1940 Nash Ambassador 8

1940 Nash Ambassador 8 1940 Nash Ambassador 8 1940 Nash Ambassador 8
Special Cabriolet
Charles W. Nash became President of General Motors in 1912, but his ambition was to build a car under his own name. He resigned and bought the Thomas B. Jeffery Company in 1916 phasing out the name in favor of his own when the first Nash appeared in the fall of 1917. Fast forward to 1954 when Nash took over Hudson to form American Motors; by 1958 the Nash name was gone and the name Rambler took prominence.

The 1940 Nash Special Cabriolet was designed by Count Alexis deSakhnoffsky for the few people who appreciated fine things and wanted a gentleman's convertible (deSaknoffsky is perhaps most famous as designer of the L-29 Cord and the American Bantam).

Conversion from standard Ambassador Eight Convertibles to the Special model was completed by the Seaman body Division of Nash. Introduced at the Nash Boston Company followed by exhibit in the Nash showroom on 'Automobile Row' in New York City, the car was touted to be a limited edition. Limited indeed; just 11 were produced while 3 are known to survive today.

The car features a .25-inch lowered front end and a .75-inch lowered rear with specially designed windshield, top and doors. Other equipment includes a tachometer, front and rear carpets, backup lights, white sidewall tires, and an exhaust cutout switch easily accessible in the front door.

The car is powered by a 260.8 cubic-inch inline eight-cylinder engine and developing 115 horsepower. The engine is fitted with nine main bearings and requires seven quarts of oil. It has dual ignition and an exhaust cut-out switch located on the front floor. The car is 207-inches long riding on 125-inch wheelbase and has a top speed of 95-100 miles per hour. The original side curtains were found in the trunk.

At 53-inches high, it was lower than a Lincoln Continental featuring cutaway doors with no outside door handles. Side curtains were provided in lieu of window glass; the originals were found in the trunk when this car was purchased in 1971.

The current owners purchased the car in 1971 and found a new 1940 penny embedded in the front floor pan's mastic sound deadening insulation. Body work was completed by Seaman & United Body Shop of Chicago.

The Nash Ambassador was produced from 1932 through 1957. When Nash merged with Hudson Motors in 1954, the Ambassador name was continued, though it was now known as the AMC Ambassador. The name persisted until 1974.

The Ambassador was Nash's top-of-the-line offering when first introduced. These vehicles were outfitted with fine upholstery and luxury amenities. The base price was set at $2,090. In 1929 Nash offered a nine-passenger limousine which became their most expensive vehicle at the time, displacing the title from the Ambassador. The limousine held this title until 1934.

In 1930 the Nash was given an eight-cylinder engine, replacing the previous six-cylinder unit. By 1932 the Nash Ambassador Eight had become its own model range offered in a variety of body styles and riding on either a 133-inch or 142-inch wheelbase. Their reputation for quality and durability continued. The early 1930's was a difficult time for almost every automobile manufacturer. The Great Depression bankrupted most companies. GM and Nash were the only companies to make a profit in 1932.

In 1934 the Nash was offered only in four-door sedan body styles. The following year a two-door sedan was added to the model lineup. The Ambassador Eight now rested upon a 125-inch wheelbase.

Nash acquired the Kelvinator Corporation in 1937. George W. Mason was chosen by Charlie Nash to become the President of the newly formed Nash-Kelvinator Corporation. This was the same year that coupes and convertibles were returned to the Ambassador line-up.

In 1941 all Nash automobiles were Ambassadors and offered in a variety of body styles. Short and long wheelbase sizes were available.

From 1942 through 1945, production of Nash automobiles, and all other vehicles, was suspended during the World War II efforts. When production resumed the Nash Ambassador was no longer offered. The new top-of-the-line offering was now the Ambassador Six.

The Ambassador was giving styling improvements to attract new buyers in the post-war era. They featured enclosed front wheels, luxurious amenities, and aerodynamic styling.

The Nash was restyled again in 1952. It would last until 1957 when the company merged with Hudson and became known as AMC. The wrap-around windshield design and new front-end ensemble were but a few of the changes. The wheel cover hiding the front wheels were shortened, revealing more of the tires. The buyer had the opportunity to purchase the car with an eight-cylinder engine. The V8 was a Packard unit and was mated to an Ultra-Matic automatic gearbox, also of Packard's design.

Pininfarina was commissioned to create a version of the Ambassador for 1952. The resulting product was known as the Golden Anniversary Pininfarina Nash.

