In 1951, Nash introduced America’s first post-war sports car. This stylish little car was the result of an unlikely and chance meeting of two men at the polar opposite ends of the automotive industry. While aboard the England-bound Queen Elizabeth, the rather conservative Nash-Kelvinator president, George W. Mason, and British sports car builder Donald Healey met and found they got along quite well. Healey was fresh from an unsuccessful meeting with GM where he was attempting to procure a run of Cadillac V8 engines to drop into the Healey Silverstone sports car. Cadillac wanted none of it. George Mason wanted a halo car to lift the somewhat stodgy Nash lineup, so a deal was made to supply modified Nash Ambassador six-cylinder engines, transmissions and axles to the Donald Healey Motor Company in England and the Nash-Healey was born. Early cars featured an alloy body designed by Healey and built by Panel Craft in England. Cars were assembled at Healey and shipped back to the US. The first Nash-Healey was a lovely little car with brisk performance, but for 1952, it was restyled to incorporate a more cohesive look with the rest of the Nash lineup. So yet another unlikely partner was brought in; Pininfarina of Italy was contracted to handle the design and construction of the new bodies. Now, drivetrains were sent from Nash in the USA to Healey in England where they were mated to modified Silverstone chassis, then sent off to Italy for body fitment and final assembly before being sent back across the pond to their home market. As one would expect, this was a very expensive endeavor and the 1953 Nash Healey cost $5,908 compared to the Corvette’s $3,513. Healey soon moved on to focus his efforts on the home grown Austin-Healey and sales of the Nash sagged. Despite the addition of an attractive coupe to the lineup, the Nash-Healey did not survive past 1955 when the last few leftover ‘54’s were sold off. Only 507 were built in total, including the 90 LeMans coupes.
This outstanding 1954 Nash-Healey Roadster is from the final full year of production and is one of only 314 Pininfarina-built roadsters. In our 25 years of experience with Nash-Healeys, this is by far the best example we have ever had the pleasure to represent. This is a restoration done right, staring with a solid and complete car; never rusty, crashed or considered a project. It was treated to an extremely high quality restoration by the current owner, who did the work alongside Pebble Beach winning restorer Jacques Harguindeguy. “Frenchy”, as he was best known, won the Best in Show award at the 2000 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with a Delahaye he restored and his level of expertise is evident throughout this Nash-Healey. As per any high quality restoration, paint and panel fit are exceptional. The black paint over red leather interior is a striking combination and beautifully suited to the Pininfarina styling. Chrome trim and brightwork are beautifully finished. The expertly trimmed interior is finished off with a black canvas convertible top, all crafted to a very high standard. It retains the original radio, overdrive, and the original Nash engine still wears scarce original alloy cylinder head. Original dual Carter YH carburetors sit on a correct original manifold. For most Nash-Healey’s, the alloy head was often swapped out for a cheap standard iron Ambassador head during service, making the original alloy head a very rare component. In addition, it is fitted with an original heater, tool kit, proper quilted spare wheel cover and overdrive kickdown.
Few Nash-Healeys survived so complete and correct, and fewer still have been restored to such a high standard. Immaculate from the bottom up, this will surely be a welcome addition to any collection, and would make an ideal show car or a fine choice for touring and events.
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