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Cute Convertible: 1957 Nash Metropolitan

There was a time, that I can recall when a Nash Metropolitan was a pretty common sight. They still are but usually in a restored state and not beating around as everyday drivers. I haven’t come across a non-restored example in this subject’s condition so it will be interesting to review this Anglo-American sub-compact convertible from long ago. This 1957 Nash Metropolitan is located in Winnsboro, Texas, and is available here on eBay for a current bid of  $3,250, reserve not yet met.

The Nash Metropolitan was manufactured between model years 1954 and 1962 and was the product of a relationship between Nash (and then American Motors) and Austin Motor Company. The Nash Metropolitan was considered at the time to be the first captive import as it was designed for U.S. markets but built in England, exclusively for North American buyers (Canada included). Assembled in Birmingham, England, the Metropolitan was offered in both coupe and convertible form, built across four different series, before final wrap up in 1962 with approximately 95K copies sold.

Being a 1957 model, this Metro example would be from Series III and would be the last referred to as a “Nash” Metropolitan – the 1958 and forward models were simply called Metropolitans. Powering this diminutive convertible is a BMC, Austin Motor Company 1.5 liter, in-line, four-cylinder engine that develops 52 HP. The seller indicates that he does not know if this is the original motor and doesn’t know how to make that determination. Some sleuthing around indicates that the engine number, “15F-N-H 15939” means: prefix= “15F” which is for a 1500 CC Nash Metropolitan, the N character means columns shift while H indicates high compression. The trailing five digits (15939) represent the sequential engine number but don’t tie back to the VIN so there’s no way to ascertain if this engine is original to the car, but it is correct for this June 1957 produced Metro. What’s not clear is if it runs; the seller makes no mention of what is arguably, one of the most important aspects of any car that still has an engine under its hood (bonnet in this case?). All Metropolitans came equipped with a three-speed manual transmission.

The exterior has supposedly been poorly repainted. The codes indicate that this Nash was originally finished off in Berkshire Green (code P912) with Frost White (code P914) as the contrasting color. It would seem that the repaint was at least in the original shades if applied poorly, as suggested by the seller. Obviously, there is a lot of surface rust present though the seller claims the body is Bondo-free and solid as is the structural part of the subframe. What’s not solid are the floor pans and the seller suggests that they should be replaced. The convertible top fabric doesn’t appear to have much going for it but the folding frame is at least present so that’s helpful.

Besides the aforementioned floor problem, the interior is a bit rough but there’s not a lot to it. There is no floor covering but the bench seat fabric has held up reasonably well, it does appear to be degrading, however. The spy shot of the speedometer/odometer lists the mileage at 54,715 miles but there is no claim or documentation to back that up. The interior, whether new or in restored condition, is a primitive, minimalist environment.

The seller indicates that he has restored three Metropolitans so far so he should be a good source of information for anyone who would be interested in knowing a little more about this example and what it needs. He states that Metros are an easy car to restore but offers no reason for why he’s not going to pursue this one further. The earliest owners of the Metro referred to it as “a good thing in a small package”, and small it was in 1954 compared to the prevailing size of everything else. Today, they are a curiosity item but always attract attention at car shows. If one’s interest extends beyond the typical old Chevy, Ford, or Dodge, and a convertible is in order, this may be the scratch for that itch don’t you think?

Comments

  1. Will Pereira

    It’s interesting to note that both doors are the same stampings. Switch them around and you’ll have suicide doors, if that’s your thing.

    Like 3
    • Dusty Stalz

      The trim wouldn’t line up if you did that. Changing hinge and latch positions would be a lot of work as well. Doesn’t sound as easy as you make it sound to me.

      Like 2
      • moosie moosie

        The cars were designed so the doors are capable of being used on either side, no need for right and left doors. Bill Murray the actor / comedian has or had a couple of Metropolitans that a garage that a friend of mine owns worked on when he was in town at his home in Palisades New York. As wacky as he appears to be he was strictly business about his Metros’.

        Like 2
  2. Mike

    This might make a cool EV car

    Like 4
  3. Steve McRorie

    I have owned 4 or 5 of these, one of which was Hudson branded and had a high performance engine. Mine were all hardtops.

