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1959 Nash Metropolitan

Hi all! I have a 1959 Nash Metropolitan that stays in the shop more than it stays in my driveway. I no longer want to be a purist. Does anyone know/have experience with another make engine that would work in this car? Greatly appreciate your help!

You’ll want to ask some Nash folks - I imagine there are a few Nash and/or Metropolitan Forums, you should check them out (google away).

Besides a more modern engine, you’ll need to check into upgrading the brakes and the suspension/tires. If you put in more power, it might overwhelm the existing setup.

A SUBARU JUSTY ENGINE…THE GL1800… Just kidding…inside joke.

That is if I am correct the tiny little Nash vehicle…no? Yes I think it is… I believe these came with a variant if not the exact same engines as MG’s used to have…the 1500-1600-1800 MGB engines would probably bolt right up…

Hell you could put in a TON of interesting engines in there…You would need to install an adapter plate to adapt most FWD engines to do RWD duty…prob best to go with a modern stock drivetrain that was designed for RWD from the get go.

I would LOVE to see you install a Honda S2000 drivetrain in there…its a 4cyl attached to a 6sp manual trans with 240HP! Sweet…with rear wheel drive…that would be a crazy setup. You wouldnt have to drive the wheels off of the car either…that engine is quite docile when asked to be…I would like to see any Honda engine in there…Toyota…Nissan makes the SR20 engines which are RWD found in the 240SX…they come in Turbo as well… A Mazda Miata Engine and trans would be great too! But this project would require you to beef up the other systems…BRAKES being the biggest one off the top of my head. But you get the idea…How big of a project do you want…just an engine swap and no other chassis mods…or as few as possible?

There are many many others…but I think that most modern engines today in 4cylinder config…were designed for FWD which isnt that big of a deal to mount them to a RWD trans…just takes more work and creativity…Will you be doing this yourself?

If you didnt want to go with a modern fuel injected engine…you can look to Toyota 20R…22R…or the injected 22RE… Those are great engines and very reliable…not performance kings, but plenty worthwhile…There are many many more How many choices do you want and do you want a modern powertrain or an older simpler style? Dont be too afraid of modern powertrains when they come complete all you really need is to fab up fuel supply and power and exhaust to get them running…they are self sufficient in that they usually have all they need to run aside from fuel and power and ex gas hookups… All depends on what you want to tackle…

With the proper fabrication you can get just about anything into anything. Don’t expect to find a bunch of “put motor X into a '59 Metropolitan” kits out there, though, so expect to spend some time and/or money custom fabricating mounts.

Also keep in mind that whatever you put in there, you’re going to have to upgrade the whole driveline, especially the rear end - - the original motor on that thing was something like 50hp, so no matter what you put in there you’ll probably at least double the power. And follow Texases’ instructions as well, upgrading the brakes, suspension, and tires.

If I were doing this project I might be tempted to try and stuff an engine from an S2000 in there. Quadruple the horsepower out of a small 2L engine. :wink:


Oh, and do yourself a favor. Keep the original engine in a safe place. If you ever sell this thing, the purists will want to be able to put the motor back in.

Google ‘Nash metropolitan engine swap’, and be prepared for LOTS of ideas!

The Corvette V8 swap is especially interesting…

Wow! Thanks for the info. Basically I want this to be as simple as possible, because I am paying the world’s nicest mechanic to do the work. I want the car to be safer to drive, easier to maintain, and better on gas mileage than it is now. The fuel gauge is currently broken, so it’s a constant worry about whether or not there is gasoline, and it backfires every time I turn it off. My son loves this car and will be getting his license in a few years. I wouldn’t depend on it for constant transportation, but I would like him to have it to cruise around in. Does that help narrow down the choices?

Hmmm…I’d think twice about him driving it much, it has all the safety of an aluminum pop can. This is something you can’t change much, aside from better brakes.

And you can/should get the gas gauge fixed now, anyway, along with the backfire problem. They’ll be cheap compared to any kind of engine swap!

‘Simple’ and ‘engine swap’ seldom go together…

I’ve known quite a few people of the 1950’s and 1960’s era that did engine transplants and none of these transplants provided reliable transportation. Two transplants that I recall were a 1954 Cadillac engine in a 1951 Mercury. The electrical system had not been converted to 12 volts and my friend push started the Mercury most of the time. Another conversion was a Buick nail head V-8 in a 1953 Studebaker Starlight. The engine made the car too nose heavy.

