Your faithful correspondent was on hand when the Nash Car Club of America’s Niagara Frontier Region held its 2009 Eastern Region Nashional Aug. 4-8 in Batavia, N.Y., a short drive from Niagara Falls.
Early and late Metropolitans of both coupe and convertible
configurations were featured in a class of their own.
And what a show it was! Under the guidance of meet co-chairs Ken and Dera Day and Eastern Division Director John Palese, this year’s event boasted 79 old cars in attendance. Part of the show’s charm was the club’s open-mindedness about including other independent-brand automobiles. Pretty much any independent make could display on the show field. So, in addition to some really incredible Nashes, there were several Hudsons, at least one Crosley, a couple of Bantams, two or three Kaisers, a beautiful yellow 1955 Packard plus a host of Ramblers and AMC cars of various vintage. There was even a vintage Flxible bus on hand giving free rides to all!
From left, a 1937 Nash Ambassador, 1940 Nash sedan and a special
1940 Nash convertible represented the company’s efforts in the era just
before World War II.
Highlights of the show included Reggie Nash’s outstanding de Sahknofsky-designed 1940 Nash Special Roadster, a stunning restoration of a very rare and beautiful car, along with a pair of Nash-Healey’s and a sharp 1955 Nash Ambassador sedan.
But one car held particular interest for us: Paul Lehman’s 1951 Nash Rambler convertible. This was only the second time Paul had shown his Rambler since completing a comprehensive and exhaustive restoration. (The first time was the last day of the big Macungie, Pa., swap meet and show a week or so earlier, but that day saw so much rain the show was cancelled before many folks got to see Paul’s car.)
We spoke with Lehman and he showed us photos of the restoration work he undertook. He’d always wanted to own one of the early Nash Rambler soft-tops, the ones with the fixed roof rails and roll-back top that were often seen on the old “Superman” TV show in the ’50s. These cars are hard to find and are rather expensive, so Paul determined he would try to find one in need of a lot of work, much of which he could do himself. But he admits he never expected it would take 14 years to complete the car. However, after seeing the results, I can say it was worth all the time and effort.
When he bought the car it had a badly rusted floor; he hoped it could be repaired, but after cutting away the rust, Paul realized the only solution would be to weld in a complete floor from a later model. Luckily, Nash and AMC used essentially the same floor on all the 100-in.-wheelbase Ramblers through 1963. A solid donor sedan was found in a salvage yard and its floor was cut out, then welded into Paul’s car — no easy job!
Although the rest of his convertible was solid, Paul ended up replacing or restoring just about everything else, reupholstering the seats, installing a new top, etc. A nice paint job was completed in Champagne Ivory.
In 1951, Rambler was considered an up-market alternative to conventional full-size cars, and was actually priced much higher than many Chevy and Ford models. Though smaller than Ford or Chevy, the compact Rambler convertible, priced at $1,993, was more expensive than a new Chevy Bel Air coupe, and only $37 less than a new Chevy convertible. The little Nash was also more costly than that year’s Ford Custom ragtop — or the big Nash Statesman Super Club Coupe. So it was considered a very desirable, high-quality compact. And its luxurious trim and host of standard features reflected that.
Standard on the Rambler soft top were chrome wheel covers, a Custom steering wheel, radio, heater, Custom upholstery and more. It’s a really fine little car and a pleasure to drive. I am able to speak from experience, because after taking photos of Paul’s cute little Rambler, I was allowed to drive it. It’s a smooth-riding little honey and has plenty of power for cruising modern interstate highways. Paul did a fine job of restoring this unique little ragtop.
In addition to the cars already mentioned, there was a whole contingent of Nash Metropolitans, their bright cheery colors lighting up the display area, some gorgeous 1920s Nash coupes and roadsters and several bathtubs. Not in the Nash club yet? Maybe it’s time you joined!
For more information on Nash, contact Jay Ciampi at the Nash Car Club of America, 460 Bonnie Rd. NW, Lake Placid, FL 33852; www.nashcarclub.org
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