    Like 2
    • Marshall

      I remember back in the 1970s I could’ve owned one of these in decent running condition for $500 (a hardtop not a convertible). I don’t remember what year it was though.

  4. jokacz

    My mother had one in 1957 and she managed to fit four kids in there with her. May or may not have been safer than riding in the bed of a pickup, but we all survived. Car was actually reliable, must not have had Lucas electricals.

    Like 6
    • Ed

      Lucas. The prince of darkness

      Like 2
  5. Michael Bradwell

    Besides Crosley’s output, the Nash Metros were one of the earliest examples of subcompacts. A neighbor had one of the convertibles in the early ‘60s. They also showed up in one or two seasons of the “Superman” TV series in the 1950s, being driven by Daily Planet staffers Lois Lane and others.

  6. luke arnott Member

    These were sold as Nash & Hudson in the USA,and as Austin in the UK.

  7. Kenneth Carney

    Just saw one here in Melbourne this past
    weekend. The kids and I were at the market when we saw it parked in the parking lot there. Like this car, it was painted Berkshire Green with White trim.
    It had been restored to the nth degree
    and even had the steel spare tire cover
    which is missing on this car. It sure looked snazzy with those colors and I
    certainly wouldn’t turn in t down if it came my way. And Mike, you’re on the right track with the EV idea. But I’d find a basket case to use as a starting point
    since you’ll have to redo and rethink how
    you’ll modify the chassis and driveline to
    do a full conversion to electric power. Me, I’d mount the battery packs up front
    and mount the electric motor and charge
    controllers in the trunk in order to get a
    50/50 weight balance. Some folks would
    use the car’s transmission to get the power to the rear wheels. But I’d use a
    direct drive setup to make the car easier
    to drive and enjoy. And since charging is
    a problem, I’d use a car cover made of thin solar panels to cover the entire car
    while it’s parked. You’ll also need a 2
    position switch on the charge controller
    to use the solar cover or plug it into a
    heavy duty outside socket to charge it
    at home overnight. Since these cars were
    designed as city runabouts, the EV concept would work well here. You could
    ride around in a really neat old car without
    using a drop of gas.

    Like 3
  8. moosie moosie

    I would buy it and do it up similar to the picture , except with a built old 392 HEMI. Then it’d be a sit down, hold on, & Shut up kinda ride.

    Like 3
  9. Dusty Stalz

    Nobodies mentioned swapping a Cummins into it yet LOL.

    Like 1
    • Tony G.

      Nah, swap a TDI in it and u can tune it up to 140 HP, 90 is the production HP. Either way ubeat the original 52 HP, and it’ll move “fo real.”

      Like 1
  10. Maestro1 Member

    They can be sweet cars but slow, meant to be enjoyed not pushed, I have a neighbor who has one which is now running and he takes it to our local cars and coffee, the body is not done yet but the thing runs very well. He found it
    200 miles from here, took his trailer and $300.00 in cash and bought the car
    on sight. We are on the Left Coast so parts are easy (except now, with the Virus interrupting everything). Anything he needs is Downstate from here.
    Good luck to the new owner. And wear a mask and wash your hands. Let’s
    not loose any Barn Finders.

    Like 1
  11. Bob Mck Member

    I owned a 56 for a while. It was cute and got a lot of attention. But I love Cadillacs. So it was hard to go from a 56 Cadillac to the 56 Metropolitan. This one needs a ton of work.

    Like 1
  12. Lee

    I had a ‘62 as a 16 year old. Paid $100 for it; drove it home with the engine knocking like crazy. My dad helped me (actually I helped him) pull the engine and replace the rings and bearings. Drove it the whole time in high school. Not a chick magnet, but me and my friends had some good times in it.

    Like 3
  13. Johnny

    I always liked these little cars. A friend of mine had one. His was black . I fix it up like it is and drive it. I wonder what kind of mileage it would get? Bet it,ll get around 40 mpg. I like it and would like to own it..I,d keep it original.

    Like 1

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