which is exactly what it might have been used for. The front seats reclined all the way back and could be made into a double bed, an advertised feature. Many parents would not allow their daughters to go out with any kid showing up in a Nash like this. I am not kidding!

      Like 1
      • Peter

        @Trickie Dickie,

        Re: this:
        “Many parents would not allow their daughters to go out with any kid showing up in a Nash like this. I am not kidding!”

        I, for one, believe you, in that I’ve heard the same thing said about cars with fully-reclining seats, and the daughters that would ride in them.

        But as you seem to anticipate doubters of this premise, perhaps you could provide us with a bit more context and/or detail, regarding these miscreant daughters, and the (presumed) safety hazards posed by these multi-featured seats…. LOL ;-)

        Sorry…couldn’t help myself–it’s my birthday soon: I blame that! LOL

        Peter

        Like 1
    • Peter

      JCW Jr.,

      Sorry to hear about your cancer.

      Here’s wishing you a speedy recovery and a Happy, HEALTHY, Prosperous, Peaceful and Safe New Year!

      Sincerely,

      Peter

      Like 1
      • Trickie Dickie Member

        Peter…….with regard to the problem of errant daughters seeking a ride in a car with fully reclining seats…….I believe the main problem would be that in that seat down position, seat belts would be fully non-effective and thereby rendering the said female especially vulnerable to all kinds of physical damage. I do believe that would be the main concern of her parents. At least it would have been back when these Nash’s were just new and on the road. With the social mores of the current crop of young’s hard tell WHAT could happen. I am just sayin’

        Like 1
  3. Tirefriar

    How do change tires on this thing? Same system as Citroen via removable body panels?

    • Ed P

      You will need a jack, lug nut wrench, sweat, and lots of cursing.

      Like 1
    • Dave Wright

      Some of this vintage cars used bolts instead of studs and nuts to attach wheels. They slid out pretty well. Growing up in my dad’s tire shop……filling in during snow tire season…..you learned to be patient and just figure it out.

      Like 1
    • Howard A Member

      Hi Tirefriar, not quite. Like Dave sez, these had lug bolts, not studs and nuts. That extra inch or so, was enough for the tire to clear the fender. My ’50 Packard had lug bolts also. R & L handed threads. http://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/22/78/94/2278940617ca7d0f026d290669cad875.jpg

      Like 1
  4. Dan

    Leno’s Garage has an example of what it should be.

    https://youtu.be/oGopLn5Apf8

    Like 1
  5. Jay E.

    Didn’t know I liked it tilI saw Leno’s.

  6. Robert White

    Beautiful car that I would most assuredly leave completely stock. Given the price, I would take whatever time was necessary to completely rebuild that drivetrain top to bottom. Further, I have never seen this version of Nash. I’m a Metropolitan fan BIG time, but the ‘bathtub’ is just as impressive IMHO.

    Bob

  7. Sam

    Very cool in a nerdy, sleeper, Flash Gordon, art deco, post modern sense. All ideas are great, hemi sleeper, MB 300 TD or how about a good ‘ol 225 slant 6?

    Leave the exterior alone…do a nice interior.

    Like 1
  8. Dave Wright

    These were around when I was growing up. In those days, some makes of cars were smokers. They must have had soft blocks, rings or maby valve guides……these were one of those. Seems like even as fairly new cars they would commonly leave trails of blue smoke in there wake. This looks like a wonderful example, I am sure with the big bulbous body style and heavily padded mohair interior, similar to a Hudson, it is a comfortable and quiet ride. Would be a fun collector to own and enjoy. Geomechs, What do you know about these?

    Like 1
    • dr fine

      I remember Studebakers always trailing blue smoke. It’s my understanding that it was due to the rings, and after Chrysler make great advances in metallurgy in the early fifties, you could expect 90 or 100 thousand miles from rings instead of the 40,000 that had always marked the end of a car’s life. My ’94 Camaro 3.4 litre has over 360,000 miles on it and still doesn’t use oil.

      Like 1
      • Dave Wright

        We forget what the “good old days” were like. I remember that with Studes too….. not with Chrysler products. Do you remember the huge ridges that would develop in the top of cylinders…..haven’t seen one of those for a long time either.

  9. Ben T. Spanner

    My Father had a flat head 1951 Dodge. The head gasket blew on vacation in Kentucky. Two guys attacked the job with one on each side of the engine. The even checked the head with a straight edge. All back and running in an hour or two.

    This would be a lot easier to resurrect than the old DOHC Jaguars i used to chase after. Parts were always missing.

    Like 1
  10. racer99

    Would be so tempted to resto-mod it with stock looking exterior, as wide a tire as you could fit underneath, upgraded brakes and something neat in the engine bay — maybe a Nissan 280Z turbo drivetrain, late model Jeep 4.0, or I like the turbo-diesel idea. It would just have to be something different to match the exterior. Engine compartment doesn’t look wide enough to go V8 if you want to add PS and a/c. I like it.

