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1958 Nash Metropolitan



  • jaxpopjaxpop Posts: 2
    Yes! I am considering doing a resto-rod job on a '61 Metro and I was hoping I could find someone who had used a donor Miata. It seems a logical choice in many ways.

    20 some years ago, I had a '59 Metro convertible, I loved the car, but it spent more time in the shop than it did on the road. After having the engine rebuilt, and doing a lot of brake, transmission and cosmetic work, I sold the car to my dad. He has plans for it, but his other project cars have taken precedence. Along the way, he acquired a '61 hardtop for parts.

    I may buy the '61 from him, but I can't imagine restoring it to mechanically original condition. As I recall, the suspension was super floaty, the brakes were inadequate for modern driving, and, though my '59 got 40mpg, the acceleration was anemic. So, I'm thinking it needs much more than an engine swap.

    The M-5 Miata's wheelbase was about 4 inches longer than the Metro. Track was about 10 inches wider at both ends. It had the same general layout (front mount, inline 4, rear mount transmission). I know that this job would exceed my meager talents (I'm good at rebuilding carbs, the odd brake job, and making things shiny) but is it possible that a skillful shop could take all of the Miata mechanicals, suspension and such and graft it on to the Metro's body? :confuse: How do I even find out if this is feasible? I've tried Google searches for all sorts of Metro Miata combinations and your post is the only thing I have found.

    I hope you check in on this forum occasionally, alltorque, because I'd like to pursue this line of thought.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    You can't graft a unibody onto a frame on body. So the best you could do is put the Metro on another kind of frame that has conventional suspension and some rigidity, and then add the Miata powertrain to that X or Y frame + the Metro body. The Metro suspension is hopeless so you'll never get a sports car out of that, even if you shove a Miata engine and trans into the Metro.

    I suppose you could leave the Metro frame on there and install some other front suspension, but wow, that's a lot of work to get right.

    But really with enough time money and talent you can do anything:


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  • jaxpopjaxpop Posts: 2
    I'm pretty sure that both the Metro and the Miata use unibody construction. As I recall, the Metro was one of the first mass produced, unibody cars.

    I'm also quite sure I've seen hot rod Metros at the Good Guys shows that had attached custom tube frames to the underside to stiffen things up enough to handle the extra power. It would be a shame goose it at a green light and twist your little car into a pretzel...
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    well then, no way we're gonna build a super metro on another frame then are we?

    It's been a long time since I looked underneath a Metro. I'm surprised it is a unibody.

    Here's an article from Automobile Magazine that has some interesting (and funny) comments:

    Automobile Magazine on the Metro

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  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    It's been a long time since I looked underneath a Metro. I'm surprised it is a unibody.

    The Metropolitan is actually French in origin, isn't it? The Europeans no doubt went to unitized designs long before "we" did. Although in their defense, Nash went unitized starting in 1949.

    I don't see why it would be so hard to drop a unitized body down on a frame. After all, most unitized cars have a sub-frame up front and a sub-frame in the back. The only thing keeping them from being body-on-frame is the lack of the center section. And I've seen Chevy II's with subframe connectors and I think they made them for Mustangs as well.

    The biggest problem with the Metro, I imagine, is that it's such a tiny car that it would be hard to find a suitable donor frame. Unless you were really handy with welding, took a frame, and did the appropriate cutting and re-welding to make something that would more or less fit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    Not so easy'd have to achieve some form of alignment during welding, which means a full body jig.

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  • I am restoring a 58 metro and ordered a kit for the interior. Does anyone have tips on adapting parts that do not fit exactly? And has anyone else had this problem?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    Thats' not right. If the kit doesn't fit, send it back. At worst, some kits require snugging up here and there, but certainly not cutting or re-shaping, etc.

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  • The Metropolitan was designed by Nash and built by Austin in England. Luckily the French had nothing to do with it.......... LOL.

    There have been many modified Mets which have had custom built frames put under them and huge V-8s installed.

    As for a simple power hop-up, I am pirating a motor/trans from a 1965 MGB as it is a simple bolt in into my '59 Met. The rest of the MGB is up for sale if anyone wants it.

    I also have a '61 Met and intend doing something unusual such as installing a front wheel drive combo or electric motor, haven't made up my mind just yet.

