p5cTfFTN 1952 Nash dealers of Detroit
1952 Nash dealers of Detroit
1952 Greater Detroit dealer conference.

Splish Splash, it’s the ‘Bathtub’ Nash

Hands up who used to watch the Adventures of Superman TV series, starring George Reeves?

Remember the cars the characters drove?

Funny looking things with fully-covered front wheels.

I reckon they looked like oversized dodgem cars.

Well, they were Nashs.

From 1949 onwards, the closed, over wheels were a Nash design theme that its decision makers thought was one of the more appealing aspects of their cars.

It certainly made them stand out but attracted the mocking descriptor of “bathtub” 

Anyway, in 1950 Nash’s boss, George Mason, was pondering what to do to celebrate the company’s upcoming 50th year of automobile manufacture.

He needed something that would grab attention and boost sales for his company, which had been languishing out of the top 10 of US automakers, with sales averaging around 170,000 units per annum.

His idea was to engage up-and-coming car designer Battista “Pinin” Farina to bestow his design talents on Nash’s volume models, the Ambassador and Statesman. 

Adventures of Superman
George Reeves as Superman.


Nash was the first American company to request Pininfarina’s services and brand name.

When the Pininfarina Nash appeared in ‘52 the advertisements and brochures loudly proclaimed the Italian’s significant contribution to their styling.

Nash was less vocal about using GM’s HydraMatic transmissions.

But things were not as they seem. 

In recent years it has been revealed that two styling proposals had been developed. 

One came from Pininfarina. 

The other was the work of Nash’s in-house design team, led by ex-GM designer Ed Anderson. 

Nash executives chose the in-house car and incorporated a few of Pininfarina’s ideas, such as the reverse angle C pillar, to align with the advertising and marketing strategy.

Mason also had Pininfarina restyle the Nash-Healey sports car that Mason and Donald Healey had agreed to co-build back in 1950.

The new shape appeared in 1952.

Only 150 were sold.

The high price was the reason for such low sales.

You could own a V8 Cadillac Coupe Deville for 25 per cent less than the cost of the Nash-Healey.

But back to the mainstream sedans.

Nash advertisements quoted Pininfarina as saying the 1952 range would be “memorable cars of the era.” 

The buying public thought otherwise. 

Nash’s total sales dropped 10,000 to 162,000 compared to 1951. 

The slide continued through 1953. 

In 1954 Nash was forced to merge with Hudson to form American Motors, selling only 63,000 vehicles.

Mason died that October.

The Nash Healey association also ended in 1954.

By then Donald Healey was more focused on another of his joint ventures, with Austin.

David Burrell is the editor of Retroautos.com.au


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