Car of the Week: 1955 Nash Ambassador

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1955 Nash Ambassador Country Club hardtop

Shortly before his death in 1954, Nash Motors president George W. Mason enjoyed a partial realization of his dream to merge the independent auto manufacturers into a large conglomerate the better to compete with the likes of GM, Ford and Chrysler. In May 1954, Nash and Hudson merged to form American Motors. 1955 was the first model year for merged production of the two marques. In the full-sized lines, separate identity was retained, but both nameplantes were put on what was basically a Nash body.

The 1955 Nash Statesman had a completely revised version of the 1952’s “Golden Anniversary” styling. One striking new feature was a “Scena-Ramic” wraparound windshield. A sense of increased length was through the use of a long character molding from front to rear fenders, while the headlights were enclosed in a redesigned concave, oval-shaped grille that sported multiple vertical chrome dividers. Custom models came equipped with a continental spare tire mount that actually did increase overall vehicle length by 10 inches.


1955 Nash Ambassador four-door sedan

The 1955 Nash Ambassador six received the same appearance embellishments as the ’55 Statesman, including: new wraparound windshield, new long character moldings from front to rear fender, and headlights enclosed in a redesigned oval-concave grille.

The year 1955 marked the entry of Nash and sister marque Hudson into the high-compression OHV V-8 sweepstakes then rampant in the U.S. automotive marketplace with the introduction of an overhead valve V-8 in the Ambassador line. Not quite ready yet with an appropriate engine of its own, the recently formed American Motors looked outside its own walls and settled on a 320-cid power plant purchased from Packard. The big V-8 was only offered teamed up with a Twin Ultramatic transmission, also supplied by Packard. The 1955 Nash Abassador V-8 was distinguished by V-8 emblems on its rear fenders and Ambassador (custom or Super) V-98 emblimes on front fenders. Styling was otherwise the same as on the Ambassador six.


1955 Nash Ambassador Country Club hardtop

Nash Rambler received a minor facelift over 1954. New features incuded the addition of a cellular grille and full wheel cutouts in the front fenders. Both Nash and Hudson marketed versions of the Rambler in 1955.

Nash had a slow start in 19555, but once started, ovied along at a brisk pace. The company wound up the year with model year sales of 109,102 vehicles. Calendar-year output was 83,852 Ramblers and 51,315 Nashes for 10th place in the industry. Dealer contests and sales promotions were instrumental in stimulating sales. A total of 81,237 Nash/Hudson vehicles were built, the highest run ever for the brands. An added feather in Rambler’s cap was its consistent holding of the No. 1 spot in used car value, as reflected in NADA reports.

PRODUCTION

ENGINES

AMBASSADOR SIX: Inline. Overhead valve. Displacement: 252.6 cid. Bore and stroke: 3.50 x 4.375 inches. Compression ratio: 7.6:1. Brake hp: 130 at 3700 rpm. Seven main bearings. Solid valve lifters. Carburetor: Carter one-barrel type YH-895-S.

AMBASSADOR V-8: Overhead valve. Cast iron block. Displacement: 320 inches. Bore and stroke: 3-13/16 x 3-1/2 inches. Compression ratio: 7.8:1. Brake hp: 208 at 4200 rpm. Non-adjustable hydraulic valve lifters. Five main bearings. Carburetor: Carter two-barrel Model WGD.

CHASSIS
Wheelbase: 121.3 inches. Overall length: 209.3 inches; (219.3 inches with continental kit) Front tread: 59.7 inches. Rear tread: 60.5 inches. Tires: 7.10 x 15.


1955 Nash Ambassador Country Club hardtop

OPTIONS
320-cid 208-hp V08 engine with Twin Ultramatic transmission. Radio. Electric antenna. Visor vanity mirror. Nonglare rearview mirror. Outside mirror. Spotlight and mirror. Wire wheel covers. Back-up lights. Windshield washer. Fog lights. Rear window wiper. Trunk light. Electric clock. Air mat. Hand spotlight. Plastic screens. Luggage carrier. Door top shades. Curb-L-Arms. Sola-cell cooling system. Dyna-Flyte dual plate distributor. Oil filter. Fuel filter. Gas filler guard. Hood ornament. Door edge guards. Exhaust extension. License plate frame.

COLLECTIBILITY
Nash merged with Kelvinator in 1937, but unlike an appliance, the 1955 Nash Ambassador was a take-notice automobile, even at a time when other automakers were beginning to offer high performance or chrome-enriched glitz. By 1957, the Nash name would disappear completely after earlier being folded into the American Motors Corporation along with Hudson. This makes the “swan-song” cars produced during Nash’s final years quite appealing to not just Nash enthusiasts, but also collectors with a history bent. The appeal of the 1955 Ambassador is derived from its innovative “inboard” headlamps and “Scena-Ramic” wrap-around windshield. It also offered a new 220-hp Jetfire V-8 coupled to the Packard-produced Ultramatic Drive, which helped remind car shoppers that an appliance background need not mean boring cars.

COLLECTOR VALUES
1955 Nash Ambassador

Six-cylinder Series

Four-door Super Sedan

No. 1 condition: $18,100
No. 2 $12,670
No. 3 $8,150
No. 4 $3,620

Four-Door Custom Sedan
No. 1 condition $18,200
No. 2 $12,740
No. 3 $8,190
No. 4 $3,640

Two-door Custom Country Club
No. 1 condition $21,500
No. 2 $15,050
No. 3 $9,680
No. 4 $4,300

Eight-cylinder series

Four-door Super Sedan
No. 1 condition $18,200
No. 2 $12,740
No. 3 $8,190
No. 4 $3,640

Four-Door Custom Sedan
No. 1 condition $19,200
No. 2 $13,440
No. 3 $8,640
No. 4 $3,840

Two-door Custom Country Club
No. 1 condition $21,500
No. 2 $15,050
No. 3 $9,680
No. 4 $4,300

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