PLYMOUTH

1960s and 1970s Plymouth logo

Plymouth (automobile) 1928 – 2001 Auburn Hills, Michigan, United States

Plymouth
Industry Automobile
Fate Withdrawn from the market in 2001; models were either discontinued or rebranded as Chrysler
Founded July 7, 1928
Founder Walter Chrysler
Defunct June 29, 2001; 15 years ago
Headquarters Auburn Hills, Michigan
United States
Products Cars, Minivans
Parent Chrysler (1928–1998)
DaimlerChrysler (1998–2001)

Plymouth was a brand of automobiles based in the United States, produced by the Chrysler Corporation and its successor DaimlerChrysler. The brand first appeared in 1928 in the United States and was discontinued in 2001.

History

Origins

1928 Plymouth Model Q Coupe1928 Plymouth Model Q Coupe

The Plymouth automobile was introduced at Madison Square Garden on July 7, 1928. It was Chrysler Corporation’s first entry in the low-priced field, which at the time was already dominated by Chevrolet and Ford. Plymouths were actually priced slightly higher than their competition, but offered standard features such as internal expanding hydraulic brakes that the competition did not provide. Plymouths were originally sold exclusively through Chrysler dealerships, offering a low-cost alternative to the upscale Chrysler-brand cars. The logo featured a rear view of the ship Mayflower which landed at Plymouth Rock in Plymouth, Massachusetts. However, the inspiration for the Plymouth brand name came from Plymouth binder twine, produced by the Plymouth Cordage Company, also of Plymouth. The name was chosen by Joe Frazer due to the popularity of the twine among farmers.

The origins of Plymouth can be traced back to the Maxwell automobile. When Walter P. Chrysler took over control of the troubled Maxwell-Chalmers car company in the early 1920s, he inherited the Maxwell as part of the package. After he used the company’s facilities to help create and launch the six-cylinder Chrysler automobile in 1924, he decided to create a lower-priced companion car. So for 1926, the Maxwell was reworked and rebadged as the low-end four-cylinder Chrysler “52” model. In 1928, the “52” was once again redesigned to create the Chrysler-Plymouth Model Q. The “Chrysler” portion of the nameplate was dropped with the introduction of the Plymouth Model U in 1929.

Great Depression, 1940s–1950s

1939 Plymouth in a Swedish 1940s fashion photo1939 Plymouth in a Swedish 1940s fashion photo.

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Plymouth Police Car 1947

1947 Plymouth police car property of the Glendale Police Dept. in Glendale, Arizona1948 Plymouth Special De Luxe Coupé1948 Plymouth Special De Luxe Coupé1949 Plymouth four-door sedan1949 Plymouth four-door sedan

While the original purpose of the Plymouth was to serve a lower-end marketing niche, during the Great Depression of the 1930s the division helped significantly in ensuring the survival of the Chrysler Corporation in a decade when many other car companies failed. Beginning in 1930, Plymouths were sold by all three Chrysler divisions (Chrysler, DeSoto, and Dodge). Plymouth sales were a bright spot during this dismal automotive period, and by 1931 Plymouth rose to number three in sales among all cars. In 1931 with the Model PA, the company introduced floating power and boasted, “The economy of a four; the smoothness of a six.”

Plymouth emblem

In 1933, Chrysler decided to catch up with Ford and Chevrolet with respect to engine cylinder count. The 190 cu in version of Chrysler’s flathead-six engine was equipped with a downdraft carburetor and installed in the new 1933 Plymouth PC, introduced on November 17, 1932. However, Chrysler had reduced the PC’s wheelbase from 112 to 107 in (284.5 to 271.8 cm), and the car sold poorly. By April 1933, the Dodge division’s Model DP chassis, with a 112-inch (284.5 cm) wheelbase, was put under the PC body with DP front fenders, hood, and radiator shell. The model designation was advanced to PD’ and the car was marketed as the “DeLuxe” 1933 Plymouth. This car sold very well and is the 1933 model most commonly found in collections. The PC became the ‘Standard Six’. It had been the ‘Plymouth Six’ at introduction, and was sold through to the end of 1933, but in much lower numbers. It is consequently in the minority in collectors’ hands today. In 1937, Plymouth (along with the other Chrysler makes) added safety features such as flat dash boards with recessed controls and the back of the front seat padded for the rear seat occupants.[4] The PC was shipped overseas to Sweden, Denmark, and the UK, as well as Australia. In the UK, it was sold as a ‘Chrysler Kew’, Kew Gardens being the location of the Chrysler factory outside London. The flathead six which started with the 1933 Model PC stayed in the Plymouth until the 1959 models.

In 1939, Plymouth produced 417,528 vehicles, of which 5,967 were two-door convertible coupes with rumble seats. The 1939 convertible coupe was prominently featured at Chrysler’s exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, advertised as the first mass-production convertible with a power folding top. It featured a 201 cu in, 82 hp version of the flathead six engine.

