A 1948 Nash factory-built wrecker is only one of the many rarities to be found at the Wisconsin Automotive Museum in Hartford, WI. The hard-to-find hauler joins other unique attractions in a museum that focuses on Nash, Kissel and AMC automobiles, all of which were made in Wisconsin. It is also the home of the Southeast Wisconsin Short Track Racing Hall of Fame.
Charles Nash was the president of General Motors prior to 1916. Then, he decided to buy the Thomas B. Jeffery car company headquartered in Kenosha, WI. By the ‘20s, Nash was making cars bearing his own name. Nash Motor Co. thrived in the 1930s and 1940s. After World War II, Nash made compact Ramblers, but also dabbled in truck building for a short time.
The Nash “Haul-Thrift” truck was destined to become a machine that you didn’t see every day. From 1947 to 1954, Nash built only 4,998 of them. They came in two similar models: the 3148 with a 133-inch wheelbase and the 3248 with a 157-inch wheelbase.
Nash trucks were made primarily for export to other countries. However, Nash dealerships in the United States could each order one of them to use as a tow truck. What could be cooler than having a tow truck of the same brand as the cars you serviced and sold?
Both Nash trucks were powered by the company’s reliable 234.8-cid overhead valve in-line six-cylinder engine. It produced 104 hp at 3400 rpm and drove through a four-speed gearbox. A five-speed and a Timken double-reduction hypoid vacuum-shift rear axle that increased the number of forward “gears” to eight were available at additional cost.
The Nash trucks—both models—had 14,000-pound GVW ratings with the standard axle or 15,500 pound GVW ratings with an optional two-speed rear axle. Eight-ply 7.00 x 20 tires were standard equipment and 10-ply 8.25 x 20s could be ordered at extra cost.
These Nash commercial vehicles had fancy styling for a truck. That’s because the body panels used for the fenders, hood, cab and instrument panel came from the Nash’s Ambassador, a rather luxurious passenger car. The Nash trucks’ radiator grilles also had simplified copies of the Ambassador’s grille. Brown vinyl upholstery was used to make the inside of the cab a little bit fancier than the average truck interior of that era.
Even the smaller truck’s wheelbase was a foot longer than that of the Ambassador car and its frame construction was strictly heavy-duty. Leaf springs with auxiliary helper springs were used all around. The front and single-speed rear axles were Timken-Detroit units and large Lockheed brakes supplied stopping power.
The Nash wrecker in the Hartford Museum was owned and operated by Metzler Sales of Oshkosh, WI, which was a Nash dealer and later sold AMC, Jeep and Renault cars. The truck is finished in white with blue fenders and a blue tow boom.
Article courtesy Speedville.