What car is as cute as a button and almost as fast? Why, the Nash Metropolitan, of course. The Metropolitan was an idea from forward-thinking George Mason, CEO of Nash-Kelvinator Corp., who envisioned it as a commuter car for men and as a personal car for the ladies (remember, this was the ‘50s). Mason saw a niche for small cars when every other American manufacturer was thinking “longer, lower, wider.” During his tenure, Nash-Kelvinator also marketed the Nash Healey, a two-seat sports car, and led the field in small cars with the Nash Rambler.
Available as either a hardtop or a convertible, the Metropolitan had a wheelbase of only 85 inches and an overall length of a little over 12 feet. The 1960 Metropolitan, weighing only 1,785 pounds, was powered by an Austin 1500 cc engine producing 55 horsepower, which managed to give the car acceptable performance for the time. Back in the day, Road & Track magazine tested the Metropolitan and recorded a 0-60 mph time of 22.4 seconds.
All Metropolitans were built in the U.K. by the Austin Motor Co. using existing Austin mechanical components. The base price of $1,672 for the hardtop and $1,696 for the convertible included sun visors, turn signals, two-tone paint on the hardtop, a map light, electric windshield wipers, and a continental spare tire with cover. A ‘Weather Eye’ heater, AM radio, and whitewall tires were options.
Metropolitans were built from 1953 through 1961 – the last Metropolitan rolled off the assembly line on April 19, 1961, but sales of existing inventory continued until March of 1962. Their biggest sales year was 1959, when 22,209 units were sold in the United States and Canada. Sales started to decline in 1960 when 13,874 cars were sold, leading to the end of production. Total Metropolitan sales for all years was 94,986 cars.
Nash merged with Hudson in 1954 to create American Motors Corporation, and in 1957 AMC dropped the brand names Nash and Hudson. All Metropolitans after 1957 were marketed only under the ‘Metropolitan’ brand.
Jack Nerad of Motor Trend magazine summed up the Metropolitan’s lasting appeal best, saying, “No, the Metropolitan didn’t come from a top-of-the-line manufacturer. No, it doesn’t have a proud racing history. And, no, it wasn’t built in huge numbers. But [it] possesses an ageless, cuddly quality that has made it a perennial favorite of car lovers and car agnostics alike.”
History of Metropolitans: http://chuckstoyland.com/metro/history/index.html