Capital Region Scrapbook: Ramblin’ men (with photo gallery)

Nothing against Chevrolet, but George Wedekind preferred that people saw the USA in a Nash.

Nothing against Chevrolet, but George Wedekind preferred that people saw the USA in a Nash.

Wedekind Motors was a Nash dealership in Schenectady, and the 1950s were great days for the company’s Rambler model.

The Rambler name was an old one for automobile fans. The Thomas B. Jeffrey Co. manufactured the first Rambler in 1902, in Kenosha, Wis. The company put 1,500 on the road that first year.

In 1914, a few years after Jeffrey’s death, the car was renamed the “Jeffrey” in his honor. But the Jeffrey did not last long.

Charles W. Nash, a former president of General Motors, bought the Jeffrey company during the summer of 1916.

In the spring of 1950, the Nash company decided to revive the Rambler name. “We are proud to revive a famous name in the history of our industry,” said H.O. Doss, who was in charge of sales for Nash. “The first of this series of new cars will be shown publicly in mid-April.”

The Rambler joined the Statesman and the Ambassador in the Nash lineup. And in late March of 1950, George W. Wedekind and William C. Lester, president and sales manager, respectively, of Wedekind Motors in Schenectady, traveled to New York City for a special dealer preview of the Rambler.

Road test

Ed Sollohub was impressed enough to buy an “R” car. Sollohub, a Schenectady race car driver, raced a big Nash in the Mexican Pan-American Stock Car Race in May 1950. The five-day, 2,178-mile race crossed Mexico from its northern border with the United States at Ciudad Juarez to the country’s southern border with Guatemala.

The Sollohub Rambler had some extras — like two special 54-gallon gas tanks and two spare tires.

Eddie ran into bad luck in Mexico when his new car smashed into a boulder on a mountain curve. He had to drop out for 21⁄2 hours, and couldn’t make up the lost ground. He said he thought he finished 16th.

The racer averaged 105 mph on the first leg of the race and wore out 16 tires during the revving and roaring. Mexican newspapers estimated that 2 million people lined the road for the last 40 miles of the great race.

Wedekind could at least note with pride that another Nash got third.

Categories: Life and Arts

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