Ramble On – 1953 LS Powered Nash Rambler Coupe Is A Killer

Photography by Brian Havins
Nash Ramblers of the early-’50s were the ultimate “hybrids,” long before the notion was popular.
They were home-grown in Kenosha, Wisconsin, yet sported radical, envelope “Airflite” bodies refined by Italian automotive-couture house Pininfarina. The best of both worlds for sure, but if there were ever a car made for R. Crumb to spoof, it’s these Italian bathtub Ramblers.

Above – George Romney with ’55 Nash,  Bottom – George and Mitt Romney

Adding to this automotive mash-up, Nash-Kelvinator honcho George Romney (yes, Mitt’s Dad) was the emcee of the whole affair. For those of you who didn’t know this, the Romneys are American automotive blueblood and Mitt, now a Utah state senator, is the big kahuna scion of the clan.
The far-flung, cross-Atlantic collaboration of Nash and Pininfarina created some memorable designs. Compared to the Big Three, Nashes had considerably lower production numbers and when combined with a low survival rate, few examples exist today.

Great “face.” The simplicity of line is fantastic.

Much less a bitchin’ black coupe like this with stack induction, LS power, and all the latest restomod goodies from the biggest names in the business.
This 1953 Nash Rambler Country Club belongs to Dennis Quin out of Washington, Illinois. Think of this old cruiser like a rolling version of black licorice, salt-water taffy — and every bit as delicious.

The car had a continental kit on it when Dennis bought it.

He found it at a local auction and tried so hard to get a friend to buy it, he talked himself  into it. He took the old coupe, ditched all of the mechanical gear and got to work. The final result is incredible. Although the build uses a straightforward restomod blueprint, the finished product is far from ordinary. 

In fact, with today’s builders essentially becoming final assembly of an arsenal of killer aftermarket parts, the true craftsmanship is in creating something new and fresh with an existing set of parameters. This is where this build kills.
The old Nash was a unibody car so Dennis, owner of Quin’s Autobody (also in Washington, Illinois), needed to bring the full brunt of his 55 years as a bodyman to bear in this transformation. He scrapped the floorpan, moved the firewall back 8 inches, aligned the wheel wells up to the Chris Alston Chassisworks and welded the whole thing back together.
The Chassisworks frame came complete with the company’s modern suspension.  Tubular A-arms up front and a triangulated, 4-link rear axle with 9-inch Ford out back  The stance is handled with Ride Tech bellows front and rear.
The signature skirted wheel openings front and rear were challenging for Quin. With some serious massaging, he not only gained much needed space for the monster Billet Specialties 18 and 19-inch wheels and Michelin rubber, but enough room for the front wheels to turn without rubbing the fenders.

Dennis handled all the bodywork and perfecting the square footage of the slab-sided body must have taken many a long hour. Dennis says, “The coupe body style is super rare. You see post sedans, wagons, and convertibles, but coupes are hard to come by.” Augmenting the black body is sparkling chrome jewelry restored by Advanced Plating.
Next up, motivation for this old sled.
Dennis nestled in a stock-bottom LS1 V-8 with an LS7 cam, and a gorgeous 8-stack Inglese induction system. Billet Specialties handled the front serpentine drive and coil covers. Quin guesses he’s got about 425 hp which runs through a 700R4 transmission.

From there, the interior was stitched together by Kevin Jackson, from the Peoria, Illinois area. Swathing the cabin with blood red leather was a no-brainer in combination with the black exterior, but what they left alone was telling.

The guts of this thing were wild; right from the drawing boards of Pininfarina almost 70 years ago. Wisely, they left the dashboard stock, but relied on Classic Instruments for the cyclops center gauge. Dennis says, “we sent it to the guys at Classic and they updated the gauge with new internals and sent it back better than new.”
With a car this rare, finding parts was almost non-existent. Shiny exterior trim bits? Forget about it. Sheetmetal? Yeah right.
Dennis said “you’d think the OEM windshield we had to source was plated in gold it was so expensive.”
The goddess hood ornament is a killer. Dennis says that the car is nicknamed the “Flying Lady.”  The old gal will be flying around the autocross course soon as Dennis says “I built it to race it…”
Taking two years to complete,  Dennis says this Rambler is a keeper. “It’s a blast to drive and gets attention wherever it goes.”
And you can be sure, this Nash Rambler will be the only one at the local show-and-shine.

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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