    After rebuilding the brakes and overcoming the difficult task of getting all the air out as the bleed nipple is at the bottom of the front cylinders!!!! I find that it stops very well. One just has to remember that one has to actually use pedal pressure as there is no booster on these cars.

    Main problem with using another engine is the steering running across the bottom of the firewall. One of the best things to do is to install a complete front crossmember such as one from Fatman Fabrications, which will give you modern disc brakes, rack & pinion steering and A-arm suspension, all in one package.

    Btw, does anyone happen to have a spare front passenger side engine to cross member steel bracket they don't need? I have mislaid the one for my Met. Thanks.

  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    Your Met will be a mini muscle car when you're finished with it. Stealthy too!

    You're dealing with the need to increase stopping power, but how about the suspension? You might be able to dust off a rice rocket at the stop light, but it would be wise to yield to the fart can in the twisties.
  • I'm so disappointed after reading this :cry: A few nights ago I spotted an adorable metro drive by and I was completely amazed by it! I couldn't stop thinking about it so I decided to do some research and was really considering buying one.... until I read this post....

    I drive a VW rabbit stick shift currently and I love being able to zip around corners and get up to 80+ on the interstate. I would be fine without taking the metro on the interstate however I have a hard time staying content doing any speed under 45 so reading that this car is slow has really put a damper on things.... not to mention everything said about the brakes and suspension.

    I really want one to drive to and from work ( about 25 miles ) five days a week - is that not possible to do in a Metro? Is there any affordable way to speed it up?
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,767
    Nope, a Metro is not a daily commuter car to zip around in. Could you spend lots of money on everything (suspension, engine, brakes, etc.)? Sure, but then why not just get a good fun car, like a Miata, for half the price?
  • madbrit427madbrit427 Posts: 11
    A Met is perfectly usable for a day to day ride to work of 25 miles providing you don't want to sit in the fast lane at 80mph. Remember they are 40 to 50 years old. It should be able to zip along with most rush hour traffic as they are quite able to run at 65+mph. Don't forget these little motors were designed to rev, not like the small American motors of the time which had more torque and were designed to rev lower.
    If you want better freeway speeds then find a diff from a late model Midget or Sprite as they had a 3.9 and some had a 3.7 gear instead of the Met's 4.22 or higher, depending upon the year of the car.
    I ended up not using the MGB unit I mentioned previously. Instead, I installed a 153 ci 4 cylinder Chevy motor (came from a boat - Mercruiser) and married it to a TH 200-4R overdrive trans. The Met now climbs steep hills at over 70mph with ease. Of course it was the easiest way to go from the original 55hp to the Mercruiser' 140hp.
    The next step is to add a Mustang II type front suspension and rack and pinion steering which will also give me front disc brakes too.
    The MGB conversion with the MGB 4 speed along with the 3.9 diff does make a great up grade for a Met and is pretty much a bolt in too when compared to the mods I did to fit the Chevy in there. But that was not too difficult if you can do basic fabrication or have a buddy who can....
  • texasestexases Posts: 7,767
    madbrit, you sound like a true enthusiast, able to get your Metro into tip top shape, make needed modifications, and keep it there. Bluebunneh will have to decide if they have those skills.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    If you want a British car that's pretty cute and much more capable of driving on modern roads, get an MGB. Otherwise, you'll end up having to turn your Met into an MGB or as least a major part of an MGB.

    Mets are great for little back country roads--you know, just like in the English countryside--which is where they belong.

    I think a daily commute is too hard on a Met--they are kinda fragile cars.

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  • madbrit427madbrit427 Posts: 11
    Thanks. The Met is not my first rodeo as they say. Restored quite a few old cars in my years. Biggest achievement was converting a semi-truck (artic in the UK) into a 34ft motorhome. Even if one does not have the ability to do all the mods to one's vehicles, often friends have skills that one can harness in exchange for labor or even cash...... LOL.

