Rare Rides: A Microscopic American Motors Metropolitan From 1962

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides a microscopic american motors metropolitan from 1962

Recently, we featured a grandiose convertible Hudson once owned by actor and car enthusiast Steve McQueen. Today’s Rare Ride came originally from Nash, the other company which combined with Hudson to form American Motors.

Let’s get Metropolitan.

Like early Hudson, the Nash Motor Company focused on how to make cars more economical and affordable for the average consumer. Nash based the Metropolitan on ideas from its prior concept car, the NXI (Nash Experimental International). As the company had no delusions about the Metropolitan’s size, it was not marketed as a primary car. The intent was for the Metropolitan to take up the secondary space in the driveway, doing short errands around town. At the time, the term subcompact did not yet exist, so the Metropolitan was labeled as a compact or economy car.

With the design ready for market, the people at Nash first needed someone to build it. The automaker’s consumer studies showed that Americans were ready to purchase a small economy car — as long as it was very cheap. Accountants determined it would not be possible to build the Metropolitan domestically due to high labor costs. So they turned to an island to the east.

That’d be England. In 1952, Nash announced the selection Austin Motors to build the Metropolitan for them. It was a first in the industry: A car intended for the North American market was built overseas, then sold and serviced by Nash dealers. It was the very first captive import.

Metropolitans were available as hardtop coupes or convertibles and had a considerable standard features list considering the class of car. Nash put the car on sale in 1953 and immediately targeted its best prospective customer — women. Nash’s car for women beat Dodge and the La Femme to market by a year. Luxury, affordability, and personal transport were all highlighted as features of this all-new kind of car.

The revolutionary Metropolitan found favor with critics and customers alike. Through the next several years, the car went through three major revisions. The final Series IV started production early in 1959, adding an opening trunk to the Metropolitan for the first time. There were also vent windows at the front and the most advanced version of the Austin B-Series engine, which displaced 1.5 liters and produced a racy 55 horsepower. All Metropolitans had a three-speed manual, in addition to fuel economy that ranged between 30 and 39 miles per gallon — a very commendable figure in the Fifties.

1959 would prove the high point in the Metropolitan’s life, when it racked up over 22,000 sales. The only compact car which trumped it was the ever-present VW Beetle. Sales fell off quickly after that, as the aging Metropolitan faced steep competition from within its own showroom. AMC offered a Rambler American line that was larger, newer, and cost $100 more than the Metropolitan.

The company wound down production in 1961, when sales dropped to just 969 total units between the U.S. and Canada. A select remainder were sold as ’62 models; 420 in total.

That brings us to today’s Rare Ride — the last of the last in the Metropolitan’s history. A 1962 model in black and white, it isn’t perfect, but wears a nice diamond pattern interior. This Nash can be yours for $7,900.

[Images: seller]

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  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Mar 25, 2019

    As a teenager, I had a neighbor that owned two Mets, and I helped him restore one of them. Before the trunklid was added to these, access to the trunk was gained by lowering the folding, lockable rear seatback.

  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Mar 29, 2019

    The 1st shop that I worked at in the early 1970s repaired anything, from school buses to Ferrari's. Some customers were into what were then known as quirky or weird cars. We worked on several Metropolitan's during the two years I was there. One came in on a tow truck as the engine needed an overhaul. While this job was in progress the car owner visited most every day to check the progress and admire his, new to him, Nash. Just as the Nash motor was being completed and ready to go out the door someone brought in a well used postal delivery 3 wheeler for repair, probably a Cushman Mailster. When the Metro owner saw this he immediately wanted to sell the Metro and get a 3 wheeler.

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.