Motoring Trailblazers - Nash Ambassador/Statesman

Sun 1st Sep 2019

The world of motoring is hurtling headlong into a bright new future of all-electric, automated, connected technology - and Marty McFly is not behind the wheel! But what were the cars that were ‘back to the future’ of years gone by?

There have been many different trailblazing motors which were seen by the critics to be ahead of their time, and in this series, we will investigate and showcase many of the best in class.

Nash Ambassador/Statesman
Nash motors may not be a household name of car manufacturing but they certainly knew how to make waves with their innovative designs and ideas.

The American car brand has already featured in Trailblazers for their introduction of in-car heaters found in their 1933 Ambassador Eight model. Two decades later and the company from Wisconsin were breaking new ground, this time with both their Ambassador and Statesman models.

Launched in 1951, the Statesman had a whole host of unique and quirky features, including a rolltop cover for the radio, a glove drawer, ‘Uniscope’ gauges that put key information at eye level, the Statesman even had seats which folded down into a bed!

But the design feature which was years ahead of its time and is featured on every single car produced today is the seat-belt.

The seat-belt had been invented by English engineer George Cayley in the late 1800s, but these were only used to keep pilots safe in a glider. Though a seat-belt was patented by an American, Edward J. Claghorn in 1885, this would keep tourists safe when riding round in New York taxis, though not the taxis we know today.

The history of seatbelts in production cars might have gone to another manufacturer had fate played a different hand. Preston Tucker’s car group are another who feature prominently in this series, and they actually fitted a ‘lapbelt’ to a small number of their cars in the late 1940s, though an assistant pointed out that the safety feature may conversely make customers believe the models were less safe than others!

So it was Nash which took the plaudits, beating the likes of Ford and Saab to the starting line on car safety standard by several years, and though the 1950s was a decade in which seatbelts became law, it was Nash who led the way.