No! It is not a little clown car. It is a cute yellow and white “compact” car that was built in England by Austin Motor Company, and sold in the United States by American Motors Corporation, to compete with Volkswagen.
Metropolitans were produced between 1954 and 1962, and my car is a 1957. The public responded favorably to a Metropolitan prototype called the NXI, with a Fiat 500 drivetrain, displayed in 1950. By 1953, Nash developed production of the Met. Bodies were produced by Fisher & Ludlow, Ltd. in England and delivered to Austin for installation of powertrains. Austin delivered 13,905 Metropolitans to Nash through 1954. In 1956, Nash announced the Metropolitan 1500 which had a stronger engine and clutch, and two-tone paint scheme.
My parents discovered the car in Philadelphia, near my grandparents’ home. It was parked on a city street along with other old cars. The owner loved antique cars, but did not have a garage, therefore they were lined up on both sides of the street. My father found out who owned the Met, but the man was not interested in selling it.
A few years went by and my father got a call from the man’s wife that her husband had taken a stroke and now wanted to sell the Met. When we met the owner at his house, he introduced himself as “Joe-read the paper” We asked how did he get that unusual name. He told us that his parents had been born in Italy, and couldn’t read English. Every day they said “Joe-read the paper” and the name stuck with him ever since.
The car was purchased in 1989 and underwent a ground-up restoration, and winning many first-place trophies, including an AACA Senior award. My husband, Howard, and I still own the car and plan on taking it to the AACA Grand National meet at the NB Center this summer.
Nash-Kelvinator Corporation merged with Hudson Motor Car Company and became American Motors Corporation in 1955. American Motors produced 15,317 Metropolitans in coupe and convertible form during1957, of which 11,791 were sold in the United States. It has a 52 horsepower Austin engine and gets 40 miles to the gallon. It has been a fun car to own for over 30 years.
By Bonnie Schorr