This essay is the longest piece of literature that I’ve even written under a deadline. It’s a story about American Motors Corporation, beginning all of the way back in the late 1800s with a genius named Thomas B. Jeffery. The second portion details the innovative models that made AMC worth remembering.

American Motors Corporation was a merger of mainly two different automotive companies: Hudson Motor Car Company and Nash-Kelvinator. Other companies and marques would soon join the club, such as Kaiser Jeep, which had recently bought out Willys-Overland. Even though AMC was the largest corporate merger in history at the time, the company proved to be microscopic compared to other American corporations, such as Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. The birth, life, and death of American Motors is a fascinating story of survival, desperation, and innovation. In modern times, the history of AMC serves as an important reminder that a stiff upper lip and a dream can make the foundation for great things.

The Second World War served as an explosive catalyst for American industrial endeavors. Companies like Willys appeared from seemingly nowhere in order to build tools and vehicles for the Allied Powers to use overseas. The war ended the Great Depression in the United States and put people back to work. However, since all of the United States’ industrial might was focused on building tanks and airplanes and guns, no new automotive designs were available to the masses when the war ended in 1945. This dilemma opened up a great new opportunity for smaller firms to take action.

For a brief period of time, it was the little man’s world, which is how radical new concepts such as the famous Tucker 48 came to fruition. New companies such as the Tucker Corporation sprang into action while older, smaller groups that had been bullied out of the market before World War II came out of dormancy and began to make new cars. The corporations that made up AMC would use this period to their advantage.

The Hudson Motor Car Company was an older car company that had existed since the early 1900s. Founded by Howard Coffin, Joseph Hudson, and George Dunham, Hudson’s popularity spiked early on due to their numerous automotive advancements. Early Hudsons had closed off cabins, allowing drivers to be protected from the elements. They also were responsible for engineering the first balanced crankshaft. This allowed the cars’ engines to rev higher and run smoother, a feature which, at the time, was revolutionary. Cars at the time were quite primitive, with loud noises and vibrations coming as standard on most options. Innovations like Hudson’s crankshaft set new standards for automotive development and sealed the company’s reputation as a forward-thinking and advanced brand.

By 1919, Hudson, which was regarded as a luxury brand, bought out Essex, a marque of cheaper but nevertheless honest-to-goodness cars in order to expand their market and appeal more to common people. This was a very smart move, and in 1929, the combined efforts of Hudson and Essex built 300,000 vehicles for the worldwide market. Things were going great; the Hudson brand was seen as a maker of advanced, luxurious cars while the Essex brand made durable steel cars for the blue collar working man. As a matter of fact, after a decade of production, Essex was competing with the likes of Chevrolet.

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In 1924, a large six cylinder engine came standard on Essex cars while Hudson began exploring powerful V8 powerplants. This period of American engineering was what many car enthusiasts consider to be the best in automotive history. Ultra luxury brands like Duesenberg and Packard were putting out products that were similar in quality and prestige to the equivalent Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars that were being built at the time.

Like all companies, the Great Depression took a horrible toll on Hudson Motor Car Company, which, at the time, rose to be the third largest American automaker in the market. Although it was the third largest firm in the country, Hudson did not have the financial numbers of Ford and Chevrolet, and the profits of the company were wiped out by economic turmoil.

Another factor that contributed to Hudson’s downturn was the increasing amount of competition. Despite existing since 1904 as the Maxwell Motor Company, Chrysler was officially founded in 1925; four years before Hudson reached its peak in 1929. Walter Chrysler was hired by Maxwell (now called Maxwell-Chalmers after going through a merger) to revamp the company and start working in the black instead of the red. However, the changed its name to Chrysler and began selling cars. This was worrying because Chrysler would immediately find success in capturing the same market share as Hudson. The new Chrysler Six was immensely popular with the consumers of the twenties because it was an everyman car that was built with a high standard of quality.

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As the Great Depression slogged on, smaller car companies began to disappear into the folds of the crumbling economy. Expectedly, the average consumer was not interested in purchasing a new car. As with all economic recessions, such as the one that occurred in 2007, people were more concerned with keeping the lights on and food on the table. The Great Depression was what eventually brought about the end of Nash Motors, which had been producing vehicles since it was founded in 1916.

