American Motors Corporation logo.
American Motors Corporation (AMC) was an American automobile company formed by the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company. At the time, it was the largest corporate merger in U.S. history, valued at US$198 million ($1.44 billion in 2006 dollars).
When declining sales and the competitiveness of the United States auto market forced AMC to seek a partner in the late 1970s, the company formed an alliance with France's Renault. This lasted until March 2, 1987, when the Chrysler Corporation purchased AMC. Use of the AMC and Renault brand names ceased in the United States. The Jeep line continued; also some Eagle models.
In January 1954 Nash-Kelvinator Corporation began acquisition of the Hudson Motor Car Company (in what was called a merger) to form American Motors. The deal was a straight stock transfer (three shares of Hudson listed at 11⅛, for two shares of AMC and one share of Nash-Kelvinator listed at 17⅜, for one share of AMC) and finalized in the spring of 1954, forming the fourth-biggest auto company in the U.S. with assets of $355 million and more than $100 million in working capital. The new company retained Hudson CEO A.E. Barit as a consultant and he took a seat on the Board of Directors. Nash's George W. Mason became President and CEO.
Mason, the architect of the merger, believed that the survival of America's remaining independent automakers depended on them joining in one multibrand company capable of challenging the "Big Three" - General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler - as an equal.
Mason also entered into informal discussions with James J. Nance of Packard to outline his strategic vision. Interim plans were made for AMC to buy Packard Ultramatic automatic transmissions and Packard V8 engines for certain AMC products.
In 1954 Packard acquired Studebaker.
By 1964 Studebaker production in the United States had ended, and its Canadian operations ceased in 1966. The "Big Three", plus the smaller AMC, Kaiser Jeep, International Harvester, Avanti and Checker companies were the remaining North American auto manufacturers.
American Motors combined the Nash and the Hudson product lines under a common manufacturing strategy in 1955, with the production of both Nashes and Hudsons combined, while retaining the separately branded established dealer networks. The Hudsons were redesigned to bring them in harmony with Nash body styles.
The fast-selling Rambler model was sold as both a Nash and a Hudson in 1955 and 1956. These badge-engineered Ramblers, along with similar Metropolitans, were identical save for hubcaps, nameplates, and other minor trim details.
For the 1958 model year the Nash and Hudson brands were dropped. Rambler became a marque in its own right and the mainstay of the company.
The slow-selling British-built Nash Metropolitan subcompact continued as a standalone brand until it was dropped after 1962.
American Motors was also beginning to experiment in non-gasoline powered automobiles. On April 1, 1959, AMC and Sonotone Corporation announced a joint research effort to consider producing an electric car that was to be powered by a "self-charging" battery.
In an effort to stay competitive, American Motors produced a wide range of products during the 1960s. In the early part of the decade, sales were strong. In 1961, Ramblers ranked in third place among domestic automobile sales.
The company also introduced exciting entries for the decade's muscle car boom, most notably the AMX; while the Javelin served as the company's entrant into the sporty "pony car" market created.
Chapin also expanded American Motors product line in 1970, through the purchase of the Kaiser-Jeep Corporation (formerly Willys-Overland) from Kaiser Industries. This added the iconic Jeep brand of light trucks and SUVs
In 1970 AMC consolidated all passenger cars under one distinct brand identity and debuted the AMC Hornet range of compact cars. AMC pioneered the practice of sharing a platform among different models.
The Gremlin, which was the first American-built subcompact, sold more than 670,000 from 1970 to 1978. The Hornet became AMC's best-selling passenger car since the Rambler Classic, with more than 860,000 units sold by the time production ended in 1977.
The AMC Pacer, an innovative all-new model introduced in 1975. With the advent of the Arab Oil Embargo energy crisis of 1973, General Motors aborted the Wankel rotary engine around which the Pacer had been designed. In December of 1979, the Pacer production ceased.
The late 1970s to early 1980s.
In February 1977 Time magazine reported that although AMC had lost $73.8 million in the previous two fiscal years, U.S. banks had agreed to a year’s extension for a $72.5 million credit that had expired in January.
In May 1978 the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the recall of all AMC’s 1976 cars (except those conforming to California emissions regulations)—some 270,000 vehicles—plus 40,000 1975 and 1976 Jeeps and mini trucks, for correction of a fault in the pollution control system.
A year later, with its share of the American market at 1.83%, the company struck a deal with Renault, the nationally-owned French automaker.
In early 1980 the banks refused AMC further credit. Renault, having increased their stake in the company several times to keep it solvent, eventually owned 49% in 1983. This effectively ended AMC's run as a truly American car company.
1985 and the final buyout.
1985 was a turning point for the company as the market moved away from AMC's small models. Even the venerable Jeep CJ-5 was dropped after a 60 Minutes TV news magazine exposé of rollover tendencies under extreme conditions.
The US government would not allow a foreign government to own a significant portion of an important defense supplier. As a result, the profitable AM General Division was sold.
The earlier arrangement between Chrysler and AMC, under which AMC would produce M-body chassis rear-drive large cars for two years from 1986-88, fed the rumour that Chrysler was about to buy AMC.
The sale marked Renault's withdrawal from the North American market. AMC was forced to constantly innovate for 33 years until it was absorbed by Chrysler in 1987.
(text source: Wikipedia)
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