Charles Williams Nash

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For other people of the same name, see Charles Nash (disambiguation).
Charles W. Nash
Charles Williams Nash.jpg
Born Charles Williams Nash
(1864-01-28)January 28, 1864
Cortland, Illinois
Died June 6, 1948(1948-06-06) (aged 84)
Beverly Hills, California
Nationality United States
Employer General Motors
Nash Motors
Spouse(s) Jessie Halleck
Awards Automobile Hall of Fame

Charles Williams Nash (January 28, 1864 — June 6, 1948) was a United States automobile entrepreneur and served as an executive in the automotive industry.

Early life[edit]

Nash was born to a farming family in Cortland, Illinois, on what is now Route 38 — Lincoln Highway. His mother was Anna E. "Annie" Cadwell (1829–1909) who married David L. Nash. Other Nash siblings included Mazovia (b. 1862), George C. (b. 1866) and Laura W. (b. 1868). After Charles' parent's separation, at age 6, Charles worked as a farm-hand in Michigan as an indentured servant. He later became a shepherd to the owner of hay-bailing machinery. On April 23, 1884, he married Jessie Halleck whom he had met while pressing hay on her father's farm. They then moved to Flint, Michigan, in 1890 where he was noticed by William C. Durant of the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. Durant hired him in 1890, and Nash became a supervisor.

In 1897, Nash had a chance to drive an early electric automobile in New York City, and became very interested in the commercial potential of this newly developed contraption.

Automobile industry[edit]

Nash co-founded Buick Motor Company with David D. Buick and William C. Durant, and in 1908 became Buick's president and general manager.

In 1910, he was hired as general manager of the General Motors Corporation (GMC). He took over a debt-ridden company suffering losses and increased profits to US$800,000 as early as 1911 to over $12 million by 1914, as well as secured the firms financial footing.[1] However, his reluctance to pay dividends to shareholders resulted in Nash being voted out of his position in 1915.

Nash, who took control of GM in 1910 from William Durant, was now fired by him when Durant regained control in 1916.

Nash then resolved never again to work for someone else. He bought out the Jeffery Motor Company in August 1916. In 1917, renamed it as Nash Motors. The 1917 Nash Model 671 was the first vehicle produced to bear the name of the new company's founder.[2] The new company was successful, with sales totaling 31,008 trucks and cars by 1919.[1]

In addition to running Nash Motors, Charles Nash was also president of the luxury car company LaFayette Motors until that company was bought out by Nash Motors in 1924.


Charles W. Nash retired in 1936. His successor at the company was George W. Mason, who was recommended by Walter Chrysler.

He lived in retirement for twelve years later and died at the age of 84 in Beverly Hills, California. His health failed at the death of his wife in 1947.[3] He died in 1948, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale next to his wife.


Nash is best known for responding to public demand by building a smaller, more economical and affordable cars.[4] Nash Motors was very successful marketing cars to North America's middle class. He is also recognized for lean operations in business that included scheduling production and material orders closely, carrying a small inventory, and having flexibility in meeting the changing market needs during the economic turmoil of the 1920s and 1930s.[4] Nash, is also credited with developing the straight-line conveyor belt assembly system that he first introduced at the Durant-Dort Carriage Company factory.[5]

Charles W. Nash's achievements have been summarized in the word "success":[6]

A man who, in the short space of nine years, has built up a business on which there is not a dollar of bonded indebtedness, whose stocks have a market value approximating $137,000,000, whose profits have exceeded $56,000,000, and whose bank balance tops $30,000,000, surely must be regarded as a very practical authority on what makes for success.

— Automotive Giants of America: Men Who Are Making Our Motor Industry


  1. ^ a b "Overview: Charles Warren Nash". Motorbase. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Lewis, Albert L.; Musciano, Walter A. (1977). Automobiles of the World. Simon and Schuster. p. 280. ISBN 978-0-671-22485-1. 
  3. ^ "C.W. Nash Near Death As His Wife Succumbs". The New York Times. 20 August 1947. p. 25. Retrieved 5 April 2012. Charles W. Nash, one of the nation's pioneer auto makers, took a turn for the worse and was near death himself today after he was told that the wife he had married sixty-three years ago had died last night. 
  4. ^ a b "Charles W. Nash - 1975 Inductee". Automobile Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Lewis, Albert L.; Musciano, Walter A. (1977). Automobiles of the World. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-22485-1. 
  6. ^ Forbes, B.C.; Foster, O.D. (1926). Automotive Giants of America: Men Who Are Making Our Motor Industry. Forbes Publishing (Kessinger Publishing, 2003). p. 224. ISBN 978-0-7661-6177-1. Retrieved 5 April 2012. 

External links[edit]


  • 1910 — Charles Nash takes control of General Motors from William Durant.
  • 1916 — William Durant re-gains control of General Motors and fires Charles Nash.
  • 1916 — Charles Nash buys the Thomas B. Jeffery Company.
  • 1917 — Thomas B. Jeffery Company is renamed Nash Motors.
Business positions
Preceded by
Thomas Neal
President General Motors
Succeeded by
William C. Durant
Preceded by
Thomas B. Jeffery Company
Chairman and CEO of Nash Motors
Succeeded by
George W. Mason