1953 Nash Healey Roadster
Contributed by Jim Walton
[I have been associated with the auto industry most of my life. I am 69 years old and retired.
The car that is so special to me is a 1953 Nash Healey Roadster, which is one of only 100 built that year. This car was purchased new by a very well known doctor in San Francisco, and he drove it to the hospital daily, weather permitting, for many years. Upon his death my wife and I purchased it from his grandson and I started a three-year total restoration to bring it back to like new condition using the original exterior and interior colors as well as all of the original mechanical components.
Most of this restoration work was done by me in our garage. Since finishing the car in 2001 we have shown it many times at car shows in numerous states across the country as well as here in California, and we have won a lot of best-of-show and first-in-class awards. We have now owned it for about nine years and have driven it over ten thousand miles since restoring it - and it has never let us down. I can honestly say that almost never does a mile go by that another driver or pedestrian doesn’t give us the thumbs up or honk at us.
The Nash Healey Roadster first grabbed my attention when I was only 13 years old and working in my father's Nash automobile dealership in Newton, Kansas. Mostly I swept floors and dusted parts bins, but this day I rode in a new Nash Healey Roadster with the company representative. He took me down the highway at very high speeds and I was scared half to death. Prior to the introduction of this car the Nash brand name was mostly associated with good fuel economy but not performance, and fellow students and friends never showed any respect for my father's choice in automobiles. This definitely changed with the introduction of the Nash Healey! Then and there I decided that some day I would like to own one of these roadsters. Several times tears have come to my eyes while driving our roadster on stage to receive awards for the car. The tears are definitely brought on by the emotion of the event award along with memories of working with my father on cars in our backyard garage, which had been converted from a chicken house.
We mostly drive this car on California back roads, and to say that we are very fortunate to have many of the most beautiful back roads from the Pacific to the Sierras is definitely an understatement. I love driving the car fast and hearing the exhaust note and the wind rushing by. Over the years I have met many Nash Healey owners both in the United States and always offered any and all experience that I have gained from working on the car and driving it successfully for many miles.
One such acquaintance was meeting a well-known car collector from our area who drove his Nash Healey to my home with an engine knock that he could not identify. When he drove it into our driveway I heard it and walked out calling him by his nickname and asked him when he was going to get the harmonic balancer fixed on his car. He was stunned that I knew his name and could identify his problem without even looking at it! We then became best of friends right up until his passing, and I have since helped the people who purchased his Nash Healey several times with mechanical problems and still think of him every time I see his car. I will keep my car as long as I live, and even when I no longer can drive it I will dust and polish it and think of all the joy it has brought into my life.