The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide

By KENNETH HALL - Motoring Tampa Bay correspondent
In 1954, when the trend with American cars was bigger and more powerful, the new Nash Metropolitan stood out in any crowd, if you could spot it. With an 85-inch wheelbase (smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle), a 1.2 liter Austin A-40 14 engine putting out 40 horsepower, and a manual three-speed transmission, the car was capable of accelerating from 0 to 60 miles-per-hour in a whiplash-inducing 19 seconds.
With its European styling and rear-mounted continental spare tire, the Nash Metropolitan was introduced as an economical second car for families. Produced from 1954 through 1961, the Metropolitan was the first American subcompact, and it has since become an automotive icon.
Art Badgerow, of Ruskin, had a Nash Metropolitan hardtop when he was a teenager. After he sold the car, Badgerow never lost his desire to have another one, and with the blessing of his wife Linda, he began searching for one. Through an Internet search five years ago, Badgerow and a buddy found a 1965 Nash Metropolitan convertible in Savannah, Ga. It looked to be a solid vehicle, so they bought it.
“When they bought it, they thought it was in pretty good shape,” Linda Badgerow recalls. “When they got it home and looked at it more closely, they found out that it was so rusted along the bottom that the doors fell down when they were opened because there was nothing there to support them. The car had been painted blue and white, which was not an original color scheme. They decided to do an extensive frame-off restoration.”
Although designed in Detroit, the Nash Metropolitan was built in Birmingham, England, using existing British mechanical components, including the engine, transmission, rear end, suspension, brakes and electrical system. Austin engines were reliable and powered the legendary Austin-Healy sports cars.
“When I bought the 56 Nash Metropolitan, the engine had been rebuilt, but I do not think anything had to be done to the transmission,” Art Badgerow says. “When we rebuilt the car, we pulled the engine, transmission and rear end out of it, and repainted the motor. Everything else was fine except for the rust and we had to replace some metal where it had rusted.”
Badgerow and his buddy did all the restoration work, aside from the upholstery and replacing some glass. Even the convertible top was in fine condition, although Badgerow says he generally leaves it off, which makes it easier to get in and out of the car. Aside from the red and white upholstery, which replaced the original plaid design, Badgerow says that everything on the car is original. “It has a radio and a heater, but that is about it as far as features,” he adds.
“It has no power brakes or power steering or even a trunk lid,” Badgerow continues. “Until 1959, the only way to access the trunk in a Nash Metropolitan was by folding down the back seat.”
After six months of restoration, the car was finished and the Badgerows have been enjoying their stylish 1956 Nash Metropolitan, taking it to car shows, appearing in parades and enjoying pleasure trips around town. The car can reach speeds of 55 to 60 miles per hour, and it gets nearly 50 miles on a gallon of gas.
“It is so unique,” Linda Badgerow says. “It is a cute little car and the red and white paint job is very eye catching. It is fun to drive and ride around in, and it definitely attracts a lot of attention. People seem to either know exactly what it is, or they want to know everything about it. I know there are a lot of Nash clubs in northern states, but I swear our Metropolitan is the only one I have seen in this area.”

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