Before there was Austin Healey, there was Nash-Healey. Created in a deal between British automotive entrepreneur Donald Healey and U.S. company Nash-Kelvinator, the Nash-Healey was a pricey halo model built from 1951-54 to boost the conservative Nash car lineup with a European-designed sports car, which was a truly divergent mashup.
Eventually offered with distinctive styling by Italian designer Pininfarina and powered by a performance-tuned Nash Ambassador inline-6 engine, the Nash-Healey was one of the first sports cars built in America after World War II, beating out Chevrolet’s Corvette. It’s short life span was the result of a number of forces, not the least of which was Donald Healey forging a deal with the British Motor Corporation to create the Austin Healey 100.
The Pick of the Day is one of the rarer examples, a 1953 Nash-Healey Le Mans coupe, named in recognition for the success of the brand’s modified roadsters in 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance racing, where they made a good showing competing against the thoroughbreds of Europe.
Just over 500 Nash-Healeys were produced in their four years, and something like 90 of them were the two-seater hardtop coupes.
This coupe, looking beautifully refined in dark maroon paint that sets off its distinctive styling, has been restored to original, down to the correct wheel covers, according to the Sarasota, Florida, dealer advertising the car on ClassicCars.com.
The interior is fitted with a maroon leather interior, and the numbers-matching engine is the upsized 4.1-liter six with a revised cylinder head and a pair of Carter side-draft carburetors, hooked up with a 3-speed overdrive manual transmission.
These cars were very expensive when new, partially because of their complex international building process, with Nash-Healeys doing more world travel during production than most cars do after leaving the showroom.
“Each vehicle’s construction began with Nash-Kelvinator Co. shipping its robust 6-cylinder overhead-valve power train, including Borg-Warner 3-speed overdrive transmission, to Donald Healey in Great Britain,” the seller explains in the ad. “There, Healey developed a special aluminum head accommodating dual carburetors (initially British SUs), and installed the components in his own bespoke frame, which featured a unique aluminum trailing-arm front suspension.
“The assembled chassis was then shipped to Turin, Italy, where the Pinifarina coachbuilders handcrafted each body and assembled it to the chassis. Finally, the completed masterpieces were shipped to the U.S. for sale in Nash dealerships around the country.”
While these attractive Anglo-American-Neapolitan cars commanded high prices in their day, there are relatively inexpensive today for the fairly exotic, limited-production, coachbuilt sports car with Le Mans racing history. This one is priced at $89,900, which is at the high end of the valuation guides but most-likely worth it for a Nash-Healey in this immaculate condition.
To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day.