This advertisement heralding American motors in 1958 cites the company's new economy car in cartoon form. AMC always provided excellent advertising messages in print, radio and television and for a time made up the "Big Four" of car companies.
Q: Hi, Greg, I enjoy your old car articles very much. I am an AMC fan and want to know the actual date when American Motors was formed. I am retired and don't run a computer, but I told my friends it happened in 1954 and they say it was later than that. Who is correct? Charles from Illinois.
A: Charles, you are correct. On May 1, 1954, American Motors Corporation (AMC) was born when Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor Company joined forces to help offset the thundering sales of the American "Big Three" of Ford, General Motors and Chrysler. At the time, it was the biggest merger in American business history.
Although Nash and Hudson were both popular in the early 1950s, the independent nature of both companies just didn't allow them to compete. Nash had excellent marketing under George Mason, while Hudson won several titles on the early NASCAR circuit with its "Fabulous Hudson Hornet" 6-cylinder racecars.
By 1956, both Nash and Hudson were in their final years of "branded" vehicles as AMC focused more on its new name, Rambler, and smaller cars like the Metropolitan and American. To explain further about the "naming," the all-new Ramblers were on dealer showroom floors in 1956 but carried either Hudson or Nash badges. In 1957, Hudson and Nash names were eliminated and Rambler was the new icon, although the name had been used by Nash earlier. Notable is another "name survivor" in Nash's "Ambassador," a badge that would live on for many years on larger AMC products after being re-introduced in 1958 as Rambler's top line offering.
Notable, too, is that the late George Romney, the noted politician and former governor of Michigan, who became the CEO of American Motors in October 1954 when his mentor, Mason, died suddenly.
Romney led a "Rambler charge" that allowed AMC to move forward with many popular family cars, including a "sleeper" 1957 Rambler with a 327 V8 that could run with a Corvette in acceleration trials.
Further down the road, AMC purchased the Jeep brand from Kaiser in 1970, and then partnered with Renault in 1980 on car production. Renault then purchased controlling interest in AMC in 1984 to produce cars like the unreliable Alliance and sporty yet still untrustworthy Fuego.
The trump card, however, was always the Jeep line, which Chrysler then pursued with a vengeance. Chrysler finally purchased AMC in 1987 from Renault and formed the Jeep/Eagle division. At that point, the AMC cars, which were all foreign Renaults sans the 4x4 Eagle, were eliminated.
That's the history of AMC in a nutshell.