Let's Go Met: Happy 60th, Metropolitans

It's time to bid a happy 60th anniversary to the Metropolitan, which Nash introduced in March 1954. In its best U.S. sales year, 1959, the Metropolitan sold 20,400 cars. Another tiny car, the Smart's best U.S. sales year was its first, with 24,600 sold. Some may consider both cars to be sales duds, but one makes people smile just by looking at it. Hint: it's not the Smart.

2013 Seattle Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

The herd of Mets is featured in at about 5 min 25 seconds.

Metropolitan owners say the cute cars can be a bargain

By Jeff Layton
Special to NWautos
Reprinted with permission

Members of the Pacific Northwest Metropolitan Owners Club compare cars at a meet-up in April. (Jeff Layton)

The members of the Pacific Northwest Metropolitan Owners Club are out to prove that collector cars don't always come in big packages — or with expensive price tags.

The quirky, tiny Nash Metropolitan is different from other cars built in the '50s and '60s. They're cute and maneuverable, with pastel paint jobs and a knack for turning heads.

"Metropolitans were designed to be inexpensive second cars," says club tech adviser Dale Carrington. He says they were originally marketed specifically to housewives. "In fact, they were advertised as 'for the little woman' so Mom could go grocery shopping."

The appeal has grown beyond that original target market.

"At car shows, spectators get more excited about Mets and ignore the hot rods," says 10-year club member Paul Gobat.

Fewer than 97,000 Mets were imported from England from 1954-63. These days, the local Met Owners Club, the second-largest chapter in the country, is keeping the spirit and history of this unique car alive through monthly events, tours and auto shows.

"We have over 100 active members and around 200 Mets. We're always on the lookout for cars left in fields or unearthed in barns," says club president Mike Jernigan.

Club members work to maintain a national database of Metropolitans still in existence. If they find one, they record the vehicle ID and license plate numbers and take notes on the general condition of the car.

For those interested in owning a piece of automotive yesteryear, Mets can be a great collector car because they're fairly inexpensive. You can purchase a good working car for $4,000-$5,000, Carrington says. They have a simple design with lots of room under the hood so they're easy to work on, he adds.

Jeanette Moen of Poulsbo has another reason for membership: nostalgia. "I wanted one as a kid," she says. "I used to walk by the dealership every day."

It's difficult to do a pure restoration on a Met because very few original parts have survived. Local Met owners tend to be casual about restorations, and many freely interchange parts from other cars when necessary. That easygoing attitude helps keep costs down and maintains a welcoming spirit that draws in new members.

Monthly events — which include tours, barbecues, Fix-a-Met days, campouts and valve cover races (think pinewood derby for adults) — keep members busy throughout the year. But members admit that part of the fun is all the attention they receive at appearances and parades.

In parking lots, strangers take photos on their cellphones. Cars slow to a crawl and drivers wave. Pedestrians openly stare.

You don't have to own a Met to join the club, says Carrington. "But if you join, we can guarantee that you'll own one in a couple months."