The Nash Metropolitan was the most iconic subcompact of the 1950s, and one of the rare British vehicles that gained popularity even in the United States. Even though the elegant vehicle resembled a toy it was in great demand.
Source: Classic Driver
Nash Metropolitan was a remarkable but not so popular model in the history of the automotive industry. This was a very unusual automobile that eventually didn’t receive much attention. The model was introduced in the 50s in the USA during the period of luxury and large sedans’ popularity. The models with unusual designs in aerospace style attracted a lot of attention and were in great demand. In addition, even then, the presence of fins on the stern and a V8 engine under the hood was considered a symbol of prestige. Despite all the standards that at that time determined the attractiveness of the car on the market, the Metropolitan came out very differently. With a 1.2-liter 4-cylinder engine and the car turned out to be compact in terms of dimensions. The main feature was that the model was positioned as a car for ladies.
Source: Barn Finds
The United States became a victorious country after the Second World War. The economy was strengthened by military orders. As the well-being of buyers grew from year to year, in parallel, the size and power of cars grew. In the early 1950s, there was a huge variety of models from many brands on the market, and most vehicles were truly impressive in size. In 1950, the NXI concept car, designed by independent designer William Flaijol, was presented at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Its main feature was the interchangeable front and rear body panels: the vehicle was completely symmetrical. Assessing the positive public reaction, the company began developing a prototype production model – NKI (Nash-Kelvinator International). Only the doors remained symmetrical on it, and in all other respects, the design of the load-bearing body was close to the company’s other cars. The double convertible received half-closed front and rear wheels, a radiator grill with one vertical bar, a decorative air intake on the hood, and an external spare wheel mounted vertically at the rear (Continental). With a wheelbase of 2159 mm and an overall length of 3800 mm, the automobile turned out to be smaller than the Volkswagen Beetle! Shortly before the start of sales at the beginning of the 1954 model year, the NKI Custom name was changed to Metropolitan.
The management of Nash-Kelvinator decided that it would not be economically feasible to create a production base for this model in the United States from scratch. It was much more profitable to find a partner abroad to organize production at their plant using existing mechanical components. In 1952, the corporation partnered with the British companies Fisher & Ludlow and Austin, which were part of the BMC empire. The first agreed to make body panels, the second agreed to provide the main components and perform final assembly at its Longbridge plant. Thus, it received an Austin A40 inline 4-cylinder OHV engine with a volume of 1197 cm3 and a power of 40 hp. In the US, the automobile was imported, already finished, and sold through Nash and Hudson dealers (since August 1954, when Hudson merged with Nash).
The automobile was offered in two body styles: a 2-door hardtop for $1,445 and a convertible for $1,469. Standard equipment included Bedford fabric interior trim with leather inserts, a body-colored instrument panel with a large speedometer, interior lighting, power wipers, and a cigarette lighter, and for an extra charge, a buyer could order a radio, Weather Eye heater, and tires with white sidewalls. There was no trunk lid, so the driver had to put things in the hole behind the seatbacks. Average fuel consumption was 5.6 l/100 km. The automobile was distinguished by a 1.5-liter engine with a capacity of 55 hp, the presence of a trunk lid, and ventilation windows. Since 1957, the model had been sold simply as the Metropolitan, since the Nash brand was eliminated. At the same time, it appeared on the UK market, where it was known as the Austin Metropolitan (right-hand drive) and cost £713 for a hardtop and £725 for a convertible. A total of 94,986 vehicles had been sold in the US market and 9391 vehicles in Britain.
And in 1957, the Massachusetts company Overland Amusement Co. converted several “American” Nash into fire trucks. Nash became the second chassis after Crosley, which Overland Amusement Co. turned into “fire engines”. Of course, they weren’t meant to put out fires. These were exclusively children’s entertainment attractions in the spirit of “ride a real fire truck.” About 20 such vehicles were built, and subsequently sold to various amusement parks.
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