In what was the largest corporate merger in US history at the time, Nash-Kelvinator Corporation agreed to merge with Hudson Motor Car Company to form American Motors Corporation (AMC) on this day in 1954. The deal was led by Nash-Kelvinator CEO George Mason who hoped to build a strong competitor of the Big Three: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler.
Within a year, Mason died of health complications. His assistant, George Romney, took over the role of CEO. Under Romney’s direction, Nash focused on its Rambler line of small cars, while Hudson continued building full-sized vehicles. As a recession took hold in the late 1950s, each of these brands produced their last cars. To combat rising import sales of the era, small, fuel efficient cars would lead the company’s product line. To do so, AMC launched Rambler and Metropolitan as their own marques, each offering compact, yet versatile vehicles.
By 1960, AMC became the third most popular brand of automobiles in the US, largely due to the Rambler. The next year the Metropolitan line ended production. By 1965 the Rambler name would also be phased out and AMC would take over as the marque for all models.
AMC found success in the 1960s and 1970s with the Javelin, AMX, Gremlin and Pacer. In 1970 AMC acquired the Jeep brand, which later proved to be its most valuable asset. Renault acquired a large portion of AMC in 1979, but this stock, along will all other remaining shares, came under Chrysler ownership on March 9, 1987. Chrysler revealed it ultimately did the deal only to acquire Jeep. With that, AMC production soon ground to a halt. The last AMC, an Eagle Wagon, left the line on December 14, 1987.