Home » A Man Spent Decades Becoming A World Expert On Nash Metropolitans. Then He Put All His Parts Inside His Car And Gave It To Me. Here’s A Look Inside

A Man Spent Decades Becoming A World Expert On Nash Metropolitans. Then He Put All His Parts Inside His Car And Gave It To Me. Here’s A Look Inside

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I just took ownership of a free Nash Metropolitan filled with decades worth of parts and memorabilia amassed by one of the world’s foremost Nash Metropolitan experts, Nate. The car is an absolute treasure trove, and I’d like to show it all to you, because it’s simply incredible. Check it out.

I’m here at The Autopian’s booth in the Galpin Hall of Customs at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Around me are some fantastic cars, many new ones for sale at Galpin dealerships, and some older sports cars and microcars. Check them out:

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Among these gorgeous machines sits a junker Nash Metropolitan, which I received for free from Nate:

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Nate is my business partner Jason Torchinsky’s friend Tom’s friend (so this car comes from a friend of a friend of a friend). Nate had owned this Nash (which, as a 1959 model, is technically branded as just a “Metropolitan” even though I recently registered it as a Nash because DMVs have no clue) for many decades, becoming a world expert on these small unibody cars imported from Britain. I knew Nate was a big Nash Metropolitan fan, as Jason’s friend Tom had sent me a link to a website that included this photo:

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That’s Nate blasting the Met up LA’s fabled Mulholland drive at 60 mph, like an absolute boss. The photos, as well as stories about Nate driving that Metropolitan hard around LA for years, even breaking multiple wheels as a result of some hard cornering, made it clear to me that my new LA-car’s previous owner was a Metropolitan guru. What I didn’t expect, though, was to find Nate in the comments of seemingly every Nash Metropolitan article on the internet, and also on nearly every Metropolitan-related message board. The degree to which this man loves Metropolitans is palpable with every word he’s pressed into his keyboard.

For example, when Curbside Classic wrote in 2015 an article about a mint-condition Metropolitan convertible for sale, Nate — whose avatar shows him in my pinkish-reddish Met — chimed in to write about what it’s like driving his car:

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Here Nate adds some historical geekiness to the comments section:

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When someone criticized Nate’s beloved machine, how did he respond? With pure class:

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When The Truth About Cars wrote about the Nash Metropolitan in 2014, Nate was in the comments spreading the Metropolitan gospel:

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Again, he also brings a bit of Nash history to the discussion:

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In the early Bring A Trailer days, back when it was just a blog, Nate was in the comments. Here he is in 2016:

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Even more recently, he’s chimed in on Bring A Trailer Nash Metropolitan auctions, like this one from last year:

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When Barn Finds wrote in 2017 about a beat-up little Metropolitan convertible for sale on Craigslist for $3,750, Nate was at the ready to inform:

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When Hooniverse wrote an article in 2014 encouraging someone to save a Craigslist Nash Metropolitan from the crusher, who did they thank for the inspiration? Nate of course — protector of America’s Mets:

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But as I mentioned before, Nate hasn’t just been commenting on articles, he’s been active on the message boards. Here’s someone looking for the part number for a fan belt; folks are giving the poster a hard time, but Nate is sticking up for him:

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Here’s Nate helping someone decide which brake fluid to use in their Nash:

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And here he is helping people understand how to maintain their steering column:

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Nate’s posts go way back. Here’s one from 2005 discussing Metropolitan windshields:

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It’s clear that my new Nash Metropolitan is more than just a little free pink car; it represented someone’s way of life. It’s not just about the Nash owners Nate interacted with day in and day out on the internet. I can imagine Nate at swap meets, making lifelong friends with other Nash fans. I can see him taking treks to Nash junkyards around the country and to LA’s famous “Metropolitan Pit Stop.” I can visualize him checking out Nash books from the library and online, pouring himself into these publications over the span of decades. I envision him wearing a Nash T-shirt and baseball cap, leaning up against the car at gas stations chatting with curious folks, letting kids sit in the car — inspiring them. I can see Nate wrenching on this Nash, dialing in every little mechanical detail. Just check out his signature in the post two photos up:

1959 FHC Automatic 1500 , custom MGA 1622 Cyl. head , Weber 34ICH Carby W/ hand massaged jets & 3.72 final drive .overhauled engine 2/18/2010 , std. bore , crankshaft .030″/.030″ .now ready for overhaul

He swapped in a Borg Warner “BW35” automatic, threw in a custom MGA head, installed a beautifully tuned carburetor, and put in a new taller rear differential. This is a world expert on Nash Metropolitans perfecting the apple of his eye until it’s just right.