Thomas Jeffery was the patriarch of Nash, and at age 17, he settled in Chicago from Great Britain and began producing small products like telescopes and patent models. However, success came to Jeffery when he developed the Rambler bicycle. Bicycles were flying off the shelves in the United States during the late 1800s, and the new Rambler was a very innovative model, using brazed metal tubing to combine strength and affordability. Rambler bicycles were a moneymaker for Jeffery, who then went on to invent the modern pneumatic tire. The tire, the rights of which were licensed to Dunlop, became a standard design for all bicycles, automobiles, and other vehicles from that point on.

In 1897, Jeffery built his first car, which he appropriately named “Rambler” after the popular bicycle. It was an intuitive design for a car of the time, with a single cylinder engine and a rudimentary but effective suspension system. In early prototypes that Thomas Jeffery had built with the help of his son, the Rambler had a steering wheel. This was at a time when cars mainly used tillers to steer. After selling his portion of the bicycle production plant to his business partner, Thomas Jeffery bought a factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin and began to make more Rambler cars.

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On their way to smash yo girl

By 1902, around 1,500 Rambler cars had been produced. Thomas Jeffery was the second person to utilize the production line method to produce cars; the first being the founder of Oldsmobile, Ransom Olds. After proper advertising and promotion had been developed, Rambler Model B and Model C’s began to turn a profit. They became known in the fledgling car community as dependable cars that held their value. 1902 was the year that Jeffery’s cars truly went mass market, and soon the first Rambler dealership appeared in Canandaigua, New York: John North Willys. Sales of the car increased incrementally.

In 1910, Thomas Jeffery died. His son Charles took over the car business and renamed it from Rambler to Jeffery, in honor of his late father. In a strange twist of fate, however, Charles Jeffery was riding on the RMS Lusitania when it was sunk by a German U-Boat during the First World War. Charles survived the attack, but it left him very shaken and unwilling to continue the business. In 1916, he sold the Thomas B. Jeffery Company to a businessman named Charles William Nash.

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A new chapter for the corporation when Nash renamed the Thomas B. Jeffery Company to Nash Motors Company and continued to produce cars. Nash was an experienced business leader in the automotive world. Like Walter Chrysler, Nash was an automotive fixer that would be hired to resurrect failing car companies from going out of business. Previously he led of General Motors in the 1910s before particularly nasty treatment at GM led him to pursue his own business practices. His departure from General Motors, which was due to office politics, was not a pleasant experience for Nash, who vowed to never work under the thumb of a boss again. The Nash Model 671, which came out in 1917, was Nash’s first major hit. The vehicle, like the Ramblers before it, was very popular and sold by the thousands. However, a shift in focus was occurring in the Americas, and Nash could see that. The prospect of owning an automobile was becoming less of an odd, dangerous, and somewhat pretentious way of moving around. People were starting to see cars as commodities that everyone could and should have.

Nash was beginning to gain a lot of demand in the American car market. Soon the Kenosha factory was reaching full operating capacity, and Nash looked to expand. In 1920, Nash was selling twice the amount of cars as Jeffery in his prime. He also tried to start a luxury subsidiary, LaFayette, which promptly failed miserably. Nash was not to be put off by this, though. Every car before the LaFayette and immediately afterward had been successful in some way, whether as a technological success or a financial success. Promptly, the LaFayette factory was converted to produce the Ajax, a short lived marque of simple cars with V6 engines and brakes on all wheels. Because it offered many standard features for the price point, the Ajax was yet another successful car. In 1926, Nash decided that having a separate brand for a car in the same price bracket as his own was unnecessary. By the end of the year the Ajax was now the Nash Light Six. An example of this occurring happened with Toyota in 2016. Car models by the crumbling Scion sub brand were simply badged as Toyotas, such as the Scion FR-S sports car being sold as the Toyota 86.

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Nash Motors also introduced some new technological innovations. In 1928 new Nash cars were offered with a feature called “Twin Ignition”. It was a dual ignition setup, in which two spark plugs per cylinder in the engine were used. Two benefits were provided from this; the first being the availability of the backup spark plugs in case one fails and the second being the more even burning of gasoline upon ignition. It was an intuitive setup and was successful.

The Great Depression was nigh, however, and like Hudson, Nash Motors would soon have to face the music and prepare for an economic onslaught. Hudson, still bent on being at the vanguard of innovation, did not change their business strategies in time, and sales crumbled despite their best efforts to revitalize their Essex brand. Nash fared better than Hudson, though, by introducing simple, inexpensive cars that mimicked the styling of luxury cars. Customers liked them, but it was a time where people were more concerned about their next meal than their next car. It also didn’t help that both Hudson and Nash were slipping away from their competition and becoming the “little guys.”

