America’s first adventure car before there were SUVs
This spot brought back flashbacks for me when I spotted it on a lot/salvage yard because we had one as a kid, a 1950 Bathtub Nash.
In the late 40s and early 50s, the bathtub styling trend was hot and Nash was seen as the leader. But this was much more than just styling. Nash Engineering VP Nils Wahlberg had thing about aerodynamics, along with his designers performed wind tunnel studies with a full-sized plaster model. Almost unheard of in the automotive world and long before coefficient drag was even a factor. They found that their eventual design required significantly less road horsepower to maintain 60 mph than a comparable Buick or Chrysler at the time and came up with the name Airflyte.
RELATED Spot: See its distant cousin, the AMC Pacer.
But beyond aerodynamics, these cars were ahead of their time by utilizing an early form of unitized construction, with the frame and body shell welded together into a single unit. They also featured an independent front suspension, torque-tube drive, and coil springs at all four corners providing a plush ride. Like its American Motors’ family of cars like the Pacer and Gremlin, the styling was considered cartoonish. Meh, everybody’s a critic.
But inside was bigger than big, even by today’s standards. People who were into the outdoors loved it because of its seats that turned into a reasonably comfortable double bed, living-room comfort for six adult riders, tornadic ventilation, maximum cruising range, capacious ashtrays, a bag-limit-size trunk and screens for the windows on those car-camping nights. Sound familiar?
What are they worth now? Original MSRP according to J.D. Power was $2,223, $27,488.82 in today’s market which would still be a lot of car for the money. The average high retail is $25,600, $12,800 on average, and $6,900 low average. This one is most likely on the high end because it had zero rust, especially being here in Wisconsin.
Thanks for stopping by. Tell your friends and check back next week when I’ll have another car spot along with some history about it. Have a great weekend and Happy New Year.