By on March 26, 2020

About a year ago Rare Rides featured its first Nash, the tiny Metropolitan. Today we take a look at the full-size car that occupied the showroom floor alongside its smallest sibling.

Hailing from 1955, it’s a Statesman.

Though a large car, the Statesman was not the flagship automobile at Nash. That honor was reserved for the Ambassador, which rode on a longer wheelbase, and was always a larger car than the Statesman. A first-generation Statesman was produced in 1950 and 1951, as the company debuted its new and aerodynamic fastback styling dubbed Airflyte. Featuring fully skirted fenders as a signature, engineers at Nash had to make some adjustments in the name of style. On the Ambassador the front track was three inches narrower than at the rear (to maintain a reasonable turning circle).

A new generation debuting for the 1952 model year saw Nash modernize Airflyte into the so-called “envelope body.” To assist with the design, they called up Pininfarina. Sheet metal was more upright and more voluminous, and some of the bathtub curves of the prior model were turned into creases. As before, Statesman was available with two doors as a sedan or hardtop, and as a four-door pillared sedan.

Nash was all about saving money, so it continued using the inline-six engines it developed in the 1920s. The unique design lacked intake and exhaust manifolds, which meant the engine was simpler, had fewer parts, and was thus lighter. Fuel efficiency was one of the selling points of the Statesman. Between generations one and two, the marque did up engine displacement slightly, going from 3.0 to 3.2 liters.

Changes in 1954 included a continental kit to increase trunk space, and one final moment of independence for Nash. On May 1, 1954, Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson merged to become American Motors. Consolidation was inevitable, and the Statesman was one of the first products to go. 1956 was the Statesman’s final year, as in ’57 the only full-size Nash offering was the Ambassador. That lasted exactly one year before the Ambassador was dropped, as well.

The Ambassador name continued the following year on a new AMC.

Today’s Rare ride is in solid condition, though not show quality at the moment. Then again, it doesn’t ask a show quality price: With 48,000 miles, it’s for sale at $9,900.

[Images: seller]

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20 Comments on “Rare Rides: The Unique Looking 1955 Nash Statesman...”

  • avatar

    Nash from 1950 on was such a nerdy looking thing before and after it became AMC which included the famous Lois Lane Nash Rambler “Landau Convertible” culminating with the ultimate geek car the Pacer

  • avatar
    R Henry

    Compare this to the ’55 Chevy and you can tell why Nash is no longer a thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes, with all the beautiful cars in 1955 from the big three, I always wondered what AMC was thinking. How did they think they could compete?

      • 0 avatar

        That’s why 1957 was the last year for the big Nash and Hudson models. AMC concentrated on the compact car market where the Big 3 were not active at the time. It worked – for a while.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    As well as in The Adventures of Superman, check out the Frank Sinatra thriller ‘Suddenly’ in which he plays an-ex serviceman, intent on assassinating the American President, using a WWII Axis military rifle mounted from a high point. The State Troopers all drive Nash Ambassadors. Although it is specified that the President will be transported in ‘the Cadillac’.

    I am probably in the minority in thinking that the Nash even with the full skirts and bathtub styling, looked quite modern for the era and was in my opinion somewhat attractive.

  • avatar

    It looks like you could pinch its cute little cheeks!

    And the radio and clock deletes were there to forevermore remind you that you were a cheapskate..

    But I really like the dash and the fact Nash didn’t have to spend any money tooling up for superflous zeros.

  • avatar
    bill 2029

    The body color of the featured car was popular in the 50’s. I call it pink, what did they call it back then?

    • 0 avatar

      My mother always called this color “salmon” back then. There was a Chrysler three-tone in the neighborhood at the time (black over “salmon” over white).

  • avatar

    Interesting how cars then had names like “Statesman, Diplomat, Embassador, and now when they have names it’s something like RAM, Avenger, etc… of course, there’ are reminders from across the sea like the Civic, and for the poetic, the Soul..

  • avatar

    The “Super Flying Scot” engine in the Statesman doesn’t go back quite as far as the article states. Rather than the 1920s, it debuted in the 1941 Nash “600”, the company’s first Budd-type fully unitized car. (The name is derived from its advertised range of 600 miles on a tank of gas.) With displacement changes this engine was used in the Rambler American through 1965. I’ve owned cars with this engine and it is about as simple and basic as you can get.

    Although Packard was the first to offer air conditioning in 1939, Nash was the first to offer a modern HVAC system in 1954 with AC integrated with the heater, electric compressor clutch, and all components under the hood. Although less expensive in the Nash than its competitors it was still a costly option by the standards of the day and not very common. Another uncommon option Nash offered was wiper for the back window.

  • avatar

    When I first saw one of these as a little kid, I asked my dad if it was a boat. He got a good laugh.
    VW also used the “Salmon” red on their cars and vans in the 50s-early 60s. I recall it faded out and looked like the primer reddish-brown.

  • avatar

    I think they called that color “coral” back in the 1950’s.

    The car looks like a cartoon w/ the headlights inset. Plus the wheel setup is the opposite of the famous Citroen “Goddess”, which had a wide track up front and a narrow one in the rear.

    Leno has an Airflyte and I like it:

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    I wonder why Pininfarina wasn’t involved in designing any of the post Nash AMC models. Maybe Dick Teague and management didn’t want them involved or it was too costly for the bean counters from Kenosha.
    Imagine a Pininfarina styled Gremlin or Pacer though the 74-78 Matador comes close.

  • avatar

    You have to be old to understand ho anyone would buy these cars based on looks .

    I never liked them but many adults did .

    Coral and Salmon were very popular colors way back when…..

    VW used it well into the 1960’s too .

    The Lois Lane car was called “Custom Convertible” and it was simply one of the very best sun roofs ever designed, another sturdy little Nash that looked weird .


    • 0 avatar
      bill 2029

      Good observation about VW. I remember seeing quite a few salmon/gray Bulli busses back in the day.

      Did VW bring back the salmon color for the New Beetle, or was that “just” a “normal” pink?

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t know ~ the new Beetle flew under my radar because I’m old and stubborn, when it came out I was still putting 100 + miles / day on a clapped out Beetle with anemic tiny engine and 6 volt electrical system .

        As mentioned in another article, Chevy used Salmon & black on loads of cars in the mid 1950’s .

        Pastel colors are not for every one nor every shape but when they match up WOW .


  • avatar
    bill 2029

    Did some googling and found this ’55 Wasp, A commenter says Hudson called the pink color “palomino”.

    Also for good measure here is a nice ’55 Chev with salmon,gray inside and out :).

  • avatar

    Fender skirts doom the parent company. Front pseudo-skirts accelerate the process.

    [First body-colored B-pillar I’ve seen in awhile. And those ‘shock towers’ look… stiff.]

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