This article was written by Mr. John Conde of AMC public relations
and released for publication on September 8, 1975.
Nash Motors (which in 1954 became a division of American Motors
Corporation) early in 1951 brought out the Nash-Healey, the first
sports car to be introduced by a U.S. manufacturer in 20 years.
Donald Healey, managing director of the Donald Healey Motor Company of
Warwick, England had built a car using a Nash Ambassador engine and
drive line which he entered in the 24-hour LeMans endurance race in
July, 1950. So well did the sports car perform in the French race
(finishing fourth) that Nash elected to contract for a limited number
of the sports model.
For the new production Nash-Healey, the high-compression, 6-cylinder
Nash Ambassador engine was fitted with an aluminum head and dual
carburetors. Overdrive was standard. The prototype, which had an
aluminum body built by the Healey company, was shown publicly for the
first time at the Paris Automobilc Show in early fall of 1950.
Production began in December, 1950. In that month, 36 models were
built. An additional 68 were produced in January, February and March
of 1951 -- making a total of 104 Healey-bodied Nash-Healey two-door
The initial 1951 Nash-Healey included, as standard equipment, leather
upholstery, adjustable steering wheel, directional signals, chrome
wheel discs, foam rubber cushions and five 4-ply whitewall tires.
Standard colors were Champagne Ivory and Sunset Maroon. (No other
colors were available.)
The 6-cylinder engine, of 234.8-cubic inch displacement (3847 c.c.),
had 125 horsepower, 8:1 compression ratio, 7-main-bearing crankshaft;
intake manifold sealed-in-head and two S.U. side-draft carburetors.
Other details -- torque-tube drive; rear coil springs; tires 6.40 x
15; 20 U.S. gallon fuel tank; plexiglas side windows. Dimensions, --
overall length 170 inches, width 60 inches, wheelbase 102 inches,
tread 53 inches front and rear, turning radius 17 feet 6 inches, road
clearance 7 inches, weight 2400 pounds.
No Nash-Healeys were made from April, 1951 until January, 1952, when
an entirely new roadster body was created by Pinin Farina of Turin,
Italy. A total of 150 of these 1953 roadster models were produced in
By this time, the Nash-Healey was truly an international car. The
engine and main parts were manufactured by Nash at its plant in
Kenosha, Wisconsin, then shipped to England, where the chassis with
"trailing link" front-end suspension was added by the Donald Healey
Company. The chassis with engines were then shipped to Turin, Italy,
where the custom bodies were built by hand by Farina. The new Farina
designed Nash-Healey was shown for the first time at the Chicago
Automobile Show in February, 1952.
A Nash-Healey took first place in its class (behind a Ferrari and a
Talbot) and third among all entries in the 1952 LeMans sports car race
in France. Of the 58 cars that had started, only 17 finished.
In January, 1953, a Farina-designed hardtop model was added to the
Nash-Healey series. In 1953, a total of 162 roadsters and hardtops
Dimensions of the two models were as follows:
Overall Overall Overall Tread, Tread,
Wheelbase Length Width Height Front Rear
Roadster 102" 170.75" 64" 48.65" 53" 54.87"
Hardtop 108" 180.5" 65.87" 55" 53" 54.87"
All Nash-Healeys with the Donald Healey Company body had the
234.8-cubic-inch (3.8. litre) engine or "small six". A few of the
early models with Farina bodies also had this engine. All others were
powered by the larger bore 258.6-cubic-inch (4.1-litre) engine which
used a pair of side-draft Carter carburetors in place of the earlier
S.U. carburetor versions. How to ascertain which engine is in a
Nash-Healey model is to check the car serial and engine numbers. If
the serial number is under N-2250 and if the engine number. is below
N-1163, it is a 3.8-litre engine. If the numbers are higher, the car
has a 4.1-litre engine.
The 1953 Nash-Healey hardtop (designated as the LeMans hardtop) was
awarded first prize in March of that year in the Italian International
Concours D'elegance held at Tresa, Italy.
From January 1954 through August of 1954, a total of 90 hardtop
Nash-Healey models (designated as 1954 models) were built, The 1954
hardtop featured rear window pillars that sloped to the front. No
roadsters were made in 1954. This brought to 402 the number of
Nash-Healeys with Farina bodies. It also brought an end to the
production of the famed Nash-Healey sports car, with a total of 506
having been built from December 1950 through August 1954.
Additional Information on the 1951 Nash-Healey
Provided by Michael Feingold