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Project Restoration: Northwest Technical School Revives Nash Metropolitan

In Maryville, Missouri, the collision students at Northwest Technical School were transported to the past when they refinished a Berkshire green, 1957 Nash Metropolitan.

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In Maryville, Missouri, the collision students at Northwest Technical School were transported to the past when they refinished a Berkshire green, 1957 Nash Metropolitan.

When restoring a classic vehicle back to its original state, it’s more than a repair job; it’s also a history lesson. The Northwest Technical School collision students learned all about the old car when they stripped down the Nash Metropolitan to metal and sanded, painted and polished it back to its golden years.

Instructor Ron Wiederholt has been extremely active in getting his students’ hands dirty working on cars to show. To date, the school has showed 13 total vehicles at the the World of Wheels student day program in Kansas City. Next year, he hopes to have his students compete on the floor with their car.

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“I love doing restoration work,” says Wiederholt. “I had my own body shop, and I did mainly collision work – because you don’t get to work on restorations very much – but that’s what I love to do is restorations and show the kids what hard work can get you when it’s done.”

Restoring History

The Nash Metropolitan came to the school as a donation. Every year, the school sells the cars they restore or refinish, which in turn goes back into the program. With the money, the collision program has been able to keep updating equipment and have some padding for other programs in need.

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All 26 students in the collision program have had their hands on the Nash Metropolitan at some point, including second year students Trace Hunt, Taten Thompson and Dustin Riddle.

“It’s been a little over four months, and we pretty much shut the shop down and just concentrated on it to get it ready for the show,” says Wiederholt in remembering the days leading up to World of Wheels. “There was one other Nash Metropolitan down there and the one we built would have blown its doors off. We should have just put it on the floor.”

Getting the car show-ready meant completely overhauling the bodywork and fixing an infestation problem.

“It was rough and it was really smelly,” recalls Trace Hunt, when talking about the car’s mice problem. All of the wiring ended up needing redone after mice chewed it to pieces, which was a good challenge for the students.

“We had to make our own wiring and rerun it and stuff, and figure out where everything went. We kind of made up our own wiring harness for it,” says student Dustin Riddle.

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The engine had previously been redone to original specifications so the students stripped it down, primed and painted it to repair the mice damage.

The body needed completely overhauled. The students got to work taking the car down to metal and repairing damage, including damage to the front clip and rust behind the wheels. The front clip repair was extremely challenging with damage caused by a chain destroying everything between the headlights on the unibody car. The students spend about a week just working on that section of the vehicle.

“There was a lot of patching and we had to do a lot of metal work,” says student Taten Thompson. A lot of the car’s original components aren’t available, including the side chrome on the vehicle, which the students completely restored.

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Wiederholt takes pride in the fact that his students complete most of their work in the shop, rather than the classroom.

“I look at it like learning how to swim,” explains Wiederholt. “You read every article on swimming and go jump in a lake, and you’re going to sink like a rock. You get out there and do it. Start doggy paddling and then work away from that; you’re going to learn how to swim.”

Origins: The Nash Metropolitan

The Nash Metropolitan was designed by American William J. Flajole for Nash Motor Division of Nash-Kelvinator Corp. in 1953 and built in England. Also known as the “Metropolitan,” the original name has stuck for many car enthusiasts. Originally, the car came in a convertible and hardtop model, with a 1200cc Austin A40 engine.

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Designed to be an economy car, the Nash Metropolitan was an early start to the subcompact car. In ’56, the engine was updated to a 1500cc Austin A50 for an increase in horsepower.

The last Nash Metropolitan was built in 1960, with 95,000 total cars produced. Nash-Kelvinator merged with Hudson Motor Car Co. to form American Motors Corp. in 1954, which was eventually acquired by Chrysler in the ‘90s.

Photos courtesy of Northwest Technical School and Ron Wiederholt.

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