1953 Nash-Healey Roadster  Chassis no. N-2447 Engine no. NHA 1506

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Lot 205
1953 Nash-Healey Roadster
Chassis no. N-2447 Engine no. NHA 1506

US$ 75,000 - 85,000
£ 55,000 - 62,000
1953 Nash-Healey Roadster
Coachwork by Pinin Farina

Chassis no. N-2447
Engine no. NHA 1506
Body No. 12486

The Nash-Healey resulted from a fortuitous shipboard encounter. In 1949 George Mason, president of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, was returning from a European trip on the Queen Elizabeth. Mason had become very interested in the sports cars he had seen on his trip, and by chance he met Donald Healey, British sports car designer and builder, on board the ship. Healey, who had built cars using Riley drivetrains, was heading for Detroit in hopes of buying some Cadillac engines for a more powerful series of cars.

Mason, sensing an opportunity, told Healey that if the Cadillac negotiations were unsuccessful he would be happy to sell him Nash Ambassador engines instead. Indeed, the Cadillac discussions were unproductive, so soon a shipment of Nash drivetrains was on its way to England.

The first Nash-Healeys were sleek roadsters, bodied in aluminum by British metalsmiths Panelcraft of Birmingham. Prototypes were shown in Britain and on the Continent in the fall of 1950; production began in December. Healey had entered a Nash-engined racer in the 1950 Le Mans race in June. Finishing fourth among 29 remaining cars, he bested the two mighty Cadillacs entered by Briggs Cunningham.

The Nash-Healey made its U.S. debut at Chicago in February 1951. Selling for $4,063 in Nash showrooms it was expensive and drew few buyers. Mason, however, felt the customer traffic was worth it and would help sell Nashes. With barely 250 sold in two years, however, Mason and Healey took a different tack. Mason had never really cared for the British styling, so he had Pinin Farina, then under contract for the American Nashes, do a makeover. Running chassis were then shipped from England to Italy, fitted with Farina steel bodies and re-shipped to the Untied States. A hallmark of the Farina design was closely-spaced headlamps in the edges of the grille, a cue later used on the domestic Nash.

Nash-Healeys competed at Le Mans again in 1952 and ’53. The team achieved third overall in ’52, behind two Mercedes, and took class honors for cars of three to five liters. In 1953, a single entry managed an eleventh-place finish. A team also made a good showing in the 1952 Mille Miglia. Despite the 1953 addition of a handsome coupe, called 'Le Mans' to commemorate the racing success, sales did not improve. Production was halted in August 1954 with only 252 second-generation cars built.

Formerly part of the Walter Satterthwaite collection, this Nash-Healey roadster has been carefully maintained and incrementally upgraded during its lifetime. Painted in Old English White, it has a contrasting red interior with white-accented dashboard. Unusually for a sports car, the Nash-Healey has a bench seat, giving occasional seating for three and necessitating a recess in the cushion for the floor-mounted shifter of the three-speed-with-overdrive transmission. This car has the larger 252 cubic inch six, introduced in 1952, in its Le Mans Dual Jetfire configuration with twin sidedraft carburetors. The engine compartment and undercarriage are clean, but largely original and in general the car could benefit from detailing. Offspring of a storied international alliance, this cosmopolitan sports car is bound to appreciate in value, and will give pleasure while it accumulates interest.
1953 Nash-Healey Roadster  Chassis no. N-2447 Engine no. NHA 1506
1953 Nash-Healey Roadster  Chassis no. N-2447 Engine no. NHA 1506
1953 Nash-Healey Roadster  Chassis no. N-2447 Engine no. NHA 1506
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