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1958 Nash Metropolitan

mymetmymet Posts: 4
I read some of the funny (scary) comments about driving them on here so thought I'd ad to the race. I just bought a 1958 in great shape. Unfortunately, I'd never heard one running before. I've read adds that say "purrs like a kitten" etc so expected a nice quiet engine. That thing is LOUD. Of course having had new cars my entire LONG adult life, I figured I didnt know what to expect. It's in perfect shape, all orginial interior white leather looks NEW. I know they love it, but the loud freaked me out. then talk about play in the steering wheel. he said that was normal. So what is "NORMAL?" Am i going to kill my 13 yr old daughter and 4 yr old niece? lol...

I let the they are so cute override my common sense.


  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Yeah they are fairly primitive. The engine is the same as an MGA old pushrod design that isn't much different from a 1938 fact, isn't different at all from a 1938 car.

    The Metropolitan was always a rather bad-handling, bad braking car, so your feelings of insecurity are well-founded; also no doubt the car needs shocks, and is probably running on old bias ply tires. The suspension design on the car is very strange and was probably an error.

    There are things you can do...such as laying Dyna-mat under the carpets and firewall, adjusting the valves, and perhaps installing a quieter muffler. New shocks and radial tires will help with the handling.

    As for the steering box, unless it has been rebuilt recently it is probably just worn out; after all, this is a nearly 50 year old car and most people pay no attention to the steering box.

    They ARE cute and you'll get lots of attention. But you have to be realistic that this is basically a low-speed city car. If you had dreams of long freeway driving and twisty mountain roads, you're going to have to re-engineer the car to do those things.

    But at least you can get engine parts out of an MGA catalog (it's the 1500 cc engine).

    So quiet 'er down, drive slow and have fun.


  • texasestexases Posts: 5,511
    For something like this, wouldn't your friendly neighborhood muffler shop be able to easily fix him up? A generic muffler should take care of things, assuming things aren't broken/rusted, which they could also fix, fairly inexpensively. Great not to have to worry about a cat. converter, etc.
  • mymetmymet Posts: 4
    Thanks for that visual Mr. Shiftright :):) I'm visualizing a deathtrap on wheels.

    I know she isn't for long holiday trips. We live in the greater Seattle area with a lot of slow traffic so I should fit in fine!

    I think I found a mechanic who "loves to work on old cars" to come and pay us a visit when she arrives.

    She does have two year old tires, so hey one thing off the list. :)

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Deathtrap is actually a pretty good description of a Metropolitan but now that you know, you can adjust accordingly. Personally I like driving death traps and compensate accordingly. I find them a challenge to a driver's skill and common sense.

    I trust your mechanic understands British engines (basically an Austin unit)? The car itself is not hard to work on. You'll be amazed how some carpeting and underlayment will cut down the noise.

    And by all means pull the wheels and check the brakes on the car.

    These cars can run reliably and safely but just don't fling them into turns at high speed. They are NOT sports cars and shouldn't be driven like one.

    Yes, good suggestion. Have the exhaust system inspected for leaks and rust. A local muffler shop should be able to fit any variety of mufflers or pipes under there--it's a very simple car.

    There are certainly people who know a lot more about the car than I do, and parts are available for restoration. Just "google" away and all sorts of stuff will pop up.

    It's a fun little car and I hope you enjoy it! I wouldn't mind owning one myself.


  • mymetmymet Posts: 4
    i got a referral for a shop about 50 miles away so first stop will be there for a complete safety check. My insurance requires it anyway.

    If nothing else, she is saving me money as with the multi-car discount, my rate for both cars is $10 bucks a month less.

    There are many places to get necessary parts, so i think i'll be fine.

    Thanks for the advise.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    I dunno if this is true or not, but I've heard that sometimes radial tires can actually screw up an older car. Now on most mid-late 60's cars, it's probably no big deal to switch to a radial, and in many cases will improve performance. But once you go back to the 50's and such, unless you make other mods, I've heard that radial tires can cause all sorts of screwy things with handling, ride, etc. Probably varies from car to car.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    Yep I think you're varies from car to car. Not to be facetious but it's hard to imagine screwing up the handling on a Met any worse than it is....I suppose if you could find bias-ply tires that didn't have those squishy sidewalls, that might be a good compromise. And some kind of sway bar would be great on a Met---the body roll is considerable. I'd guess even pumping up the tires (slight overinflation) on a Met would improve handling quite a bit.


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    Yep I think you're varies from car to car. Not to be facetious but it's hard to imagine screwing up the handling on a Met any worse than it is....I suppose if you could find bias-ply tires that didn't have those squishy sidewalls, that might be a good compromise.

    I dunno how true this is, but I heard that back when cars had bias-ply tires, the suspensions were firmer to counteract the softer, squishier tires. When they started using radial tires, which are firmer, the suspensions were actually made "softer". So, back in the early 70's, for instance, when Pontiac was playing up that "RTS tuned" stuff, making it sound all sporty, what they were really doing is just softening them up!

    The only direct comparison I can comment on, personally, was with a 1969 Dart GT. It had bias ply tires when I bought it, but I put on some 205/70/R14 radials. I remember the bias ply tires used to go crazy on highways with truck ruts, or overpasses where you have that metal seam that separates the concrete patches and runs parallel to the direction of the road (not the perpendicular metal seam where the road goes from asphalt to concrete as you get on the overpass). It was also VERY easy to make the sucker squeal in turns, without even trying. The radial tires made a world of difference, making it corner better, truck ruts and such no longer bothered it, and I don't remember any real detriment to ride quality.

