Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Tiny 1954 Nash Metropolitan

The Nash Metropolitan (produced 1953-1961, first marketed in 1954) was designed in the United States, built in England using an Austin motor, and exported to North America.  A detailed Wikipedia entry on Metropolitan is here.

Even though many people were not enthusiastic about it (I never did come to terms with any car with tiny wheels), more than 80,000 were eventually sold in the USA and another 15-20,000 elsewhere.  Not long ago, Metropolitans became something of a cult-car here, though that enthusiasm seems to have faded as best I can tell.

The Metropolitan design was conceived by William J. (Bill) Flajole whose concept was accepted by Nash-Kelvinator's creative president George Mason in the form of the NXI show car of 1950.   Some NXI styling cues appeared on the redesigned 1952 full-size Nash line, as shown below.

Those small wheels aside, the Metropolitan was cute, distinctive, and American-looking, quite unlike most other very small cars designed in the early 1950s.


A 1954 Nash Metropolitan publicity photo.  Like all Nashes at the time, it had partly-enclosed wheels.  Given the tiny size of the Metropolitan's wheels, I doubt that full-size cut-outs would have improved the design.  The "airscoop" on the hood is decorative, not functional.  Its spare tire is mounted at the rear as a Continental Kit.

Two views of the 1950 NXI concept car designed by Flajole.  No Continental Kit here, the spare tire being stuffed in the rear about where the gas tank should be located.  The low hood and the grooved panel on the doors showed up on full-size Nashes for 1952-54.  These styling cues along with the covered wheels clearly proclaimed Nash identity for the new '54 Metropolitan.

Here is a 1952 Nash Ambassador two-door sedan for comparison.

Metropolitans came as coupes and convertibles.  That's a full-size Nash lurking in the garage.

This publicity photo of a 1960 Metropolitan shows plenty of pretty girls along with how the Metropolitan was facelifted.  Changes include a mesh grille and two-tone paint, the darker color always above the off-white.

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