Several compact cars made their entry into the American market in the early 1950s, but sadly most came and went in the blink of an eye, including the Henry J, Hudson Jet, and Willys Aero. The only one to survive and prosper was the odd, but somehow lovable, Rambler from Nash-Kelvinator Corporation.
There are many practical reasons why the Rambler was a success, but they all began in the 1940s in the fertile mind of Nash-Kelvinator’s CEO, George Mason. For Nash’s first foray into the compact car market, Mason did exactly the opposite of the other manufacturers, who all offered a stripped-down, two-door small sedan. Not only did Nash’s first compact have a host of standard features that others offered only as options (if at all) but it was also a convertible!
The 1950 Rambler Convertible Landau was introduced to the public on April 13, 1950. It had unique styling that reflected Nash’s larger cars, with the enclosed front and rear wheels, and took advantage of Nash’s Airflyte construction – their name for unibody construction. Because the car body and chassis were welded together, Nashes were more rigid and lighter than body-on-frame cars.
Unibody construction also gave the Rambler Convertible Landau one of its more distinctive visual features – the rigid door and window frames. The cloth roof center section folded down to give Rambler owners top-down driving with the rigidity of a sedan. Rambler ads billed it as the “Smartest, safest convertible in the world,” noting that even when the top is down, Rambler provides “The safety of husky steel rails overhead.”
Built on a 100-inch wheelbase, the $1,808 Rambler could seat five adults and was powered by a six-cylinder engine producing 82 horsepower, for performance that was comparable to other cars of the day. Standard equipment included whitewall tires, an electric clock, custom steering wheel, full wheel covers, a pushbutton AM radio, courtesy lights and a “Weather Eye” heater/defroster.
Collector car expert Rob Sass summed up the Rambler best, noting that, “Nash seemed to be the only American manufacturer to get the compact car formula right. The styling was fresh, distinctive and attractive. The cars were well equipped and priced sensibly. But the most important factor that contributed to the original Rambler’s run in 1950-1955 was that there was a full line of Ramblers in many body styles, including a jaunty convertible.”
Image by Sicnag
Second Chance Garage: http://www.secondchancegarage.com/public/197.cfm
How Stuff Works: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/1950-1952-rambler.htm