1934 Nash Advanced 8
Model 1280 4-Door 5-Passenger Sedan
This Nash sports a straight-8, overhead-valve, nine-main-bearing engine. Its 8 cylinders fire on 16 spark plugs.
For safety, directional signals have been added. This is one of the rarest Nash’s in the world.
History of the 1934 Nash Design
The 1934 Nash design is seen as example of the art deco school at its zenith. The body was designed by Count Alexis de Sakhnoffski, the Russian-born son of Prince Vladimir “Sakhnovsky,” who by the early 1920s, had become known in Europe as a designer of ultra-modern, streamlined sports cars. This reputation put his skills in high demand, and in 1929de Sakhnoffski moved to America and began working for several Hayes Auto Body customers, including Auburn, Cord, and American Austin. The L-29 Cord body he designed for himself won the Grand Prize at the 1929 Monaco Concours d’Elegance and the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the 1929 Beaulieu Concours.
Soon after this move to America, de Sakhnoffski exploded. To keep up with the demands for his design talent, he maintained offices in Atlanta, Chicago, Grand Rapids, Milwaukee, New Canaan (Conn.), New York City, and Philadelphia. His design work expanded outside of the realm automobiles, to related fields such as trailers for Fleetwheels, boats for Feather-Craft, and Chrysler’s exhibit at 1933 World’s Fair. His work brough him even farther afield from automobiles when he took on design projects as diverse as interiors for the Earl Carroll Theatre, radios for Emerson, refrigerators for Kelvinator, bicycles for Murray, movie sets for the famous Hal Roach, and advertisements for Revlon. This tenacious desire to design and create extended through de Sakhnoffski’s entire lifetime. Over the course of his long and varied career he was awarded 38 US patents and had his illustrations appeared in Conquete de l’Air, Esquire, L’Equipement Automobile, Motor Trend, Psyche, and Skyways.
While de Sakhnoffski career as a design was ramping up, so was demand for Nash automobiles. Production swelled to 138,137 units by 1928. And as Nash grew, its partners in the coach building business did too. By 1928, Seamans, a Milwaukee company partly owned by Nash, employed 6,000 workers producing 800 car bodies a day.
However, after the stock market crash of 1929 demand for automobiles began to decline. The global economy continued to slow until 1933, a year that saw over 100 auto worker strikes in the United States. Among those strikes was a walk-out of 200 Nash assembly line workers in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In response, Charles W. Nash locked out all 3,000 unionized workers at the Kenosha and Racine plants. After several walkouts and management’s refusal to comply with union conditions, brokering a peace required eight weeks of mediation. Nash was forced to give his workers a raise of 17 percent, representing one of the first major union victories of the 1930s. But this victory for the union was loss for Nash as a whole. 1933 was the first year Nash ever lost money.
So in 1934 Nash and Seamans, its body maker, were desperate to sell cars and looking for a new design. The same year, Alexis de Sakhnoffski, was hired as the new technical editor at Esquire, where he served until the 1960s. This broad, public platform made de Sakhnoffski one of the most widely known designers in the world. This next level of notoriety is what led to Nash to seek out de Sakhnoffski to create a truly stunnning design.
And so he did. His “Speedstream” body design would transform the look of Nash completely, introducing bullet-shaped headlights, horizontal hood ribs, streamlined accents, rear wheel spats, and built-in luggage trunks with a full beaver-tail rear end. It was hailed as one of the most art deco designs every applied to an automobile. The design didn’t compromise, it didn’t waiver, it didn’t shy away from being absolutely and positively a piece of art.
Yet this incredibly design, would last only one year. The de Sakhnoffski Speedstream design didn’t stop the losses at Nash. Instead, the company suffered $1.6 million in additional losses. This was undoubtedly the result of the overall economic conditions at the time, but Nash’s executives blamed the design. And so the de Sakhnoffski Nash was terminated before it ever had a chance to succeed.
In 1935 Nash debuted a new design, dubbed the “Aeroform,” which abandoned art deco in favor of a all-steel, one-piece body. This trading of styling for efficiency might have stemmed Nash’s losses, their annual deficit dropped to $610,000, but it came at the cost of producing an incredibly inferior car and ended their relationship with de Sakhnoffski, who may have otherwise gone on to create even more spectacular designs at Nash.
That’s what makes the 1934 Nash so exceptional. It required an incredible confluence of historical circumstances: the depression, the economic nadir of 1933, the walkouts, strikes, and lock-outs, and the unlikely rise of a Russian-born aristocrat to the height of international design world. Nash’s desperation and de Sakhnoffski’s inspiration came together for a brief moment to create something the world would never see again. That’s how Nash’s 1934 model year came to be one of the narrowest windows for a design style amongst the larger producers of classic automobiles.
That’s what makes this car so special, the design was limited to a single year. Owning a 1934 is like owning a moment in time. A time when truly tremendous design came to the forefront of American manufacturing.