The Nash Metropolitan was a unique car released in the mid-1950s, with an aerodynamic and advanced design that later became the Nash Ambassador. The American brand, Nash Motors, was going in the opposite direction in the automobile market than the Big Three.
While other carmakers were making big and powerful cars and muscle cars, the Metropolitan was a smaller car that offered drivers a lot of value. In this guide, we cover all you need to know about the Metropolitan model.
- 1 What Is the Nash Metropolitan?
- 2 History and Features of the Nash Metropolitan
- 3 Metropolitan Club
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Conclusion
What Is the Nash Metropolitan?
The Nash Metropolitan is a series of automobiles that includes economy cars and subcompact cars. The vehicles were assembled in England and released from 1953 to 1961. Between 1954 and 1957, the cars were called Hudson Metropolitan, and from 1958 to 1962, it was renamed Metropolitan by American Motors.
Nash Metropolitan was also called Austin Metropolitan. The car was categorized as a small automobile or an economy car. The Metropolitan was sold to Hudson when Hudson and Nash merged in 1954 to create the American Motors Corporation. It was later sold as a standalone marque in the United Kingdom markets.
The Metropolitan is known as the first subcompact car in America. It was designed in the United States but assembled in England and stood out in the American marketplace. The car had a smaller design and made use of a unibody design, which was still new at the time.
The British firm also supplied the drivetrain and suspension in the Metropolitan with a British-built four-cylinder engine. When it debuted, it came with a 1.2-liter mill engine that supplied 39 horsepower. While this was low, even for the 1950s, it still offered a maximum speed of 70 mph. It could also go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 22.4 seconds.
History and Features of the Nash Metropolitan
The Metropolitan is a small car that was designed in the USA by William J. Flajole. It was designed for the Nash Motor Division of Nash Kelvinator Corporation. Then, Fisher & Ludlow Ltd and Austin Motor Company in England built the body and carried out the mechanical outfitting. The production of the car started in 1953.
The original Metropolitan cars had the NKI Custom badge, and the name was officially called Metropolitan in 1954. The first cars arrived in North America in December 1953. Although the NKI Custom badges were meant to be replaced with Metropolitan badges, some still made it out. It is very rare to find Metropolitans with the wrong badge.
Upon release, there were two models of the car, which were 541, a Nash Metropolitan convertible, and 542, a Metropolitan hardtop convertible. By May 1954, Nash Motors merged with Hudson Motor Car Company to create the American Motors Corporation. Then the cars were marketed as Nash Metropolitan and Hudson Metropolitan at the same time. By 1957, the name was called Metropolitan.
The Metropolitan was discontinued by 1961 or for the 1962 model year. This was due to low sales towards the end of the run. There were also some one-offs built in March and April after the Metropolitan production ended. The total Metropolitan production was up to 9,391 units. The last car was made on the 10th of April, 1961.
Design of the Metropolitan
The concept of the Metropolitan was inspired by the early concept vehicle that Nash made. This was called the Nash Experimental International or NXI. The NXI was meant to be a second car for families that wanted two cars rather than being the primary set of wheels. Families loved these cars for a trip to the grocery store or light commuting.
The Metropolitan design was built by William Flajole and featured the same unibody construction and design as the other Nash vehicles, just smaller. After Nash carried out some surveys, they took the NXI and created different prototypes. The prototypes were focused on seating arrangements, roll-up side windows, and engine sizes.
The prototypes were designed with a blister on the hood, cutouts on the rear wheels, and a non-functioning hood scoop. They formed the basis of the Nash Metropolitan. Nash Motors and Donald Healey Motor Company worked together to produce a promotional car that increased public interest in their cars.
The Metropolitan model came with design features like fully enclosed front wheels, a bar-style grille, and notched pillow-style door pressing. The car also came with standard features like a map light, cigar lighter, electric windshield wipers, and a rear-mounted spare tire with a cover. It was the first postwar American car that was marketed for women specifically.
The first release of the Metropolitan was Series I, which was released in 1953. The first Metropolitan was the NXI model but with the Metropolitan badges placed on it. It was designed with a bathtub unibody construction, and it featured a length of 149.5 inches. The car also came with a small cargo space that could be accessed through the rear seats.
There were two versions available, which were the Metropolitan convertible soft top and hardtop. Both models came with an Austin-produced engine which was an A40 73 CID straight-4. This came with 3-speed manual transmission with a mechanical clutch linkage. The car had a top speed of 70 mph, while the car could go from 0 to 60 mph in 20 seconds.
The first Metropolitan was released in five different colors in its first year. These were the Spruce Green, Caribbean Blue, Croton Green, Canyon Red, and Mist Grey. Customers could also add a radio and heater for a higher price. In the next year, the car was changed to Hudson Metropolitans.
After the first order of the Metropolitan was for 10,000 units, there was another order made for the car near the end of the first year. This was Series II and was produced in 1955. The engine was changed to a B-Series but with the 1,200 cc 73 cubic-inch engine.
Other modifications that were added to the car were the gearbox and hydraulic actuation.