1954 Plymouth Belevedere Suburban Station Wagon 2-dA 1954 Plymouth two-door station wagon

For much of its life, Plymouth was one of the top-selling American automobile brands; it, together with Chevrolet and Ford, was commonly referred to as the “low-priced three” marques in the American market. Plymouth almost surpassed Ford in 1940 and 1941 as the second-most popular make of automobiles in the U.S. In 1957, Virgil Exner’s new Forward Look design theme, advertised by Plymouth with the tagline “Suddenly, it’s 1960”, produced cars with much more advanced styling than Chevrolet or Ford. The 1957 total production soared to 726,009, about 200,000 more than 1956, and the largest output yet for Plymouth. However, the 1957–1958 Forward Look models suffered from poor materials, spotty build quality, and inadequate corrosion protection; they were rust-prone and greatly damaged Chrysler’s reputation.

In 1954, Chrysler started its decade-long unsuccessful attempt to develop and market a viable car powered by turbine engine when it installed an experimental turbine developed specifically for vehicles in a Plymouth.

1960s–1970s

Although Plymouth sales suffered as a result of the quality control problems and excesses of Exner-styled models in the early 1960s, people bought enough of the cars to keep the division profitable. Starting in 1961, the Valiant compact became a Plymouth, further boosting sales. Under the impression that Chevrolet was about to “downsize” its 1962 models, Chrysler introduced a significantly smaller standard Plymouth for 1962. As is known, Chevrolet’s big cars were not downsized, catching Plymouth in a sales slump in a market where “bigger was better”. The ’63 Fury, Belvedere, and Savoy were slightly larger and more substantial, featuring a totally new body style, highlighted by prominent outboard front parking lights. For 1964, Plymouth got another major restyle, featuring a new “slantback” roofline for hardtop coupes that would prove extremely popular. Many enthusiasts consider the ’64s to be the most attractive of the early ’60s Plymouths.

For 1965, the Fury models were built on the new C-body platform. The Savoy line was discontinued and the Belvedere was classified an intermediate, retaining the B-body platform used starting 1962. The low-end series was Fury I, the mid-level model was Fury II, and the higher-end models were Fury IIIs. The Sport Fury, which featured bucket seats and console shifter, was a mix of luxury and sport. Ford and Chevrolet had introduced luxury editions of their big cars for 1965 and Plymouth responded in 1966 with the VIP, a more luxurious version of the Fury. Furys, Belvederes, and Valiants continued to sell well during the late-1960s and early-1970s.

1950 plymouth de Luxe1950 plymouth de Luxe

Of note are the Plymouth “muscle cars” of the late 1960s. As the performance car market segment expanded during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Plymouth participated and produced some of the most memorable models. Many consider the Barracuda fastback of 1964 to be the first of Plymouth’s sporty cars. Based on the Valiant, it was available with a durable Slant Six, or 273 cubic-inch small block V8. For 1967, Plymouth introduced the Belvedere GTX, a bucket-seat high-style hardtop coupe and convertible that could be ordered with either the Super Commando 440, or Hemi 426 V8. Looking for an advantage at the drag races, 1968 had a stripped-down Belvedere coupe, the Road Runner, which featured a bench seat and minimal interior and exterior trim, but was available with Chrysler’s big-block engines and a floor-mounted four-speed manual transmission. The Barracuda, originally a “compact sporty car”, became a top-tier muscle car in 1968-’69 when it was made available with the 426 Hemi and 440 big block engines, respectively, – putting it in contention with America’s most powerful muscle cars. With the success of their small- and big-block-powered sporty cars – principally among them the GTX, Barracuda (and the more muscular ‘Cuda), Road Runner, Sport Fury GT, and Valiant Duster 340, Plymouth unveiled the ‘Rapid Transit System’, which was similar to Dodge’s ‘Scat Pack’ concept- an all-inclusive club made up of Plymouth sports cars which provided further immersion into their performance automobiles. Throughout this period in Plymouth history, the brand also competed heavily in professional automobile racing. Their foremost success stories come from racing icon Richard Petty’s career with Plymouth in NASCAR; Dan Gurney, who raced a ‘Cuda as part of the All American Racers in numerous Trans Am events; and Sox and Martin, one of the most well-known drag-racing teams of the period, only raced Plymouths after 1964. The GTX, Barracuda/’Cuda, and Road Runner continued into the 1970s, but as that decade wore on, emissions and safety regulations, along with soaring gasoline prices and an economic downturn, spelled death for the majority of Plymouth’s muscle-car brands. Nonetheless, the compact Valiant sold well, built an enviable reputation for attractive styling, durability, economy, and value, and offered the hi-po 360-4 V8 right through the final year. Although the Valiant hardtop was discontinued for 1967, it was reintroduced as a virtual clone of the Dodge Dart Swinger for 1971 under the model name “Valiant Scamp”. The Scamp was produced along with the Valiant, Dodge Dart, and Swinger until 1976, when it was replaced with the Volaré. Featuring transverse-mounted torsion bars and a slightly larger body, the Volaré (and its Dodge twin, the Aspen) was an instant sales success. Available as coupe, sedan, or station wagon, the Volaré offered a smoother ride and better handling than the Dart/Valiant, but unfortunately suffered quality control problems and by 1980, was selling poorly.