In an effort to stimulate sales, the 1956 and 1957 Nash automobiles were offered in a variety of two- and three-tone color schemes. For 1957 the headlights came equipped in 'quad' headlight configuration. They were the first cars to have this feature.

When the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation formed with Hudson Motors in January of 1954 they formed the American Motor Corporation, more commonly known as AMC. During this time, the sales from the Rambler provided the most income for the company. Sales of the Ambassador, however, were not very favorable. The Hudson and Nash brand name was no longer used after 1958.

The Rambler would continue as a standalone make of American Motors. The public associated the Rambler name with 'compact' and 'economy'. Senior management decided that the Ambassador name, having a long tradition, would continue to persist, though it would ride on the coat-tails of the Rambler popularity.

The Ambassador of 1958, marketed as the Ambassador V8 by Rambler, shared the basic design of the Rebel V8 and the Rambler Six. On the front of the car, though a little confusing, was the name Rambler Ambassador. The Ambassador was long and wide, riding on a 117-inch wheelbase. It was offered as a four-door sedan, four-door hardtop sedan, four-door pillared station wagon, and hardtop station wagon. Trim levels were available which allowed a level of uniqueness. The 'Super' trim level, for example, featured painted side trim. The 'Custom' trim level was given silver anodized aluminum panels on sedans and vinyl wood-grain panels on station wagons.

After 1960 the Ambassador was no longer offered with the hardtop station wagon or hardtop sedan.

Edmund Anderson restyled the front end of the Ambassador in 1961, giving it a new front end ensemble consisting of the redesigned grille, fenders, and headlights. This was done to distinguish the car from the rest of the vehicles on the road at the time and to further distance itself from the lower-priced Rambler series. Unfortunately, the public did not agree with the design, and sales reflected their discontent.

For 1962 the Ambassador and the rest of the AMC line-up were restyled. The Ambassador now lay on a 112-inch wheelbase. Changes followed throughout the next few years, including minor trim changes and options. The AMC philosophy that the public wanted smaller, economical cars still influenced their vehicles and design. But by 1965 this idea was beginning to fade as AMC was beginning to believe that they could move up-market and take on the larger auto-makers in the mainstream market.

The first step in convincing the public that they could compete was to phase out the Rambler, their symbol of compact and economy. The Ambassador was re-badged as a product of AMC, rather than bearing the Rambler name. There were three trim levels available on the Ambassador, the 880, 990, and DPL. In 1967 AMC introduced the restyled Ambassador which now sat on a long, 118-inch wheelbase and was targeted at the luxury car segment. 1260 examples of the convertible were offered; this would be its final year.

The gamble to move into a new market was not a success and ushered in financial difficulties for American Motors. The company struggled to improve its products and regain firm financial footing.

In 1968 AMC became the first automaker to make air conditioning standard in their cars. The work done by their Kelvinator division had aided in making this milestone a reality. This separated their products from what other manufacturers were offering. Rolls-Royce was the only other marque to offer their products with AC as standard equipment. Ordering the cars without AC was still an option; it was seen as a 'delete option' and the buyer would be giving a credit to the base price.

The Ambassador was restyled in 1969. Part of that re-design was a longer, 122-inch wheelbase. This allowed for larger engines under the hood and more interior room for its occupants. The trunk room expanded and now could accommodate much more luggage. Minor changes followed in the following years, though AMC stuck with their philosophy of 'Timeless Design' rather than incremental improvements.

In 1972 they did something to reinforce their commitment to quality - they introduced the 'Buyer Protection Plan.' This not only guaranteed to the buyer of a quality product, but motivated AMC to re-examine their design, development, and production methods. AMC introduced new quality controls into their processes and demanded higher quality from their suppliers. Engineering improvements were implemented.

The US Government had been introducing new regulations. The public and insurance agencies were demanding safety improvements in all vehicles. Part of these concerns was the ever-increasing muscle cars which were becoming lighter and faster. This, compounded with the impending Arab Oil Embargo of the early 1970's sent auto-manufacturers scrambling to introduce compact and fuel-efficient vehicles. The Ambassador found itself in the unpopular spectrum of the market. Its large V8 engines were not kind at the fuel pump.

A new Ambassador had been in the works for a number of years and in 1973 was introduced as a 1974 model. It was available only as a four-door sedan and station wagon. The two-door hardtop had ceased in 1973. The Ambassador was even bigger than before, growing by seven inches. Part of this growth was due to the new safety features, such as the five-mph bumpers. The interior was redesigned, a larger fuel tank was added, and sound insulation was installed to control exterior noise.

