My Weirdest Car Fetish: A Super Narrow Track

Photo Credit: Andrew/Flickr (Art by Jason Torchinsky)
Photo Credit: Andrew/Flickr (Art by Jason Torchinsky)

For some reason, I’ve got a thing for cars that feature what many designers would consider a serious faux pas: narrow track widths and wide bodies. No, I can’t explain it, either.

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Look at that incredible Nash Metropolitan microcar in the image above. It looks wonderful, with the two-tone paint, the chrome bits up front, and most importantly: those two front tires recessed deep into the fenders.

There’s something about that look of a car that appears to be standing on its tiptoes that just gets me. And as far as brands that really nailed that setup, it’s hard to beat Nash Motors, the Kenosha, Wisconsin-based car company that later joined Hudson to become American Motors. Pretty much the whole lineup kept those wheels nice and tucked in, including this Rambler:

Image: Nash Advertisement
Image: Nash Advertisement

But there are a number of other cars that also sport tracks that are significantly narrower than their bodies, like the Triumph Mayflower shown below. It looks like you could almost shove a set of duallies on front of this sedan, and still keep the tires tucked in that wheel well. That’s how I like it.

Image credit: signag/Flickr
Image credit: signag/Flickr

But before you say I’ve gone mad, just realize that this was totally common not too long ago! Okay, maybe track widths weren’t quite as recessed as the ones in Nashes or that Triumph Mayflower, but look at this 1961 Chrylsler Imperial:

Image credit: sv1ambo/Flickr
Image credit: sv1ambo/Flickr
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That wheel is tucked pretty deep under those fenders, and you know what? Damn that looks good. And so does this old Dodge Dart:

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And oh my, look at the wheel face/fender offset on this ’63 Buick Riviera:

Photo: General Motors via usautohistory
Photo: General Motors via usautohistory
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Look at any modern car, and, with the steering pointed straight, the faces of the front wheels will line up nearly perfectly with the painted fender surrounding the wheel arch, because at some point in history, this whole Narrow-Track-Wide-Body thing was deemed uncool.

But I’m here to declare: it’s totally cool. In fact, the narrower the better, until you wind up at the ultimate narrow-track fetishist’s dream: the Reliant Robin.

Sr. Tech Editor, Jalopnik. Owner of far too many Jeeps (Including a Jeep Comanche). Follow my instagram (@davidntracy). Always interested in hearing from engineers—email me.

DISCUSSION

flyingfrenchy
Flavien Vidal

I bought a Nash Metropolitan a while back in Arizona, which I shipped back to Japan... I trailered it and the one thing people don’t think about when buying such a car: it doesn’t really fit on regular U-Haul trailers! It was SUPER tight and I got lucky that it fitted, half of each tire was in the air on the ramps. TIGHT. :)

Now the car is in Japan at my friend’s garage, fully restored now. I had to ship it to Tokyo, instead of Nagoya... It took 8 hours to drive it back from Tokyo to Okazaki where I live haha