Rare 1955 Hudson Metropolitan. Thought it was a Nash? Think again!
In 1954, Nash introduced the new small compact Metropolitan made in England and imported to the USA. That same year, Nash merged with Hudson to form American Motors Corporation (AMC). But they had not yet integrated their dealer networks for the 1955 model year, so a hasty decision was made to create two Metropolitans for 1955 only--a Nash and a Hudson. The Nash Metropolitans carried the familiar "N" letter insignia on the wheel covers. But the Hudson carried an "M" for Metropolitan and the front grille badge is Hudson.
Beautiful survivor with a brand new clutch and completely rebuilt engine as of October 2102. Looks and drives great. A true time capsule. 1955 Hudson Metropolitan. A rare Hudson badged Nash Metropolitan. Only about 2,368 were made. Original 4 cylinder engine. Finished in RIo Red and White with black and white houndstooth interior.
A great driver that guarantees miles of smiles.
For sale or trade offers enthusiastically welcomed.
While most U.S. automobile makers were following a "bigger-is-better" philosophy, Nash Motor Company executives were examining the market to offer American buyers an economical transportation alternative. The Metropolitan was designed in the U.S. and it was patterned from a concept car, the NXI (Nash Experimental International), that was built by Detroit-based independent designer William J. Flajole for Nash-Kelvinator. It was designed as the second car in a two car family, for Mom taking the kids to school or shopping or for Dad to drive to the railroad station to ride to work: the "commuter/shopping car" with resemblance to the big Nash, but the scale was tiny as the Met's wheelbase was shorter than the Volkswagen Beetle's.
The NXI design study incorporated many innovative features, and attempted to make use of interchangeable front and rear components (the symmetrical door skins were the only interchangeable items that made it into production). Although more complex, the new vehicle also incorporated Nash's advanced single-unit (monocoque) construction. It was displayed at a number of "surviews" (survey/previews), commencing on 4 January 1950 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York, to gauge the reaction of the American motoring public to a car of this size. The result of these surviews convinced Nash that there was indeed a market for such a car, if it could be built at a competitive price.
A series of prototypes followed that incorporated many of the improvements from the "surviews" that included roll-up glass side windows, a more powerful engine, and a column-mounted transmission shifter with bench seat (rather than bucket-type seats with floor shift fitted in the concept car). The model was named NKI (for Nash-Kelvinator International), and it featured revised styling incorporating a hood blister and rear wheel cutouts.
Nash was positioning this new product for the emerging postwar market for "personal use" autos. These specific use vehicles were as a second-car for women, or an economical commuter car. The Metropolitan was also aimed at returning Nash to overseas markets. However, Mason and Nash management calculated that it would not be viable to build such a car from scratch in the U.S. because the tooling costs would have been prohibitive. The only cost-effective option was to build overseas using existing mechanical components, leaving only the tooling cost for body panels and other unique components.
With this in mind, Nash Motors negotiated with several European companies. On October 5, 1952, they announced that they had selected the Austin Motor Company (by then part of BMC) and Fisher & Ludlow (which also became part of BMC in September 1953), both English companies based around Birmingham, England. Fisher & Ludlow would produce the bodywork, while the mechanicals would be provided, as well as final assembly undertaken, by the Austin Motor Company. This was the first time an American-designed car, that was to be exclusively marketed in North America, had been entirely built in Europe. It became a captive import – a foreign-built vehicle sold and serviced by Nash (and later by American Motors) through its dealer distribution system. It is believed that the first pre-production prototype was completed by Austin on December 2, 1952. In all, five pre-production prototypes were built by Austin Motors and tested prior to the start of production. The total tooling cost amounted to US$1,018,475.94, (Austin: US$197,849.14; Fisher & Ludlow: US$820,626.80) which was a fraction of the tooling cost for a totally U.S.-built vehicle.
The styling for all Nash vehicles at that time was an amalgam of designs from Pininfarina of Italy and the in-house Nash design team. The different models from Ambassador down to the Metropolitan utilised very similar design features (fully enclosed front wheels, notched "pillow" style door pressing, bar style grille etc.). Whilst Nash used the fact that styling was by Pininfarina in their advertising for their larger models, Pininfarina refused to allow his name to be associated with the Metropolitan as he felt it would damage his reputation with other Italian car companies to be linked to such a small car.
