A simple advertising cover for Nash cars posted in Adelaide 1 FEB 1939 sent to Nash Motors, Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.A. has an illustration of a Nash car, advertised by Maughan Thiem Motor Company Ltd, established 1912 in Adelaide, South Australia (Figure 1).
The history of this company is well described at its website “The streets of Adelaide in the year 1912 certainly would have sounded, looked and felt very different from the way they are today. In 1912 it was barely more than a decade since the motor vehicle had made its first appearance in public, and many people still thought it was a passing fad, never to replace the horse. But so popular was the motor vehicle becoming that it was soon necessary to impose minimal road rules, with the speed limit set at 10 miles per hour, and 4 miles per hour at intersections. The police were given the task of enforcing these limits by timing drivers over quarter mile long speed traps”.
At the time of the company’s formation, provision was made for Alfred Ross Thiem to join the partnership, which he eventually did in April 1913. By December of that year, Frederick Milton Maughan had also joined the business, and it continued to operate as a partnership until December 1920, when it was formally registered as the Maughan Thiem Motor Company.
Maughan Thiem always advertised itself as first in the field with the latest Ford accessories, and quickly established a reputation for caring for the needs of Ford owners. As the company grew, so did its ambitions, and it was not long before the firm was selling and servicing many different makes of motor vehicle. In the years up to June 1958, when the company was appointed a Ford dealer, it was agent for makes such as Enfield, Sterling trucks, Citroen, Stutz, Ruggles trucks, Graham-Paige, Nash, Willys and Singer. This period was one of enormous growth for Maughan Thiem, with the original premises in Flinders Street soon being complemented by a showroom in Pulteney Street. Tenancy of additional premises at Hindmarsh followed, as well as a large showroom at Nailsworth, South Australia.
The Nash story began when Charles W. Nash joined another middle-class American icon, Buick, soon after the turn of the Twentieth Century. By 1910, Nash had worked his way into the presidency of Buick. By 1912, Nash assumed the presidency of GM but quickly lost control of General Motors. This turn of events forced Nash to make a decision: should he stay with General Motors or should he strike out on his own? Nash looked for another car company to acquire, and he found it in, of all places, Kenosha, Wisconsin, nestled on the shores of Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago. It was there that the Thomas B. Jeffery Company built Jeffery (former Rambler) cars. For less than $10 million, Nash purchased the Jeffery company lock, stock and barrel. Finally, in the fall of 1917, Nash Motors was ready to introduce its first true line of Nash cars.
With prices ranging from $1,295 to just over $2,000, they were out of the reach of average working families, but right in the sweet-spot for the growing middle class managerial, professional, and retailer set. The line-up proved to be an immediate hit, and by 1920 Nash Motors had more than doubled the top sales mark the Jeffery Company had set in 1914. Their insistence on quality, on giving the customer more than what he paid for, was the reason that Nash was able to survive and finally thrive in the Depression when other car companies were breathing their last. When Charles W. Nash decided to turn over the reins of his company to George Mason of the Kelvinator Company in 1937, the company was solidly anchored as a fixture in the American marketplace, and it would stay that way until Nash merged with Hudson in the mid-Fifties to form American Motors (Figure 2).
The 1938 Nash Ambassador, 6 cylinder sedan, twin ignition, Model 3828 is shown in Figure 2.