Peter Abbatello's 1947 Nash Ambassador
(from Volume 19, Issue 218)

From an early age Peter Abbatello has been interested in vehicles, and began riding mini bikes at age 7. It wasn’t long before he graduated to regular motorcycles, but one of the real turning points in Peter’s life was when he was 14 and his older brother bought a ‘63 Nova that was an old drag car which had been put back on the street. The car had no back seat, so Peter vividly remembers riding on the floor boards, holding onto the roll cage as his brother ran the car hard.

The bug had bitten him for sure, and by the age of 15 he bought his first car. It took working all summer cutting fire trails, but he was able to purchase his neighbor’s 1962 Chevy Impala hardtop with a 327 engine, 4-barrel carb, dual exhaust, 3-speed on the column, and 4.11:1 positraction rear gears. It was in mint condition with only 43,000 original miles, and even had the plastic seat covers over the original seats. Peter remembers dropping the clutch and burning rubber like it was yesterday (and wishing he still had it today). The thing is, he was only 15 and didn’t have a driver’s license. However, that set things in motion, and by the time he graduated high school he was a full blown car nut. By the time Peter was in his mid-30’s he had already bought and sold over 300 cars, done 6 full restorations from the ground up, worked as a mechanic, as a parts puller for a wrecking yard, campaigned his own drag cars, was on the pit crew for a Pro Stock car, made some passes in the Pro Stocker himself in the high eights at about 140 mph, and was offered a spot on the pit crew of a Funny Car - which he turned down, and later regretted.

It was in late 1999 that his brother called him and said they should check out an estate sale that had about 1,500 cars for sale. His brother led him to a black 1947 Nash Ambassador, and said that Peter should buy it. Already having a project at home Peter wasn’t hot on the idea....until they went back later in the day to pick up the car his brother had bought. Peter approached the widowed woman and asked how much the ‘47 Nash was, and she told him there were 7 bidders already, and the auction was ending in an hour. They called up the last bidder of $1,500 and asked if he was willing to go any higher, and when he said no Peter put in his bid of $1,525 and got the car. It was a 4,600 mile original car that had been on blocks for 40 plus years by the original owner.

Before long Peter sold the other project, plus his collection of cars, to be able to build the ‘47 Nash. The concept was to build a 40’s style hot rod, leaving the whole car original inside and out, but with a blown big block Chevy in it, and tubbed rear tires. As time went on the car wound up receiving a full Competition Engineering chassis and suspension as well, and the original budget went out the window.

The 488 cubic inch engine Peter built has an Eagle 4.25-inch stroke crank, Keith Black pistons, Childs & Albert rods, roller cam with .580 lift and .342 duration, 3/8-inch push rods, LS6 454 open chamber rectangular port cylinder heads, Manley valves (225 intake, 188 exhaust), double valve springs with dampeners, titanium retainers, Mildon gear drive, plus an O-Ringed block and heads. The Weiand 671 supercharger has Teflon rotors, and is topped by a pair of Holley 750 double pumper carbs, an MSD ignition lights the candles, and 2-1/4 inch Speedway fenderwell headers route the spent gasses through a DynoMax exhaust system. Mated to the muscular motor is a Hughes built Turbo 400 automatic with an SFI bell housing shield and flex plate, plus a Continental 4,000 stall converter. By the time it was done, the engine was putting out 1,007 horsepower on the dyno, running on pure racing fuel. After relocating to Florida they de-tuned it to be driven on the street, and it has remained that way ever since. However it still makes approximately 700hp, and Peter can’t help but put the gas pedal to the floor sometimes for some grins.

As per the plan, the body was kept stock, except for the white paint and eye-catching flames that linger from light blue to dark blue. Of course the Weld Draglite wheels, huge Mickey Thompson rear tires, and the shotgun style air scoop poking through the hood let you know this Nash is indeed nasty.

Thompson Motorsports, run by Mickey Thompson’s daughter Lindsey in Eugene, Oregon did the tin work, as well as the certified 10-point roll cage inside the car. The neat art-deco stock dash remains, except now white faced Dolphin gauges fill the respective holes to provide the vital stats. The tan vinyl and brown velour upholstery was done in a sedate stock style, though you’ll now find 5-way harness seat belts, and a Safecraft Halon fire system.

Peter told us that the Nash is his best complete build to date, though it also cost more than all the others. As he and his family was moving from Oregon to Florida they attended the Nash’s first points judged show in Paris Landing Tennessee along the way. It was a 3-Day show, and come awards time the organizers asked his then young daughter, Marina, to help with handing out the awards. At the end the Nash was awarded Best Rod, with Marina getting to hand her dad the over 6-foot tall trophy. Now grown up, his son Jacob and daughter Marina still enjoy riding in the Nash with their dad. The car still turns heads at any car show or cruise-in Peter attends with it, and it still puts a smile on his face when he puts the pedal to the metal. CN