Nash Healey 252/140 Roadster by Pininfarina

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Healey 252/140 Roadster by Pininfarina





The Nash-Healey is a two-seat sports car that was produced for the American market between 1951 and 1954. Marketed by Nash-Kelvinator Corporation with the Nash Ambassador drivetrain and a European chassis and body, it served as a halo (or image) vehicle, or flagship car, for the automaker to promote the sales of the other Nash models. It was "America's first post-war sports car", and the first introduced in the U.S. by a major automaker since the Great Depression. The Nash-Healey was the product of the partnership between Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and British automaker Donald Healey. Later on, the car was restyled by Pinin Farina and subassembly began in Italy.

A racing version, built with a spartan aluminium body, finished third in the 1952 Le Mans 24-hour race.

Donald Healey and Nash-Kelvinator CEO George W. Mason met on the Queen Elizabeth, an ocean liner going from the United States to Great Britain. Healey was returning to England after his attempt to purchase engines from Cadillac, but General Motors declined his idea. His idea was to expand production of the Healey Silverstone that race car driver Briggs Cunningham had customized with Cadillac’s new 1949 overhead-valve V8 engine. Mason and Healey met over dinner and a production plan ensued during the remainder of the voyage. The two became friends because they were both interested in photography. Mason had a stereo (3-D) camera that intrigued Healey.

The 1951 Nash-Healey was the first post-war sports car from a major American automaker, and beat out the Chevrolet Corvette that was introduced in 1953. The earlier Kurtis-Kraft and the Muntz Jet were not actual production cars in the true sense of the word. The first production version was exhibited at the Miami Auto Show in February 1951.

The 1953 model year saw the introduction of a new closed coupé alongside the roadster (now termed a "convertible"). Capitalizing on the 3rd-place finish at Le Mans by a lightweight racing Nash-Healey purpose-built for the race (see below), the new model was called the "Le Mans" coupé. Nash had already named the powerplant the "Le-Mans Dual Jetfire Ambassador Six" in 1952, in reference to the previous racing exploits of the lightweight competition cars.

Some describe the new design as "magnificent". Some "people didn't take to the inboard headlights". This headlight mounting was described as "Safety-Vu" concentrating illumination, and their low position increased safety under foggy situations. The 1953 "Le Mans" model was awarded first prize in March of that year in the Italian International Concours d'Elegance held at Tresa, Italy.

Leveraging the popularity of golf to promote their cars, Nash Motors and Nash dealers sponsored what the automaker described as "more than 20 major golf tournaments across the country" in 1953, and golfer Sam Snead was shown with his Nash-Healey roadster on the cover of the June 1953 issue of Nash News.

A roadster owned by Dick Powell was driven by George Reeves, as Clark Kent, in four TV episodes of the Adventures of Superman. Another roadster appears in the 1954 film Sabrina starring Humphrey Bogart, William Holden, and Audrey Hepburn.

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