Live Auctions

The Perfect Second Car: 1959 Nash Metropolitan Convertible

To me the Nash Metropolitan has always been a bit of a curiosity in American motoring history. Coming as it did during the “bigger is better” phase following World War II it always seemed at odds with the rest of the industry when in fact its development could potentially have been a stroke of genius. It certainly deserved to be a greater sales success than it was during its 10 years on sale in the USA. This example is for sale here on eBay. Located in Fallbrook, California and blessed with a clear title, spirited bidding has taken this one up to $3,307.67 with 2 days remaining and the reserve yet to be met.

In the USA (as in Australia) the years following the end of World War II saw the real acceleration in urban sprawl as more and more families sought to move to the suburbs. Out of this came a growing need for a second car for many household. Cars like the little Metropolitan were designed to meet that need. During its manufacturing life-time the Metropolitan sold in reasonable numbers. If the same concept were released today it would almost certainly be a massive marketing success. This Series III example is a sweet little car which is finished in Caribbean Green with the Snowberry White contrast, but as you can see from the photos there’s a fair amount of work for the new owner to complete to return this one to its glory days. There is one interesting little fact about these cars: The doors are symmetrical. Before holes for trim and the door handles were punched into them, the door skins on a Metropolitan could be used on either side of the car!

Technically this little car is not actually a Nash. In September 1957 AMC decided to drop both the Hudson and the Nash names from the title, so it became known simply as the Metropolitan. There are a couple of shots of the underside of our little ” Metro”, and this is the one that shows what is probably the worst of the visible corrosion. Honestly, I have seen worse. If this is as bad as it gets for this little car then there really is some potential for this to be mobile again without forking out mega-dollars for structural rust repairs.

The interior is going to require a fair amount of work to make it look respectable. The seat upholstery may respond to a session of deep cleaning, but I wouldn’t be betting the family home on it. The door cards are warped, the steering wheel is cracked and there are items missing from the dash. The frame for the soft-top looks quite serviceable, but the top itself has seen better days….and that’s being kind.

Under the hood has really surprised me. The 1498cc B-Series engine looks quite clean and gives the appearance that it may not take much work to breathe new life into it. The fact is that these engines could be quite long-lived, so provided that it isn’t locked then the possibilities are quite good. It goes without saying that the air cleaner has to go.

Throughout its entire 10 years on the market there were around 83,400 Metropolitans sold in the USA. Over 20,000 were 1959 models, which makes this one an example from the most successful year. This reduces its potential collectable status. However, swinging things in its favor is the fact that it is a genuine convertible, and not an after-market conversion. Pricing on these is a real eye-opener and not quite what I expected. Decent to good Metropolitan Coupes range in price on the market for between $9,000-$12,000. I expected the convertible to be dearer, but I wasn’t prepared for the fact that a convertible commands prices 50% higher than the coupe. Cars are such interesting animals!

Comments

  1. Classic Steel

    Looks good for a pee wee Herman car.
    No ponies under the hood but a cool breather and decent body.
    What’s the reserve on a pedal type car or one that goes round and round on a set track at the fair these days?

  2. Classic Steel

    Looks good for a pee wee Herman car.
    No ponies under the hood but a cool breather and decent body.
    What’s the reserve on a pedal type car or one that goes round and round on a set track at the fair these days?

    Like 1
  3. half cab

    “I’m your ice cream man stop me when I’m passing by”

    One of these came by our house when I waa a lil cab. I ran out in the yard thinking it was the ice cream man.

    Like 1
  4. Dean

    My grandmother had one is these….in pink!

    Like 1
    • Gary D Oliver

      Same here Dean. I was 13 at the time and she used to let me drive it. When you are 14, 15 years old and get to drive a car you don’t care what color it is.

      I never met a VW beetle I couldn’t beat with it!

  5. Dave brennan

    Lois Lane and Clark Kent were both seen in these. I wonder if a 6’4 person will fit in it.?!.

    Like 1
    • George

      I remember Lois tooling around in a Nash Rambler convertible, but not a Metropolitan.

      Like 1
  6. Philip

    I’ve never understood upside pix in ebay. Don’t these people know that you can rotate them? Nice car, BTW.

  7. Ikey Heyman Member

    I used to think that this would be a cool car to buzz around town in, but the Pee Wee Herman connection creeps me out too much.

    Like 1
  8. Schine

    Not a ’59, no decklid access for trunk or vent windows. For all the pics, no images of the body portion of the door latch to prove original convertible, and not a conversion. No mention of missing grill surround and emblem. Not registered in 20 years. VIN makes this a June/July of ’56 and a series III Met, not the final series IV. $4K USD maxes out the non-running, not market ready of value of this Met. Jus Sayin

    Like 6
  9. Beatlepat

    Some say that these may have been the best British car ever built, because they were exporting them to the U.S.

    Like 1
  10. Beatlepat

    There’s a place in North Hollywood called Metropolitan Pit Stop that has a huge inventory of parts for these. And a cool museum devoted to these.

