Very Rare, Restored, and Widely Event Eligible. Bodied by Pinin Farina. One Owner Until 2011.
1953 Nash Healey Le Mans Convertible
s/n 2380, engine no NHA1395
Celadon with Green Leather Interior
The story of the Nash Healey Le Mans story is fascinating but not particularly well known. The car owes its existence to a chance meeting between George Mason, President of Nash and Donald Healey aboard Cunard’s RMS Queen Elizabeth ocean liner in 1949. Together they hatched a plan to create a true sports car, one that was used on motorsport but was available for sale to the public. Powered by an uprated version of Nash’s 6-cylinder Ambassador powerplant and riding on chassis and suspension designed by Healey, the first result of the collaboration was ready in time to run at Le Mans in 1950. The car stunned by placing fourth overall. A production version was released for the 1951 model year, featuring aluminum bodywork built in Great Britain along with chassis. Powerplants were shipped from the United States and were tuned up versions of the standard Ambassador six with aluminum cylinder heads, hotter cams, dual carburetors, and higher compressions ratios. Final assembly of the cars was completed in England. The styling of the new roadster was pleasant but unremarkable, and the price quite high, and just 104 examples were built. The cars proved themselves at Le Mans in 1951 once again, achieving sixth overall.
For 1952, the car was restyled by Pinin Farina (whom Nash had recently used to restyle the Ambassador and Statesman) to add much needed visual pizzazz to justify the car’s high cost. Again using powerplants shipped from the United States, Healey assembled the drivable chassis in the United Kingdom, which were then shipped to Turin where Pinin Farina clothed the cars with the new more exciting bodywork, which featured a more dynamic profile, better resolved front end styling, and more interesting side surfacing. The additional complexity of sending partially completed cars to Italy further drove up the price, although a more powerful 4.1 liter engine was also added part way through 1952. The transmission was a three speed unit with overdrive as on earlier cars. Despite an impressive 4th place finish at Le Mans and 7th at the Mille Miglia, just 150 model year 1952 examples were built.
A longer wheelbase coupe version was added to the model line for 1953, but sales continued at a slow rate, with 162 examples of all types were built for 1953. Le Mans was successful for the team again in 1953, with an impressive 3rd overall finish against the more powerful Ferraris, Mercedes, Aston Martins, and Jaguars. Sales did not improve significantly for 1954, and the last remaining cars were sold as 1955 model year examples before production wrapped. 502 examples of all variants were produced, making the Nash Healey Le Mans a rare and attractive automobile with genuine competition pedigree at the world’s greatest races.
This particular car was acquired new by Joseph Starz, who was a partner in the Starz Brothers & Fritz dealership in York, Pennsylvania. Starz used the car as a daily driver for several years, and eventually passed the car on to his son, Joseph Jr., who commissioned a restoration in 1995. The engine, carburetors, and transmission were rebuilt and the car repainted. The interior was restored as well, except for the dashboard, which remains in its original paint. The electrical system was restored and rewired as necessary.
The car received an additional $48,000 in work in 2011, including rebuilt carbs, new spark plugs and spark plug wires, new ignition cap and rotor, new engine and transmission mounts and extensive work to the braking system including rebuilt rear wheel cylinders, relined rear shoes, machined rear drums, rebuilt master cylinder, new brake hoses, and complete brake system flush. The valves were also adjusted, the engine compartment detailed, some wiring repairs performed, various hardware replated, a new front wheel bearing fitted, a new exhaust system fitted, the rear axle resealed, new tires fitted, the suspension adjusted, the radio adjusted, new hoses fitted, new battery fitted, seatbelts installed, and much other work performed. Starz sold the car in 2011 and it has been enthusiastically owned since.
The car is in excellent cosmetic condition, with straight bodywork and good gaps and panel fit. The paintwork was done to high standards and remains excellent, with only a few small blemishes and some sanding marks on the trunk lid. The chrome is in excellent overall condition with only very light scratches and marks. The trim and badges are in similarly nice condition, as are the lights and glass.
The interior is nicely mellowed with beautiful green upholstery that is wearing in nicely but still looks quite fresh. The workmanship and quality of materials of the wool carpets is very high and they are nicely detailed with green edging. The dashboard remains in its original paint and is showing some chips and cracking. The instruments are ornately designed and in very good shape. The switches and controls appear to be in unrestored condition and are in very good condition considering this. The car comes with restored weather equipment including top and side curtains.
The engine compartment and trunk present similarly, with an authentic and honest, but not sparkling presentation. The trunk appears to be largely unrestored and is in good original condition. The engine has a restored but not over-restored appearance, with no modernizations or incorrect finishes. The valve cover boldly proclaims the powerplant to be a Le Mans Dual Jetfire unit, and the dual Carter carburetors are still in place. Overall, the level of detail and tidiness in the engine compartment is high.
This is an exceptional opportunity to acquire a significant and impressive but under-appreciated car. Representing the “race on Sunday, sell on Monday” philosophy that defined the golden age of the sports car, the Nash-Healey Le Mans has impressive competition pedigree, lovely Italian coachwork, and rarity on its side. When new, the cars attracted a discerning clientele, and were glamorous enough to attract wealthy playboy David Larabee played by William Holden in the 1954 film Sabrina. Today, they should attract a similarly discerning owner and this particular example is further distinguished by its wonderful color combination and known history and low ownership from new. It is an exceptional example that has been lovingly restored and maintained and is widely eligible for the most prestigious events in the world thanks to the model’s period competition exploits. This car is complete with weather equipment, original brochure, and invoices for recent maintenance work totaling over $48,000.
The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.
Fantasy Junction • 510-653-7555 • 1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608