1962 Plymouth Belvedere1962 Plymouth Belvedere

Realizing that front-wheel drive, four-cylinder engines, and rack-and-pinion steering would become the standards for the 1980s, Chrysler introduced a new compact car for 1978, the Plymouth Horizon/Dodge Omni twins, based on a Simca platform. Horizon sold well, but unfortunately suffered from a scathing report by Consumer Reports, which found its handling dangerous in certain situations. Plymouth continued to sell the Horizon until 1987, when a gaggle of front-wheel drive compact cars made up the line. Big Plymouths, including the Fury and Gran Fury, were sold until the early 1980s, but mostly as fleet vehicles. While attempting to compete with Ford and Chevrolet for big-car sales, Plymouth was hurt by Chrysler’s financial woes in the late 1970s, when both its competitors downsized their full-size models.

Final years

1960s and 1970s Plymouth logo

1960s logo

Most Plymouth models, especially those offered from the 1970s onward, such as the

1960 Plymouth Valiant side view showing the semi-fastback1960 Plymouth Valiant side view showing the semi-fastback Valiant,Plymouth Volaré two-door sedan coupéPlymouth Volaré two-door sedan coupé Volaré,Plymouth acclaimPlymouth acclaim Acclaim,1990 Plymouth Laser RS Turbo1990 Plymouth Laser,1995 Plymouth Neon Sport Coupe1995 Plymouth Neon Sport Coupe Neon, and1995-98 Plymouth Breeze1995-98 Plymouth Breeze Breeze,

were badge-engineered versions of Dodge or Mitsubishi models. By the 1990s, Plymouth had lost much of its identity, as its models continued to overlap in features and prices with Dodges and Eagles. In an attempt to fix this, Chrysler tried repositioning Plymouth to its traditional spot as the automaker’s entry-level brand. Part of this marketing strategy included giving Plymouth its own new sailboat logo and advertisements that focused solely on value. However, this only further narrowed Plymouth’s product offerings and buyer appeal, and sales continued to fall.

Chrysler considered giving Plymouth a variant of the highly successful new-for-1993 full-size LH platform, which would have been called the Accolade, but decided against it. By the late 1990s, only four vehicles were sold under the Plymouth name: the Voyager/Grand Voyager minivans, the Breeze mid-size sedan, the Neon compact car, and the Prowler sports car, which was to be the last model unique to Plymouth, though the Chrysler PT Cruiser was conceived as a concept unique to Plymouth before production commenced as a Chrysler model.

1990s letter emblem from a 1999 NeonThe late ’90s letter emblem from a 1999 Neon

Plymouth Prowler 01The 1999-2001 Plymouth Prowler and the 2001-2002 Chrysler Prowler

After discontinuing the Eagle brand in 1998, Chrysler was planning to expand the Plymouth line with a number of unique models before the corporation’s merger with Daimler-Benz AG. The first model was the Plymouth Prowler, a hot rod-styled sports car. The PT Cruiser was to have been the second. Both models had similar front-end styling, suggesting Chrysler intended a retro styling theme for the Plymouth brand. At the time of Daimler’s takeover of Chrysler, Plymouth had no models besides the Prowler not also offered in similar version by Dodge.

From a peak production of 973,000 for the 1973 model year, Plymouth rarely exceeded 200,000 cars per year after 1990. Even the Voyager sales were usually less than 50% that of Dodge Caravan. In Canada, the Plymouth name was defunct at the end of the 1999 model year. Consequently, DaimlerChrysler decided to drop the make after a limited run of 2001 models. This was announced on November 3, 1999.

The last new model sold under the Plymouth marque was the second-generation Neon for 2000. The PT Cruiser was ultimately launched as a Chrysler, and the Prowler and Voyager were absorbed into that make, as well. Following the 2001 model year, the Neon was sold only as a Dodge in the US, though it remained available as a Chrysler in Canadian and other markets. The Plymouth Breeze was dropped after 2001, before Chrysler introduced their redesigned 2001 Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Sebring sedan.

Timeline

1949 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Station Wagon, advertisementA 1949 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Station Wagon, advertisement

1983-85 Plymouth Caravelle1984-1985 Plymouth Caravelle

1990-'91 Plymouth Laser1993 plymouth laser1990 Plymouth Laser

2000-01 2nd Plymouth Neon1995 Plymouth Neon

1997-00 Plymouth Grand Voyager1998 Plymouth Voyager (short wheelbase) SE1998 Plymouth Voyager Expresso

