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Sunday, October 31, 2010

1937 Nash

 Nash was imported from the United States in 1937 selling 1,484 passenger cars in the Dominion that year, its best showing since 1932.
It was the spring of 1916 when Charles Nash called reporters to his  office at General Motors. During the press conference the automotive mogul announced he was stepping down as president of the world’s largest automaker. When asked what he would do, Nash replied, “Go fishing.” Indeed he did—Nash reeled in the Jeffery Company in Kenosha, Wisconsin and prepared to place his own name on the radiator of his own car.

1917 Nash
Replacing Rambler and Jeffery, the first Nash automobile appeared in 1917. The man’s sterling reputation with the public for high quality was appreciated and Nash was an instant hit with buyers.  

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The Wisconsin manufacturer began exporting cars and trucks to Canada in 1921. The company advertised agressively, taking out full-page advertisements in leading magazines, including Canadian Motorist. Copy bragged, “Nash Leads the World in Motor Car Value,” and listed dealers in Fredericton, Halifax, Quebec City, Montreal, Winnipeg, Regina, Calgary, Vancouver and Victoria.

In 1928 records show 2,440 Nash passenger cars being sold throughout the Dominion and that figure jumped by more than a thousand units to 3,459 in 1929. That would be the last of the good years as the Great Depression swept the world, though Nash had exceptionally deep pockets. Only 326 Nash passenger cars were sold here in 1935 but the outlook was encouraging as that number rose ever so slightly to 536 units delivered in 1936.
A Nash LaFayette 400 two-door, three-passenger Business Coupe cost $973 f.o.b. Toronto.

The 1937 Nash line was introduced on October 15, 1936. Gone was LaFayette as a separate make, the low-priced companion car was now the base model. The Nash LaFayette 400 shared styling with its larger kin but it rode on a trim 117-inch wheelbase and got around courtesy of a 90-horsepower Monitor-Sealed engine. Three- and five-passenger coupes, a two-door Victoria Trunk Sedan and a four-door Trunk Sedan made up the entry level Nash line. While a stylish Cabriolet was available in other markets, there appears to be no evidence it was sold in Canada.

Interior of the LaFayette 400 included a rich, dark mahogany look instrument panel embellished with chromium strips. The speedometer boasted large figures on a brushed silver dial.  Ad copy read, “Nash presents…a new kind of low-priced car! A car that will enable thousands of former small-car owners to drive a bigger, more beautiful, better-engineered car, yet a car that costs little more than the lowest-priced cars!” 

 The 1937 Nash Ambassador Six Victoria Sedan sold for $1,253, f.o.b. Toronto.
The Nash Ambassador Six was berthed upstream of the LaFayette 400. The larger Nash rode a 121-inch wheelbase. The extra length was positioned ahead of the cowl to showcase the 95-horsepower Valve-in-Head Twin Ignition six-cylinder mill. The Ambassador Six was dressier than the LaFayette, from stern to its hood ornament. Three- and five-passenger Coupes were available, a Victoria Sedan, A Cabriolet and a four-door Sedan. 

Interiors were finished in broadcloth fabric with tufting, braiding and edging of custom-upholstered seats. Ambassadors were fitted with a folding centre armrest both front and rear.  

The posh instrument panel of the 1937 Nash Ambassador boasted gold inlay on the speedometer.

The Six and The Six and Eight were dressed with a beautiful instrument panel that carried an oversized speedometer dial with figures etched in glass and inlaid in gold. This was flanked by a full compliment of gauges. Twin panels finished in oxidized silver  were laid over a background of rich, dark mahogany. Controls were located in the centre, between the silver panels. A nifty light on the speedometer indicated to the driver that long-range headlight beam was on.

 The most expensive Nash in 1937 was the Ambassador Eight Cabriolet with Rumble Seat. The price tag for the 3,620-pound ragtop was $1,701, f.o.b. Toronto.
Last but not least was the Ambassador Eight. The flagship Nash rode on an impressive 125-inch wheelbase and its Valve-in-Head Twin Ignition engine developed 105 horsepower. Once again, the extra inches were added ahead of the cowl to draw attention to the longer, more powerful engine. The Ambassador Eight was topped with an elegant hood ornament, one befitting such a beauty. Other niceties included a deluxe three-spoke “banjo” steering wheel and an exceptionally large, illuminated glove compartment. 

Ad copy bragged, “Nash Ambassador Eight for 1937 establishes a standard of value never before approached in the fine–car field. In the flawless beauty of its flowing lines; in the graceful sweep of its fenders; in its imposing size, in its striking radiator design; you will instantly recognize an aristocrat among today’s fine cars.”

Standard equipment included two chrome bumpers with bumper guards, two taillights, a license plate light, two parking lights, a spare tire and wheel, front door arm rests, assist straps in four-door sedans, a roller shade on rear window, a rear compartment ash tray, as well as one on the instrument panel. A sun visor was standard as was a rear-view mirror a windshield wiper and a parcel compartment in the instrument panel.

When ordered with the optional bed, one's Nash became a roadside Hilton. Note the front seat is fixed.
The Twin-Ignition, eight-cylinder Nash engine cranked out 105 horses in 1937.
Optional equipment included mohair or leather trimmed upholstery, seats that made into beds, rear wheel shields (skirts), hot water headers with windshield defrosters, radios, electric clocks, cigar lighters, chromium wheel mouldings, twin horns. Other accessories were available as well but one would have to chat with one’s Nash dealers to know more.  

1937 would be an unforgettable year of change at Nash Motors. The company recognized the United Auto Workers as the sole union and gave workers a 20 percent hike in wages, after a strike. Charles Nash was 72 years old and had no heir apparent. He purchased Kelvinator, maker of refrigerators and home appliances, for the talents of its president, George Mason. The king of refrigerators had an automotive background. Stints at Studebaker and Maxwell appeared on his resume. 

The new company was called Nash-Kelvinator. It was the largest merger in business history. Jokes abounded that all Kelvinators would sport four-wheel brakes and Nash cars would have ice trays in the glove box.

A total of 1,484 Nash cars were sold in the nine provinces in 1937. It was the company’s best finish in five years.

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Copyright James C. Mays 2005 All rights reserved.


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