    My '67 Catalina most likely had bias ply tires when it was new, but by the time I bought it, it was shod in 215/75/R14 radials. It always had a bad habit of tossing hubcaps, which my mechanic attributed to the car having radial tires on it. It only seems to throw the right front hubcap, though. Until the last time I took it out, it decided to ditch the right rear. I found it after about 5 minutes of searching. Naturally, since I'm allergic to poison ivy, it landed in a nice big patch of it!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    The Met's suspension is, as I recall, extremely odd. It's been a while since I've been under one. I should go pick one up by the front end and look :P

    here's a guy who really likes them. Very interesting and complimentary (did I spell that right?) article:

    Not sure about living with 0-60 in 30 seconds however! Gee, that makes a Mercedes 300D seem fast at 19 seconds.


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    Not sure about living with 0-60 in 30 seconds however! Gee, that makes a Mercedes 300D seem fast at 19 seconds

    How would a Metropolitan act at 60 mph? I'm just getting this mental image of a jittery, flighty thing, especially if it encounters truck ruts or cross-winds.

    As for acceleration, it's kinda interesting, but while America is fixated on 0-60 times, I imagine that it's actually pretty rare that I do 0-60 as quickly as 19 seconds! Heck, sometimes, I probably don't even do it in 30! There's just no need to.

    But then, I guess you still have to drive a Metropolitan flat-out to get that 30 second 0-60 time, and that might be a bit more disconcerting than loafing something that can do 0-60 in 10-12 seconds up to 60, because you can always just stomp on it more to get it moving quicker if you really have to.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    "...that might be a bit more disconcerting than..."

    I don't think 0-60 is too relevant for the Met, any more than it would be for a '50s VW, Renault, or Morris Minor. Most of your driving would probably be very local, at speeds not exceeding 55. And for that occasional drive to an out-of-town car show, you could either tow it, or cruise at 60 in the far right lane. But wait a minute, if it's got a 1500 cc MGA motor, shouldn't 0-60 be a little quicker than 30 seconds? I know it's no Viper (Nash Metropolitan, I knew Dodge Viper, and Nash Met, you are no Dodge Viper!), but maybe we're underestimating the Metropolitan's acceleration.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    The 1500 motor came later in the series and boosted HP to something like 52 HP. Still not much. Also that 1500 motor has just one dinky Zenith carb, not dual SUs, which are so much better.

    But yeah, the later Met would be "faster" than the earlier ones with the little it...A40....engine?


  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,849
    But wait a minute, if it's got a 1500 cc MGA motor, shouldn't 0-60 be a little quicker than 30 seconds?

    It might have the same motor, but I wonder if it would have a suckier transmission, or taller gearing, or something else holding it back? My old car book lists that engine as a 73.8 CID (probably around a 1.2-1.3L) from 1954-56, having 42 hp, with an optional 90.9 CID version (1.5L) having 52 hp. From 1959-62 hp was listed at "55/52"...I dunno what the 3 hp discrepancy was. Transmission options, maybe? I know back then, sometimes the automatic had a different hp rating from the manual. But could you even get an automatic in a Metropolitan? I think Nashes used GM 4-speed HydraMatics, and I seriously doubt one of those would fit in a Met! Coming from England though, I imagine a Met would have used some British auto tranny, if one was available.

    My book also says that the 42 hp version struggled to break 70 mph, whereas the 1.5 would hit 80. Didn't the VW Bug top out around 70-75?
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,167
    Ah, good catches, Andre and Shifty. As far as I know, and I'm not confident about this, Mets only came with a 3 speed (on the tree) tranny. So, in addition to the carburation/hp disadvantage of the 1500 engine versus the MGA, it also suffered a gearing deficit. Still, I'm thinking that 0-60 in 30 seconds was for the earlier, smaller displacement models, and that the 1500 reached 60 in mid 20s, but I'm basing this on perception rather than hard evidence.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    What that little Met really needs is the MGB engine with 4-speed overdrive and a set of front disc brakes, some Bilstein shocks, heavy duty leaf springs, radial tires, a sway bar, full floor and firewall insulation, performance exhaust, dual master cylinder and electric cooling fan!! Stock looking outside but sweet inside.

    Let's see...that might cost about....oh, never mind.


  • mymetmymet Posts: 4
    Yep three on the tree; all of them. I'm good to go there. I learned to drive on a 64 Nova wagon that always got "stuck" when shifting and we'd have to stop and wiggle something to "unstick" it... :)

    I'm still awaiting delivery and am hoping for it to be as mechanically sound as the outside is.

    You guys are scaring me though. :)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 44,416
    NAH, we're just jealous!! You report back and tell us where we were right and where we were wrong, okay?


  • fintailfintail Posts: 33,509
    I saw a Metropolitan at 20th and 140th in Bellevue about 5pm on Saturday. Maybe it was you?
  • alltorquealltorque Posts: 535
    Over here in U.K. we had the Austin Metropolitan which really was a RHD version of the Nash, built in Britain by Austin. These are now pretty much museum pieces, (at least, I haven't seen one on the road for many many years). The picture is of one in a local museum. As it's LHD it may well be the Nash version or possibly an export Austin. Didn't think to see at the time. Colour scheme is factory standard. Other options were Yellow/White and pale Blue-Green/White.">

    <img src[IMG][/IMG]
  • Hopefully, this may lead to a picture.

    This is the Metropolitan referred to in my previous post. Cool, huh ? :shades:
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