When the fuel crisis was in full swing, the sales of the Ambassador plummeted. By June of 1974, the Ambassador name was discontinued. It had been in service for 42 years.


By Daniel Vaughan | Dec 2006
The name 'Ambassador' was used to designate a senior line of Nash Motors automobiles, a product of American Motors Corporation. The Ambassador was a high trim option on Nash's senior models from 1927 until 1931. During the 1927 model year, a five passenger sedan version of the Nash's 267 model, the advance Six automobile with a trimmed four door was introduced, and it was the most expensive vehicle in the lineup.

Both upholstery and other trim items upgrades were featured on the Ambassador for the base price of $2,090. Its top competition was a nine-passenger limo that was carried through the 1931 model year. Eventually, the nine-passenger limo bypassed the Ambassador and was recognized as the most expensive vehicle for that year.

Until 1930, the Ambassador remained in the Advanced Six range before the model was moved to the Nash Twin Ignition Eight model. The following year, a less unique and complex model, the '890' model designation replaced the Twin Ignition Eight name. It wasn't until 1932 when the Ambassador was established as the stand-alone model range under which the 'Advanced Eight' model was placed.

The Ambassador rode on a 142-inch wheelbase, and with such amazing features, these models earned the nickname 'Kenosha Duesenburgs', due to their quality, styling, durability, and speed. A second 1932 series was introduced by Nash that included engineering updates to all models. During 1932, only General Motors and Nash were the only automobile manufacturers to produce a profit this year.

The model range of the Nash Ambassador began to expand and was no longer just a luxurious and well-appointed sedan, but also a coupe, convertible sedan, and limousine. The final listing was sold at a pricy $6,600. From 1932 through 1935, the Ambassador had only been offered with Nash's line eight. The '36 Ambassador added Nash's largest inline-six in addition. Also this year, a variety of body styles were deleted while Nash instead focused all of its limited resources on two-door convertibles, coupes, and sedans through the 1942 model year.

Nash acquired the Kelvinator Corporation in 1937 as part of a deal that allowed Nash's handpicked successor, George W. Mason, to become the President of the all-new Nash-Kelvinator Corporation.

A shorter hood and shorter front fenders were featured on the 1939 Ambassador to further differentiate the pricier Ambassador Eight from the less expensive Six model. All Nash vehicles became Ambassadors for the 1941 model year and now rode on either long or short wheelbases. The first popular automobile built utilizing unitized body/frame construction was the Nash Ambassador 600. For the 1942 model year, the model arrangement remained the same.

The Ambassador designation held constant on Nash's most luxurious models from 1949 through 1957. Featuring an Airflyte body style, the Ambassador is fondly remembered by enthusiasts for its enclosed front wheels. The 1949-1951 Ambassadors featured fully reclining seats that would earn its reputation of being 'the make-out automobile of choice for teenagers in the 1950s'.

Believing that sellers would be leaning towards more compact vehicles following World War II, Mason decided to focus on a product range that would eventually become the Nash Rambler. For 1952, the Nash Ambassador received is a final significant update that would continue onto 1954 with virtually no more changes. The Ambassador featured Nash's highly popular Weather Eye ventilation system which could also be coupled with Nash's advanced AC unit. An inexpensive, compact, Nash's AC unit fits under the hood and could either circulate fresh or recycled air.

Hudson Motors and Nash-Kelvinator joined together in January of 1954 to become American Motors. Now Ramblers were sold that carried either the 'Nash' or 'Hudson' badging. This was the sale that would power the company's bottom line. Unfortunately at this time, the Ambassadors sales plummeted.

In the summer of 1957, the final Nash Ambassador rolled off the Kenosha, Wisconsin production line. The name continued to exist though under Rambler and AMC brands up until 1974.

By Jessica Donaldson

Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

1940 Ambassador 8
$1,300-$6,300
1940 Nash Ambassador 8 Price Range: $1,050 - $1,300

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Nash
1942Chevrolet (254,885)Ford (160,432)Plymouth (152,427)31,780
1941Chevrolet (1,008,976)Ford (691,455)Plymouth (522,080)80,428
1940Ford (541,896)Chevrolet (541,896)Plymouth (430,208)63,617
1939Chevrolet (577,278)Ford (487,031)Plymouth (423,850)65,662
1938Chevrolet (465,158)Ford (410,263)Plymouth (285,704)32,017
1937Ford (942,005)Chevrolet (815,375)Plymouth (566,128)85,949
1936Ford (930,778)Chevrolet (918,278)Plymouth (520,025)53,038
1935Ford (820,253)Chevrolet (548,215)Plymouth (350,884)44,637

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