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1998 Plymouth Voyager

2001 Plymouth the last automobile built, 2001, Belvidere, IL, USA, a NeonThe Last Plymouth built, 2001

  • 1955: Plymouth first offered a V-8 engine.
  • 1956: The automatic three-speed TorqueFlite transmission was introduced on some premium models. The Plymouth Fury was introduced.
  • 1957: As with all other Chrysler divisions, the Forward Look design made its debut on the 1957 Plymouths. Torsion-Aire front suspension was introduced on all models.
  • 1960: Dodge introduced the smaller, lower-priced Dart model that competed directly with Plymouth’s offerings. The new compact Valiant was introduced as a marque unto itself. All Plymouths now featured unit-body construction.
  • 1961: Valiant was repositioned as a Plymouth model for US market; Dodge got the badge-engineered Lancer version. Rambler and then Pontiac assumed third place in industry sales for the remainder of the 1960s.
  • 1962: Sales dropped dramatically with the introduction of a line of unpopularly styled, downsized full-sized models.
  • 1963: Valiant received a new, trim body resulting in a significant increase in sales. Full-sized models were restyled to look larger.
  • 1964: The new Barracuda fastback coupe was introduced in April. Full-sized models were restyled with a new “slantback” hardtop coupe roofline.
  • 1965: Plymouth rejoined the full-sized car market with the new Fury, based on the Chrysler C-body. The intermediate B-body model line became the Belvedere and Satellite for 1965. Push-button automatic transmission controls were replaced with a conventional column- or floor-mounted lever.
  • 1967: The GTX was introduced.
  • 1968: The Road Runner entered the Plymouth line-up.
  • 1970: Duster coupe was introduced in the Valiant line for 1970, along with the new E-body Barracuda.
  • 1971: The British Hillman Avenger was imported as the Plymouth Cricket; it was discontinued in mid-1973. The new Valiant Scamp two-door hardtop was a badge-engineered Dodge Dart Swinger.
  • 1973: Plymouth production hit an all-time peak of 973,000. The Plymouth Cricket in Canada was now based on the Dodge Colt.
  • 1974: The full-sized Plymouth Voyager van, based on the similar Dodge B-series van, and Trailduster SUV, based on the Dodge Ramcharger, were introduced. The Dodge Dart and Plymouth Valiant were, for the first time, different only in name and minor trim details (grille and tail lamps) as the two cars now shared the same 111-in wheelbase (both division’s fastbacks remain 108 in). Barracuda was discontinued.
  • 1975: The car that was to become the 1975 Plymouth Sebring was instead released as the new Chrysler Cordoba.[citation needed]
  • 1976: The Volaré was launched, and the Valiant was discontinued at year-end.
  • 1977: The large Gran Fury was discontinued.
  • 1978: The mid-sized Fury was discontinued at the end of the model year. The subcompact Horizon was introduced. Chrysler Canada introduced the Plymouth Caravelle based on the Dodge Diplomat.
  • 1979–1980: Chrysler made several thousand more Dodges than Plymouths for the first time. More Plymouths would be made than Dodges for 1981 and 1982, but from then on, always be more Dodges were made than Plymouths.
  • 1980: The Newport-based Gran Fury (R-body) was introduced. This was the last year for the Volaré and Road Runner.
  • 1981: The compact
  • 1988 Plymouth Reliant wagon 1983 Plymouth Reliant K coupe 1985-89 Plymouth Reliant K LE 1987 Plymouth ReliantPlymouth Reliant was introduced. The full-sized Gran Fury sedan and Trailduster SUV were discontinued.
  • 1982: The mid-sized Plymouth Gran Fury, a Dodge Diplomat with a Plymouth grille, was introduced in the United States.
  • 1983: The subcompact Plymouth Scamp pickup, based on the Dodge Rampage, was introduced and sold for one year only. The Caravelle four-door sedan based on the E-body and a two-door coupe based on the K-body were introduced in Canada. The sporty subcompact
  • 1979 Plymouth Horizon TC3Horizon TC3 was renamed Turismo. The full-sized Voyager van was discontinued.
  • 1984: The Voyager minivan and Mitsubishi-based Colt Vista multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) were introduced.
  • 1985: The E-body Plymouth Caravelle was introduced in the United States.
  • 1987: The compact P-body Plymouth Sundance entered the line-up with three- and five-door hatchbacks. The Turismo was discontinued.
  • 1989: The mid-sized Gran Fury (Caravelle in Canada), as well as the Reliant, are discontinued after this model year. The Reliant and E-body Caravelle are replaced by the Acclaim.
  • 1990: The Mitsubishi-based Plymouth Laser sport-compact was introduced. The L-body Horizon was discontinued.
  • 1992: The higher-priced Acclaim models were repositioned as Chrysler LeBarons. Total sales of Acclaim and LeBaron dropped. Total 1993 Plymouth model-year production dropped to 159,775, along with 237,875 Voyager models. Dodge built 300,666 Caravans.
  • 1994: The little-advertised Laser and the popular Sundance and Colt compacts all end production. They are replaced by a single car, the Neon, a car that Chrysler decided to offer as a Plymouth after dealers protested the loss of the Sundance and Colt with no replacement.
  • 1995: Plymouth’s lineup was at its all-time low, just three cars: the Acclaim, the Neon, and the Voyager/Grand Voyager. The number went up to four in 1997, with the introduction of the Prowler, but never got any higher.
  • 1996: Chrysler announced the new Plymouth Breeze six months after sister Dodge Stratus and Chrysler Cirrus models. Chrysler originally had no plans to replace the Acclaim model.[citation needed]
  • 1996: In an attempt to move Plymouth downmarket, Chrysler made the redesigned Voyager only available in base and mid-level SE models. All of the higher-end trim levels available on the previous generation were now only be found on the Dodge Caravan. The high-end trim levels could still be found in certain markets outside the US.
  • 1997: Production for the 1997 model year was 178,807 cars plus 187,347 Voyager models. Dodge built 448,394 cars and 355,400 Caravans.
  • 1999: Total 1999 production for Plymouth cars was to 195,714 with Dodge at 394,052. Voyager production numbered 197,020, compared to 354,641 Caravans. The redesigned 2000 Neon became the brand’s last new model.
  • 2000: The mid-sized Breeze ended production. This was also the last year for the Voyager minivan as a Plymouth. All 2000 Voyagers built in December 1999 and beyond were badged as Chrysler Voyagers. In Canada, the redesigned Neon was sold under the Chrysler name and both the Plymouth and Dodge names were dropped on all car models, save for the Prowler and Viper. The Voyager name was dropped in Canada as all Chrysler dealers sold Dodge trucks, including the Caravan. Total 2000 model year production for Plymouth was 108,546 compared to 459,988 Dodge cars. Voyager production totalled 123,869 versus 330,370 Caravan models.
  • 2001: In Plymouth’s final model year, only the Neon remains. The Prowler and the Voyager became Chryslers. The Voyager gained a high-end LX trim, as well as a base eC trim, and it retained the SE trim. The Breeze was dropped as Chrysler issued the Chrysler Sebring sedan to replace the Chrysler Cirrus. The PT Cruiser was launched as a Chrysler, though it was originally planned to be a Plymouth. The final Plymouth, a Neon, was assembled on 28 June 2001, with a total of 38,657 built for the model year.

