Charles J. Nash was born in 1864 and his early years were very traumatic, as he was abandoned by his parents at the age of six. He became indentured to a Michigan farmer where he was legally bound to stay until he turned 21. He ran away at age twelve and learned how to be a carpenter. He later worked in a grocery story and by the early 1890s was hired by the Flint Road Car Company, a firm owned by William C. Durant.
Even with such a difficult background, Charles would grow to become one of the most influential and successful individuals in the automobile industry. His talents were admired by the Durant-Dort Carriage Company and he was appointed manager in 1895. Fifteen years later he was running Buick. In 1912 he was president of General Motors. A disagreement in 1916 had Charles leaving Durant and resigned from GM. He moved to Kenosha, Wisconsin, and purchased the Thomas J. Jeffery Company with the help of a business partner. The T.J. Jeffery Company was the producers of the venerable Rambler and the Jeffery; the purchase of this company was $9 million.
In the same year of the purchase, the first Nash automobile was introduced to the world. By 1919 Nash was selling 27,000 cars a year. A year later the company ventured into the luxury car segment by offering a LeFayette V8 priced at $5,000 and would later prove to be a financial loss for the company. The other models in the Nash Company were selling well and Nash remained highly profitable and productive. They produced over 50,000 cars in 1923 and had a net profit of $9.3 million.
In 1925 the company introduced the Ajax which sold for $995. The following year the name was changed to the Nash Light Six. One of the most key debut's for the Nash company occurred in 1930 when they introduced the dual-ignition overhead-valve inline eight which was initially rated at 100 horsepower.
The Great Depression was a difficult time for the entire industry; Nash weathered in good financial shape and by 1937 enjoyed its best sales year of the decade with 85,949 cars sold. The company continued to introduce new technology and features, outfitting their cars with popular options, and appealing to a very wide audience of buyers. They offered cars with an innovative heating and defrosting system, but the big news was the introduction of the unit body construction in 1941.
During the Second World War, the company supported the war time efforts by building Pratt & Whitney aircraft engines. In the post war era, the company was strong and in good financial footing. Sad news came on June 6th of 1948 when Charles Nash's life had come to an end. His journey was one that began in poverty and progressed into one of the titans of the 20th century in the dynamic auto industry.