Original Barn-Find Nash Becomes Daily Driver
Photography by Josh Clason for Petrolicious
The term ‘barn-find’ carries a certain cachet for good reason—it’s a bit like hitting the lottery. Imagine peering inside a decrepit building in the country only to see a flash of chrome reflecting a narrow sliver of light. It might be a tiller’s blade that’s held its polish or some other rusty farm implement that hasn’t decayed completely. But, what if…?
In this case, that “what if” turned out to be a 1949 Nash Ambassador Super Special. It was bought new in 1949 by Mr. Frank R. Miller, a farmer from eastern Washington and it seems that Frank primarily drove it around his farm because there were grass stains on the hubcaps and a layer of dried mud underneath, which actually may have prevented the frame from rusting over time. Shortly after Frank died in 1960, the car was parked in the back of a barn—until discovered underneath sheets about a year ago by his nephew who inherited the estate.
The original paperwork including dealer receipts was still inside the Nash along with some 1960s newspapers, original jack, spare tire, and keys. And, Frank’s comb and brush were still in the glovebox. Mr. Garm Beall, the new owner, says he’ll never remove those last two.
He purchased the car from Frank’s nephew having only seen a couple of photos from the estate sale, with no idea what a rich, storied marque Nash was. Like many, Garm had only heard of the Nash Metropolitan. But unlike the diminutive Metro, this Nash is just over 201 inches long (5.1 meters) and is powered by a 3.8L straight-six producing about 112hp. The Ambassador’s most interesting feature though, is that the seats recline flat, effectively turning the interior into a bed. Intended for car-camping, it quickly gained a following among teenagers who had less wholesome intentions.
None of that really mattered to Garm as he just fell for the sculpted, aerodynamic form. And it is remarkable that such an original car is so complete and in such good shape after being forgotten for so long. It still sports the original spark plug wires, mohair interior, and fog lights. After the brakes were rebuilt for safety and the fuel system flushed out, the Ambassador didn’t just run, it drove! Following 50 years of sitting!
After Garm got the car down to Southern California, he restored the wheels, put on new whitewalls, and got all the lights working. Since then he’s been driving it to work and around town, the big Nash never failing to start and run strong every time. Now that it’s been saved from an anonymous death in a Washington barn all it needs is to be driven and frequent polishing for the ample chrome.