In 1937 a reverse-merger occurred between Nash Motors and Kelvinator. Kelvinator was an appliance manufacturer that was famous for producing refrigerators. In the merger deal, Charles Nash took over Kelvinator’s appliance factories and sales, while George Mason, the president of Kelvinator, took over Nash Motors. It was a backwards and strange way of running a company, but it helped the new company, Nash-Kelvinator, slog through the remainder of the Great Depression. Hudson, meanwhile, was floundering around like a fish. As Nash-Kelvinator recovered from the stagnation of the Great Depression and then the Second World War, Hudson continued to slither down the automotive totem pole. Hudsons were fast, and they won a lot of motorsport races. They also produced some supplies for the Allies during the war. These endeavors brought in some money, but not enough.

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Relief did not come for Hudson until the late 1940s and early ‘50s. In 1951 the iconic Hudson Hornet was introduced. It was a fairly small sports coupe that sat lower than the competition and cornered well. It was willing to punch above its weight class, too. NASCAR races against larger, more powerful V8 powered cars ended with the little Hornet coming out on top. As a matter of fact, the car’s reputation was cemented in history with the “Fabulous Hudson Hornet”, a famous stock car driven in several NASCAR races by Herb Thomas. The Hornet was one of the cars that got Thomas into the NASCAR Hall of Fame, due to its successes against stronger opponents. While the success of the Hornet tied things over, however, the writing was on the wall for Hudson. Affirmative action was needed to ensure the survival of the company.

The nyoomy boy

George Mason from Nash- Kelvinator had actually been considering a merger with Hudson for a while. A strong corporate bond could help strengthen the two companies and put them back on the map. After all, Nash’s influence when compared to other auto companies had been fading over the last few years. The cars the company sold were successful and well-liked, but it seemed that they just couldn’t keep up with the other American companies. The corporation that Thomas Jeffery and countless other men and women worked so hard for was starting to fall by the wayside. Like Hudson, Nash needed an ally.

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The union of Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator occurred in 1954. Originally, Studebaker and Packard were supposed to join the marriage, but they dropped out at the last minute. AMC was a merger for survival in the face of increasing automotive competition. Maybe Hudson and Nash had an improved chance by joining forces and putting their think tanks together. Maybe things would be better. Thus, in 1954, the American Motors Corporation was created. With a stiff upper lip and an unwillingness to succumb to the long odds that lay before it, American Motors began its legacy of relentless determination in the face of adversity. Battling General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler would be difficult. Later, imports from Asia and Europe would appear in the United States Domestic Market (USDM), proving to be an even harder opponent to face. American Motors as the world knows it was born.

The new company, which was worth $197,793,366 in 1954, needed a fresh start to combat its predators. Both parties agreed that the merger was a good idea; Nash’s cars would continue to sell well with blue collar customers that were looking to get regular cars. Hudson could take advantage of the boost in strength and update their models, which were going out of date and losing sales. They would hold onto the luxury car market, rounding out AMC’s share and allowing the merger to occupy all markets.

Car models began to conglomerate and be sold under both brands. For example, the Nash Rambler was also sold as a Hudson. It was around this time that American Motors pioneered one of the first successful subcompact cars: the Nash Metropolitan. George Mason, despite weighing around 300 pounds and being over six feet in stature, loved small cars. He introduced several diminutive new cars to the market. The Metropolitan, also sold as a Hudson, was an interesting foray into a more European view of driving: it was slow, but very fuel efficient and handled well. The little Nash captured the hearts of many Americans. It was an engaging and dynamic car to drive that also had the sturdy, neat looks of the classic 1950s American automobile. This was at a time when massive, fuel chugging cars were the king. Nevertheless, the little Metropolitan was well received. AMC would also pioneer new cars later when they produced the Eagle, which was considered by many to be the first crossover SUV.

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m-miata?

On an interesting side note, AMC was responsible for making one of the first new American Sports car after the conclusion of the Second World War. The Nash-Healey was a small and loveable sports coupe that was developed alongside British company Healey. It was introduced in 1951, and the only popular American sports car before it was the Crosley Hotshot in 1950.

In 1956 AMC debuted the new Rambler marque. The Rambler would take form as both a Hudson and a Nash and offer a slick looking automobile at a fair asking price. This formula would become AMC’s modus operandi for the rest of its existence. A hearty new V8 engine also came out that year for the Nash and Hudson cars. However, great change was looming.