    Like 3
    • dweezilaz

      Driven past it many times, Beatle.

      BTW: the UK exported a lot of their product to the US, especially MGs and Triumphs, Jaguars, Land Rovers. Hillmans in the 50s. Austin Americas in the 60s, Marinas and the Plymouth Cricket in the 70s.

      Export was a large part of the UK’s automobile balance sheet.

      The Metro was known as an Austin “over there”.

      Like 1
  11. Will Owen Member

    We all know about the large car that handles so well it seems to shrink around the driver; I think a lot of us have driven cars like that. Well, the Metropolitan is the only small car I have ever driven that magically turns into a 1949 Buick, once you get going. Seriously – the only sensation of “smallness” in a moving Metro is the tight proximity of the left-hand door to your knuckles when you turn the wheel. That turning then causes the body to roll sluggishly to the right as the wheels go left, followed by an equally sluggish return to the upright position as the car takes its new course … There was a time when I thought it’d be really swell to give that B-Series engine the full-bore MG treatment, or even drop in a later one from a Mk II or even a B. After a day of driving my kid brother’s Metro around southern Indiana, with both him and our mom in the car, I could see how insanely lethal such a project could be. That was in 1964, and it STILL scares me to think about it. The number of heavily-modded Metros I’ve seen at Little Car gatherings have changed my mind not one bit; I’d sooner have a V8-powered Isetta.

  12. RicK

    Don’t think Lois Lane or Clark Kent ever drove a Metropolitan, at least on the old TV series. Lois drove a Nash convertible in the earlier episodes and Clark drove a Nash Healy but that’s the closest either got to driving a Metropolitan on the show. Back in the 80s I owned two: a ’57 and a ’62, both hardtops. My understanding was the ’62 was actually a ’61 sold in the ’62 model year and titled as a ’62, because there were so many leftover ’61s on dealer lots after production ended with the ’61 model.

    Like 1
  13. Dirk

    A strange little car whose commercial failure was all but guaranteed by combining a small displacement British BMC A-series engine and three speed transmission with typical American sloppy, wallowy suspension and all the handling of a wounded water buffalo. Their only conceivable saving grace being that they gave fairly decent gas mileage (at a time when gas was cheap) and that they could be considered “cute” by some sort of misguided standard. Small wonder they were/are a commercial failure of monumental proportions. What in the world were they thinking?

    Like 1
    • Will Owen Member

      Well, Dirk, I can’t really explain it either, but after my brother’s Metro needed to go, he got another one! And just to demonstrate that this was not some fluke of teen-aged goofiness, ten years later, after his AMC Gremlin lost its grip in a shallow puddle and destroyed itself and somebody’s mailbox, he bought another one of those, too.

      If you think Metro Love has died a well-deserved death, look in on almost any Amazing Little Cars get-together and see how many show up. (Please see first sentence above).

      Like 2
  14. ramblergarage

    That’s not a 59 though, 59 had the outside opening trunk lid and vent windows. Probably a late 58 titled as a 59.

    Like 2
  15. GearHead Engineer

    First car I restored was a ’56 Met convertible. Same colors as this one. Fun car. And a chick magnet – the girls loved it better than my friend’s Porsche. I sold mine to fund my last year of college. Would love to have it back.

    These cars tend to be like potato chips – hard to stop with just one.

    Rust is a problem, like many British cars of the era. Sills, floors, etc.

    Turning radius is awful due to those front fenders. Massive understeer too, but that may have been the bias ply tires I ran on mine.

    Very simple cars to work on. If solid,!this one could be revived pretty easily. Thankfully it is far away so I am not tempted to pursue it.

    – John

  16. MarkEvans

    The plate holder in the add shows a 1957 model year. As a former owner of a 61 for 5 years, I agree that 59 was the first year for a trunk lid.

  17. chrlsful

    “…whose commercial failure…”
    wonder Y it went on 10 yrs production then

  18. Burger

    Someone above mentioned them being seen as “cute” by some misguided standard. A lot of car guys have the misguided idea that females are interested and impressed by large horsepower and matching numbers. In my world, these kind of vehicles are known as “man magnets”, and if a guy wants to be surrounded by dudes, talking stats, displacements, and other motorhead trivia, there is no better way to do it than a big block monster. But you sure won’t see the chicks coming around. You do that with cute little cars like Metropolitans, with their bright colors and “fun” feel. Nevermind performance. Women don’t care about that and bore easily around the guys that do. There is a reason my ’66 Coronet convertible, with it’s 475 horses and 4-speed rarely gets driven, but I drive my 20hp Model T truck every chance I get.

  19. Steve Daniel

    I purchase a 1960 Metro on Barnfinds March 2020. It was sitting in the garage
    48 years preserved in a Dry environment. I`m right now painting it . It`s about 85 percent restored to its original condition. This is my first Metro that I`m restoring, I`m looking forward to driving it around town.

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