    With the Met, people seem to think that just because it's small that it is fragile. Well I grew up with these old cars and they are pretty robust. We thrashed them all over the country lanes and freeways in the UK. Sure they are older now and deserve more respect, but they will survive modern day driving especially if one does a few upgrades such as the rear end gear change. The one mod that does make things better especially if one lives in hilly terrain, is the 4 speed from an MBG as the original 3 speed has too much seperation when one comes to downshifting for hills. The MGB did come with an overdrive option, but I have heard this Laycock unit is a bit unreliable so be aware of this if one decides to go this route and do some serious research of your own before committing to it.

    Btw, the Met's running gear (lower front suspension, rear axle, etc.) closely resembles the Midget/Sprite but the motor/trans is MGB series. Some of the Midget parts are interchangeable such as the front disc brakes can be adapted fairlly easily. The engine is the same "B" series BMC unit used in many Austin, Morris, MGB, etc cars of that era, even including the 1800cc Marina motors. Automatics were not an option for the Met but apparently the Marina 3 speed auto will fit along with the Datsun B1800 trans. Datsun bought the blu-prints for the "B" series motor and apparently some of the Datsun motor parts are interchangeable but I don't know exactly which ones, do your own research if you need to go that route.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    The Met's cooling system, braking, etc just aren't up to American highway speeds or climate. They aren't fragile in the UK but they are here, because the conditions are so much different. It's just hard for Americans to justify buying a nice Met coupe for $10K--$12K and then having to re-invent it. The mods you mention are really good ideas, but they don't come cheap to the average person.

    I guess it really depends on what a person's expectations are with a stock Metropolitan. The person who posted about daily commuting seemed to suggest that he wanted to do this with a stock Met and this seems optimistic without interventions of the type you mentioned.

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  • Do not get bummed out because of these comments. Considering that half the people here think this car is a body-on-frame (itsa unibody) pretty much shows you the lack of basic information they have about this car.
    Seeing as how over 92,000 came to America and over 85,000 lasted until now or until they were melted down the facts remain clear: ie: since they were marketed to...and driven by... women for the most part, the safety issue is a little moot... As far as being safe these cars are fine. As far as having enuff power... again... these cars are fine. 0 to 60 is actually about 21 or 22 seconds. And the size is downright generous compared to any MG or Triumph. Granted the back seat isnt all that big, but the ample room in the front, and the useable room once the passenger seat is folded down and the rear seat is folded foreward.. hey its plenty big for an average person to lay down and sleep.
    All this talk of this car needing major upgrades is just silly. Leave it stock already! Just make sure the brakes are up to snuff... and be sure to replace the master cylinder at the very 1st sign of failing. A single piston master-cyl isn't the best idea int he world, but as long as the driver is aware of what a failing master-cyl feels like... and has it in her-his head to fix it right away if failure is felt, then this car is just fine.
    Metro's don't need any upgrades, just keep them stock... keep them forever... and keep them fixed using stock parts. I personally will not let my teenage daughter drive mine...mainly for the lack of an airbag... but its not because its inherantly dangerous. Its because I have an "airbag rule" concerning my kids... and a "Metro rule" about letting ANYONE drive it. It's such a pansy unmanly car that it bolsters my manhood by driving it. Yet, as "girly" as it is... once underneath it, or fixng it... one quickly sees that it is anything but a pansy car Its as well built as any American car from the era, and the engine is easilly equal to any American made engine of the era. It's a real car... a car to be proud of. And it's looks are so distinctive... it is bound to be one of the cars that will still be around, in stock form... for another hundred years.
    Leave it stock, have fun with it... and smile already. Smile as if you were at the dealer picking it up for the 1st time. Last point of advice: Learn how to adjust the points, twice a year you will need to do so... ANY and ALL times it feels funny it will almost ALWAYS just be needing to adjust the POINTS... learn this trick and never get "taken" by a shop. ...and... be sure to know how to look for master cyinder failure. They always give a couple weeks warning before complete failure...but... have them fixed the 1st day you feel them start to go. Do these two things: and everything will be fine. Points and brakes... that's all you need to know to keep this car fun to drive... and cheap to keep... for years and years.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,591
    It's a nice town car. On highways they'll rev well over 4,000 rpm at 60 mph and this is where the car is likely to not be happy. So if you're planning to use one as a daily driver, it'll be reliable enough, but it's not a freeway car.

    As for the master cylinder, I think an upgrade would be a very good idea.

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