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Nash Ambassador

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Ambassador
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Wikipedia: Nash Ambassador

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Originally it was a trim designation on Nash cars beginning in 1927, it became it's own model from 1932 to 1957, in 1958 it became the Rambler Ambassador.


History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Automotive Industries page on 1 September 2018, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Ambassador was the model name applied to the senior line of Nash automobiles from 1932 until 1957. From 1958 until the end of the 1965 model year, the Rambler Ambassador, then 1966-1972 as the American Motors Ambassador, then 1973-1974 as AMC Ambassador, were the products of American Motors Corporation (AMC), which continued to use the Ambassador model name on its top-of-the-line models, making it "one of the longest-lived automobile nameplates in automotive history."

From 1927 through the mid-1932 model year, the Ambassador name was applied to a high trim club sedan body style, one of Nash's most prestigious senior models. The Ambassador series was the "flagship" in the Nash line.

Nash Ambassador, mid-1932-1948

In mid-1932, Nash established the "Ambassador Eight" as a stand-alone model range, offered in a number of body styles, including coupes and victorias. Riding on 133-inch (3,378 mm) or 142-inch (3,607 mm) wheelbases, the Ambassadors featured a 125 hp (93 kW; 127 PS), 322 cubic inches (5.3 L) straight-eight engine with twin-ignition and overhead valves. All the cars were sumptuously appointed earning the title of the "Kenosha Duesenbergs" for their quality, durability, styling, and speed. The CCCA has recognized all 1932 Series Advanced 8 and Ambassador 8, as well as the 1933 and 1934 Nash Ambassador 8 as Full Classics.

This was part of Nash's second 1932 series, which included completely new bodies and engineering updates to all models produced by the company. Aside from General Motors, Nash was the only automobile manufacturer to make a profit in 1932.

For 1934, Nash introduced completely new styling, called "Speedstream", featuring generous use of ornamental moldings in body panels and fenders, in a very streamlined and Art Deco way. The designs were influenced by Russian Count Alexis de Sakhnoffsky and the new bodies featured streamline accents, bullet-shaped headlights, horizontal hood ribs, rear wheel spats, and built-in luggage boots with a full beaver-tail rear end. The Ambassador Eight series for this year was limited to various four-door sedan body styles.

The Nash Ambassador 8 now saw new competition with such cars as the redesigned and lower priced LaSalle, Auburn V-12, REO-Royale 8, Buick Series 34-90, and the Chrysler Imperial Airflow.

The 1935 model year saw yet another complete re-styling, known as "Aeroform", and a further trimming of body styles, as well as a new two-door sedan added to the Ambassador Eight series. However, the 1935 Ambassador Eight was now built on a much shorter 125-inch (3,175 mm) wheelbase, and used the smaller, former Advanced Eight engine. No longer would Nash build the big, classic cars of 1930-1934.

While the Ambassador had been offered only with Nash's in-line eight from mid-1932 to 1935, the 1936 Ambassador Six added Nash's largest in-line six as well, in a 121-inch (3,073 mm) wheelbase model, formerly known as the Advanced Six. In 1937 Nash acquired the Kelvinator Corporation as part of a deal that allowed Charlie Nash's handpicked successor, George W. Mason, to become President of the new Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. The 1937 models saw the return of coupes and convertibles to the Ambassador lines. From 1936 onward, the senior Nash models used identical bodies, relying on a longer wheelbase, hood and front fenders (plus subtle trim augmentations) to provide visual cues to differentiate the more expensive Eights from the less expensive Six models.

Beginning in 1937, even the low-priced LaFayette series came under this plan. This basic formula was used through the final AMC Ambassador in 1974, with the exception of 1962-1964, when the Rambler Ambassador and the Rambler Classic shared the same wheelbase and front sheet metal. In 1937, Sinclair Oil Corporation teamed up with Babe Ruth in a baseball contest where a 1937 Nash Ambassador Eight sedan was awarded every week.

For the 1941 and 1942 model years (only) all Nash vehicles became Ambassadors, and rode both long and short wheelbases. The Ambassador Eight now shared the Ambassador Six's 121-inch wheelbase. The Nash Ambassador 600, built on a 112-inch (2,845 mm) wheelbase, became the first popular domestic automobile to be built using the single-welded "unibody" type of monocoque construction that Nash called "Unitized", rather than body-on-frame. From 1941 through 1948, Nash Ambassador models placed this unibody structure on top of a conventional frame, thus creating a solid and sturdy automobile. It was also one of the first in the "low-priced" market segment with coil spring suspension in front and back, "giving it the best ride in its class." In the spirit of wartime conservation, the Ambassador Six and Eight lost their twin ignition feature for 1942, reverting to a single spark plug per cylinder. The 1941-42 Ambassador 600 was also the only Ambassador ever powered by an L-head engine. Nash would remain with this model arrangement through the post-war 1946-1948 model years, although the 600 would no longer be known as an Ambassador.

