1926 Nash Roadster – Barbary Coast Bootlegger
It’s not every day you see a perfectly-restored 1926 Nash roadster, especially not one that was owned over one hundred years ago by a bootlegger in San Francisco. We met John Hinkley at the Altamont Cruisers show earlier this month, and he filled us in on all the details. Let’s start at the beginning of this ’26 Roadster’s life and see where it takes us.
The story starts on a (probably) foggy day across the bay in cold, crisp San Francisco at a busy Nash dealership. It’s 1925, and an affluent businessman steps in the door; it’s immediately obvious that this isn’t your typical entrepreneur.
What’s different about him isn’t something you can place immediately, and he’s greeted like anyone else. A salesman politely shows him the latest models; luxurious sedans with all the bells and whistles. But the gentleman is not interested in that.
Instead, he asks abruptly for a car that “can do 85 miles per hour” as he needs it for his line of work. Now, no matter your line of work, no one has any business doing 85 miles an hour in the 1920s. That is, unless you have an alcohol business.
You might take note of the timeframe we’re talking here; there were no legitimate alcohol businesses in the late twenties, due to the prohibition which ultimately failed horribly. On the other hand, business was booming for our friend who picked out this Roadster which, we can only assume, he drove madly around the streets of San Francisco.
Both the businessman and the car had been subject to an onslaught of bullets from a rival gang and neither survived. From there the second Nash went back to the salesman, who decided to buy it himself. During the thirties it was passed around as a family car before being stored for over six decades.
This is where the current owner, John, starts to come into the story. He and the salesman’s family were good friends and John told them that if they were ever going to part with the Nash that they give him first dibs. They insisted that would never happen, the car was staying in the family.
Years and years later, that day did in fact finally come. The Nash was still sitting in the garage, and it was time for it to go home to a new owner. But by this point, John tells us he was just “sick and tired” of cars. He didn’t want to take on a project of this scope at this stage in his life. It was time for relaxing, not for restoring someone else’s neglected car.
But now John’s son enters the story — he wanted to go take a good look at the car with his dad and see what he thought. Needless to say, he was excited, and he had an idea his pops just couldn’t turn down: a father and son restoration.
Of course, they went through with the project. The salesman’s family knew it was in good hands and John and his son certainly did right by the car. It has the original 6-cylinder Ajax engine and some of the original leather in the back is still in good shape due to being stored indoors for so long.
This is definitely a car with some history, and we wish the thing could talk. Sadly, it can’t, so what we’re left with instead is a beautiful restoration — we’ll take it!