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HELP With 1955 Nash Ambassador Custom


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I have a 1955 nash ambasador custom. it was an original big block car, but the motor is locked up. i was wanting to do a motor swap with a 350sbc and a turbo350 transmition but i would need to swap out the rear end. i was looking for any ideas you guys might have on help. thanks

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Nine inch Ford is the common way to go, narrowed to fit;). Have to look up a photo, that is one of the bar of soap shaped cars, isn't it? Good luck with the project.  Bob 

 

 

Guess this a bit older, it is what first came to mind.

 

See the source image

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I know nothing about NASH but why would you need to change rear end?  Have you tried to free up the original engine or just accepted it is shot?  Try to free it up. There are a number of good Post telling you how to do this. If you do go with a swap a new drive shaft with the old rear end can be built easier than putting in a new rear end. A Ford 9 inch is great as mentioned above but getting harder to find and more $$$ 

good luck have fun. 

Dave S 

Edited by SC38DLS (see edit history)
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Original big block car?? Exactly what does that mean? Does it have a Nash engine in it now? Nash used a torque tube setup, so engine swaps are difficult. More info needed

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An Ambassador with the Packard engine, what one might call a big block, is a pretty nice car. It might be good to locate someone who owns one that will let you try it out in original form, even if you have to buy a plane ticket.

 

If you are looking for help with a rearend swap there is a ton of other stuff that you will be looking for help on as well. Fixing what is there will be a lot easier.

 

If you still insist on the swap, convert to disc brakes with a dual master cylinder immediately so it is safe to tow around. And some radial tires too.

Bernie

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This has a torque tube rear axle. it *is* the rear suspension. This would be tough, tougher than a Buick for instance. You will need to replace the entire rear suspension, and will have nothing solid in the right places to attach the new suspension to. Nashes are unibody cars from about 1938, so no frame.

 

Somewhere online there were pictures of an open driveline swap on a Rambler Classic from about 1963. They seem to have disappeared. I was able to find a couple of pictures of other cars, but neither looked strong enough to me.  Don't forget about the torque reaction on the rear axle. The Rambler Classic (and derivitaves like Ambassador, DPL, etc.) through 1966 were the last vestiges of the oldschool Nash driveline and suspension design. Look for other examples through 1966 (Big Ramblers, not the American). It wont be the same exactly, but it will show you what issues you are up against.

 

It would be MUCH easier to keep the drivetrain stock.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, kbyrd5597 said:

I have a 1955 nash ambasador custom. it was an original big block car, but the motor is locked up. i was wanting to do a motor swap with a 350sbc and a turbo350 transmition but i would need to swap out the rear end. i was looking for any ideas you guys might have on help. thanks

 

The custom without the Packard engine is just another old piece of tin, but if this is the direction you are thinking of going, try giving the people at Search And (resto-rod) Restore a call. Even if they don't turn your Nash into a done on TV car, they might give you some good pointers on how to proceed.

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318 sbc / 904 transmission on a custom Dakota chassis would be less work in the long run than modifying the both the front and rear of your Nash chassis.

Your engine should not be to hard to rebuild , even if it needs a sleeve or two.

I had a friend in high school that had a 55 Nash that would outrun most mid 50s Fords and Chev's.

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Are you sure the original engine is toast? Even if it is locked up there is a good chance a careful mechanic can get it running. How many miles on the car?

 

There are 2 ways to go, one way is to fill the cylinders with penetrating oil or auto trans fluid thinned with kerosene and let it soak a couple of weeks, the other way is to take the heads off and inspect the inside of the motor. Of course the first method is easier and cheaper but you could inadvertently damage the engine. The second is safer but more work and will cost you for gaskets etc.

 

I would at least try the oil soak method as it costs almost nothing and you never know your luck. If it is a nice car worth spending money on and you want to save the motor, taking the heads off is safer.

 

Have you ever done an engine swap before?

 

This is a tough one. The torque tube rear axle with coil springs would require re engineering the whole rear suspension. It would be easier to buy another Packard V8 and rebuild it, they are not that rare even though they were only made for 2 years.

 

You could move up from the original 320 cu in to a 352 or even a 374. Suggest you ask the Nash club, I am sure someone has run into this before.

 

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, 28 Chrysler said:

318 sbc / 904 transmission on a custom Dakota chassis would be less work in the long run than modifying the both the front and rear of your Nash chassis.

Modifying the original car and getting it right would take a hell of a lot of work and engineering savvy but not as much as gutting the car like a trout and fitting a junkyard pickup truck chassis. I suppose such a hodge podge could be made to go down the road under its own power but it would be a hell of a mess. It would be better and cheaper to rebuild or replace the original engine, by far.

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I've been thinking this over and if I had to replace the rear axle with an open drive line it might be easier to put in an independent rear suspension out of a Jaguar. The Jag unit comes out as an assembly in its own cage. You would have to remove the old rear axle assembly completely, cut out the unibody above the axle area and box it in again, and build mounts for the IRS but it could be done. It sure would not be cheap but might be better and cheaper than designing and building a whole rear suspension system from scratch.

