Redding’s St. Petersburg shop with a few of his creations out front.
Two of his creations have recently been featured: His very unique Corvair MonzaRod turns heads everywhere it goes, and the drastically different Western Flyer Rocket Wagon is truly one-of-a-kind. However, this little orange and white Nash Metropolitan may just be Redding’s masterpiece.
Originally from Waltham, Massachusetts, Redding now resides in Saint Petersburg, Florida. For the past 32 years, along with his son, Chuck Jr., Redding has owned and operated Redding’s Auto Servic & Sales, just a few miles northwest of downtown Saint Petersburg. The shop is a full service, general repair center and surprisingly enough, other than his personal projects, very few street rods ever roll in the door.
Redding’s pretty little orange and white Metropolitan is a 1960, Series IV production. The Series IV production models incorporated several re-designs, including a functional rear deck lid, and front vent windows. The interior on the Series IV vehicles also featured a diamond pattern, and white vinyl trimmed seats.
Sales for the Series IV Metropolitan exceeded 22,000 units, making it the best selling Metropolitan ever. American Motors advertising touted the car as one of the best imports of its time. Production of the Metropolitan ended at the close of the 1961 model year, and sales of the remaining inventory continued through March of 1962.
Nash-KelvinatorNash-Kelvinator Corporation was the result of a merger in 1937 between Nash Motors and Kelvinator Appliance Company. In 1952 Kelvinator introduced the Food-A-Rama side by side refrigerator, the earliest modern side by side, frost proof refrigerator sold in America. In 1954 Nash-Kelvinator acquired Hudson Motor Company forming American Motors Corporation, and was directly responsible for the design and introduction of the Metropolitan to the American automotive market.
The first prototype was built and designed for Nash-Kelvinator by William Flajole; the car was unveiled as the NKI (Nash-Kelvinator International) in 1950 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Public reaction to this new “little car” was very positive and confirmed Nash’s theory that there was indeed a market for a vehicle of this type, if it could be produced and sold at a competitive price.
In 1952 Nash came to agreement with theAustin Motor Company in Birmingham, England to manufacture their new postwar, “personal use” automobile. This would be the first ever American-designed automobile that would be marketed exclusively throughout North America, sold and serviced through Nash, and later American Motors dealer distribution system, to be manufactured entirely by a foreign based auto maker and imported into the U.S.
The Metropolitan was also the first ever American automobile marketed directly at the lady of the house. Nash advertised the car prominently in “Women’s Wear Daily” as a perfect second car for the family; Nash also paid 1954 Miss America, Evelyn Ay Sempier to function as their official spokesperson for this new small family car.
Redding discovered his Metropolitan during a parts finding expedition for another rod he was working on. “I needed some parts for another Met I had on the rotisserie,” Redding said. “I had met this guy at one of the local car shows, he said he had a bunch of Metropolitan parts in his garage, and invited me to come by and take a look.”
Several days later he made the drive to the man’s home in North Port, Florida, about two hours south of his Saint Petersburg shop to see exactly what the man had available. “When I walked into this guy’s garage I was amazed,” he said. Not only did the gentleman have piles of Metropolitan parts, but sitting back in the far corner of the garage were two Metropolitans, all in different stages of restoration, the orange one caught his eye.
“The engine bay was the toughest part of the build,” Redding said. The previous owner, for some unknown reason, had completely painted the car, and had also installed a sub-frame with a Fat Man front suspension. “I wanted to save the paint and Fat Man suspension, so getting in there with a torch and sawzall was pretty touchy,” he said.
“The new frame allowed me to install a little larger springs and shocks in the back of the car,” Redding stated. The Mustang differential that was already in the car was too wide, forcing him to remove and narrow the housing and drive axles some four inches. He upgraded the brakes to provide the anticipated stopping power that would be required to rein in his little orange beast, with 11-inch single-piston discs on the front, and 10-inch drums in the rear.
“The first motor was just a little too hot,” he said. “When I first started it up and rolled out the shop to shake it down, it wouldn’t go anywhere, it just sat and spun the tires.” He exchanged the motor for a more mundane version, and that worked reasonably well. “I went with the mostly stock 350 and used a 700R4 transmission to help calm it down; I still ended up using a 2.73:1 rear gear to keep the tires on the ground,” he said.
Front and rear bumpers have been painted to match, and the front headlights have been upgraded to Halogen. The car remains on a standard 85-inch wheelbase, and sits on custom chrome, 16-inch American Racing Wheels wrapped with low profile Sumitomo rubber. The door handles have been shaved, and all original badging has been removed. The grille is original to the car with the exception of the added bow-tie.
Article courtesy of Rod Authority, written by Chuck Green.