I’ve been writing about cars for seven years now, but I’ve been what I’d call deep in the car world for over a decade. Particularly, I’ve jumped head first into the “Jeep life,” so I know how much owning and investing in a single type of car can affect (and enrich) one’s life. My closest friends are Jeep friends. My memory bank is filled with off-road trips. My wardrobe is Jeep-themed. So many of my life experiences owe themselves to being part of that community. Remember that time I met the 4×4 king of the world, Victor Ma, in Hong Kong? What about that time I spoke with some guys in Vietnam about their customized old Wagoneer? Remember the time I took my Opa on his first ride in a Jeep since World War II? These moments owe themselves to the Grand Cherokee I learned to drive in high school (this is the machine that inspired me to pursue becoming an engineer at Chrysler), but especially to my very first Jeep — this XJ I bought in college:

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Owning that XJ taught me how to wrench, which helped me get the job at Chrysler and my next job at Jalopnik. Devoting myself to Jeeps affected so many aspects of my life, from my career to my relationships to my skill sets to my travel memories. And after interviewing scores of people who have devoted themselves to a type of car (Detroit-area reader Nick comes to mind; many of his friends are folks he met through the Pontiac Vibe community he helped build; he’s traveled around the U.S. meeting Vibe owners, swapping parts, etc.), I understand how much a car can mean to someone who truly invests themselves into it, and I could tell what this little Nash meant when Jason’s friend Tom told me about it. “He really loved that car,” I recall Tom telling me. I could sense the emotion in his voice.

Nate has used this little pink car to enrich car culture, not just extolling the virtues of his favorite little unibody British-American car whenever and wherever he could, but helping others keep their Nashes on the road. I am honored that Nate gave me his baby. And though I am saddened by the circumstances that would lead someone to let go of a vehicle that has meant so much to them over the course of decades, I also understand that life happens, and that sometimes even our favorite cars can become burdens if the timing/situation isn’t right.

I’m going to cherish this machine, because just knowing that it belonged to a man for whom it meant so much gives the car soul. What also gives the car soul is the way it’s been set up — the beautiful red houndstooth cloth interior fabric, the “Mr. Horsepower” stickers everywhere, the big “Dan Gurney for President” sticker on the back lid, the fading paint job, the key with a little toy Nash hanging off it, and of course, the big pile of parts that Nate spent decades amassing. Check it out:

In the cabin is a spare windshield, front bumper, and sill plate in the cabin:

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Just behind that front bench is a bunch of chrome exterior trim:

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But the real treasure trove is under that trunk lid, which was only offered starting in 1959 (prior to that, you had to load everything through the front doors; Nash were some cheap bastards, weren’t they?!):

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Okay, now let’s look through some boxes. Here are what appear to be some engine mounts in a box that came from Israel:

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Check out these fresh new front control arms:

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These red seat belts are beautiful:

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Here’s a box of door handles:

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Here’s an extra bolt of interior fabric:

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Behold two rebuilt generators and a new starter motor:

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Here are some spring compressor tools:

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Here’s a window regulator and some kind of lock mechanism:

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Here’s a pair of v-belts:

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These two boxes contain brake shoes — one set is used but in decent shape, while the other is new:

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This is the crankshaft that I’ll have to install, as the current one is apparently toast:

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Here are a couple of distributor caps, rotors, and sets of points:

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Here’s an ammo-box of random fasteners:

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Here are some badges; there’s a Royal Automobile Club (that’s like England’s AAA), one’s a factory front Nash badge, and one’s a Nash Metropolitan Club badge:

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The boxes included a spare speedometer/fuel gauge:

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And look at this little green box, which contains some pins, a Nash Metropolitan necklace, and some Nash Metropolitan coins!:

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Here are two perfect-condition door-cards:

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Check out this complete gasket set:

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This box contains a few spare ignition parts, among other things (including a nail polish that may or may not have been used as touch-up paint):

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These ziploc bags contain fuel caps and what looks like a New Old Stock accelerator pedal:

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I have no clue what this is:

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I found a fuel filter and some thermostats in some of the boxes:

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And I can’t wait to install these hubcaps (there’s a spare, plus a spare hubcap for the rear spare):

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Again, I’m honored to own a car that meant so much to someone. I will carefully rebuild the engine, refresh whatever needs to be refreshed, and drive this fuel efficient economy car around as-is. I’m excited to stop by Nate’s place once I’m done and give him a ride in his old friend, which is ushering me in a new era in my life as I move from Detroit after nine years. Expect to see some wrenching stories soon.

