Built in England, by Austin to American Motors specifications, the Metropolitan debuted in March, 1954.
(American Motors resulted from the 1954 merger of the Nash and Hudson motor companies. Austin later became part of British Leyland, which evolved into Jaguar, now a division of Ford).
Most of the 94,986 Metropolitans made were sold by Nash, Hudson, and AMC dealers in the USA and Canada from 1954 to 1962.
Two models were offered, a two-door convertible and a two-door hardtop.
The Met evovled from the NXI and NKI experimental models developed in 1949 and 1950 by Nash Motors, then a division of Nash-Kelvinator. To test public reaction, prototypes were shown to selected audiences across the country. Many of the features found on the Metropolitan resulted from this national survey.
Wheelbase: 85 inches
Length: 149 1/2 inches
Width: 61 1/2 inches
Height: 54 1/2 inches
The Metropolitan is an all-welded unitized body contruction.
The original Metropolitan (known as the A-1200) was powered by a 42-h.p. Austin A-40 overhead-valve four-cylinder engine with a 7.2 to 1 compression ratio, a bore of 2 37/65", a stroke of 3 1/2", and a 73.17 cubic-inch displacement. The standard tire size was 5.20X13. The Met also had aluminum pistons, a fully conterbalance crankshaft, a Zenith (British) downdraft carburator, a 12-volt electrical system, a Borg & Beck dry-disc, single-plate-type clutch with a Hotchkiss drive.
The transmission was a manual, three-on-the-tree with syncromesh in second and third gears.
On April 9, 1956, American Motors announced the 1500 Series Metropolitan. The 1500 offered a 24% increase in horsepower (to 52h.p.), and an increased compression ratio (to 8.31-to-1). Styling changes included a new hood and grille.
Early in 1959, several functional improvements were made, including a trunk lid, glove box door, window vents, a seat adjustment mechanism, and larger tires.
The small and economical Metropolitan did not have a "cheap" image. It's standard equipment offering was actually more complete than that offered on most American cars of that period. Standard equipment included leather and nylon cord upholstery, a foam-rubber front seat cusion, dual sun visors, directional signals, two-tone paint on hardtop models, a map light, dual electric windshield wipers, an oil bath air cleaner, and a continental outside tire carrier and cover. In 1954, the suggsted coastal port-of-entry delivery prices were $1,469 for the two-door convertible (Model 541), and $1,445 for the two-door hardtop (Model 542). Optional equipment included Weather-Eye heater, radio with manual antenna and white sidewall tires.
Color Options on the 1200 series were Spruce Green, Canyon Red, Caribbean Blue, and Groton Green. The hardtop was available only in the above colors on the upper body and Mist Gray on the lower body. The convertible was available with a tan top only with Spruce Green body; Black top only with Canyon Red or Groton Green, and Black or Tan top with Caribbean Blue. Beginning with the 1500 series, Black, Snowberry White, Sunburst Yellow, Coral Red, Berkshire Green, Mardi Gras Red, Frost White and Autumn Yellow were offered.
A properly restored Metropolitan has no difficulty with today's traffic or freeway conditions and demands. It can cruise at 65 MPH.