  11. rumpfox

    my dad had one of these when he was dating my mom. he always bragged how the front seat back layed down and made a full size bed I’ve still got picks of it. said It was a real oil burner. back then oil wasn’t much, cost or quality

  12. Jack Quantrill

    World’s ugliest car! Worse than the Pontiac Aztec!

    • Tirefriar

      The above comment made me understand the need for “thumbs down” button

      Like 5
      • AMCFAN

        Jack Quantrill, Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have owned a 51 Nash and currently have a Pontiac Aztek Ralley. Comparing the two because of looks alone isn’t fair. The Nash and Aztek are very practical. In defense to the Aztek which has enjoyed a resurgence in interest due largely to to the title character Walter White in Breaking Bad ride of choice. Why I had to have one.

        The similarities are those who are into the great outdoors like the Nash you can camp out at night in it. An Aztek has an optional tent kit with an air mattress No denying the fact that it is roomy. You can haul a full sheet of plywood in the back. The console doubles as a lunch box/ cooler you can remove and carry along. It doesn’t look like a minivan. Nice examples will be collectible in the not too distant future but make nice cheap rides right now. I bought mine for $1200 (and wouldn’t take $5K for it) and has a two page window sticker due to the amount of optional equipment. In 2005 there were less then 5000 made. Like the Nash you won’t see yourself coming or going.

        Like 2
      • Mike H. Mike H

        As I’m sure you know, AMC also marketed a tent kit for the Hornet Hatchback in the mid-’70’s. . .

        Like 2
    • JCW Jr.

      Hey, I got one of those. Aztek that is. Kinda grows on you.

      Like 1
      • Brakeservo

        So you say it “kinda grows on you” . . . well, I’m sure a good dermatologist can take care of that for ya! When I lived in Oregon mold too was a big problem, an’ all sorts o’ fungas’ would grow on one . . .

      • ed p

        Like a wart?

  13. Frank Opalka

    Always loved that Nash, joined club, they sold screens to put in windows at nite,no motel needed

    Like 1
  14. ccrvtt

    I was brought home from the hospital in 1950 in one of these. It was dark green over light green, my dad’s car. He worked for Nash Kelvinator in Detroit at the time. It had the reclining seats and it is one of the cars in my Dream Car Garage. This one’s a bit rough. My fantasy is to have one with a modern straight 6 like a Chevy 4.2 and painted deep metallic blue over a silver blue. New interior with mouse fur upholstery of course. Great find. Love these cars.

    Like 1
  15. Greg Thueson

    I thought that the 1934 Chrysler Airflow was the first uni-body car, not the Nash. Am I wrong??? My Dad had a Nash and we loved road trips in it back in the 50’s. Sadly, I remember my brother driving it to the junk yard when the engine knock became too loud. Wish I had that car today. My brother did remove the “flying lady laying on wings” (hood ornament) that he has always cherished, before he walked away.

  16. John

    Similar styling to a Hudson (that I would love to have but oh the prices). Cheap buy in but parts availability nonexistent?

    Like 1
  17. AMCFAN

    Mike H you are partially correct. The picture is that of a Hornet hatchback (74-77 from the bumpers) But yes the camping package was available from AMC in the 1970’s.

    Also as a few have mentioned swapping different motors .The Nash engine bay is small and not optimal for an engine swap for anything other then the size of its original engine without major firewall work. Also would effect the “Weather Eye” heating and ventilation. The torque tube drive shaft and rear axle will also have to be addressed.

    I did a swap with a 54 Nash to a later AMC 258 which made sense. Used a rear from a Ford Fairmont. Had 4 link rear suspension. One thing that got past was the fact that the suspension had to be unbolted to remove the rear wheels! As with any custom project one factory thing you change you have to do a dozen other things to correct it. Leave this Tub alone and fix what’s here.

    Like 1
  18. Brakeservo

    If these were so aerodynamic, why didn’t we see them at Bonneville, where ’53 Studes are practically ubiquitous? I hated this style when I was a kid, love it now!

    • Dave Wright

      They were there………just behind the smoke screen……..

  19. Scotty Staff

    A painful auction update: this fantastic project car sold for $2,900! Ouch.

    Like 1
  20. Raul Shimizu

    I have the ’49 Ambassador “Custom”, and it cruises along very nicely with the overhead valve 6 and Borg Warner Overdrive. It is very quiet and solid. Changing the tires is no problem at all, don’t let the enclosed fenders fool you. The parts are very easy to get and inexpensive. Carter WA 1 carb, Delco Remy electrics, and 6 volt positive ground.

    Like 3

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