Fred Hardee’s 1952 Nash Rambler Airflyte Greenbrier Wagon
Watertown, South Dakota resident Fred Hardee has been a car enthusiast his entire life, though it wasn’t until 2008 that he built his first classic ride. He’s made up for lost time since then as a ’55 Chevy 210, ’62 Corvette, and ’69 Corvette convertible were already living in his garage before he started the ball rolling on this 1952 Nash Rambler Airflyte Greenbrier wagon.
After missing out on a similar Nash for sale in Minnesota, Fred found this relatively solid 60,000-mile example in a California junkyard. He almost missed out on it, too, after it was sold while he contemplated. Luckily, Fred was able to work out a deal with the new owner.
Originally featuring unibody construction with an 85-horsepower engine, Fred had loftier goals for this Nash. After dismantling it, he sent it to Roadster Shop for a custom-built 98-inch wheelbase Fast Track chassis. Meanwhile, Eric Brockmeyer put his skillful pen to paper, creating a one-of-a-kind rendering for the wagon. Fred entrusted Paul Atkins Interiors & Hot Rods to turn it into rolling artwork. Atkins’ crew embarked on a 20-month build after receiving the car in January 2020.
Fred ordered a 495-hp LS3 connect-and-cruise package from Chevrolet Performance to install in the RS chassis, backed by a 4L70E automatic sending power to the 9-inch rearend. The RS suspension utilizes tubular A-arms with C6 Corvette spindles up front and a four-bar setup in the rear. Penske RS Edition coil-over shocks dampen the ride while Wilwood brakes stop it.
Not wanting to change the body characteristics much, the Atkins team incorporated some subtle modifications that look stock, such as the wheel tubs, custom-made lower trim, and rear bumper molded around Cadillac oval exhaust tips. The Nash’s custom two-tone green paint is from BASF Diamont and is complemented by Hot Rods by Boyd brushed Centennial Bronze wheels.
Atkins Interiors is known the world over, and the crew did a number on this little “bathtub” with Daytona bronze carpet and rust-hued leather upholstery – clean, simple, and tight with not a stitch out of place. The modified original dash sports a custom Dakota Digital HDX cluster, a clock, and Vintage Air controls in front of an Ididit column fitted with a Sparc Industries Infinite wheel.
The 1952 Nash Rambler deservedly took home a Top 10 Builder’s Choice award at the Summit Racing Nationals, along with becoming a GM Retro Iron Builder of the Year finalist. It’s certainly a testament to Hardee’s vision and the passionate builders at Paul Atkins Hot Rods & Interiors.
Photos by Shawn Brereton