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look at all those lines

1957 was the year that Hudson and Nash became known as AMC. The corporation had existed for three years prior, but it was decided that the complexities of running three automobile marques for one parent company was taking too heavy of a toll on AMC. Thus, in 1957, Nash Motors and the Hudson Motor Car Company disappeared. Only Rambler remained. It would stay that way for about a decade until AMC began using their own corporate name to sell cars.

AMC and its Rambler brand had a different attitude towards customers and employees than their larger, more complex rivals. Since the company was so small, they took pride in their “little guy” status and grew their image as the car company for the people, where everyone had a place in making the corporation successful. Charles William Nash died in 1948 and George Mason in 1954, so AMC was finding its footing with George Romney, a man who Mason mentored, as CEO.

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AMC’s claim to fame was focusing on the small, economical car that was fun to drive and inexpensive. As with the Metropolitan, the definitive Nash Rambler, which was renamed Rambler Six after Nash was dropped, was a small car that was introduced decades before it was needed. Gasoline was cheap in the 1950s and 1960s, so people did not catch on to the premise as quickly.

The Rambler era of American Motors Corporation went fairly well. AMC was required to use unique business practices to stay in the loop with other corporations. Larger firms, especially during the “Horsepower War” of the 1960s and 1970s, had bundles of money to spend on restyling their top sellers. This is evident in the evolution of the wildly popular Ford mustang, which sported new redesigns and facelifts every few years. AMC, which did not have the money to make new metal dies every few years, stretched the appearances of the cars for as long as possible. They also used the same components for multiple automobiles. For example, later on in the 1970s, the Gremlin subcompact car was built using the same doors as the Hornet compact executive.

AMC doubled down on their small cars in the Rambler period. As a matter of fact, some of AMC’s most iconic cars were produced during this time. When one is asked to name any Rambler car, usually the first answer is the American. A successor to the older Nash Rambler, the American was introduced in 1958 and produced until 1969, over only three generations. Like the earlier Metropolitan, the American was a small, cheap economy car that looked great and drove surprisingly well when compared to competitors. Popular Mechanics tested a 1958 model and observed that the rear wheel drive coupe with its narrow track and short wheelbase was very nimble, responsive to steering input, and cornered well. The handling and road feel of the American made it very popular and was inadvertently its biggest selling point. Consumers also enjoyed excellent fuel economy and build quality that was very good for such an inexpensive car. AMC chugged the iconic car out until 1969, sending it through three redesigns and facelifts.

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i really would like one of these

Some other Ramblers that came out at this time included the Rambler Marlin, a sleek, two door grand tourer, and the Rambler Rebel, a powerful sports sedan. The Rambler Rebel is significant because it was the first American performance-based sedan. As a matter of fact, the Rebel was the foundation for the ubiquitous American “muscle car” - a mid sized car with performance upgrades that is intended for linear speed. AMC was yet again ahead of its time, introducing a new class of car that would be a staple on the American motorway.

rambler rebel. chevy ss? no thanks.

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The Marlin, on the other hand, was AMC’s attempt to produce a personal luxury car. While the Rebel was brutish and strong, The Marlin was aerodynamic and beautiful. Its most recognizable trait was the Marlin’s long, sweeping fastback styling.

i love these slick fastbacks.

While the Rambler marque was all well and good, AMC began using its trading in its corporate name in the late 1960s to rebrand itself. Ramblers, although very good cars, are remembered as cheap, basic transportation. AMC wanted to be taken more seriously in the sixties. Thus, the Rambler Marlin and the Rambler Ambassador family car were rebranded as AMCs, and a new Rebel was released. The humble Rambler American soldiered on until 1969. This was the beginning of a new chapter for American Motors, the era that the corporation was remembered for. Competition was still stiff, however, and soon imported cars from Europe and Japan would be arriving on American soil.

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In 1949, the first Volkswagen Type I Beetle appeared on the American market. It was a revolutionary car that captured the hearts and minds of consumers quickly due to its traits of being very inexpensive to buy, easy to maintain, and fun to modify. Beetles, despite having ties to the only recently defeated Nazi Germany, were also loved by consumers due to their cute, bubbly styling and fuel efficiency. The car covered a lot of different markets, too. An offroad version of the Beetle, the Thing, was offered, along with the slick and beautiful Karmann Ghia, a sports coupe. Consumers interested in tinkering flocked to the car to use the amenable Beetle chassis to construct their own kit cars, hot rods, drag racers, and drift missiles.

