In what was the largest corporate merger US history at the time, Nash-Kelvinator Corporation began to combine with Hudson Motor Car Company to form American Motors Corporation (AMC) on this day in 1954. The merger was led by Nash-Kelvinator CEO George Mason in order to build a company strong enough to compete with the Big Three: General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The merger would be completed on May 1.
Within a year Mason died of health complications and his assistant George Romney was named the new head. Under Romney’s direction, Nash was to focus on it’s Rambler line of small cars, while Hudson would continue its efforts in the full-sized markets, but each of these brands would end production on June 25, 1957. This paid off for Romney, who led the drive to focus on the AMC brands of Rambler and Metropolitan, when a recession hit and a market surge for small, economical cars was created.
By 1960, AMC was named the third most popular brand of automobiles in the US, in large part due to its Rambler. However, by 1965 the Rambler name would also be phased out and AMC would take over as the name brand for all models. For nearly the next two decades AMC would experience relative success, producing some of America’s best known cars of the 1960s and 1970s, including the Javelin, AMX, Gremlin and Pacer. In 1970 AMC acquired the Jeep brand, which would prove to be its most valuable asset as the company would change hands. Renault acquired a large portion of AMC in 1979, but this stock, along will all other remaining shares, was purchased by Chrysler on March 9, 1987, thus closing the doors on the AMC brand.
Cover: The Metropolitan, first built by Nash in 1953, remained a key part of the AMC lineup through 1961 as they continued to push smaller cars. By Brian Corey