In January of 1954, Nash Motors merged with Hudson Motors to create the American Motors Corporation. At that time, the Hudson Hornet became the biggest and most powerful vehicle offered by the new company, but the Nash Ambassador had a reputation as the luxurious “Kenosha Duesenberg” going back to the 1920s. Today’s Junkyard Gem is one of those high-snazz 1954 Ambassadors, found last winter in a northeastern Colorado car graveyard.
This is an Ambassador Super four-door sedan, which was priced at $2,412 (which is about $27,064 in 2023 dollars). The more upscale Ambassador Custom hardtop coupe cost $2,730 that year ($30,632 in today’s money).
Battista “Pinin” Farina did the styling on this car, and it has the badges to prove it. I’ve documented some other well-known Pininfarina designs in the junkyard, including the Cadillac Allanté, the Fiat 124 Sport Spider and the Lancia Beta.
This car is equipped with the Nash Weather Eye heating/ventilation system, which debuted in 1939. The Weather Eye name survived in various AMC models all the way through the 1977 Hornet and Gremlin.
The engine is long gone, but it would have been a late-1930s-technology overhead-valve straight-six with 253 cubic inches (4.1 liters) of displacement and either 130 or 140 horsepower. The base transmission was a three-speed column-shift manual, but this car was built with the optional GM Hydra-Matic four-speed automatic; that option added a hefty $179 to the price ($2,009 now).
The floors are rusty and the interior has been degraded by decades of outdoor storage, but there’s still a lot of good stuff left on this car.
The Ambassador name moved onto a stretched version of the Nash Rambler chassis for the 1958 model year, becoming a Rambler in the process; the Nash name disappeared after 1957, though everyone continued to call the Austin-built Metropolitan a Nash after that. Starting in the 1966 model year, the Ambassador got AMC badging, and Ambassador production continued all the way through 1974.
It was still a big sedan at the end, but the Detroit Big Three could always step on AMC when they felt like it. Eventually, Chrysler bought the company.