1952 Nash Ambassador - V.P. Report
Noble Name: 1952 Nash Ambassador
Nash Motors – the automotive division of the Nash-Kelvinator Corp. - was one of the few American car manufacturers to make significant design and engineering changes for 1952 model year. In spite of severe government restrictions on materials, caused by the Korean war, the “independent” brand radically updated its model line. And the result of the efforts looked impressive.
Nash celebrated its golden 50th anniversary with brand new Ambassador and Statesman models designed in expressive Golden Airflyte style. Though the main creative work was performed by Nash Motors design team, a considerable contribution was also made by Italian Giovanni Battista "Pinin" Farina – then already world famous car stylist and coachbuilder. Anyway, this allowed the brand to declare that Carrozzeria Pinin Farina "has worked with Nash to help create the outstanding style car of our time".
The new cars looked original and elegant, indeed. They featured completely “skirted” front wheels – an unique trait which since 1949 had become a signature of the brand’s styling. At Nash Motors they insisted on aerodynamic advantages of the “skirted” wheels, yet there were also certain shortcomings – such as comparatively narrow front track and too long turning radius. Anyway, the cars looked different… The 1952 Ambassador seemed absolutely imposing, and its interior was commodious and comfortable. Besides, all 1952 Nash cars got Airliner reclining front seats as an optional equipment. And Twin Travel Beds arrangement, that converted seats into sleeping places for three, was a convenient option, too.
Since 1949 Nash Motors built cars of frameless architecture named Airflyte Construction. And 1952 Ambassador and Statesman were notable for their light and stiff unitized body structure – just as fellow “independent” Hudson models. An automobile of classic layout, the 1952 Ambassador, was equipped with a long-stroke inline 6 Super Jetfire engine placed longitudinally under the hood. The cast iron OHV unit (2 valves per cylinder, pushrods and rockers) displaced 252.55 cu in / 4139 cc. Compression ratio was as high as 7.3, and with a single Carter carburetor the Super Jetfire 252 developed up to 120 bhp (SAE net) at 3700 rpm. It was the advanced and solid unit, and Nash Motors declared - not without a pride: "Only in Nash and Rolls-Royce [there is] a 100% counter balanced 7-bearing crankshaft". Quite correct (though electrics still remained 6 volts…). At the same time, the junior Statesman cars featured simplified straight 6 Super Flying Scot with L-head (side valves) of 195.6 cu in / 3205 cc displaced which max output equaled 88 bhp. Well, many Statesman owners complained, if anything, of power deficiency…
Engines were mated to a column-shifted 3-speed manual gearbox, while semi-automatic overdrive or a GM-sourced 4-speed Hydra-Matic were attractive options. Beside quality power plants, the 1952 Nash models also featured quite progressive a running gear - with coils and telescopic shock absorbers at all 4 corners. There was Airflex independent suspension with unequal length transverse arms and stabilizer bar at the front. While at the rear a “live” axle, accurately located by so-called “torque tube” (“towbar”) and trailing arms, was applied. The premium model rode on 7.10-15 diagonal cord tires; steering was of worm & sector type (no servo), and the wheel made 3 ½ turns lock to lock. Brakes were, naturally, of conventional drum type; no automotive manufacturer practiced any alternatives to good old drums so far.
The 1952 Ambassador was overall 209.25 in / 5315 mm long, 78 in / 1981 mm wide and 62.25 in / 1581 mm high (unladen). The car was built over 121.25 in / 3080 mm wheelbase (just 7 in / 178 mm shorter for Statesman cars), the track measured 55.625 in / 1413 mm at front and 60.5 in / 1537 mm at the rear. Automotive observers of the time unanimously praised the excellent ride quality of the new models – as well as its handling, roadholding and performance. With curb weight of 3480 lb / 1580 kg up, in the course of independent test-drive the the premium sedan, equipped with Hydra-Matic, accelerated from 0-60 mph (96.5 kph) in 16.6 seconds. The majestic car made standing ¼ mile in 21.7 seconds, and top speed was registered as high as 102-104 mph / 164-167.5 km/h. That is, registered by speedometer (the morals and manners of the time…), while actual speed was about 7% less, - 95-97.5 mph. Or 153-157 kph; in any case, the Ambassador wasn’t a slouch.
In early 1954, Nash-Kelvinator acquired ailing Hudson Motor Car, and a merger formed the American Motors Corp. (AMC). The sweeping changes occurred, yet Golden Airflyte models were carried over to 1954 model year with minor face-lift. The engineering progress was more pronounced: an optional “Le Mans” Dual-Jetfire Six (tuned Super Jetfire engine) featured 8 compression ratio and with 2 Carter carburetors delivered good 140 hp at 4 thousand rpm. While the "All-Weather Eye" option made a real sensation in 1954: the AC unit was – for the first time in automotive practice - incorporated entirely within the engine bay and, therefore, didn’t cut off any useful trunk space.
The unique "All-Weather Eye" air-con, integrated with interior ventilation and heating, emerged as a natural spin-off to the “parent” Kelvinator Appliance (home refrigerators, etc.) technologies. The attractive option cost only $397 in 1954 and became the predecessor to the modern systems in nowadays cars. Steering power assist, power windows and other luxuries were also available in 1954 Ambassador. Still the premium car remained comparatively inexpensive: a price for 4-door sedan in top-of-the-line Custom Line trim started at $2,595, while 2-door Country Club hardtop cost $2,730.
All in all, the 1952-54 Ambassador was an outstanding individuality – in both styling and engineering. Yet, its market position dramatically worsened: only 21.4 thousand Ambassador cars were built and sold in 1954 – compared to 177.6 thousand produced (together with the 600 model) in 1951… The final Nash Ambassador rolled off the Kenosha, Wisconsin, assembly line in the summer of 1957. For all that, the noble name existed till the 1974 model year – under the AMC brand, which continued to build the Ambassador cars as its top-of-the-line model.
In 1952, brand new Ambassador cars appeared in expressive Golden Airflyte styling.
The Statesman was a junior model of the full-size 1952 Nash line.
Eye-Level Visibility windshield provided excellent forward view, while elegant dashboard featured linear speedometer and soft padding – as a naïve safety measure.
The 1952 Nash cars were built in frameless architecture named Airflyte Construction.
The advanced and solid Super Jetfire 252 developed up to 120 bhp.
The 1954 2-door Country Club hardtop in Custom Line trim featured a stylish “continental” spare tire carrier.
Commodious interior was optionally equipped with Airliner reclining front seats – and also with Twin Travel Beds which provided sleeping places for three.
Since 1952, independent front suspension was of special Airflex arrangement. And in 1954, the Nash models excelled with unique "All-Weather Eye" AC – as an optional equipment.
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Posted: 28 Jan 2011
From WikipediaAmbassador was the model name applied to the senior line of Nash automobiles from 1932 until 1957 From 1958 until the end of the 1974 model year, the Ambassador was the product of American Motors Corporation (AMC), which continued to use the Ambassador model name on its top-of-the-line models, making it "one of the longest-lived automobile nameplates in automotive history.
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