The Nash Metropolitan is available as a hard top or a convertible and was billed as “the world’s smartest car” in a time when there could be no such thing as a smart car.
The original name, from 1953 in the U.K. was the “NKI Custom (Nash-Kelvinator International)”, A number of prototypes (five by Austin) were made to test market response beginning in 1951 in Europe and N. America to introduce a new budget minded economy compact car called the “NXI” (Nash Experimental International). One of these prototypes used an engine that was made in Italy, but never came close to production. The car is an American idea developed for the N. American consumer, but produced wholly by the Austin Motor Company of Longbridge England using Austin sourced parts and drive-chain.There are sheet metal changes only to the Austin, which drops the tooling process costs dramatically. This happens at a time when the U.K. is in serious need of foreign currency and is an astute move financially for the Nash Motor Company.
This is the first time in history that an American company sources a product completely in another country Metropolitan was sold in the United Kingdom, N. America and other international markets including France, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and South Africa from 1953 through 1961. The car is aimed to re-establish Nash as an automotive supplier to international consumers. When Nash and Hudson joined forces in 1954 emerging into American Motors Corporation, the car became known as the Hudson, then as the Metropolitan and still later, on its own, as the Rambler.
The Metropolitan is a unitized-body or monocoque design at a time when body-on-frame vehicles are the standard. The economical, easy to drive, compact is initially powered by the tried and true 1200 (1.2 L) Austin A-40 four cylinder engine coupled to a three speed standard transmission, but the 1500 cc (1.5 L) “B-Series 14” engine delivers 52 hp (38,78 kW) available in November 1955.The Met is also cosmetically refreshed in ’55 and this includes adding a simulated hood scoop, two tone paint and an outside trunk latch allowing storage access from the outside for the first time The car weighs in at 1,785 lbs. (810 kg), is 148.5 inches (3,797 mm) long, 54.5 inches (1,384 mm) tall and on a wheel base that is two inches shorter than its major competitor, the Volkswagen beetle. Both the bug and the “Met” are in a market that the big three auto manufacturers have ignored. The automotive arm of Nash-Kelvinator, is a progressive company, led by George Mason and, with a team of engineers, is determined to survive by finding a niche market. The consumers of the day are are not only affluent with plenty of disposable income but are also of the mentality that bigger must be better. The little Nash Rambler is a sub-compact in a world that is filled with large vehicles that are getting bigger each year. The compelling and inexpensive Metropolitan is meant to appeal to people as a second vehicle, for the lady of the house perhaps, it’s nimble in parking lots and perfect for short hops- a “sub-compact city car” before it was in style.
There are 10,000 of the series I exported to N. America in the first group, which have VIN numbers from E1001 through E11000 are with the 1.3 L engine. The series II (B series) are powered by the same 1.3 L , but the clutch in now hydraulically operated and the transmission is beefed up which does add 50 lbs. (32 kg) to the curb weight. The Series III (NK3), starting with VIN E21008, have the newly upgraded 1,498 cc (1.49. L or 91.4 cu in.) bored-out version of the “B” engine. The car, in 1955, has a MSRP of $1,527.00 for the Hard top and $1,551.00 for the convertible version. There were nearly 95,000 in total of the Metropolitan landed in this country during the eight years of production.