As ordered by the Federal government, Nash suspended passenger car production during World War II (1942-1945). When production was resumed after the war, the Eights were no longer part of the program. The 1946 Ambassador Six was now the top of the Nash line. In 1946 Nash introduced a wood-panelled version of the Ambassador called the "Suburban". Featuring high-quality ash framing, with mahogany paneling supplied by Mitchell-Bentley of Owosso, Michigan, the Suburban coachwork was based on the handsome “slipstream” sedan, a classic 1940s streamlined design. Intended as a halo car, the Suburban, like all other Nashes, featured options such as “Cruising Gear” overdrive, a trend-setting “Weather-Eye” heater, and a remote control Zenith radio, which enabled the driver to change stations at the touch of their toe. Production was limited, with Nash selling exactly 1,000 examples between 1946 and 1948. A convertible was added to the Ambassador range for 1948, and an even 1,000 of this one-year-only body style was produced.

1949-1951

Nash-Kelvinator president George Mason believed in fiscal responsibility, but also wanted to be "a bit daring, bold, and out of the mainstream" by making "cars noticeably different from those of the mainline Big Three producers." Nash's Vice President of Engineering, Nils Eric Wahlberg, had access to a wind tunnel during the war and believed that future cars should take advantage of aerodynamics to achieve many benefits. The company used revenue from its wartime contracts to develop a car that was "the most streamlined form on the road" and lower by 6 inches (152 mm) than the previous designs. Mason was also a convert to build a large aerodynamically clean family car for the postwar market and even championed the design's enclosed wheels as a bold innovative feature. The resulting car reflected earodynamic notions of its era, with a rear half resembling the 1935 Stout Scarab.

Nash continued to use the Ambassador name on its top models 1949. The separate frame chassis of the 1941-1948 Ambassador was discontinued in favor of unibody construction for the 1949 models, a design the company introduced to the mass-market in 1941 with the 600 series cars. The Ambassador series continued to have a 121 in (3,073 mm) wheelbase and the automaker claimed the new chassis design included 8,000 welds making its "1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times as rigid as conventional cars."

After Nash rolled out its Airflyte body style, Ambassador sales enjoyed a significant gain by selling just four door and two door sedans in the 1949-1951 market place. They were manufactured at the Nash Factory (Kenosha, WI), and the Nash Factory (El Segundo, CA).

The last Nash Ambassadors: 1957

The 1957 models were the first cars to come equipped with "quad" headlights as standard equipment; in this case, vertically stacked in the front fender "pontoons". 1957 also saw the front wheel well openings further enlarged, to almost "normal" size. The wheels were now 14-inch with standard 8.00 x 14 tires.

The standard engine for the 1957 Ambassador was AMC's own V8, a modern overhead valve design displacing 327 cu in (5.4 L). It featured a forged steel crankshaft, a 4-barrel carburetor, and dual exhausts. The new engine was rated at 255 hp (190 kW; 259 PS) and 345 pound force-feet (468 N⋅m) of torque. Available were a 3-speed manual transmission, an automatic overdrive unit, or Packard's Ultramatic automatic transmission. The Custom models standard features included power brakes, individually adjustable reclining front seats, rear seat center armrest, hood ornament, and many more. Special leather seating surfaces were optional as well as a continental tire kit.

After production of under 3,600 big Nash cars, the final Nash Ambassador rolled off the Kenosha, Wisconsin production line in the summer of 1957. Nevertheless, the Ambassador - as a top of the line model name - would continue to be marketed, under Rambler and AMC brands, through 1974.


Photographs

1948 Nash Ambassador Super 1948 Super
Wisconsin Historical Museum
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1948 Nash Ambassador Super - 2.4MB
1948 Nash Ambassador Super 1948 Super
Wisconsin Historical Museum
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1948 Nash Ambassador Super - 1.9MB
1948 Nash Ambassador Super 1948 Super
Wisconsin Historical Museum
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1948 Nash Ambassador Super - 1.5MB
1948 Nash Ambassador Super 1948 Super
Wisconsin Historical Museum
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1948 Nash Ambassador Super - 1.9MB
1948 Nash Ambassador Super 1948 Super
Wisconsin Historical Museum
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1948 Nash Ambassador Super - 1.8MB
1948 Nash Ambassador Super 1948 Super
Wisconsin Historical Museum
Photo ©2018 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1948 Nash Ambassador Super - 1.8MB
1956 Nash Ambassador Custom 1956 Custom
for $25,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom - 3.8MB
1956 Nash Ambassador Custom 1956 Custom
for $25,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom - 3.6MB
1956 Nash Ambassador Custom 1956 Custom
for $25,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom - 3.5MB
1956 Nash Ambassador Custom 1956 Custom
for $25,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom - 3.3MB
1956 Nash Ambassador Custom 1956 Custom
for $25,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom - 1.8MB
1956 Nash Ambassador Custom 1956 Custom
for $25,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom - 3.6MB
1956 Nash Ambassador Custom 1956 Custom
for $25,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of 1956 Nash Ambassador Custom - 3.1MB


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