Phone: 520-207-5715   Find the Tucson Auto Museum Get Directions

1952 Nash-Healey Roadster

1952 Nash-Healey Roadster


The Nash-Healey is a two-seat luxury sports car or gran turismo produced between 1951 and 1954 and marketed by the automaker Nash-Kelvinator as a halo vehicle to promote sales of the other Nash models in North America.

A mating of the upscale Nash Ambassador drivetrain and a handmade European chassis and body, it was the first sports car introduced in the U.S. by a major automaker since the Great Depression. It was the product of the partnership between Nash-Kelvinator and British automaker Donald Healey. Only a year after introduction the car received some styling tweaks by Pinin Farina and subassembly began in Italy.

For 1952, Nash commissioned Italian designer Pininfarina to revise Healey's original body design. One objective was to make the sports car more similar to the rest of Nash's models. The front received a new grille incorporating inboard headlights. The sides gained distinct fender character lines ending with small tailfins in the rear. A curved windshield replaced the previous two-piece flat windshield. The restyled car appeared at that year's Chicago Auto Show. Reflecting its role as a halo car, the Nash Ambassador and Statesman models adopted a Nash-Healey-inspired grille with inboard headlights for 1955, and advertising featured the new Nash with a Nash-Healey in the background to show the obvious similarity.

Pininfarina in Turin built the bodies which, save for aluminum hood, trunk lid and dashboard, became all steel. The aluminum panels, plus careful engineering, reduced curb weight. The Nash engine was enlarged to 252 cu in (4.1 L), producing 140 hp (104 kW; 142 PS) with American-made twin Carter Carburetors .

Shipping costs were considerable, and yet moderated by trans-Atlantic success of Kelvinator in the European marketplace. From Kenosha, Wisconsin the Nash engines and drivetrains went to England for installation in the Healey-fabricated frames. Healey then sent the rolling chassis to Italy, where Pininfarina's craftsmen fashioned the bodywork and assembled the finished product. They were then exported to the U.S., with the car's complicated logistical process resulting in a $5,908 sticker price in 1953, approaching double the new Chevrolet Corvette's $3,513.

Other Cars You Might Like to View