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Devils Lake Journal - Devils Lake, ND
  • Greg Zyla: Metropolitan owner needs information

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  • Q: Hello, Greg and thanks for reading my letter. I own a 1962 Metropolitan that I just purchased. Can you please explain the history, as I met you at a car show recently and you seemed to know a lot on the history of the car. I thought it was a 6-cylinder, but it is a 4-cylinder as you noted. Thanks again, Im retired and just got involved in the antique car hobby, as you know. Tom L., retired and happy in Athens, Pa.
    A: Tom, Id be glad to give you more info on your car. If I remember correctly, your model was the Nash Metropolitan model 562, which is an identical twin to the Rambler Metropolitan. The history of the Metropolitan goes back to 1954, its official introduction date under the auspices of George Mason and George Romney, two principals at Nash-Kelvinator and soon to be AMC. Ive written before on these gentlemen, who knew the importance of marketing and promotion perhaps better than other manufacturers of the time.
    The engine that powers your Metropolitan is a British owned Austin Motor Company A50, which sizes out at 91 cubic inches from 4-cylinders delivering 52 horsepower. The top speed is 78 mph, much better than the initial year when a 42-horsepower Austin A40 powered the car to approximately 60-mph max.
    The body design contract was awarded to Fisher & Ludlow, LTD, and overall sales that first year in 1954 topped 8,000 in just a bit over four months. Everyone was well pleased.
    The transmission is a former Austin 4-speed with the first gear removed, resulting in a Met 3-speed manual with a shifter on the column. The price for your car listed at $1,775 and featured four wheel hydraulic drum brakes, 13-inch tires, all steel body construction, 2-passenger accommodations and a wheelbase of 85 inches. The fuel tank holds 10.5-gallons, the crankcase 4 quarts of oil and the car delivers up to 40 mpg on the highway.
    Today, there are many nice Metropolitans out there, be it a Nash or Rambler. Nash and Rambler merged in 1954, but Mason and Romney kept Nash and Rambler marketing separate. Sadly, the talented Mason, who convinced Tony Hulman in 1947 to use a Nash to pace the Indy 500, died in October of 1954 as the 1955 AMC models were being introduced.
    By 1959, Romney (who succeeded Mason) introduced the Rambler American, which immediately sold 150,000 units. This sales number was way better than the best year for Metropolitan sales, which came in at 22,200 in 1959.
    Thus, although the Met survived through 1962, it was clear that the Kenosha, Wis.-built Rambler American would replace the foreign built Met ... which it did when contracts expired with Austin and Fisher & Ludlow. In the end, some 104,000 Metropolitans were built.
    Thanks for you letter and good luck with your car.
    Greg Zyla writes weekly for More Content Now and welcomes reader questions on auto nostalgia, old-time motorsports and collector cars at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, PA 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com.
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