The controversial design of this iconic car was colloquially dubbed “bathtubs”, however, the revolutionary Airflyte design of those years looked very exotic, even impressive, and the technical characteristics compared with what the modern auto industry offered, was progressive.
Source: Auto Vercity
When it comes to the 50s classic cars, the iconic 1957 Chevy Bel Air or 1955 Thunderbird immediately come to mind. But these celebrities had a worthy competitor which was not inferior to the offspring of the Big Three, not in fancy design, not even in technical characteristics. 1949-1951 full-size vehicles from Nash corporation were famous as “bathtubs”: because of the smooth fastback roof, pontoon sidewalls, and a horizontal line along the entire perimeter, half-hiding both the rear and front wheels, these machines really resembled inverted bathtubs. In addition, they had extremely smooth lines without a single corner, and a one-piece curved windshield instead of two flat halves. However, in comparison with other Detroit products, Nash machines looked very innovative, even if not serious.
The Airflyte design was developed by Meade Moore and Ted Ulrich under the direction of the company’s chief engineer Nils Wahlberg, who since the 1930s was looking for the optimal body shape to reduce air resistance. Advertising the new 1949 Ambassador the corporation assiduously emphasized its style and claimed that its novelty had more than 20% less aerodynamic drag than other leading car brands. In fact, during testing in a wind tunnel, Nils Wahlberg found that fully closed wheel arches help improve aerodynamics by 20% and therefore reduce fuel consumption. As a result, he insisted on using such an unusual solution as half-closed wheels. He had no problem making Nash-Kelvinator president George Mason agree with it because Mason was an aerodynamicist and wanted to freshen up the conservative style of their post-war vehicles. For the front wheels to turn freely, they had to make a different track: 1397 mm in front and 1537 mm in the rear.
Source: Auto Vercity
The first 1949 Ambassador received a load-bearing (“unified”) body instead of a separate frame like in 1941-1948. This model also was marked with a very spacious “Super-Lounge” interior, and the spring suspension of all wheels ensured a very smooth ride. The instrument panel consisted of one dial “UniScope” with all the necessary sensors, fixed on the steering column at the driver’s eye level. In the middle of the leather-covered dashboard was only the control unit for the radio and heater “Weather Eye”.
The Nash Ambassador of 1949-1951 release was available in only two body styles:2 or 4-door fastback sedan and three trim levels – Super, Super Special, and Custom priced between $2,170 and $2,363. In 1950, the appearance of the model did not change, except for an extended rear window with a windshield wiper. Engine power increased to 115 hp, and the list of options included seat belts (for the first time on an American vehicle), a 5-position adjustable front sofa (Airliner Reclining Seat), and a Hydramatic automatic transmission with a Selecto-Lift lever on the steering column, which at the same time performed the function of a starter crank. Closed wheel niches, panoramic glass, curved front windows, and a Nash feature – folding sofas that could comfortably provide overnight accommodation for three adults. That’s why the Nash Ambassador was so popular among the 50s youth. Consumers compared the technical specification of the vehicle with the level of Cadillac, and the automatic transmission from GM Hydramatic made the trip smooth and pleasant. Despite its very solid appearance, the car had a fairly small weight – 1520 kg or 3450 pounds.
Source: Model Cars Magazine
Eight 1950 Nash Ambassadors participated in the Carrera Panamericana, a 2,172-mile (3,495 km) endurance race across Mexico. 47 out of the 126 cars that started in this “competition of heroic proportions and vast distances” were classified as finishers. Three Ambassadors finished all nine milestones, but the car that took first place was disqualified.
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