If you’ve ever wanted to force a VTEC into a classic mini or have lusted after a Flyin’ Miata V8, you’re tapping into a long hot-rodding tradition of stuffing the largest engine possible into the smallest car available. Rodger Purdy Jr. did just that when he crammed a monstrous 540-cubic-inch V-8 into a Nash Metropolitan, one of the smallest American cars ever made.
As the owner of Pro Street Chassis in New Jersey, Purdy had a lot of experience building outlandish cars and wanted to pick something special for his personal driver that would show off his shop’s capabilities. He set his sights on eBay and found a 1961 Nash Metropolitan that was used as a marketing prop for a New York pizza spot. Due to the enclosed front wheel design, the Metropolitan had a notoriously bad turning radius for such a small car. Combined with its light weight, it’s maybe the perfect car to turn into a dragster.
To fully understand why the Metropolitan is such a strange and amazing pick for a Pro Street build, here’s a little history. Produced between 1954 and 1962, the Nash Metropolitan was marketed as the ideal second car. Designed for errands around town, it was very small and efficient. With a curb weight of 1825 pounds and a 56 hp 1.5-liter inline-four, it could achieve close to 40 mpg riding on 132-mm tires (for reference some of the narrowest tires currently sold are for the BMW i3 at 155 mm). The Met was 11-inches shorter than a VW Beetle while still maintaining a standard front-engine rear-drive layout. The Met could reach 60 mph in 22.4 seconds when the Beetle at the time took almost 40 seconds. Even though it was twice as quick as a Beetle, it’s 75 mile-per-hour top speed wasn’t fast enough for American consumers who were excited about the newly built Interstate Highway System.
This Pro Street Metropolitan could be seen as Nash’s revenge.
The new 540-cubic-inch V-8 (8.8 liters) is almost six times larger than the original 1.5-literinline-four and at a rumored 620 hp, it is 11 times as powerful. Its quarter-mile time now crushes the Met’s original 21.9 seconds. This monster Met is being auctioned by Barrett-Jackson at Scottsdale 2020. If you’re looking for an original Metropolitan, there’s one for sale at Barrett-Jackson the same weekend.
The 540ci block just barely fits in the engine bay with the help of a cutout in the hood.