Double Take: 1957 Metropolitan Coupe
Allow me to provide some wheelbases from current small Chevrolets for comparison (note, however, all are four-doors since Chevy refuses to make a small coupe). The compact Cruze has a 105.7-inch wheelbase. The Met’s is shorter. The sub-compact Sonic, in the middle, has a 99.4-inch wheelbase. The Met’s is shorter. The even smaller-yet, sub-compact (city car) Spark has a 93.5-inch wheelbase. The Met’s is still shorter.
How short is the Met’s wheelbase you ask? Try an abbreviated 85.0 inches.
The near microscopic Spark weighs in at 2,337 pounds. That’s a might portly compared to the Met’s less-than-a-ton 1,803-pound load. And how about price? While the $12,300 Spark delivers light years of advancements over the Metropolitan, the little old timer cost under $1,550 when it was introduced. Thrifty, even for the early 1950s.
But thrifty is precisely what the little car was meant to be.
It was intended as a runabout, a spare vehicle. Something to pop to the store in or pick up the kids with. Even for dad to use to jaunt to the train station in order to save gas. Speaking of which, mileage reportedly ranged from the high 20s (at higher speeds) to as much as 40 MPG, from the modest 42 HP engine (later upped to 52 HP).
However, all this space-saving efficiency does have a cost: performance. It seems Motor Trend tested the little bugger and it took almost 20 seconds to reach 60 MPH which, by the way, was almost where the cars topped out.
I took a bunch of pictures (plenty more in the gallery) but none of the interior. While I’m sure I caught the owner’s eye hovering around the car, he/she never came out to give me a chance to talk.
After that, I headed to visit the car I’d originally planned to see. That would be the one shown below right.
This one clearly does not receive the love that the other one does. It appears to be either a 1954 or 1955 based on the grill, one-tone paint scheme, and body-side creases and molding.
The car appears to be stored in the driveway, uncovered. The rear window on these cars is made up of three panels but the one on the passenger’s side was broke thereby exposing the interior to the elements. There are some better photos of it in the gallery but, again, out of courtesy I limited the shots I took. I had knocked at the front door but no one answered.
This one was a bit of a mystery in that it had both the faux hood scoop in addition to the hood ornament. The scoop was dropped by mid-1956 and, from what I can find, at that same time the ornament was added. Not sure why it had both; could have been a custom job.
So, does anybody remember I’d previously mentioned the earlier series of these cars (1954 through 1958) lacked something quite standard out at its rear?
Before jumping to the answer below, take a close look at the following photo to see if you can figure it out.
Okay, do you think you know?
The 1954 through 1958 Nash and Hudson Metropolitans did not come equipped with a trunk lid. Oh there was a trunk, but it could only be accessed from inside the car by opening the rear seat’s seat-back.
Besides a savings in cost I cannot explain the omission, but in 1959 the Metropolitan gained an honest-to-goodness trunk lid so that owners could load their storage space in a conventional manner.
Continue below to the photo gallery.