Nash was born to a farming family in Cortland, Illinois on what is now Route 38 — Lincoln Highway. After his parent's separation, at age 6, he worked as a farm-hand in Michigan as an indentured servant. He later became a shepherd to the owner of hay-bailing machinery. He then moved to Flint, Michigan where he was noticed by William C. Durant of The Flint Road Cart Company and hired in 1890 where he later became a supervisor.
In 1897, he had a chance to drive an early automobile, and became very interested in the commercial potential of this young device.
In 1910, he was hired as general manager of General Motors (GM). He put this previously debt-ridden company on secure financial footing. However, his reluctance to pay dividends to shareholders resulted in Nash being voted out of his position in 1915.
Nash, who took control of General Motors in 1910 from William Durant, was now fired by Durant when Durant regained control in 1916.
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.
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. He died in 1948, and was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale.