Nash-Healey, or, The Car That Was Practically The Cobra

Nash-Healey, or, The Car That Was Almost The Cobra

Donald Mitchell Healey (DMH to good friends and admirers) was, by all accounts, one of the truly great figures of the motor marketplace. A pilot in Planet War I, DMH took to motor racing and rally in the ’20s. By the mid-thirties he was developing and driving rally cars for Triumph, and gained several crucial international situations. When war broke out in 1939, he devoted himself to the war endeavours.

At the conclusion of hostilities, DMH and household (particularly his sons, Geoff and Bic) resumed generating sporting activities cars, this time below the Healey title. Their first hard work, the Healey Silverstone, experienced an advanced chassis structure and uncomplicated, aerodynamic bodywork. Lacking the sources (spelled “income”) to build their own engines, the Healeys made use of the appealing and reasonably sporting Riley 2-liter twin-cam OHV motor. (Sure, you read that appropriate: two cams, down in the block, each and every running a different financial institution of pushrods operating the rockers of overhead valves.)

But like all racers, DMH preferred a lot more energy. The largest news in the motoring planet in people times was the a hundred sixty five-bhp Cadillac OHV V8, a comparatively light-weight-excess weight and large-revving motor with great low-conclude torque and tremendous potential for generating a light-weight, excellent-dealing with chassis go extremely rapidly. DMH created at the very least one prototype, utilizing a privately acquired Cadillac V8, which fitted nicely into the Silverstone chassis. (I have been lucky plenty of to see this car or truck. And once again, that’s not “one of these cars,” it’s “this one.”)

So DMH took a steamship from England to the U.S., intending to strike a deal with Cadillac for several V8 engines.

On the way he achieved George Romney, president of the Nash Motor Company based in Kenosha, Wisconsin. George and DMH hit it off from the get started, and Romney stated that if items failed to go in accordance to approach, he should search him up.

Well, Cadillac failed to give DMH the time of day—too fast paced (and much too crucial) to promote motors to some tinkerer. DMH made the decision that alternatively than make the vacation a whole reduction, he should search into the Nash relationship.

Well, Romney was as excellent as his word, and a deal was struck not only for engines, but for some progress of a sporting activities-racing car or truck. The Nash-Healey ended up using 2nd all round at the 1950 24 Hours of Le Mans (an wonderful achievement for a six-cylinder pushrod block, in spite of Nash’s disappointment at not successful in opposition to the really made twin-cam racing engines).

The last piece in the puzzle was the acquisition of bodywork from Pininfarina, Italy’s premiere coachbuilder at the time (and my own Pininfarina car or truck is at my elbow, urging me to delete “at the time”).

five hundred Nash-Healeys were being created, in coupe variety as demonstrated in this article but a lot more popularly in a roadster. The five cars demonstrated at Forest Grove hence signify one p.c of all Nash-Healey output no one at the concours knew how many still remain.

Common film buffs might remember the initial Sabrina, with Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, and William Holden. Bogart is the sober-sided chairman of the board of a rich family’s monetary establishment, and more youthful brother Holden is the rapidly-living cad who romances Hepburn. The car or truck in which Holden drives her home from the prepare station is a Nash-Healey roadster.

Oh, and about that title: In 1959, DMH experimented with once again to secure V8 energy for his sporting activities cars, and at the time a lot more crossed the Atlantic, this time to fulfill with his longtime close friend and fellow racer Carroll Shelby (who experienced just gained the 24 Hours, driving an Aston Martin). DMH got the very same reaction from Chevrolet as he experienced earlier received from Cadillac, and additionally was chastised by British Motor Company (BMC) administration for trying to go outdoors the firm’s own motor resources. So unfortunately, Shelby experienced to search somewhere else for the Anglo-American hybrid he was operating on… a little car or truck acknowledged as the Cobra, and a story that may have started out as early as 1950 if General Motors experienced not already perfected the art of sticking their heads up their uncommonly tight fundamental apertures.

Posted by sfisher71 on 2007-07-sixteen twelve:fifteen:forty eight

Tagged: , Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance , Portland, Oregon , Austin-Healey , Nash-Healey , Porsche