(All production numbers – Ward’s Automotive Yearbook, various issues, 1973 to 2002)[citation needed]

Plymouth car models

Plymouth trucks

Plymouth built various trucks and vans over the years, mainly rebadged Dodge or Chrysler vehicles. Early pickups, delivery trucks, and other commercial trucks were available, and later an SUV, full-sized vans, and minivans. Plymouth had supplied components to the Fargo vehicles, another member of the Chrysler family, but entered the commercial market in 1937 with the PT50.

Truck models

Plymouth concept cars

1952 Plymouth Explorer Ghia Sport Coupe fvl1952 Plymouth Explorer

1960 Plymouth XNR concept car at the 2014 Lime Rock Concours d'Élegance1960 Plymouth XNR1960 Plymouth XNR

1973 Plymouth (Rapid Transit System) Duster 3401973 Plymouth (Rapid Transit System) Duster 340

1988 Plymouth Slingshot Concept Car1988 Plymouth Slingshot

1999-01 Plymouth Prowler and the 2001-02 Chrysler Prowler2001 Plymouth ProwlerPlymouth Prowler

1928 Plymouth Model Q Coupe 1928 Plymouth Model Q, in Auckland New Zealand 1929 Plymouth P2 Deluxe o 1929 Plymouth Phaeton Argentina 1930 Plymouth 30-U 4-Door Sedan 1930 1930-45 Plymouth Valiant dealer Ross Cort, Inc., 392 Sunrise Highway, Rockville Center,NY 1932 plymouth ceurvorst 1933 Plymouth coupe 1933 Plymouth taxi 1934 Plymouth Truck 1936 Plymouth 1937 Plymouth Coupe gebruikt door Humphrey Bogart in de film High Sierra 1937 Plymouth express pickup truck red and black Baltimore MD 1937 Plymouth photographed in Seattle, Washington 1937 Plymouth PT50 Delivery truck

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1939 Plymouth in a Swedish 1940s fashion photo 1939 Plymouth P8 Sedan 1939 Plymouth 1940 De Luxe Plymouth Station Wagon 1941 plymouth sedan delivery 1941 Plymouth Special De Luxe 1941 Plymouth Special Deluxe 1946 Plymouth Special Deluxe P15C Club Coupe 1946-49 Plymouth

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1947 Plymouth Special Deluxe

