1951 NASH-HEALEY LE MANS ROADSTER
THE NASH SPORTS CAR
NEVER HAVE YOU SEEN A SPORTS CAR LIKE THIS!
Donald Healey was an engineer who first made his mark at Triumph in the 1930s. After World War II, Healey ventured out on his own producing cars with his bespoke chassis design, Riley 2.5 liter engines and aerodynamic bodies from various British coach builders.
In a quest to build ever better performing cars that could also be competitive on the track, he created a race car for the road called the Silverstone. Produced from 1949-51, these proved very fast and could easily achieve 100 mph right off the showroom floor. Briggs Cunningham asked Healey to build one with a Cadillac 331 cubic inch V8. This experiment proved successful enough for Healey to pursue buying more engines from Cadillac.
Donald Healey boarded the Queen Elizabeth to make the trip to the United States to meet with executives at General Motors when he had a chance encounter on board with George Mason, the President of the Nash Motor Company. The two men hit it off and when Healey explained why he was going to Detroit, Mason made him an offer. If Healey couldn’t secure the engines he needed from Cadillac, Nash would supply engines. Mason recognized right away that a joint venture between the two companies could produce a halo car for Nash.
Cadillac needed every engine they produced and couldn’t spare any for Healey. Healey and Mason quickly formed a partnership, and the Nash-Healey sports car was born. Beating the Corvette to market by a full two years, the Nash-Healey would be the first modern sports car produced exclusively for the American market.
Healey set to designing the new car himself. A prototype on a 102” wheelbase with body by Panelcraft of England was fitted with a 234.8 cubic inch high-compression straight-six Nash Ambassador engine. The car was shown at the Paris Motor Show in early fall of 1950 and production began a few months later in Warwick, England. The base price of $3,767 plus delivery from New York made the car uncompetitively expensive. Eventually only 104 cars found buyers before production ended in March 1951.
THE NB CENTER CAR HISTORY
Of the 104 first series Nash-Healey by Panelcraft produced, just 68 were model year 1951. This rare example is one of three known to be painted in the factory Mint green color. The car received a full restoration that was completed in 2007. It subsequently underwent a comprehensive mechanical overhaul that included fitting of the optional three-carburetor intake when it became part of The NB Center Collection in May 2014. The engine with the tri-carb induction system, produces in excess of the originally rated 125 horsepower. Coupled with the well-tuned Healey chassis, the car performs and handles like a modern – for 1951 – sports car, years ahead of the Corvette.
Company: Nash-Kelvinator Corporation | Make: Nash-Healey
Model: Nash-Healey Le Mans Roadster
Year: 1951 | Body style: 2-door Roadster
Exterior paint: Mint Green/Tan cloth top | Interior trim: Gray
Engine: in-line six 234.8 cid | Horsepower: 125 hp @ 4000 rpm
Carburetor: 2 carb. SU 1-barrel | Original price: $4,063