America is a car culture. It was raised on the road, whether on family road trips to see relatives or through commerce that shuttled from city to city on trucks. The Car of the Week takes a look at one of those vehicles as a way to not only look back at automotive changes but the history that created them.
Published in the Tacoma Weekly
The Nash Rambler is considered by many car lovers as the first “compact car,” although it is large and powerful compared to models of today in that class of cars. The Rambler was designed to be smaller and less expensive than contemporary cars offered by the big three car companies of Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth, yet still accommodate five passengers, with two people in front and three in the rear seats.
While in development the car was going to be called the Diplomat, to stick with the theme of its other cars, the Stateman and the Ambassador. But Dodge already owned the name, so it became the Rambler by default, which was the name of a Nash prototype produced in 1902.
The Rambler was built between 1950 and 1954 by Nash Motors’ division of Nash-Kelvinator Corp. In 1954, Nash-Kelvinator merged with the Hudson Motor Car Co. to become AMC, American Motors Corp. The Nash Rambler was then built by AMC in Kenosha, Wisc. for another year before being discontinued.
The 1951 version got 25 miles to the gallon with a 2.8 liter engine and cost $1,800.
The car might seem familiar to classic DC Comic lovers. Lois Lane, the heartthrob of the “Superman” television series of the 1950s, drove a Nash Rambler.
“It was an apt choice for the Daily Planet reporter: easy to park, thrifty with gas and, in 1951, quite affordable at $1,933,” wrote one car lover in Consumer Guide. “And that was for the grandly named Custom Landau convertible, distinguished by a cloth roof that furled like the door on a roll-top desk.”