1959 Metropolitan

1959 Metropolitan

   By 1959, it was decided another face-lift was needed, and the design of the body was changed to include a external Trunk Lid (all previous models had access to the Trunk via the rear seat back), and ventilator windows added. This model continued until the end of production, which was in April 1961. A total of 94,986 Metropolitan were built for the US & Canadian market. In addition an estimated 9,391 were built for other markets including Great Britain.

   A prototype Station Wagon was built, but never proceeded with. A successor to the Metropolitan was planned, as after eight years of production, the design was becoming dated. American Motors decided not to continue with the Metropolitan concept as they were having, by then, much success with their Rambler range of vehicles.

   Arguments have raged as to whether the Metropolitan was a success or not. All that can be said was that American Motors sold nearly 95,000 Metropolitans, with very little advertising expenditure and Tooling cost. It certainly brought peoples’ attention to American Motors products, and may have indirectly improved sales of their Rambler models. As far as Austin were concerned, it brought in considerable foreign currency at a time when the UK was desperate for export income after the war years. A total of 104,000 vehicles in production was a useful addition to their production capacity, and indirectly to their suppliers (especially Girling who supplied brake parts, and Lucas the Electrical components).

   Today, the Metropolitan still holds a unique place in Automotive history. It was the first car designed in the US and built in another country. The interest in this car is still strong as evidenced by the Metropolitan Owners’ Club of North America which boasts over 1,000 members. This club was formed in 1975, and grew from the Metropolitan Owners’ Club based in the UK, which started in 1972. There are now Vendors and services which cater for this particular vehicle. The Metropolitan stands as a unique Icon of the 1950s.

compiled by
David Austin
MOC(UK) #2, MOC(NA) #200