1950 Nash Airflyte Statesman Two-Door Sedan
Chassis no. K4088082
With new car production suspended due to World War II, newspapers and magazines of the time routinely published imaginative proposals for futuristic streamlined cars. These aerodynamic vehicles were expected to be the norm when auto making resumed. However, when car production did begin anew after the war, most U.S. automakers took a different tack. The sole exception was Nash. Their aerodynamic 1949-51 Airflyte models-which grew out of a 1943 concept-were as "futuristic" as any post-war American cars would ever get.
Styling and engineering were under one roof at Nash during the 1940s and design responsibility for the aerodynamic Airflyte fell to chief engineer Nils E. Wahlberg. A brilliant designer who had been with Nash since 1916, Wahlberg fully understood the efficiencies inherent in aerodynamic design. The Airflyte carried forward the unitized underbody construction Nash had introduced on its innovative 1941 600 Series and was consequently offered only in two-door and four-door sedan models.
Wind tunnel testing of the 'inverted bathtub' 1949 Nash and contemporaries proved that the Airflyte's nearly covered front wheels reduced air drag. While the Nash generated 113 lbs of drag at 60 mph, that year's more conventionally styled Packard generated 171 lbs of drag. Wahlberg's engineers finessed the Airflyte's smallest details to eliminate wind noise, resulting in a car that was quieter on the road than more expensive cars. A Buick-like full-coil suspension assured a smooth ride.
The aerodynamic Airflyte featured a spacious "Sky-Lounge" interior. It could be optionally equipped with fold-down seating that created a twin-bed effect. A "Uniscope" pod atop the 1949-50 models' steering column housed instrumentation and, on 1950 models only, a retracting aluminum cover was provided for the radio. The pullout drawer placed below offered more storage than a conventional 'glove compartment.' A Nash Weather-Eye Conditioned Air system enhanced interior ventilation and warmed the interior when needed.
The 1950 calendar year was the best ever for Nash, with sales reaching 191,865 units, (including 20,782 of the new-for-1950 compact Ramblers).
Powered by a Nash 184-cid L-head six-cylinder engine with manual transmission, the 1950 Statesman offered here is finished in an optional two-tone that nicely accents its streamlined body design. The odometer reading is not known to be the actual mileage.
The remarkable 1949-51 Nashes took aerodynamic design to a level other American cars wouldn't achieve until the 21st century. Perhaps the smoothly sculpted Airflytes were too advanced-in 1952, Nash retreated a bit styling-wise, as the firm introduced new and boxier models attributed to Italian designer Pinin Farina.
Few cars turn heads on the road as reliably as a 'bathtub' Nash, and the model's scarcity today all but guarantees you'll have the only one on the show field-all the more so with this extremely rare two-door example. The aerodynamic Airflyte delights the eye in every modernistic detail and, with mid-century modern design undergoing resurgence in popularity, this roundly engaging car of the future is enjoying renewed appreciation.
- The chassis number in the catalog is incorrect; chassis number should read K408892