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57 Responses

  1. This was my first car when I was 16. Turquoise and white. My Dad bought it for me for $32. Three days later it locked in second gear. Sadly, it was cheaper to have it towed to the junk yard than fix it.

      1. Inquiring minds want to know.

        David. David, David, David…. (puts arm around David and pulls him to the side) Somewhere between Millions and Tens of people desperately wait for news on project Cactus. We are excited for your new Nash Metropolitan adventures and all, but please. WTF happened down there? PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Did you give up and drink beer with the Blokes?
        Did you get bitten by a large spider than now controls your mind?
        Did you die from heat exhaustion, only to be replaced by a Rue in a David suit?
        Was your plan too Puny? https://www.amazon.com/WHAT-Warrior-Original-Poster-Print/dp/B07BK64QR8
        Were you secretly involved in the filming of, and do you have a part in the upcoming Mad Max Wasteland movie?
        Did project Cactus in fact become project GigaCactus? https://madmax.fandom.com/wiki/The_Gigahorse

        Tell the truth now David… It’s GigaCactus isn’t it. You have enough bodies to sort of pull this off.

    1. I thought the same thing, but I couldn’t remember the guy’s name! I’ve developed a great admiration for Ramblers and early AMCs, and I would love to visit that place someday.

    2. WOW! What a gem. I live about an hour west of Elizabeth, and I’d never heard of this. I see it’s closed until March 2023, but I’ll be trekking over there sometime next summer. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Someone at my old church had a blue and white Nash Metropolitan with a bumper sticker that said “Harley Wannabe.” It always made me chuckle. Metropolitans are delightfully silly little cars =8-)

  3. I don’t think the motor mounts necessarily came from Israel – the box is from an Esrog. It’s a Citron that us Jews bundle with a Lulav on the holiday of Sukkot. Most synagogues order them from Israel so we can buy them and I had never noticed how perfect an Esrog box is for motor mounts, so shame on me for that one. They even come with padding for the Esrog that would work nicely for motor mounts. So, yeah, I guess your friend of a friend is one of the tribe. L’Chaim!

  4. I mean, yes, it is nice to see you put parts on this Nash, but what the heck is up with Australia? Did I miss the part where you finished her and went to a ute show?

  5. A Metropolitan is a great car for someone like you. By that I mean someone who likes meeting other people.

    In my hometown there was a guy who owned a tow truck company, who had a small collection of exotic cars. Ferraris, Panteras, a split window Vette, stuff like that. He also had a Metropolitan. One day in high school I delivered a pizza to him. What car did I ask him about? The Metropolitan.

    His response, “It’s funny. I own all these amazing cars, and that little thing is the one everybody always asks me about. It drives great, I love that little bugger.”

  6. 12.27.2022

    Wow ~ I had no idea you’d done all this, I’da come to the Auto Show to explain all the stuff if you had but asked .

    I thought you were unhappy with the car .

    ? Did the keys ever turn up ? .

    I see someone went through it and broke both the spare windshield and speedo glass, that’s a shame .

    The badge with “3069” on it is an original Nash Motors Employee badge .

    The coil spring tool has been customized to suit the extra long coil springs used in Mets, yes it’s Chinese, always closely inspect the threads and grease them well before each use as these springs will KILL YOU if they get the chance .

    That crank is *perfect* find some real mechanics or Machinists before you have it ground undersize .

    More later, my Sweet tells me I have to go RIGHT NOW .

    -Nate

    1. Okay, I’m back .

      I can’t figure out hot to subscribe to topics here ? .

      Any questions about this old Nash Metropolitan FHC just let me know, there’s stuff in the truck I should explain .

      I had no idea folks considered me an authority on anything .

      I’m just a Journeyman Mechanic who takes the job more seriously than most .

      -Nate

  7. Hate to be “that guy” David, but that crankshaft doesn’t look too good. Should probably at least grind it before installing. Cool story and cute little car though.

  8. In 1970 I dated a woman whose mother owned 12 of these things. She loved them and her husband would stop any Metro driving by and buy it on the spot. IDK what happened to that collection over the years. She had 4 of them crammed into the two car garage under their house (San Francisco) and one more parked at the curb. The rest were in storage, waiting to get sorted out.

    1. My Dad had a friend who bought one used in high school, ca 1965, drove it a few years, then put it up on block in his parents’ side yard when he went to Vietnam in 1967 and forgot all about it. Until the oil embargo hit in 1973, fired up with supposedly minimal work and he went back to dailying it. Everyone made fun of him in high school, but they weren’t laughing about 35mpg during odd/even days gas rationing

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