Logo from 1970 to 1987

In 1954, Nash-Kelvinator acquired Hudson Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan, in what was called a mutually beneficial merger. This merger occurred on May 1, 1954 to form American Motors Corporation (AMC). At the same time, Mason tried to bring Studebaker and Packard into AMC. He had informal discussions with Packard to outline his strategic vision. An agreement was reached for parts-sharing arrangements between AMC and Packard and the new 320 cu in (5.2 L) Packard V8 engine and Packard’s Ultramatic automatic transmission would be used in the 1955 Nash Ambassador and Hudson Hornet models.

Within months after the formation of American Motors Corporation, George Mason died on October 8, 1954, at age 63 of acute pancreatitis and pneumonia in Detroit, Michigan. AMC Vice President George W. Romney, succeeded Mason as Chairman and CEO. One of Romney’s first acts was to stop rumors that there were additional merger talks between AMC and Studebaker-Packard Corporation or any automakers. In July 1954, Packard acquired Studebaker.

Nash would focus most of its marketing resources on its smaller Rambler models, and Hudson would focus its marketing efforts on its full-sized cars. The Nash Metropolitan, which had been marketed under either the Nash or Hudson brands, became a make unto its own in 1957, as did the Rambler. The Ramblers quickly overtook Nash and Hudson as the leading line of cars manufactured by AMC.

By the end of 1957 the legacy Nash and Hudson brands were completely phased out. The last Hudson rolled off the Kenosha assembly line on June 25, 1957. From 1958 to 1962, Rambler and the Metropolitan were the only brands of cars sold by AMC. By 1965 the Rambler name would begin to be phased out and AMC would take over as the brand name until the 1988 model year.

Romney’s tenure was very successful as reflected in healthy profits year after year. In 1962, Roy Abernethy (September 29, 1906 – February 28, 1977) became CEO of American Motors Corporation. Prior to his tenure at AMC, Abernethy had been with Packard Motors and Willys-Overland. Abernethy replaced George W. Romney, who resigned from AMC to become Governor of Michigan. Abernethy served as chairman and president of American Motors Corporation till January 1967.

Abernethy believed AMC buyers would move up to newer, larger, more expensive vehicles. The first cars were the 1965 models. These were a longer Ambassador series and new convertibles for the larger models. During mid-year a fastback, called the Marlin, was added. Abernethy also called for the de-emphasis of the Rambler brand. The 1966 Marlin and Ambassador lost their Rambler nameplates, followed by the 1968 Rebel, and were thereafter badged as “American Motors” products. Ambassador Sales increased significantly, however the dated designs of the Rambler Americans hurt sales that offset any gains from Ambassador sales. The new models shared fewer parts among each other and were more expensive to build, with quality control problems and Consumer Reports negative ratings for AMC’s Safety sales slowed

Abernethy was dismissed on January 9, 1967 and Roy Dikeman Chapin Jr. (September 21, 1915 – August 5, 2001) became the new Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of American Motors Corporation. Chapin’s father, Roy D. Chapin Sr., was one of the co-founders of the Hudson Motor Car Company. Chapin quickly instituted changes by selling the Kelvinator Appliance business in 1968, once one of the firm’s core operating units. Focusing on younger demographic markets, cutting the price of the Rambler and included making air conditioning standard on all 1968 Ambassador models. This made AMC the first U.S. automaker to make air conditioning standard equipment on a line of cars. Chapin was instrumental in introducing many successful lines of cars included the Gremlin, Hornet, and Javelin.

The Rambler brand was completely dropped after the 1969 model year in North America, it continued to be used in overseas markets and was last used in Mexico, 1983.

From 1970, AMC was the brand used for all American Motors passenger cars and all vehicles from that date bore the AMC name and the new corporate logo.

Jeep Corporation

In 1970, American Motors acquired Kaiser Jeep. This added the iconic Jeep brand of light trucks and SUVs, as well as Jeep’s government contracts of military Jeeps and the DJ-Series postal Jeeps. Kaiser Jeep became “Jeep Corporation,” a wholly owned subsidiary of AMC. Included in the sale was the General Products Division, which Kaiser had purchased from Studebaker in 1964. After 1970, the General Products Division with military and special products was reconstituted as American Motors General Products Division, later reorganized as AM General, best known as the manufacturer of the Humvee and civilian Hummer H1.

Also in 1970, AMC consolidated all passenger cars under one distinct brand identity and debuted the Hornet range of compact cars. The Hornet and the later Gremlin shared platforms. The Gremlin subcompact, sold more than 670,000 units from 1970–1978. 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 new mid-sized AMC Matador replaced the Rebel in 1971 and in 1974, The Matador model line included a sedan, station wagon and two-door hardtop. The models received praise for its design. The full-sized Ambassador was discontinued as AMC’s flagship line after the 1974 model year and AM General subsidiary began building urban transit buses.

The AMC Pacer, introduced in March 1975 was a subcompact. The AMX nameplate was revived in 1977. It was a sporty appearance package on the Hornet hatchback. For 1978, the Hornet platform was redesigned with an adaptation of the new Gremlin front-end design and renamed AMC Concord. Gremlins borrowed the Concord instrument panel, as well as a Hornet AMX-inspired GT sports appearance package and a new striping treatment for X models.