 

I am NOT suggesting you do this, just throwing it out as an idea.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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The big Packard engine is one hell of an engine and it seems as if it would be a whole lot easier just to rebuild your engine or find another one.  The torque tube drive makes any modification of the suspension a real iffy project.  There would probably be endless headaches and redesigns in the process.  All SBC projects are not a piece of cake. 

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Yeah when someone says "just throw a Chevy 350 in it" and the OP is like "Oh, ok" you know you are dealing with a newbie. The tragedy is sometimes they let some jackass butcher the car so bad it will never run right again, THEN they come here and expect us to wave a magic wand and make it work.

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16 hours ago, Rusty_OToole said:

I've been thinking this over and if I had to replace the rear axle with an open drive line it might be easier to put in an independent rear suspension out of a Jaguar. The Jag unit comes out as an assembly in its own cage. You would have to remove the old rear axle assembly completely, cut out the unibody above the axle area and box it in again, and build mounts for the IRS but it could be done. It sure would not be cheap but might be better and cheaper than designing and building a whole rear suspension system from scratch.

 

I am NOT suggesting you do this, just throwing it out as an idea.

 

There is a Lincoln rear suspension that might be cheaper and more available.

Cant remember the year but was an air ride, There is a kit to eliminate that.

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Yes, Its a bolt on.

8 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Does the Lincoln come with a cage or subframe? Most IRS these days are incorporated into the body structure.

 

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9 minutes ago, Rusty_OToole said:

Does the Lincoln come with a cage or subframe? Most IRS these days are incorporated into the body structure.

 

The dealership that I part time for gave me one of these that was used as a loaner at a dealer in SLC.

It had the modular engine that has a lot of power.

I'm no Ford guy but besides the computer being all screwed up it drove well.

It already had the air bags replaced with springs (maybe they were struts)

A buddy wanted the engine and trans which would have left me the rest.

Almost did it, but ended up selling the thing.

I knew about these because a neighbor used one to build a sand buggy out of. He was able to get a lot of travel out of it by making his own control arms. (wish I had his talent)

 

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You may be referring to this. Lot's of info online about the Ford/Lincoln IRS.

 

00K0K_7TlnWn839CL_600x450.jpg

http://monterey.craigslist.org/pts/d/ford-88-posi-disc-break/6455290791.html

Ford 8.8 posi disc break independent rear suspension - $350

This unit came out of a mid 90s Super coupe Thunderbird . it was a drivable vehicle . So we know everything works. $350 . disk to disk without shocks. $425. with self adjusting shocks. call Paul.

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So it does come with a subframe. I like the wide spread mounts for good support. It looks like it would fit under the Nash in the same space as the old rear axle and just require making 4 mounts.  Where do the springs go?

 

This might be the answer for old cars that need awkward rear suspension transplants.

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On ‎3‎/‎14‎/‎2018 at 2:52 PM, Xander Wildeisen said:

Sell the Nash and buy a Hudson.:) Nash, big block?

A '55 Hudson is the same miserable car as a '55 Nash. Those who know them call them "Hashes". Even if you're lucky enough to find one with a Hornet engine and Twin H, the poor Nash will still fall over when you try to negotiate a curve. These are poor handling cars and I'd be surprised if a Lincoln front end would make a big difference. They also have pretty narrow engine compartments. Keep that in mind when you ponder exotic engine swaps. The guys who raced Hudson Hornets in Nascar in the early fifties were given the chance to try out the new Nash built '55 Hudsons on the track shortly after they came out. One of the drivers took it around the track once, parked it and then just walked away shaking his head.

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According to ace tester Tom McCahill the new Hudson would get around corners as fast as the old one though it leaned over a lot more doing it. This could be corrected with an anti sway bar if you really wanted to. As good as the flathead Hornet six was, the Packard V8 must have had a little something on it. And it was not exactly small, in fact it was the biggest displacement car engine that year and the next.

 

I'm not saying the new Hudson was the greatest car in the world but it was far from being a useless piece of junk.

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11 minutes ago, Hudsy Wudsy said:

A '55 Hudson is the same miserable car as a '55 Nash. Those who know them call them "Hashes". Even if you're lucky enough to find one with a Hornet engine and Twin H, the poor Nash will still fall over when you try to negotiate a curve. These are poor handling cars and I'd be surprised if a Lincoln front end would make a big difference. They also have pretty narrow engine compartments. Keep that in mind when you ponder exotic engine swaps. The guys who raced Hudson Hornets in Nascar in the early fifties were given the chance to try out the new Nash built '55 Hudsons on the track shortly after they came out. One of the drivers took it around the track once, parked it and then just walked away shaking his head.

I am not a fan of the Hash (54ish - 55-57) I do like hash browns. Being from Idaho it is a potato thing. I had a 54 Hornet coupe. Like the front, The blister looking tail lights are tough to get used to. (Nash thing) No room in the garage for a 55-57 Hudson. 