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1948 Plymouth coupe on street in Miami Beach, Florida 1948 Plymouth Special De Luxe Coupé 1948 Plymouth Special De luxe Woody (front left) 1949 Plymouth four-door sedan 1949 Plymouth Special Deluxe Four Door Sedan 1949 Plymouth Special DeLuxe Station Wagon, advertisement 1949 Plymouth voiture a Cuba 1949 Plymouth 1949-50 Plymouth 1950 Plymouth Concord NYPD 1950 Plymouth De Luxe Suburban 1950 plymouth de Luxe 1950 Plymouth Deluxe coupe OCJ-679 1950 Plymouth Deluxe Coupé 1950 Plymouth Suburban ad 1950 Plymouth Suburban 1950-plymouth-ad 1951 Plymouth Cambridge [P-23] 1951 Plymouth Cambridge 2-Door Lot G133 Indianap 1951 Plymouth Cambridge a 1951 Plymouth cambridge policecar 1951 Plymouth Cambridge Sedan plus. Concord Business Coupe and Suburban 1951 Plymouth cambridge 1951 plymouth cambridge_sedan_ho_sm_51_03 1951 Plymouth Concern Cambridge Cranbrook Dealer Sales Brochure ORIGINAL 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook at a local storage yard 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook interior 1951 Plymouth Cranbrook Sedan 1951 Plymouth P25 Cranbrook as built by Chrysler Australia 1952 Plymouth 1 1952 plymouth 1952 convert 1952 Plymouth Cambridge [P-23] 1952 Plymouth Cambridge 2dr 1952 plymouth cambridge 4dr sedan 1952 Plymouth Cambridge 4dr 1952 Plymouth Cambridge Four Door Sedan [P-23] 1952 plymouth cambridge yellow cab classic 1952 Plymouth Cambridge 1952 plymouth concord 3p 1952 plymouth concord 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Cambridge Concord ORIGI 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Cambridge Concord ORIGINAL Dealer Sales Brochure 1952 Plymouth Cranbrook Four Door Sedan 1952 Plymouth cranbrook-belvedere 1952 Plymouth Explorer Ghia Sport Coupe fvl 1952 plymouth 1952 Plymouth-09-10-11-12-13-14-15-16-17 1952-53 Plymouth Cranbrook Club Coupé 1953 plymouth 1953 06 1953 plymouth 1953 cambridge sedan 1953 Plymouth Brochure Cranbrook Cambridge C 1953 Plymouth Brochure Cranbrook Cambridge Club 1953 PLYMOUTH CAMBRIDGE 2 1953 Plymouth cambridge-2 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook Cambridge Dealer Sales Brochure ORIGI 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook Cambridge Dealer Sales Brochure ORIGINAL 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook cars 1953 Plymouth Cranbrook Convertible Club Coupe 1953 Plymouth ROM 1953 Plymouth1953 1953 Plymouth-cranbrook 1953-Plymouth-Cambridge-Club-Sedan 1954 plymouth a 1954 Plymouth Belevedere Suburban Station Wagon 2-d 1954 Plymouth Belm. 1954 plymouth belvedere 1954 plymouth explorer ghia 1954 PLYMOUTH Explorer 1954 Plymouth Plaza 2-door Suburban 1954 Plymouth Savoy 1955 Plymouth Belvedere 2d htp - aqua black - 841 1955 Plymouth Belvedere 4dr Sedan 1955 Plymouth Belvedere 1955 Plymouth Plaza Six Sedan in Havana 1955 plymouth savoy 1956 Plymouth Belvedere Fury 1956 Plymouth Belvedere 1956 Plymouth longroof 1956 Plymouth Plainsman concept wagon 1956 Plymouth Savoy 1 1956 Plymouth Savoy Coupe Utility 1956 plymouth savoy 1956 Plymouth wagon 1956 Plymouth 1957 Plymouth Belvedere a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe 1957 Plymouth Belvedere 1957 plymouth convertable 1957 Plymouth Fury Hardtop Coupe 1957 Plymouth Fury 1957 Plymouth future ad 1957 Plymouth Suburbans 1958 Plymouth Belvedere 4 dr htop also oz asmbld 58,59== 1958 Plymouth Belvedere Sport Coupe 1958 Plymouth Belvedere 1958 Plymouth Custom Suburban 1958 Plymouth Fury Christine 1958 Plymouth Suburban 1958 Plymouth Tornado Concept a 1958 Plymouth Tornado Concept 1958_Plymouth_Plaza_(Rassemblement_Mopar_Valleyfield_'10) 1959 Plymouth Belvedere 2-door Hardtop 1959 Plymouth Belvedere 4-door Hardtop 1959 Plymouth DeLuxe Suburban 4-door 1959 Plymouth Fury at the Auto & Technik Museum, Sinsheim

DCF 1.0
DCF 1.0

1959 Plymouth Sport Fury, photographed on the premises of the Louwman museum, The Hague, The Netherlands. Olympus E-520 digital camera 1960 Plymouth Belvedere Sedan 1960 plymouth belvedere 1960 plymouth fury (2) 1960 Plymouth Fury convertible a 1960 Plymouth Fury Convertible 1960 Plymouth Fury police car 1960 Plymouth Fury Station Wagon LSideRear 1960 Plymouth Fury Suburban 1960 Plymouth Fury 1960 Plymouth Savoy 4-door Sedan 1960 Plymouth Valiant automobile 1960 Plymouth Valiant back 1960 Plymouth Valiant side view showing the semi-fastback 1960 Plymouth XNR concept car at the 2014 Lime Rock Concours d'Élegance 1960 Plymouth XNR Virgil Exner Sr.'s 1960 Plymouth XNR 1960 Vailiant On Display At The Chicago Auto Show 1960 Valiant V100 1960 Valiant V100a 1960 Valiant V100b 1960 Valiant 1960-61 tail lamp with reversing lamp Valiant cat 1960s and 1970s Plymouth logo 1961 Plymouth ad 1961 plymouth belvedere 1961 Plymouth Fury 4dr sedan from the rear 1961 Plymouth Fury sedan 1961 plymouth fury 1961 Plymouth Solid Beauty 1961 Plymouth Station Wagon 1961 Plymouth styling 1961 Plymouth Valiant V-200 Station Wagon 1961 Plymouth Valiant V-200 Suburban 1961 Plymouth Valiant V200 1961 Plymouth Valiant V-200 1961 Plymouth Valiant Wagon 1961 Valiant V-100 Two Door 1961 Valiant V100 1962 Plymouth Belvedere four-door sedan finished in white with red interior 1962 Plymouth Belvedere Sedan (Orange Julep) 1962 Plymouth Belvedere 1962 Plymouth Sport Fury - white - fvr 1962 Plymouth Valiant 2-door with Hyper Pak 1962 Plymouth Valiant instrument cluster 1962 Plymouth Valiant taillight 1962 Plymouth Valiant This is a 4 bbl Slant-6 Hyper-Pak reproduction by Clifford Performance in a 1962 Plymouth Valiant. 1962 Plymouth 1963 Plymouth Belvedere (13867644073) 1963 Plymouth Valiant Signet (Les chauds vendredis '10) 1964 Plymouth Savoy four-door sedan 1964 Plymouth Valiant Convertible 1965 Canadian Valiant Custom 200 sedan 1965 Plymouth Barracuda Formula S 1965 Plymouth Belvedere II Station Wagon, in Silver Lake (LA,CA) 1965 Plymouth Satellite FR-38-09 1965 Plymouth Sport Fury, Wheels Day, Apr 2009 1965 Plymouth Valiant 100 black front

