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“You Can’t Beat A Nash” – Delevan Lake, Wisconsin, August 14, 1937


Our photo depicts the Nash Motors’ Office Girls’ Annual Summer Picnic at the Lake Lawn Lodge on a warm summer’s day. Delavan Lake was located about fifty miles west of the Nash factory in Kenosha, so the ride out there must have been quite refreshing. However, what got our attention in these images are the stylish tractors hauling these happy ladies around.

As  far as we know, Nash sold no trucks between 1931 and 1946 although they did build a few in subsequent years. We are guessing that these are Willys export models or something like that, but that is only a guess. So today we present this as a challenge for our readers who like a mystery to solve. Please send in a comment if you have any clues or can identify them. Many more Wisconsin made cars and trucks can be seen here. Photo courtesy of the University of Wisconsin Library.


13 responses to ““You Can’t Beat A Nash” – Delevan Lake, Wisconsin, August 14, 1937

  1. Good morning and a happy and prosperous new year to all. I’m no expert on this matter at all but the front end on this rig reminds me of a later model Reo. I do find the lower mounted w/s wipers somewhat strange. Wish I could be more help.

  2. They do have a vaguely REO look to them, but REOs in those days had a vertical grille divider with half-round grill openings curving back to each side.

    These are really odd trucks – the way the cab and hood both seem to swell looks more European than contemporary US practice. I looked through Burness’s Truck and Bus Spotters Guide and didn’t find anything similar.

    Could they have been prototypes? Nash did a surprising amount of truck planning towards the end the war (going back to their Jeffery roots, maybe) and these could have been something they were considering. Bet Patrick Foster at Hemmings would know.

  3. After studying some pictures of Nash cars, I believe the cabs on these tractors were adapted from ’37-’38 Nash four-door sedan bodies, given details such as: external door hinges, wiper placement, belt reveal, door handles, and the rather abrupt curve at the rear of he cab roof (not unlike the post-war Nash wreckers)

    I agree with the other fellows who feel the front clip bears a passing resemblance to REO, but the grille also has a slight resemblance to the ’38 Nash in its contours.

    Probably factory prototypes that got shelved due to the War ?

    Best regards,

    Frank McMullen

  4. Based on a quick review of 1937-38 Nash product literature, but before reading Mr. McMullen’s comments I came to essentially the same conclusion as he has. Did not think about rear cab roof contours but he’s probably got that right.

    Thought the grille had hints of prewar Volvo cars but that’s probably coincidence. The headlamps looks like they were lifted from a 1936 Lafayette or Nash 400.

    • On Tuesday we will have a photo posted of a post-war Kenosha Auto Transport Corp. Reo tractor, pulling a trailer full 1950 Nashes. Cannot help but wonder it there is any connection between Kenosha, Reo and Nash?

      • There was a WWII connection as Nash got a major wartime contract to make Hamiton Standard airplane propellers but was out of production space. They contracted with REO in Lansing, MI for production space (perhaps the former auto production area) and made well over 100,000 propellers.

  5. Yes, the front end styling is reminiscent of the Reos of 1940-on. But, to my eyes, the “scale” of these trucks seems somewhat small. (Note the lone man in the picture near the rear cab.) This suggests a non-U.S. make or maybe a Willys product. The Willys cars and light-duty trucks of that era were smaller than contemporary ‘full size’ cars and had pointed front end styling.
    Willys was known to have prototyped a medium-duty truck or two, possibly for export. The trucks in this photo do have more conventional headlights and front fenders than the domestic offerings. I agree that the low-mounted wipers are unlike the other Willys before 1941, all of which had one-piece windshields.
    It’s worth noting that the 1937 Nash cars (including the Lafayette) had split windshields with low-mounted wipers.
    Is it possible that the date given for the photo is inaccurate? Is it certain that this photo was taken in the U.S.?

    • Tom, The date was from a Wisconsin Historical Society could be in question. It was taken at Nash Motors’ Office Girls’ Annual Summer Picnic so it is definitely a domestic photo.

      Willys is another maker we mentioned it could possibly be in the text.

  6. I agree with all of the above. One strange thing is the headlight mounting. It’s not like the 37 cars. On another note I have to feel for these ladies, a 100 mile round trip in these rigs, open air and all probably wasn’t too much fun!!!! However people were a lot tougher in those days. Perhaps we could all learn from those times.

  7. The headlights look similar to those used on Studebaker trucks of the same vintage. The Studebaker headlights came to a point at the rear, but the mounting looks close.

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