1954 hudson outside #1 001.JPG

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Has anyone actually looked under the car? It really is time to look under the car. Rusty's Jaguar IRS idea makes more sense than anything else in this thread so far, but I still have my doubts.

 

The picture below is a bathtub Nash. I daily drove one of these for a while in the 80s. It has all the suspension and driveline features you might find in any large series Nash, Hash, or large Rambler through about 1966. One really must start here.

Nash-Airflyte-1950-.jpg-courtesy-oldpark

 

This is a bridge in the town I grew up in. You may notice some resemblance.

 

15794926511_c0bd25f57c_b.jpg

 

The resemblance is more than superficial. If you look under the hood of the Nash, you will see a bridge-like structure connecting the load of the front suspension to the A pillars. The load is carried down through the bridge-like roof structure to a couple of rear spring seats.

 

Also, there are sheet metal "frame rails" welded to the floorpan. They are analagous to the road structure in the bridge above. Made of body sheet metal, they are loaded in tension. They really don't need a lot of strength. This point is driven home when you see the effects of a front door leak. There were rust holes in mine in the top and out the bottom for about 6-8 inches. right at the driver and passenger footwell. Did this matter? Not much, because the rail sides and another vertical piece were there, still loaded in tension, and it supported a tension load just fine.

 

One thing I am gonna throw out there is that you don't want to lift this car with a modern hoist on the body. Lift it from the wheels or axles. It is easy to damage this style of body with a hoist even if there is no rust. Back in the day you saw kinked Ramblers all over the place.

 

Back to the "bridge" This structure basically sits on the front suspension and the rear spring seats. So how does the suspension work?

 

a39288.jpg

 

Simply put, it is a torque tube, but not of the sort that you have probably seen before. A Chevy for instance takes only the wheel rotational reaction torque against the leaf springs. A Buick does a bit more, taking the fore/aft acceleration and braking loads. A Nash, IIRC, also takes the torque reaction of the driveline (wheel lift). There is no ball. There is a rubber "trunnion" (as Nash called it). it can take a tiny bit of misalignment but not much.

 

What you wind up with is something like the structure of the tractor in the picture above, with a bridge-like unibody perched above it on a couple of springs at the rear axle. A panhard rod locates the axle from side to side. The mount for the panhard rod is going to be the only thing back there with any strength at all IMHO. It takes the side load from cornering. The weight of the car will be supported at the rear of the "bridge" on a couple of coil spring seats. This is a strong point for a vertical load, so not much beefiness would be required. All other suspension loads and acceleration and braking forces are taken at the front of the car, or at least that is how I remember it. Try this, bounce the rear suspension and watch the engine. I think you will see the rear of the engine going up and down in relation to the firewall.

 

If you are serious about this, get it on a hoist (by the axles) and take lots of pictures. This is no ordinary swap.

 

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, old car fan said:

Why are we talking about modifying cars.

 I was wondering when someone would bring this up.

 RESTOMODS ARE BECOMING VERY POPULAR NOW AND ARE BRINGING IN A LOT MORE MONEY .

 

 A friend did the conversion and used a Jag rear end. I suggested that he run  3" square tube the full length of the car in order to hang everything off of it and strengthen the unibody.

 It worked out very well.

 

 His car in now worth maybe 3 times the amount of the original and it looks and rides like a dream.

 

 

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21 hours ago, mike6024 said:

You may be referring to this. Lot's of info online about the Ford/Lincoln IRS.

 

00K0K_7TlnWn839CL_600x450.jpg

http://monterey.craigslist.org/pts/d/ford-88-posi-disc-break/6455290791.html

Ford 8.8 posi disc break independent rear suspension - $350

This unit came out of a mid 90s Super coupe Thunderbird . it was a drivable vehicle . So we know everything works. $350 . disk to disk without shocks. $425. with self adjusting shocks. call Paul.

 

Yea, That one.

It has been a few years since I saw one, they originally had air bags, but there is a spring or strut kit available. I don't recall just where they ride.

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21 hours ago, mike6024 said:

You may be referring to this. Lot's of info online about the Ford/Lincoln IRS.

 

00K0K_7TlnWn839CL_600x450.jpg

http://monterey.craigslist.org/pts/d/ford-88-posi-disc-break/6455290791.html

Ford 8.8 posi disc break independent rear suspension - $350

This unit came out of a mid 90s Super coupe Thunderbird . it was a drivable vehicle . So we know everything works. $350 . disk to disk without shocks. $425. with self adjusting shocks. call Paul.

 

Yea, That one.

It has been a few years since I saw one, they originally had air bags, but there is a spring or strut kit available. I don't recall just where they ride.

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The seats fold down flat like that in a bathtub (49-51). I know the practice continued well into the 60s in Ramblers, so it is a good bet this car does the "bed" trick.

 

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