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Young Americans fell in love with a new breed of sports car after World War II and small, independent automakers such as Nash and Kaiser were the first to realize this was more than a passing fad. The Nash-Healey in particular was the product of a chance encounter in late 1949 between Nash's George Mason and sports car builder Donald Healey aboard the Queen Elizabeth II oceanliner.
The prototype was soon completed and displayed at the London and Paris Auto Salons of 1950. The sleek aluminum-alloy bodies of the cars that followed were constructed by Panelcraft Sheet Metal Ltd. of Birmingham, while their chassis were based on the Healey Silverstone, and the powertrain and driveline were borrowed from the Nash Airflyte. The engine was a modified Nash six-cylinder powerplant with a hotter camshaft, an aluminum cylinder head, dual SU carburetors and higher compression. Sales began in the United States after the car's debut at the 1951 Chicago Auto Show.
Nash was quick to enter competition with its new sports cars. A specially-bodied Nash-Healey finished ninth in 1951 at the grueling Mille Miglia, and fourth overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The following year, an open Nash-Healey returned to Le Mans, finishing third overall, and second in the Index of Performance. Press reaction was also positive. Pioneering road-tester Tom McCahill said that he had "never driven a sports car that handled better or gave the driver so much control."
Just 104 first series, alloy-bodied Nash-Healey LeMans Roadsters were originally built, and few survive today.