Junkyard Find: 1951 Nash Airflyte

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1951 nash airflyte

Why does a car need wheel openings in the front fenders, anyway? The Nash Airflyte, aka the “Bathtub Nash,” proved that long, low, and wide (and a postwar American car-buying public starved for anything with four wheels and an engine) would move the iron off the showroom floor in the late 1940s and early 1950s. I’ve been thinking about building an Airflyte-based project car lately, so I returned to the Brain-Melting Colorado Junkyard to do some window shopping.

It turned out that the yard’s owner wants to keep this ’51 for himself, so I had to content myself with shooting photos instead of wheeling and dealing for a purchase. Fortunately, I’d brought the DSLR and a 25mm lens instead of my usual battered point-and-shoot, so these shots are a little sharper than what you’ll get in most Junkyard Finds.

The days of the flathead six as the standard powerplant for full-sized American cars were coming to an end by 1951, with just about all the Detroit major players working on (or, in the case of Cadillac and Oldsmobile, delivering) overhead-valve V8s.

Through the dust, you can just make out the gorgeous font used for the speedometer numbers.

AM radios were ungodly expensive options in this era, and you had to wait quite a while for the tubes to warm up before you could listen to Ike Turner singing the first-ever rock-and-roll song.

I’m a little disappointed that this car is unavailable, but I’ve got about a thousand more to choose from in this yard.

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  • Allan850glt Allan850glt on Mar 14, 2014

    These early fifties Nashes look pretty sedate when compared to, say the final years, '56-'57 when they opened up the front wheel wells and gave them some real V-8 power! I myself prefer the final years but these earlier models, albeit somewhat unconventional, were pretty cleanly designed cars. I have to wonder how high you had to get that sucker up in the air to change a tire?? Scary! Your jack fails or something goes awry and unless you've got some reallllly quick reflexes, you're gonna lose a limb! I don't get how one would consider a Hudson a step-down in comparison though. Especially considering the eventual H-N merger to AMC and they eventually became "Hashes"..

  • Dneely Dneely on May 14, 2014

    My Dad bought two Statesmen in1951. He and my mother went from Seattle to Kenosh and bought two of them. THey towed one back to Seattle behind the other. Fearing the Korean War would result in difficulty finding parts he put one on blocks in Seattle. We finally put it to use in about 1962 or 1963. Over the years we collecte another 2 for parts and I think nostalgia. I still have 3 of them. Two have been garaged since about 1966. THese were the straight 6 with a 3 on the tree and an overdrive. We made several trips using the folding seats as beds. I have many stories. My dad was so happy when we bought a house on a hill so he could use the hill to start it. THe heater had no fan so you had to be moving to get heat and the wipers were vacuum powered so going over the mountains was a series of speed and back off the gas so the wipers would operate. In about 1965 we towed a 1926 Model T on the back of a 1927 Model T truck from Dallas Tx. over the mountains to Seattle. That trip permenantly printed the smell of brakes into my brain. We were quite a site. Kinf of like the Clampets moving to Beverly hills. Is there a way to put photos on this forum site?

  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.
  • ToolGuy When you are pulled over for speeding, whether you are given a ticket or not should depend on how attractive you are.Source: My sister 😉