Photo of my 1965 Plymouth Satellite. Photo taken c. 1966
Photo of my 1965 Plymouth Satellite.
Photo taken c. 1966

1966 Plymouth Barracuda 1966 Plymouth Belvedere Sedan 1966 Plymouth Satellite Convertible 1966 Plymouth Satellite 1966 Plymouth Sport Fury 1966 Plymouth Valiant Signet Convertible front right 1967 Plymouth Belvedere (Cruisin' At The Boardwalk '11) 1967 Plymouth Fury Station Wagon 2 1967 Plymouth GTX a 1967 Plymouth GTX 1967 Plymouth Satelitte 2-door hardtop 1967 Plymouth Sport Fury III 2-door Fast Top 1968 Plymouth Ad 1968 Plymouth Fury 1968 Plymouth satellite 1968 Plymouth VIP 1969 Plymouth Barracuda 1969 Plymouth Fury III Convertible 1969 Plymouth Sport Fury Convertible (Rigaud) 1969 Plymouth Valiant Signet 4-Door Sedan 1969 Plymouth Valiant Signet 1970 Duster 340 with logo 1970 Plymouth Duster 340 1970 Plymouth Fury III Convertible (Orange Julep) 1970 Plymouth red GTX 1970 Plymouth Road Runner 440+6 - 2-pillar coupe body 1970 Plymouth Road Runner a 1970 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird 1970 Plymouth Roadrunner Superbird SUperbirdEyes 1970 Plymouth Sport Suburban 1970 Plymouth Valiant 1971 Plymouth Cricket, winner of the 1971 Press-on-Regardless Rally 1971 Plymouth Rapid Transit System 1971 Plymouth Valiant Scamp 1971-Plymouth-Duster-Valiant-02 1972 Plymouth Fury Sport Suburban 1 1972 Plymouth Fury Sport Suburban 1972 Plymouth Scamp - Mopar Muscle Magazine 1972 Plymouth Scamp in Red Deer 1972 Plymouth Scamp s 1972 plymouth scamp 1972 plymouth-models-72a 1972 plymouth-models-72b 1973 Plymouth (Rapid Transit System) Duster 340 Classic American Muscle Car Photography Stock Image 1973 Plymouth Scamp Grey 1973 Plymouth Scamp Y 1973-plymouth-scamp-340- 1974 Plymouth Fury II 2-door hardtop 1974 Plymouth Fury sedan C-body 1974 Plymouth Valiant Swedish police car 1974 Valiant VH Charger 1975 Plymouth Fury 2-Door Hardtop 1975 Plymouth Valiant Brougham in brown, by night 1975-77 Plymouth Gran Fury VIP (1966–1969) 1977 Plymouth Gran Fury Sport Suburban 1977-80 Plymouth Trail Duster 1978 Plymouth Fury 1979 Plymouth Horizon TC3 1980-81 Plymouth Gran Fury Salon 4dr 1982-89 3rd Plymouth Gran Fury 1983 Plymouth Scamp GT 1983 Plymouth Turismo, - Scamp pg 11_jpg 1983 plymouth-scamp-GT 1983-85 Plymouth Caravelle 1985 L-body Plymouth Duster, 1985 or 1986 Plymouth Duster EEK 1985 Plymouth Voyager LE. The alloy wheels are from a 1989 Voyager LX 1987 Plymouth Reliant 1988 Plymouth Slingshot Concept Car 1990 Plymouth Laser RS Turbo 1990-'91 Plymouth Laser 1990s letter emblem from a 1999 Neon 1991 Plymouth Grand Voyager LE minivan 1991-92 Plymouth Acclaim 1992 Plymouth Laser RS Turbo 1992-94 Plymouth Laser specs 1993 plymouth laser 1995 Plymouth Neon Sport Coupe 1995-98 Plymouth Breeze 1996 Plymouth Breeze Green 1997-00 Plymouth Grand Voyager 1998 Plymouth Voyager (short wheelbase) SE 1998 Plymouth Voyager Expresso 1999-01 Plymouth Prowler and the 2001-02 Chrysler Prowler 2000-01 2nd Plymouth Neon 2001 Plymouth Prowler 2001 Plymouth the last automobile built, 2001, Belvidere, IL, USA, a Neon