The new engine and gearbox added to the weight of the car, which was 50 pounds more. The model was also called the NK2 rather than Series II.
In the same year of Series II, Metropolitan also released Series III as a replacement. The engine was changed to a B-Series straight-4 engine with a 90.9 CID size for the Series III Metropolitan. It was a slightly larger engine, but the top speed was slightly increased to 75 miles per hour. It also took over 20 seconds to reach 60 miles per hour.
The exterior design of the Metropolitan was also redesigned. It came with a two-tone paint job that was highlighted by stainless steel trim. There were also multiple exterior colors that car lovers could choose for the Metropolitan. These included Caribbean Green, Sunburst Yellow, Mardi Gras Red, Coral Red, Berkshire Green, and other whites.
The designers also updated the design of the car grille in the Series III. The non-functional hood scoop and the blister bump were removed to give the car a smoother hood design. The grille was also given an egg crate pattern.
By 1957, American Motors Corporation, which was the automotive parent company of Nash and Hudson, announced that they were changing the brand names of their vehicles. The Rambler name was given to the Metropolitan. The engine compression ratio also increased from 7.2:1 to 8.3:1.
The final release of the Metropolitan was Series IV, which was from 1959 to 1962. The Series IV debuted at the beginning of 1959. The redesign added external trunk access so drivers didn’t have to awkwardly go through the rear seat to get the items in the boot. The rear window design of the car was changed to a solid rear windshield.
There were also passenger vent windows, unlike the previous models that used a single pane of glass. The exterior colors and the engine performance in the Series IV were the same as the Series III, but the Metropolitan Series IV recorded the highest sales, which was 22,209.
Although that seemed like a good sign in 1959, the sales started to reduce until the car was discontinued in the 1962 model year. AMC ended the production of the Metropolitan in the middle of 1961. Throughout the eight-year run of the car, there were about 95,000 units sold in North America.
Reception and Reviews
The reviews of the Metropolitan were mixed, although many owners called it a great car in a small package. Floyd Clymer, who was known as the automotive industry veteran of that time, praised the car for offering better performance than he expected and stated that Nash had started a new trend in American automobiles.
Another review on the car was from Mechanix Illustrated, and it was praised as a sporty little bucket for a second car that can be used as a trip to the movies or for a family trip. He praised the handling and control of the car. Road and Track also tested the car and said that it was on a roll, even when turning in corners, and offered great security.
Road Test stated that the car shined when it came to roadability and responsive handling. It was also easy to maintain, although it consumes a lot of gasoline. Also, the car was able to take a lot of abuse without getting stressed, and the sensitivity while steering offers a lot of pleasure.
As for Collectible Auto magazine, the car was described in reviews as a big car in miniature. The writers said that it was fun to drive and ideal for a second car in the family. Motor Trend called the rear utility seats in the car a joke but still praised the economy.
The Metropolitan car was so popular that it attracted an owners’ club, which was called a Metropolitan Club. Although the car was not as popular as other models released at that time, it made a lasting impression which led to the creation of the club. Members of the Metropolitan Club were given a badge to place on their car, a membership card, and a certificate.
They were also given a Met Letter magazine, which consisted of member-submitted content like experiences of using the car and tips on how to maintain the car. Even after the Metropolitan vehicle was discontinued, the club remained, and the members considered themselves as part of an exclusive group.
There are dedicated fans of the Metropolitan car who also open up Metropolitan restoration garages and sell replica parts for those who own the classic cars. The Metropolitan Club also consists of some popular owners like Elvis Presley, Steve Jobs, Paul Newman, and Jimmy Buffet.
Frequently Asked Questions
– What Is the Nash Metropolitan Fuel Economy?
Nash Metropolitan fuel economy is almost 40 mpg, as the car was known for consuming a lot of fuel. This was one of the features that gained criticism from magazines and car veterans. With an average speed of 35 miles per hour, the car consumed 41.57 miles per gallon.
– Did the Metropolitan Car Have Automatic Transmission?
No, the Metropolitan car did not have automatic transmission. Instead, it provided 3-speed manual transmission on all the car models. This was provided through a column/dash shifter, which was strange for its time. The column-mounted transmission shifter on the bench seat was a unique feature.
– Who Produced the Nash Metropolitan?
The Nash Metropolitan was produced by the Nash Motor Division, Fisher & Ludlow Ltd, and Austin Motor Company. The first company was from the USA, while the second two options were based in Birmingham, England. The car was designed in the USA but made in the UK.
With our complete guide on Nash Metropolitan, you have all you need to know about this classic car from the 50s.
Here’s a look at what we covered in this guide:
- The Metropolitan was released from 1953 to 1961 and is a series of economy and subcompact cars.
- It was designed in the US by William J. Flajole and was first called NKI Custom before being renamed to Metropolitan.
- The design of the car was based on the Nash Experimental International.
- The car was released as Series I, Series II, Series III, and Series IV.
- The car received a lot of positive reviews when it was released, and it also birthed the Metropolitan Club.
You can enhance the look of your classic car collection by adding the Metropolitan to it. It’s an exciting car that would give you a fun driving experience or simply look good in your selection.
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