By Cris Detwiler
My 1948 two-tone Canterbury Gray Nash Super 600 Brougham was purchased new by a Mr. Ferri. The car is a unitized body with coil springs on all four wheels. It has a L-head 172.6-cid, 82-hp, six-cylinder engine. It is known as a Super 600 because the car has a 30-gallon fuel tank and the vehicle can travel up to 20 miles per gallon — thus the car can travel 600 miles on one full tank of gas.
Mr. Ferri lived across the street from where my grandfather worked. Every day Mr. Ferri would come out of his house and look skyward. If it looked like rain, he would walk to work (approximately a half mile). One day he drove the car to work and it began to rain on the ride home. As he was hurrying to get the Nash in the garage, he started backing the car onto the driveway when another car came down the street and crashed into the left front of the car. The accident caused damage to the under carriage, fender, bumper and grille. The damage to the car was enough for the insurance company to ‘total’ the car. Mr. Ferri parked the Nash in his front yard with a “for sale” sign on it.
My grandfather saw the car then talked to Mr. Ferri and proceeded to purchase the car for $50 in 1950. My grandfather had a 1946 Nash Super 600 (two-tone green) that was on its last few miles so he took what parts he needed from the 1946 and replaced the damaged parts on the 1948. He drove the car everywhere, even though the two-tone gray had a green front fender. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. The car made several trips to the hunting camp where the temperatures were so cold that the other Fords and Chevys would not start, but my grandfather turned the key, pushed the clutch to the floor and the old Nash started every time. I’ve been told that many deer came home on the front fenders of the Nash.
My mother learned to drive in the Nash, but when she was ready to take her driving test, my grandfather bought a new 1956 Hudson because he wanted her to take her test with an automatic instead of a stick shift. 1963 was the last time the car was on the road. It sat in the garage until I turned driving age in 1980. At first, I wanted to make a street rod out of the Nash, but my father and grandfather would not let me. The Nash was used as transportation for three months in 1981 when I drove it to high school and for ice cream during the summer. In those three months, we must have put six fuel filters in it.
One night, my grandparents, my mother and I took the Nash to the local fast food restaurant for a late night snack. On the way back home the fuel filter clogged. I knew how to change the filter. I just raised the hood, stretched into the engine compartment and heard “is there a problem?” After I jumped three feet, I turned around to find a State Police officer standing with his flashlight. I explained the problem to him and told him that it would take 5 minutes to fix it and we would be on our way. Then I drove the Nash back to the garage where it was parked for another 15 years while I attended college and was out of state for work.
Around 1996, my grandfather decided to start restoring the Nash. The first thing he did was drop the gas tank and have it sealed so no more fuel filters needed to be replaced. He just started getting estimates for a new headliner when he was told that he had colon cancer. He struggled for two years but lost the battle. In 1999, my wife and I were married. I thought since my grandfather would not be attending, I would restore the Nash and use it in our wedding. However to get the Nash ready in six months would take a lot of work. My father and I finished restoring it except for the bumper and grill with one week to spare. We thought it would be best to repaint the car since the gray Nash still had a green left front fender. Mice had made nests in the back seat and headliner while it was in the garage for approximately 15 years. I was unable to find the seat material in the United States for the interior, so I ordered it from Australia for the restoration.
In 2001, we had the bumpers straightened and re-chromed, found a replacement grille and added the overdrive to keep up with modern traffic on the interstates. We decided to join the national Nash Car Club of America and have taken the Nash to shows in St. Joseph, Mich., Scranton, Pa., Pontiac, Mich., Auburn, Ind., Kenosha, Wis., and Cleveland, Ohio. We’ve also taken the car for the AACA Fall Meet in Hershey. On average, we drive the Nash about 1,000 miles a year. I felt that my grandfather would be pleased if I took the Nash to be judged and possibly receive a ‘senior’ award from the AACA. We took the car to Reading and the Nash received its First Junior. We then went to Carlisle to finally get its Senior Award in 2013 — not bad for a car that has been restored more than 10 years ago.
I hope to keep the Nash in the family and when my 11-year-old son becomes driving age, I’m hoping he has the same love for the car that I have had over the years. Every time we take the Nash to a show or even for a Sunday drive, I feel my grandfather is smiling down on me.
We travel to a lot of car swap meets looking for Nash accessories to put on display with the car. My best find was a 1948 Pennsylvania license plate that read ‘MY600’. Recently, the state of Pennsylvania has allowed the year of manufacturing to be placed on antique and classic cars so I have been able to use the plate for my Nash. Because of the fun we have had driving the Nash to shows and meets, it has led us to another Nash in the family, but that is another story.
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