I think the engine in your Nash Metropolitan is an Austin engine which was also used in the MG. To a car collector, the car is worth much more with its original engine. Furthermore, if this engine is in good tune, it gets good mileage even for these times.

The best that I have seen was a Chevette engine and automatic transmission. A 289 Ford can be stuffed in but the entire Ford front end must be fitted to support the weight. A Volvo and transmission will fit in an MGA which used the same basic drive train as the Metropolitan. But what problems are you having with the original engine? The problems with the car were usually electrical and fuel.

Oh, its much bigger than just those repairs. New brakes, new gaskets, new fuel pump, new seals…the list keeps going. Thats why I’m thinking a newer engine may be less expensive than finding parts. Yes - the engine is the Austin engine. My mom had an MG and it looks just like it. It may be worth my while to purchase a maintenance guide off ebay to keep it running if I repair the existing - ? I know it flips over like a beetle - I definitely wouldn’t want him driving it a lot!

Repairing what you have will likely be less expensive than swapping in a different engine, or brakes, or suspension, etc. There are lots of unknowns when you do that. See if you can find a local car buff that can sit down with you and come up with a list of work, in priority order. Some of the things will fall down the list, others will need attention now…

One advantage to fixing what you have is there’s a pretty enthusiastic group of Metropolitan owners that can help you. Put in something unique and you’re on your own.

Have you joined the MOCNA?

This car will never be as maintenance free as a modern car. Cars of this era needed tune-ups every 10,000 miles when new. If you don’t want to keep it in tip top shape, don’t butcher it. An engine swap will not make it more reliable. Yes an MG engine will fit, no they are not more reliable.

Sell the car to someone who will appreciate it for what it is.

So what chronic problems is this car having? Is it a repeat problem or a series of different problems?

These cars are as simple as it gets mechanically speaking and properly tuned up, carburetor good, etc. it should motor along fine for 30k miles on a set of points and plugs.

Upgrading your engine isn’t going to solve your problem. There are a lot more to a car than just an engine and all those parts are going to need maintenance as well. Your best bet is to keep it in a garage and take it out occasionally. Buy a Honda, Toyota or Saturn for a daily driver, it will be a lot cheaper to drive in the long run, meanwhile, the value of your Nash will be going up.

However, if the OP substitutes a different engine in the Nash Metropolitan, the value will most likely go down. I saw a 1963 Studebaker Hawk Gran Turismo on a lot this past fall. It was there for the better part of a year. I didn’t look at the car, but told one of mhy friends who collects Studebakers about the car. The car really looked nice, inside and out. However, when my friend looked at the car, he found that the original Studebaker engine had been replaced by a Chevrolet 350 V-8 engine. He wasn’t interested in the car. One can argue that the Chevrolet engine was every bit as good as the original Studebaker engine, but purists want the cars to be original. In the case of the OP’s Nash Metropolitan, the OP should leave it original if the value is to be preserved.

Before you butcher the Nash and destroy what value it may have, sell it and buy a modern car with the attributes you want…

But if you INSIST on destroying the cars collector value wile at the same time spending a TON of money, the 22R engine out of an older Toyota pick-up, engine, transmission and all, should “drop in” (ha ha) with only a small fortune being spent…

Maybe the problem with this car is that whoever is working on it is not that sharp, although given the car itself any half decent mechanic should be able to sort any problems out in a heartbeat.

The Methodist minister who used to live across the street from me had a slick Nash Metro that was his daily driver to and from church, etc. and he had practically no problems at all with that car.
The Metro was slick but his '55 Chevy 2 DR HT Resto Mod was knock down gorgeous.

Thanks for all the great advice. I am awaiting a decent offer for the car but so far any takers want something special for nothing. Did find some original maintenance manuals and parts on ebay, which may help matters. I don’t want to butcher her at all - just want to drive and have fun like in the past, but I am no mehanic. I think the garage is great, and they do work on old cars, but don’t know how much experience they have with this engine. Maybe I should find an MG mechanic? I just don’t have an enclosed garage in which to keep the car. My daily drive is a C230 thank goodness!

Those engines looked a lot like the ones in an MG.