1949 Nash Ambassador Super Four-Door Sedan

1949 Nash Ambassador Super Four-Door Sedan with 1800s Stone Shed,
Polifka Corners, Whitelaw, Wisconsin, July 2013
© J. Shimon & J. Lindeman

Nash Motors Company of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was so dedicated to the idea of aerodynamics that it charged $9 extra for the George Petty-designed flying lady hood ornament on its 1949 Ambassador sedan. The plush, post-war "Airflyte" Ambassador featured technological innovations such a single welded "unibody" (frame and body are one), enclosed front wheels, (hydramatic) automatic transmission, and reclining seats that formed a twin bed. Known as the "make-out" auto of choice by the teens of the 1950s, the Ambassador had a streamlined tear-drop shaped back, cockpit-like instrument panel with uniscope instrument grouping, and a spaceous trunk. Referred to as "Miss Upside-Down Bathtub of 1949" by Tom McCahill in Mechanix Illustrated, it sold for about $2,200 and was alternately called the "Kenosha Cadillac" or "Kenosha Duesenberg." Just a little over a half-century later, the former Nash Motors factory on 110 acres near Lake Michigan was considered a blight. After morphing into Nash-Kelvinator then American Motors (AMC) then Chyrsler, the plant closed in 2010 and demolition began in December 2012. Surviving Ambassadors remain as a monument to the idealism of an American ingenuity that believed in the possibility of a faster and sleeker vessel to transport the human body through space and time. We purchased a 1949 Ambassador from a guy named Kurt in Idaho Falls, Idaho in November of 2012 for about the original selling price including shipping. The last time he started the car before sending it on its way to our farm in Wisconsin, Kurt said "she purred like a kitten." And she did. On Thursday, September 26, 2013 John Shimon, accompanied by artist Matt Chung, drove the auto through the Wisconsin countryside passing corn fields, verdant forests, and an aqua Lake Michigan to the John Michael Kohler Arts Center. On the trip, it got 25-30 miles per gallon due to its economical 6-cylinder engine, overdrive transmission, and aerodynamic body design. As part of our WE GO FROM WHERE WE KNOW exhibition at the JMKAC, it will be filled with over 1,000 cast concrete corn cobs memorializing a childhood memory of a Nash repurposed as a corn crib while contemplating the contemporary role of corn as food and fuel in the US.  Matt Chung made this video documenting the journey:

No comments:

Post a Comment