1960 Nash Metropolitan
Original price: $1,650.00 (average) (1960: Average cost of a car: $2,600; average household income: $5,315; cost of a gallon of gas: 31 cents)
On loan from: Terry and Kevin Klatt, Hastings, NE
Number made: 13,103
Engine, etc.: 1500cc; 90 cid; 52 hp; Austin overhead valve 4 cyl.; 85” wheelbase; 1,850 lbs.
The Metropolitan was ahead of its time since most American automobile makers were building larger cars during the 1950s. Nash Motor Company decided to produce a small, economical, fuel-efficient car. When a concept car drew positive reviews, the decision was made to produce the vehicle. It was designed to be a second car in a two-car family, useful for taking children to school, shopping, or driving to work. The wheelbase was shorter than a VW Beetle’s.
Market research before production led to additions such as roll-up glass side windows, a more powerful engine, and a column-mounted transmission shifter and bench seats.
In October, 1953 production started at Austin’s Longbridge factory in England. Bodywork was done by Fisher and Ludlow with final assembly by the Austin Motor Company. It was more cost-effective to produce the car overseas than to invest in tooling costs in the U. S. This was the first time an American-designed car to be marketed in North America was built in Europe.
Styling designs came from Pininfarina of Italy and in-house Nash designers. Nash used the name Pininfarina in advertising its larger models but Pininfarina refused to allow his name to be associated with the Metropolitan. He felt it would damage his reputation with other Italian car companies to be linked to such a small car.
The car came with several standard features that were considered optional on other cars: map light, electric windshield wipers, cigar lighter, a “continental-type” rear-mounted and covered spare tire, and upholstery trimmed in leather. “Options” included an AM radio, heater, and whitewall tires though all cars left the factory with radio and heater installed.
The Nash Metropolitan was available in either a hardtop or convertible body style. Reviews called it a “big car in miniature”, “fun to drive” and an “ideal second car for a family”.
The Metropolitan was very economical but had dumpy styling. Colors resembled Neapolitan ice cream. The cars also had serious rust problems.
Metropolitans were the first postwar car marketed specifically to women. The first spokesperson was Miss America 1954, Evelyn Ay Sempier, and the car was advertised in Women’s Wear Daily.
The Metropolitan was produced from 1954 – 1962. In 1954 Nash-Kelvinator Corporation merged with Hudson Motor Car Company to form American Motors Corporation.
The 1960 AMC Metropolitan continued the Nash/Hudson Metropolitan under the AMC name. At its highest point, 22,309 cars were imported in 1959 but sales fell because of buyers purchasing compacts. Sales dropped dramatically in mid-1959. Production continued until 1961 though there were enough cars produced to continue sales into 1962.
A total of 95,000 Metropolitans were sold in the U. S. and about 9,400 were sold in the United Kingdom.