History of MOCNA
by C. Custin, Met Club History Team
The precursor to the formation of the Metropolitan Owners Club of North America (MOCNA) can be traced back to American Motors Corporation (AMC) and their Metropolitan Division headed by a Mr. Jim Watson. Mr. Watson was the National Sales Manager for the Metropolitan division of AMC. In may of 1957, AMC mailed applications to join their newly formed “Metropolitan Club” to 5,587 households in the early spring of 1957. The list was for the most part was derived from a list of all known Metropolitan owners as compiled by AMC’s sales division since the Metropolitan had arrived in North America in late 1953.
The first edition of a quarterly publication known as “The Met Letter” first appeared in May of 1957. It was an 8 page publication that sported the now official MOCNA Club medallion on its mast head, and was an attempt to help boost sales at the local level by offering free membership in the club, and offered members a quarterly newsletter. Mr. Watson states in that first edition that “This new Metropolitan Club is firmly dedicated to more intelligent motoring, and it is the purpose of this newsletter to reflect that aim in reporting the many experiences of its readers.” A total of 16 informative newsletters were mailed to owners. The last issue mailed under the direction of AMC’s Metropolitan general sales manager Jim Watson was the winter issue dated 1962, volume 4, number 3. (Another issue of the original “Met Letter” was posthumously compiled and made available to the public in 1994. It was constructed from the recovered archives of Mr. Watson’s voluminous personal files purchased after his death in 1990. The information contained in this document was originally intended to have been the spring 1963 issue of the “Met Letter”.)
The Metropolitan Owners Club of North America (MOCNA) was founded by a Mr. C.R. “Dick” Maize. As a schoolteacher from Somerset, located in the South-Western part of Pennsylvania, he drove a Metropolitan daily. Dick wanted to meet other owners, share their common experiences, and gather much needed technical information on his own Met. Not being a mechanic, he wanted to know more about how his Met “ticked”. When Dick went looking for a Met club in any number of national auto publications, he was dismayed to find that no organized club for the Metropolitan existed in the USA.
The only club he could find was one located in the United Kingdom. This club was called “The Metropolitan Owners Club of England”, and was founded by a Mr. William Dowsing of Surrey in August of 1972. Dick joined that club in 1974, and began to receive their newsletter. According to the published Metropolitan Owners Club register of 1974, his membership number was 126. At least 10 members at that time were already registered members of the British club who owned Mets in the USA. Within a few months, Dick decided that he would attempt to try and organize a Met Club closer to his home. It was his original intention to form a U.S. chapter of the established Metropolitan Club based in the UK. However, Dick also had concerns with respect to his inability to decipher the apparent language barrier that existed with respect to the technical tips he was reading about in the British club newsletters he was receiving. Dick read words such as “bonnet” and “wings” that were used to describe the location of certain areas on a Met, but they made no sense to him. He wondered “did I join the right club”? Dick went looking for someone who “spoke American” to get the needed technical assistance he was looking for.
In January of 1975, Dick placed a small advertisement that ran in Hemmings Motor News, Cars And Parts and Old Cars announcing his intention to form a Metropolitan Club in the USA. He asked anyone with an interest to write to him at his home in Somerset, Pennsylvania. With a donation of $3.00, you became a member of his new Metropolitan Club. The first newsletter he wrote referred to the club as “the Metropolitan Club”, however newsletter number two had changed the clubs name to “The Metropolitan Owners Club Of North America”. Dick had spoken to those first members and concluded that it was in their best interests as a club to become independent of the Metro Club of England. He wrote “We will have close ties with them, but now we will be an equal.”
The first to respond to the ads run in national car magazines was a Mr. Frank B. Susor of Youngstown, Ohio. His national number was issued as number “2” , and thus the Metropolitan Owners Club of North America came into being. The words “North America” (MOCNA) were originally incorporated into our clubs name, according to Mr. Maize, primarily so as not to be confused with the Metropolitan club already in existence in the United Kingdom. This club frequently referred to themselves as “The MOC” (“The Metropolitan Owners Club”) in their newsletters. Today, a Mr. Paul Sherman of Morganville New Jersey is the oldest continued active national member of MOCNA. His national number is “3”.
Mr. Maize’s initial ad campaign yielded approximately 10 inquiries a week. It was apparent that his original idea to form a North American club was a good one. Every month, he was receiving enthusiastic responses from Met owners all over the USA. This new club grew at the rate of one new member every other day for the next two years. By February of 1976, paid national membership was reported to have totaled over 300. By comparison, the British club in early 1976 totaled 214 members. It was apparent that an organized national structure was needed to effectively address this growing North American membership. One man could no longer carry the load.
During the month of August , on the weekend of the 6,7 and 8th in 1976, Dick organized the first “MOCNA National Meet” right in his own home town of Somerset, PA. A total of 11 Metropolitans made it to that first meet. It was during this meet that the National Club took on a more formal structure. Those members that were present followed up on the many suggestions made at the event as to best help Dick manage this fast growing club. Eventually, those first participants collectively made the commitment to begin to organize a more formalized club structure consisting of President, Vice President, Board of Directors, and Newsletter Editor. Up to this point, all efforts were Dick Maize’s alone. Dick welcomed the newfound help!
Thus, the groundwork for the MOCNA car club as we know of it today was laid. The existence of a sustained Metropolitan club based in North America seemed assured.