Thank you for all your kind previous comments about my 3D models.
In November I have seen a pink convertible Metropolitan for sale not far from my home, in France. I felt in love with this pink Metropolitan. This car was so tiny and cute, that I decided to create the 3D model. Not a "macho car", like I sometimes create, but a car for the women. As always it was a pleasure to create it and a real brain torture because, as always, the blueprints available on the web are wrong! I made my best.
The Nash Metropolitan is an American automobile that was assembled in England and marketed from 1953 to 1961.
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 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 (unit body) 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 (engine, transmission, rear end, suspension, brakes, electrical), leaving only the tooling cost for body panels and other unique components.
With this in mind, Nash Motors negotiated with several European companies. On 5 October 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, later operating under the name Pressed Steel Fisher), both English companies based in Birmingham, England and vicinity.
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, 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 2 December 1952. In all, five pre-production prototypes were built by Austin Motors and tested prior to the start of production.
The styling for all Nash vehicles at that time was an amalgam of designs from Pinin Farina and his design house 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 Pinin Farina in their advertising for their larger models, Farina 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.
The Metropolitan was the first postwar 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.
- 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).
- 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."
In May 1954, Nash-Kelvinator Corporation announced that it had merged with the Hudson Motor Company to form American Motors Corporation (AMC).
Thus by August 1954, Metropolitans also became available from Hudson dealers. These Hudson Metropolitans carried a Hudson grille badge, hubcaps incorporating an "M" logo, a "bulls-eye" horn button design, and a plain spare wheel cover.
Production ceased in April 1961. Sales of the existing inventory continued until March 1962.
A station wagon version was contemplated by AMC, and two prototypes were built, but the project was abandoned. One of the two prototypes has been restored and is on display at a Metropolitan restoration facility in North Hollywood, California.
Approximately 95,000 Metropolitans were sold in the United States and Canada, making it one of the top-selling cars to be imported into those countries at the time, and its sales in 1959 helped to spur the introduction of the Big Three's (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) new compact models.
In October 1956, Austin Motor Company obtained permission from American Motors to sell the Metropolitans in overseas countries where AMC did not have a presence.
The early brochures for the Austin Metropolitans used a reversed photograph to show an apparently right hand drive (RHD) car parked in an English country town (Chipping Campden), because only left hand drive vehicles were available at the time the photos were taken.
From December 1956, production of Austin Metropolitans began, and from April 2, 1957, approximately 9,400 additional units were sold in overseas markets that included the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
An estimated 1,200 Metropolitans were sold there in four years, according to several published sources. However one British journalist has estimated the figure at around 5,000.
Markedly American, the styling was considered outlandish compared with the more sober British-styled models in the British Motor Corporation lineup.
Only Series III and Series IV Metropolitans were produced for sale in the UK. (The first Metropolitans sold in the UK were sold only to American and Canadian servicemen stationed in the UK.)
The Metropolitan was not available for UK sales between February 1959 and September 1960, since all production during that time was for US & Canadian dealers.
Austin was dropped from the name, which now became simply "Metropolitan", and the cars carried no Austin badges although they had Austin Company chassis plates.
Despite this the car remained known, by trade and public alike, as the Austin Metropolitan, often shortened to Austin Metro in common parlance.
The 'Metro' tag was adopted by BMC (later British Leyland) as a house name, re-emerging in 1980 on the Austin (mini) Metro.
As a result of low sales, production of the Austin Metropolitan ended in February 1961.
Total Austin Metropolitan production has been estimated at between 9,384 and 9,391 cars.
Metropolitans were sold new in right-hand-drive in New Zealand as "Nash." The models never made it to neighboring Australia.
Faced with increasing competition from AMC's own Rambler American models, as well as newly introduced compact cars from the Big Three, the Metropolitan lost market appeal.
The last Metropolitan body was made by Fisher & Ludlow on 10 April 1961. US-bound Metropolitan production ended in April 1961, as a result of its "marginal sales plus the fact that a four or five passenger Rambler American could be purchased for only about $100 more".
The Metropolitan "was a car that appealed to an eclectic mix of Americans" because it was "economical, yet a joy to drive", and it has been described as "pure automotive whimsy". It also "swam against nearly every current of American car design".
Right-hand drive models were marketed by AMC to U.S. police departments for use in parking enforcement and other urban duties. Comparing the car to police motorcycles, an AMC brochure advertised superior all-weather protection, cost-effectiveness and storage space, and also the safety of single-unit construction.
NOTE : The US, Canada and Britain, recognizing the need for a standard set of fasteners, adopted the Unified Thread System in 1949 , or UNF, because British and Canadian standard was WITHWORTH, a standard different of he US one.
The Met was put into production in 1951 and 1952. If something they could use was already tooled up, it got used with the accompanying British Standard fasteners but like other BMC products being developed at the time, if it had to be tooled special it probably got a Unified Threads fastener.
Although most of the engine and chassis fasteners such as the front cowling around the radiator, the door hinge screws and others fasteners are UNF, most of the pipe threads on a B-Series engine are British Standard Pipe, BSP; the carburetor and much of the electrical is Whitworth.
The body bolts holding on the fenders have Whitworth heads. There are probably other British Standard Screws on a Met.
So mechanics needed UNF tools and ancient British tools for working on a Met!