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The Suburbanite
  • Postcard from Canton: Zurcher takes a road trip to see a familiar car

  • Intrepid television travel reporter Neil Zurcher has returned to the air on WJW FOX 8, and one of his first stops is Canton Classic Car Museum — to see the 1959 Nash Metropolitan he drove during his popular “One Tank Trips.”

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  • Neil Zurcher gently put a hand on his 1959 Nash Metropolitan Series IV convertible and looked inside at its rear-view mirror.
    “The fuzzy dice are still there,” he said with a smile.
    The retired host of “One Tank Trips” on WJW FOX 8 television, Zurcher is well acquainted with the small, sporty-looking, red-and-white American Motors Corp. car. For years, he drove it around Ohio and surrounding states seeking out interesting places for viewers to visit.
    “I bought this in 1988 in North Canton,” Zurcher said. “It’s got a stick shift, and it can reach 90 mph on a good day, but it still gets 30 miles to the gallon.”
    Good mileage for its day — the better to be on the road as a travel reporter. One tank of gasoline stretched farther for Zurcher’s Metropolitan than it did for many vehicles. Appropriately, the 4-cylinder, 55-horsepower, 3-speed car that is so familiar to Zurcher’s fans carries the license plate “1 TNK TRP.”
    Well, 76-year-old Zurcher is back on the road — reporting on Ohio travel for WJW’s weekday morning “New Day Cleveland” show, hosted by David Moss and Kristi Capel.
    And one of the first places the travel authority chose to visit was Canton Classic Car Museum, where his 1959 Metropolitan is on loan for display.
    “Kristi is new at the station, and she came up to me one day and said, ‘I keep hearing about your red car. What is it?’ ” Zurcher explained. “So I thought I’d come down and show her.”
    Capel initially intended to accompany Zurcher on his trip to the museum Thursday, but she was kept at WJW by station duties. Instead, producer Tomi Toyama-Ambrose came with “New Day Cleveland” videographer John Ackerman to capture images of Zurcher and his Metropolitan and to talk to Museum Director Char Lautzenheiser about other motor vehicle gems on display there.
    Interestingly, one of the other cars exhibited at Canton Classic Car Museum — along with much automotive memorabilia — is an even smaller, front-loading, egg-shaped, 1957 BMW Isetta.
    It is a car Zurcher also drove on “One Tank Trips” — but only for a short time.
    “We only used it for about 15 months,” said Zurcher, who noted the vehicle had a top speed of about 50 miles per hour and “got good gas mileage” when he drove it in 1998 and 1999.
    “But frankly, I was afraid of it.”
    So Zurcher returned to his Metropolitan after filming a few minutes in front of the Isetta.
    “This is the car,” he said. “This is the one I drove the most.”
    The Metropolitan won’t be Zurcher’s mode of transportation as he heads back out on the road for travel segments that will air on “New Day Cleveland” on Tuesdays, once or twice a month. Zurcher’s innate curiosity and friendly nature, however, will be ever-present.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We’ll be going all over the state, doing what we used to do, finding interesting places like Canton Classic Car Museum, reminding people what great things Ohio has to offer.”