An American in Paris was a symphonic work by George Gershwin that was made into a Broadway play and a Hollywood movie. But it also describes a car collector who is sending six of his cars to H&H Classics auction March 21 at Duxford, England.
The cars are an unusual grouping for a European sale — a 1913 Rambler Model 83 Cross Country Tourer, a 1924 LaFayette Model 134, a 1946 Nash P1 prototype pickup truck, a 1948 Diamond T Model 201 pickup, a 1951 Nash-Healey and a 1951 Nash Rambler Country Club Custom.
The consignor is a former American diplomat who moved to France on St. Patrick’s Day 1973. He met his future wife there and, when the State Department wanted to reassign him to another country, he left foreign service in 1981 to remain in France.
He’s been collecting cars for more than 30 years, both American and English vehicles, but as he approaches age 80, he’s downsizing a collection that once included more than 40 cars, he said in an email response to our questions.
“They are all interesting vehicles with unusual provenance and history,” Damian Jones, head of sales for H&H Classics, said in a news release.
Perhaps the most unusual is the 1946 Nash P1 prototype pickup, which was designed as World War II ended for possible post-war production. The consignor acquired the vehicle, powered by a 1941 Ambassador 3.8-liter Ambassador twin-ignition engine, in “a dismantled state” in 1990 and put it through re-assembly and restoration.
Also on the docket are two other Nash vehicles. The Nash-Healey is one of 104 produced with aluminum bodywork by Panelcraft, of which H&H believes only 20 survive. As “America’s first post-WW2 sports car, pre-dating the Ford Thunderbird and Chevrolet Corvette,” the auction house notes, the car may be eligible for events such as the Mille Miglia Storica and Le Mans Classic.
The car is a survivor vehicle, “an exciting restoration project,” H&H notes, and comes with a brand-new alloy cylinder head to use as part of the effort.
The ’51 Rambler Country Club Custom shows Nash’s Airflyte design theme, is an older restoration and carries a 2.8-liter straight-6 engine and 3-speed manual gearbox.
H&H calls the ’48 Diamond T “the Cadillac of Pickup Trucks.” This one has been restored to show quality, it notes, and thinks it may be the best example in Europe. Power comes from a Hercules “Super Service” 3.9-liter 6-cylinder engine linked to a 4-speed manual gearbox and rear gearing rated at 62 mph.
The 1924 LaFayette was a steam locomotive company owner and was purchased from the original buyer’s family by the consignor, who had it restored. The car, a competitor for Rolls-Royce in its era and created by former Cadillac engineers, was one of only 441 produced in 1924. It is powered by a 5.7-liter V8.
The 1913 Rambler also has been restored. H&H notes that the car has a 5.2-liter 4-cylinder engine and that these early Ramblers were sold with a 10,000-mile guarantee.