The coming of the Beetle was a warning to America’s automakers. Foreign economy cars were beginning to invade the United States Domestic Market (USDM) and sway customers away from large, gasoline slurping family cars. While the Beetle was regarded by many members of the public as just a cheap, lousy way of getting around for young people, the advantages of small cars would come into fruition in the 1970s - during the energy crisis. Another car that arrived and consequently took the United States was the Honda Civic, which was from Japan. Other new economy cars included the BMW Isetta, Subaru 360, and the VW Rabbit.

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left or right?

At the start of the 1970s, the single remaining AMC factory produced a fresh line of new AMC cars. The Hornet was a small, economical sedan that was about the size of a modern compact car, like a Ford Focus or Mazda 3. A wagon version, called the Sportabout, was also produced. To compete with the imported cars, designers sliced off the end of the Hornet to produce the first American subcompact: the famous Gremlin. To compete with the Big Three’s muscle cars, AMC made the impressive but short lived Javelin. The Matador was the company’s family car, while the Ambassador served as an affordable luxury automobile.

AMC Javelin. check out those nice, flowy front fenders

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i’m sorry, fido, but it’s time to get in the back of the FUN GREMLIN

AMC’s standing at the time of the fuel crisis seemed fairly good. They were the most experienced company at constructing and selling small, efficient cars, so an energy crisis such as the Arab Oil Embargo helped to knock the large players down until they could develop small cars. The idea of small cars was not as unfamiliar to American Motors as other companies, so cars like the Gremlin, Hornet and later Pacer were considerably less miserable than 1970s classics like the Ford Pinto, Chevrolet Vega, Chevrolet Chevette, and Ford Mustang II. However, it was decided that AMC should put some of its crisis money towards a new car that would fill the needs of more people.

Due to rising gas prices, American Motors wanted to build a compact car, but not necessarily a small car. Advertized as a small, wide car, the American Motors Pacer was a wild new design, especially in a time when people thought that American automakers were out of ideas in the styling department. During the 1970s, just about every car was a boring, lazily driving box. For example, the rough and ready Dodge Charger had gone from a street racing legend to a completely emasculated luxury coupe, with emphasis on unoffensive styling and a plushy ride.

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However, the new Pacer was completely different. It was plump and bubbly, with round edges, a stumpy hood and a copious amount of glass. The driver and passenger side doors were different lengths, and the hatchback was wide enough to fit the front quarter of a Gremlin inside. As a matter of fact, the Pacer was four and a half feet shorter than a Cadillac Eldorado, but an incredible two inches narrower. Developing and selling the car was a massive, massive gamble for AMC. It was completely new and shared almost no components with previous cars. That meant that developing and engineering the car was very expensive.

nice

Further developmental troubles appeared when it came to the automobile’s drivetrain. Originally, the car was slated to have a General Motors built rotary engine under the hood. The rotary engine, which was developed by German scientist Felix Wankel, was called for due to its small size and impressive power output. It would fill the requirements of American Motors perfectly, so they designed the Pacer around it, especially the tight engine bay. The diminutive size allowed engineers to focus on making the Pacer’s cockpit larger and more comfortable.

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she t h i c c

However, in the final hours before GM’s rotary engine development program launched, the corporation cancelled it. Rotary engines are not as fuel efficient as piston engines, and they also burn through more oil. The only car company that would cling onto the idea was Mazda, whose last rotary powered vehicle ceased production in 2012.

This development sent AMC engineers and factory workers into a frenzy. If General Motors had announced that it was cancelling the program earlier, they could have reshaped the Pacer to hold an existing power plant. Instead, GM cancelled development of the rotary engine mere hours before production of the new AMC began production.

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drifting

AMC had already invested a lot of money into the Pacer, so canceling it was out of the question. The minds at the sole American Motors factory hatched a plan to shove their existing straight six engine into the miniscule engine compartment. The engine barely fit, it was extremely heavy, and the fact that the car’s windshield covered half of it made the engine very difficult to service.

All of the Pacers troubles evaporated when the first Pacers were made available to the public. The unusually proportioned compact automobile was a smash hit, and dealers struggled to keep up with sales. Consumers praised the cars’ unique appearance, good fuel economy, and an engaging driving experience. Since linear speed was never the objective for AMC, they designed the car with a sporty suspension system and a state of the art rack and pinion steering setup. These systems, combined with the car’s wide stance and short wheelbase, made the Pacer a precisely driving car with very good handling for the time.