The AMC Pacer hood was modified to clear a V8 engine, and a Sports package. With falling sales of Matador Coupes, sedans and wagons, their production ceased at the end of the model year with total sales of 10,576 units. In 1979, the Spirit sedan replaced the Gremlin. A new fastback version of the car, the Spirit Liftback, proved successful. In December, Pacer production ceased after a small run of 1980 models.

Concords received a new front end treatment, and in their final season. On May 1, 1979, AMC marked the 25th anniversary of the Nash-Hudson merger with “Silver Anniversary” editions of the AMC Concord and Jeep CJ in two-tone silver (Jeeps then accounted for around 50 percent of the company’s sales and most of their profits); and introduced LeCar, a U.S. version of the small, fuel-efficient Renault 5.

Chapin gave up the CEO title in late 1977, but stayed as chairman until he retired in October 1978. He remained on AMC’s board of directors until 1987, when Chrysler acquired the company.

AMC / Renault

On 21 October 1977, Gerald C. Meyers was appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. In 1979, with declining profits and lacking both capital and resources, Meyers formed a partnership with the French state-owned Renault and signed an agreement that called for AMC dealers to sell Renault cars in the United States while Renault would market AMC cars in Europe. Renault, which bought 22.5 percent of AMC stock. A year later Renault became the principal stockholder of American Motors.

In January 1982 the company’s former president W. Paul Tippett Jr. replaced Gerald C. Meyers as CEO, and Jose Dedeurwaerder, a Renault executive, became president. Dedeurwaerder brought a broad perspective at this critical time, he is credited with streamlining many of AMC’s arcane management techniques. He also instituted important improvements in plant layouts, as well as in cost and quality control. Renault, having increased their stake in the company several times to keep it solvent, eventually owned 49% in 1983.

New ownership and management heralded a new product venture, a line of modern front-wheel drive cars, designed by Renault, to be produced in Kenosha Wisconsin. In August 1979, for the 1980 model year, AMC introduced new four-wheel drive versions of the Spirit and Concord, calling the collective line the AMC Eagle. Featuring an innovative full-time four-wheel drive system, Sales started strongly but declined over time.

In 1980, all AMC cars received a new rust-proofing process called Ziebart Factory Rust Protection that included a deep-dip bath in epoxy-based primer. While the two-wheel drive Spirit and Concord were both discontinued after 1983 as the company concentrated on the new Renault Alliance. Introduced in 1983, the Alliance was a front-wheel drive Renault 9 compact car restyled for the American market produced in Kenosha. The car was badged as a Renault and some cars carried AMC badges. It was available as a sedan with two or four doors and later as a convertible. The hatchback, introduced in 1984 and badged as the Renault Encore.

In 1983 with the introduction of an all-new Jeep Cherokee and Wagoneer models for the 1984 model year was very popularity and these Jeeps pioneered a new market segment defined as the sport utility vehicle (SUV).

For the final 1987 model year, a higher-performance version of the Alliance 2 door sedan and convertible was sold as the Renault GTA. The Encore models were renamed to Alliance Hatchback in 1987. Alliance and GTA production ended in June of that year while the Renault 9 and 11 models continued through the 1988 model year in Europe. The Eagle survived as a station wagon into the 1988 model year. All the company’s remaining output was branded Renault or Jeep. The last AMC Eagle was built on December 14, 1987.

During the transfer of management from Paul Tippet to French executive, Pierre Semerena, problems occurred. The new management signed an agreement to build Jeeps in the People’s Republic of China, Beijing Jeep was established by AMC in 1983 to produce Jeeps for the Chinese market.

AM General Division, a significant defense contractor, being managed by a partially French-government-owned firm. The U.S. government would not allow a foreign government to own a significant portion of an defense supplier. As a result, in 1983 the AM General was sold to LTV Corporation and established it as a wholly owned subsidiary of the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company. In 1992, LTV sold AM General to The Renco Group who began marketing the HUMVEE to the civilian market under the Hummer brand. In 1999 they sold the rights to the Hummer brand to General Motors who continued production of the original civilian Hummer until June 2006 when it ceased production. On August 20, 2004, it was announced that MacAndrews & Forbes company would buy 70% ownership of AM General from the Renco Group.

AMC’s major stockholder, Renault, was experiencing financial trouble in France. In 1986, under pressure from Renault executives, Renault’s new president, Raymond Levy set out divest the company of its investment in American Motors and in 1987, Renault announced that it would withdraw from the American automobile market. Renault owned 46.1% of AMC’s outstanding shares of stock.


On March 9, 1987, Chrysler agreed to buy Renault’s share in AMC, plus all the remaining shares, for about US$1.5 billion.

AMC became the Jeep-Eagle division of Chrysler. It was the Jeep brand that Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca really wanted. The buyout included other attractive deal for Chrysler. Among them was the world-class, brand-new manufacturing plant in Bramalea, Ontario. Additional acquisitions were the AMC dealer network which strengthened Chrysler’s retail distribution – many AMC dealers switched to selling Chrysler products.

AMC was renamed to Jeep Eagle Corporation August 25, 1988 and was fully merged as of March 29, 1990.

Chrysler announced the discontinuation of the Eagle brand in September 1997, the marque was phased out in stages through the end of the 1998 model. The last 1998 Eagle Talon rolled off the line shortly thereafter the Eagle brand was discontinued. The new Jeep Grand Cherokee would not be released until 1992 for the 1993 model year, the same year that Iacocca retired.

The AMC name disappeared with Chrysler’s acquisition.

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