Car: Nash Metropolitan
What makes it special: The 1954-1956 Nash Metropolitan Series 54 was Nash president George Mason’s idea of the ultimate commuter/shopping car. Styling was based on the Bill Flajole design for the NXI show car and bore a resemblance to the big Nash, but the scale was tiny. The Met’s wheelbase was shorter than a VW Beetle’s. The Met had modest success in the United States and was continued by AMC even after Nash and Hudson had left the scene, both badges were used on the car so both sets of dealers could sell it.
What made it famous: Bodies were built in England by Fisher & Ludlow, and the four-cylinder engines came from Austin, which also did final assembly. A three-passenger convertible and fixed-roof hardtop were offered. Later cars had flashy two-tone paint that reminded one stylist of “Neapolitan ice cream.” The little 1.2-liter engine was bored out to 1.5 liters during the 1956 model year to produce the Met 1500, and the car would remain basically unaltered until sales ceased in the early ’60s.
Why I would want one: It’s no speed demon or sports car in any form, but it’s design made the car famous, and also a collector item.
Fun fact: In today’s terminology the Metropolitan is a “subcompact”, but this category had not yet come into use when the car was made. At that time, it was variously categorized, for example as a “small automobile” as well as an “economy car”.