Car Feature: Maverick Metro, Mark Hayden’s ’54 Nash

In the automotive publishing world we tend to run into the “me too’s” a lot. Inevitably when we’re doing a photo shoot the subject owner’s phone almost always rings. They’ll carry on a conversation with a person usually unknown to us, and then mention later something along the lines of “you know my buddy has a (insert car name here)”. Since we’re always on the lookout for cool feature cars we always listen.

Sadly, more often than not the car owned by the friend on the other end of the line is not something we’re looking to feature. That doesn’t mean it’s not a nice car, but we’re often very picky when it comes to what we will feature. Sometimes a car gets featured because it’s doing something that’s currently in style, well, other times it’s because it sets a new trend, or even goes completely against current thinking. Other times it’s the use of a small number, or even a singular part that turns our heads. Then sometimes there’s just a car that does everything right in it’s execution, the complete package if you will.

Like Dr. Jekyl and Mr Hyde, the Metro seems to take on two different personalities depending on the status of the top.

Such is the case with Mark Hayden’s Nash Metropolitan Convertible. We have recently featured Mark’s father Scott’s Model A here. While shooting the A, the elder Hayden mentioned the Metropolitan that he and his son had constructed. Knowing that Scott already had an eye for what’s hot, and after getting a few short details from him we decided to meet him at a local car cruise to take a look. After that meeting we were impressed enough to shoot the car so you can enjoy it here.

Starting Out As Junk

This 1954 Metropolitan was rubbish when the Hayden’s found it, pretty much discarded in a field. Mark Hayden was putting gas in his hardtop Metro which was built with a Pro-Street bend when a guy pulled in and asked if he wanted to buy another one.

“The guy said he had it in a field and would take $500 for it. I told him for $500 I’ll buy it,” he told us.

While we have to admit we’re often tempted to speak up when we hear about a car for sale and offer money down, seldom would we actually do so.

The guy said he had it in a field and would take $500 for it. I told him for $500 I’ll buy it. -Mark Hayden

Hayden’s bold step paid off, however, the Metro was a convertible. Keep in mind though that the car was thoroughly rusty.

It required nearly everything to be replaced or reconditioned to make it once again presentable.

Still he and his father had the vision to see the potential for the project beneath the crusty exterior and disintegrated interior.

Fabrication Everywhere

Hayden and his father soon began deconstructing the car at their shop/barn near Louisville, KY. The two constructed a custom frame, and channeled the body four inches over it, ditching the car’s original unibody construction.

The rear end is an extremely narrow ford nine inch, and the front features Mustang II style independent suspension, all of which was custom fit to the frame. Everything rides on a custom built airbag system that the Hayden’s also assembled themselves, complete with remote control.

The car sits on seventeen inch late model Mustang style wheels, finished in black  matching the car’s satin black finish.

Up front you’ll find that the fenders don’t have the typical low sides like they do on a regular metropolitan. The Hayden’s actually cut up the fenders from an ’86 Mustang and grafted the wheel arches to them to give the car a unique look and proper front wheel opening.

The doors too have been cleverly converted to suicide style, by simply flipping them from one side to the other and changing the attachment points for the hinges to the rear of the body instead of the front. All exterior chrome and moldings have been shaved giving the car an even more sinister appearance. This car looks like it should belong to a comic book villain, or at the very least Bruce Wayne’s girlfriend.

Inside the car you’ll find a custom interior, with custom center console, custom gauges, and controls. The soft top is also all custom, and easily removed. Out back you’ll find the filler for the fuel cell has been integrated into the rear deck. Also, another of the Mustang rims was cut down significantly and made into a baby spare, with what we’d swear is motorcycle tread for a tire.

Big Power, Small Wrapper

Original Metropolitans utilized a seventy three cubic inch engine provided by Austin to the US market. While lacking in performance with a zero to sixty time that averaged in the twenty second zone, according to several car magazine reviews of the time. The small A40 engine did manage to give the car excellent fuel economy, one tester reported over 40 MPG, quite astounding for the time. The car was also incredibly light at just over 1700 pounds for the convertible model.

With the changes made by Hayden to his Metro we’d say it still probably tips the scales at around 2000 pounds or less. That makes for some scary and fast performance given that the car is powered by a Corvette LS1 engine.

Provided by Turnkey engines, this 350+ horsepower mill propels the little Metro like a rocket ship via a five speed transmission. “This was one of the easiest installs we’ve ever done, you connected three wires from the harness per the instructions and it fired up and ran,” says Hayden.

Fire it up, and the LS thunders to life just as it should in a brand new car. Everyone at the local cruise night will stop and stare to take note as well, knowing that this is not a sound that any Metro has the right to make. We followed Hayden in traffic for a few minutes as well as he headed home from our photo shoot. Based on our observations during that short drive, we have to say that the car garners plenty of attention on the street also, turning heads whichever direction it takes.

The LS engine coupled with the lightweight car are an ideal match, as it barely takes any throttle at all for Hayden to send the tires into a smokey haze on demand. The reliability of the LS engine allows the car to cruise comfortably on both short and long trips.

With two Metropolitan builds under his belt, and his dad nearing retirement, we wonder what Mark Hayden and his father, Scott, have up their sleeves next.

About the author

Don Creason

Don Creason is an automotive journalist with passions that lie from everything classic, all the way to modern muscle. Experienced tech writer, and all around car aficionado, Don's love for both cars and writing makes him the perfect addition to the Power Automedia team of experts.
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