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Although many people mock the car’s oddball styling nowadays, the Pacer was considered state of the art back in the 1970s. The AMC factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin struggled to keep up with the demands of customers, who expressed gratitude that the American auto industry finally released a unique car with personality. It was an upset, too; nobody knew that a tiny company like AMC could think outside of the box and reject the typical boxy styles. To demonstrate the popularity of the car, AMC predicted that 80,000 units would sell in 1975. However, sales were so strong that over 100,000 units were constructed.

Sales of the AMC Pacer boomed until the late 1970s, when sales began to plateau. Everyone that wanted a Pacer got one, and the style of automobiles began to move away from the square land barges of the 1970s to the clean, sharp edges of the 1980s. AMC tried to refresh the Pacer, but there was little left to do without breaking the bank again. As a matter of fact, many AMC enthusiasts and automotive historians consider the Pacer to be the beginning of the end for American Motors. Development of the Pacer vacuumed away funds that normally would have went towards the company’s fleet of other vehicles. Eventually, AMC models like the Hornet, Gremlin, and Javelin began to disappear.

A new lineup of vehicles arrived in 1980. The AMC Concord was a compact car that served as a successor to the Hornet, while the Spirit was a successor to the Gremlin. This is the true final chapter of American Motors Corporation, but the little company from Kenosha was determined to survive.

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Problems were arising from within. Renault, a French automaker with shares in AMC, had began exporting vehicles to sell at AMC dealerships, but this brought in little money. Tension grew when George Besse, a higher up in Renault, was killed by members of a communist extremist group in 1986. AMC’s Jeep brand was doing well, but the sales of Jeep vehicles did little to prop up the company. Finally, the labor at AMC’s plant was growing angry at the failing corporation’s management. Some sources even reported factory workers sabotaging vehicles. Out of AMC’s dying breaths was one final pioneering vehicle: the glorious AMC Eagle.

The crossover SUV is quickly becoming one of the most popular vehicles on American roads today. Essentially, a crossover is a hybrid of a normal automobile with the ride height of an SUV. Examples of this type of vehicle include the Ford Explorer, the Chevrolet Equinox, and the Toyota RAV4. There are many technical advantages that these vehicles provide over regular cars and trucks, which is reflected by the sales of these automobiles. As a matter of fact, there are over forty four different crossover SUVs for sale in the new car market. It is a booming new car segment, owing to the vehicles’ everyday usability and comfort.

2 tone brown, station wagon, white walls, awd, excellent.

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While the American car buying market loves crossovers, the company to thank is American Motors. The AMC Eagle is essentially a lifted AMC hatchback with four wheel drive. It provided a comfortable, luxurious ride that worked well off road. The car was AMC’s last stand before Chrysler bought AMC out in 1987. By 1985, Chrysler had bought stock in the company and AMC used its factory to produce Dodge, Plymouth and Chrysler cars for profit. Lee Iacocca, the president of Chrysler at the time, took particular interest in the Jeep brand. While AMC as a brand was struggling to keep the lights on, the Jeep brand made a lot of money. In particular, Iacocca wanted the new Jeep Grand Cherokee to be made by Chrysler.

By then, AMC had started a new product lineup: Eagle. This was a partnership between AMC and Renault that resulted in a whole new factory being built in Ontario. However, Eagle didn’t quite take off by 1987, so Chrysler swooped in and bought out American Motors.

However, it wasn’t the end. Not as many people lost jobs as one might suspect, as Iacocca took over all AMC plants and switched them over to produce Chryslers. Although they were dealing with intense labor problems towards the end, AMC’s managing was quite good, and the company was doing very well when the buyout came. Many managers and designers and engineers took up jobs working on Chrysler products, while AMC dealers switched over to Chrysler.

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The merging ended by 1990, and while AMC, the “little guys” of the car industry, eventually succumbed to its larger rivals, it is remembered by many for years of automotive innovation; many commonplace vehicles on the world’s roads were born as vehicles produced by American Motors. AMC also has a place in the heart of America for being the underdog, that, despite the power and wealth of its rivals, doggedly held on through Hell or high water to produce more than just automobiles. AMC produced memories. Whether it was going on road trips in the back seat of Mom and Dad’s Eagle, or getting handed the keys of a shiny new Gremlin on one’s sixteenth birthday, AMC played some role in the lives of thousands of Americans. It became more than just a car company. At the end, American Motors, born of determination and the struggle to compete against the odds, was a family.

“In retrospect, I can only say that AMC can never be replicated. That was a wonderful place to work, just a terrific place to work.”

-Vincent Geraci, former Director of Interior Design at AMC.