The new Metropolitan was made in two body designs: convertible and hardtop. All came with several standard features that were optional on most cars of the era. Among these factory-installed benefits for customers were a map light, electric windshield wipers, cigar lighter, and even a "continental-type" rear-mounted spare tire with cover. To give a "luxury" image to the interior, "Bedford cord" upholstery trimmed with leather was used (similar to larger Nash vehicles). An AM radio, "Weather Eye" heater, and whitewall tires were offered as optional extras for the U.S. market (It is unlikely that a Metropolitan could have been purchased without a heater and radio, as all vehicles left the factory with both items fitted).
The Metropolitan was the first American car that was marketed specifically to women] The Dodge La Femme was introduced one year later. The first spokesperson for the car was Miss America 1954, Evelyn Ay Sempier, and the car was prominently advertised in Women's Wear Daily.] American Motors' marketing brochures described the new model as "America's entirely new kind of car" (1955), "Luxury in Miniature" (1959), and "crafted for personal transportation" (1960)
Initial reviews of the Metropolitan were mixed. However, owners of the cars reported that the "Metropolitan is a good thing in a small package".
Automotive industry veteran and the largest publisher of automotive books at the time, Floyd Clymer, took several Metropolitans through his tests. He "abused" a 1954 Metropolitan convertible and "got the surprise of my life" with its "performance was far better than I expected", that he "felt very safe in the car", and that "it may well be that Nash has started a new trend in American motoring. Perhaps the public is now getting ready to accept a small car".Clymer also took a 1957 Metropolitan hardtop through a grueling 2,912 mi (4,686 km) road test that even took him 14,100 ft (4,300 m) up Pikes Peak. He summed up his experience that "I can not praise the Metropolitan too highly. It is a fascinating little car to drive, its performance is far better than one would expect, and the ride is likewise more than expected".
According to Collectible Auto magazine, the car was described in Car Life's review as "a big car in miniature" that was "fun to drive" and "ideal for a second car in the family," while Motor Trend was not alone in regarding the rear "utility" seat as "a joke."
Motor Trend praised the car’s economy: their test Metropolitan returned 39.4 mpg-US (5.97 L/100 km; 47.3 mpg-imp) at 45 mph (72 km/h), 27.4 mpg-US (8.58 L/100 km; 32.9 mpg-imp) at 60 mph (97 km/h), and 30.1 mpg-US (7.81 L/100 km; 36.1 mpg-imp) "in traffic." Mechanix Illustrated editor Tom McCahill wrote: “It is not a sports car by the weirdest torturing of the imagination but it is a fleet, sporty little bucket which should prove just what the doctor ordered for a second car, to be used either for a trip to the movies or for a fast run to a penicillin festival.” He added that it was a “nice-handling car with plenty of control and amazing dig, considering it is powered by a small Austin A-40 engine” and that the finish was “very nice”, although having no trunk opening except by pulling down the back of the rear seat “poses a problem.” His test car accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in 19.3 seconds and could exceed 70 mph (110 km/h).
A Road & Track road test recorded acceleration from 0–60 mph in 22.4 seconds, "almost half of the VW’s 39.2." However the magazine noted that at 60 mph (97 km/h), a common American cruising speed at the time, the Metropolitan was revving at 4300 rpm, which shortened engine life, whereas the Volkswagen could travel at the same speed at only 3000 rpm. Road & Track's testers also said that the car had “more than its share of roll and wallow on corners” and there was “little seat-of-the-pants security when the rear end takes its time getting back in line.”
Road Test magazine said in 1954 that "on roadability and responsive handling, the Met shines. It also offers easy maintenance and downright stinginess when it comes to gasoline consumption. Also, it's literally a brute for punishment. On several occasions I took familiar corners at speeds half again what I would dare to use in some cars of twice the weight – proof that proper weight distribution, low center of gravity and well engineered suspension have more to do with roadability than massiveness, weight and long wheelbases. Admittedly, the short wheelbased Met does pitch moderately on very rough roads, but the sensitivity and ease of steering make driving a pleasure