JUNE 2016: THIS 1950 NASH AIRFLYTE RESTO MOD IS READY FOR TAKEOFF

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Nash was an independent automotive manufacturer in 1950 as part of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation.

 

The Kelvinator part of the partnership was a familiar brand for home appliances that was better known for their refrigerators than their carburetors.

 

‘Nash would later merge with Hudson in 1954 and begat American Motors while Kelvinator would continue under the new arrangement as a home appliance manufacturer after the merger.’

The 1950 Nash we spotted at a show had the car’s trademark unusual appearance and was not beautiful in the traditional sense. Its model name from the factory was Nash Airflyte but owners Gord and Donna Leeson just call their car the “Bathtub”.

 

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The name was one Gord used to describe the Nash’s appearance when he was a kid and they even use the name on their vanity license plate.

 

The Leesons wanted something different when they chose the Nash and the car definitely fit the bill. The 1950 Nash was produced in very small numbers and few of them have survived the ensuing 66 years since they left the factory.

 

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Gord’s Nash was purchased in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and left the dealership’s lot as a mild-mannered two door sedan with a modestly-powered OHV six-cylinder that was not likely to shove people back in their seat when the car was pushed to its performance limits in a street race.

 

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Gord changed that game when he replaced the factory six-banger with a 350 Chevy small block and a tri-power carb setup. The car’s engine is backed up by a 700 R-4 tranny that gives the car a solid combination of performance and reliability on the road.

 

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The 1950 Nash was a unibody car long before the Big Three headed in this chassis direction. Gord did some serious upgrades to the original undercarriage on his Nash so it could handle the new power train and deliver better handling on the road.

 

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Gord started with a custom-built chassis assembly with 4 bar coil-over system on the back end and a Mustang II front end in place of the original Nash clip. Gord emphasized their rebooted Nash was a driver and they plan to spend plenty of time on the road with it, so the improvements to the Nash will make it ready for 21st century highways.

 

 

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The custom touches extend to the interior where a very cool instrument cluster from an aftermarket supplier sits in a new position in front of the driver. Gord added air conditioning to the Nash and also installed a custom sound system that looks retro but offers a full-load Bluetooth system. He can also hide the entire sound system behind a factory pull-down shutter.

 

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The front seats are straight out of a high-end GMC Yukon and offer a very comfortable alternative to the original Nash seats and their legendary fold-down feature.

 

The search for “something different” in a vintage car has definitely ended on a successful note for the Leesons because their 1950 Nash was a very unusual ride even before Gord’s custom touches.

 

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‘Mission accomplished on that “something different” front.’

 

Jim Sutherland

 

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