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20600323464_d7b01d58f0_o Chrysler Valiant GLX (CM) Cpjec-_XEAABjVk IMCDb.org 1952 Plymouth Cambridge [P-23] in Bigger Th IMCDb.org 1952 Plymouth Cambridge [P-23] in Kiss Plymouth 1000 Plymouth acclaim Plymouth Ad Plymouth Belvedere, Belgian p3 Plymouth convertible Photo - 1 Plymouth Duster EEK Plymouth emblem Plymouth Fury

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Plymouth Horizon-1 Plymouth logo.svg Plymouth P 2 Plymouth P 12 coupe 2 Plymouth P 12 coupe Plymouth P Plymouth P25 Cranbrook Plymouth Portland police car Plymouth Prowler 01 Plymouth Road Runner Superbird Plymouth Satellite front policecar Plymouth Satellite Sebring (16305406701) Plymouth Sport Fury Plymouth VALIANT SCAMP a Plymouth Valiant Scamp Plymouth Valiant Plymouth Valiant-Logo Plymouth Volaré two-door sedan coupé Plymouth_GTX_('10_Centropolis_Laval)

Model Year Type Specifications Features
XX-500 1951 Sedan
Belmont c.1953 2-seaterConvertible 3.9L 150 hp V8
Explorer 1954 Coupé 3.7L 110 hp Straight-six engine
Cabana 1958 Station wagon Non-runner Unique glass roof for the rear portion of the car.
XNR 1960 2-seaterconvertible 2.8L 250 hp Straight-six engine
Asimmetrica 1961 3.7L 145 hp Straight-six engine
Valiant St. Regis 1962 Coupé
V.I.P. 1965 4-seaterconvertible Unique roof bar from the top of the windshield to the rear deck.
Barracuda Formula SX 1966 Coupé
Duster I Road Runner 1969 340 hp V8
426 hp V8
All features of the Road Runner plus flaps on top and sides and adjustable spoilers on the side of the rear fender, all to reduce lift.
Rapid Transit System ‘Cuda (440) 1970 Convertible
Rapid Transit System Road Runner Coupé Three-colored tail lights: red for “braking”, yellow for “coasting” and green for “on the gas”.
Rapid Transit System Duster 340 5.6L c.300 hp V8
Concept Voyager II 1986 Minivan
Slingshot 1988 2-seater coupé 2.2L 225 hp turbocharged Straight-four engine Canopy that swings upwards to open the car
Adjustable four-wheel independent suspension
Keyless credit card-like entry
Combined headlight and rear-view mirror pods
Exposed engine and suspension
Speedster 1989 2-seaterconvertible No opening doors, to make getting in more fun
Voyager 3 Minivan The front of the car could be driven by itself or driven when attached to a “miniature tractor-trailer
Glass roof
X2S Coupé
Convertible
2.0L (turbocharged) 167 hp V6
Breeze c.1990 Sedan 2.0L 132 hp 4 cylinder engine
2.4L 150 hp Straight-four engine
Prowler 1993 Convertible 3.5L 214 hp V6
Expresso 1994 Compact car
Backpack 1995 2-seat truck 2.0L 135 hp Inline-four engine Space for a laptop on a small table
Built-in bike rack on the back
Pronto 1997 Sedan 1.6L 115 hp Inline-four engine The front of the car resembled that of the Prowler
Roll-back fabric top
Pronto Spyder 1998 Convertible 2.4L 225 hp Straight-four engine
Howler 1999 3.5L c.250 hp V6
4.7L c.250 hp V8
Voyager XG[19] Minivan 2.5L 115 hp turbocharged diesel engine Powered retractable sunroof.

References

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c Kimes, Beverly Rae; Clark, Jr., Henry A. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1805-1942 (second edition). Krause publications. p. 1156. ISBN 0-87341-111-0.
  2. Jump up^ Gunnell, John; Schrimpf, Dennis; Buttolph, Ken. Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975 (second edition). Krause publications. p. 534. ISBN 0-87341-096-3.
  3. Jump up^ “What’s in a Name? (How Plymouth Was Named)”. Allpar.com. 1928-01-11. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  4. Jump up^ http://www.oldcarbrochures.com/static/NA/Plymouth/1937_Plymouth/1937_Plymouth_Biggest_Value_Brochure/1937%20Plymouth%20Biggest%20Value-19.html
  5. Jump up^ “1939 Plymouth – history”. Joesherlock.com. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  6. Jump up^ Vincent Curcio (2001), Chrysler: The Life and Times of an Automotive Genius, p.472
  7. ^ Jump up to:a b Benjaminson, Jim. “Plymouth cars 1957: Three Years Ahead”. Allpar.com. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  8. Jump up^ “Insider’s history of Plymouth – Part V”. Allpar.com. 1956-10-30. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  9. Jump up^ “Turbo Plymouth Threatens Future of Standard.” Popular Science, July 1954, p. 102, mid page, p. 103, bottom page.
  10. ^ Jump up to:a b “How Plymouth Works: 1990, 1991, 1992 Plymouths” by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, retrieved on 2011–01–20.
  11. Jump up^ Yates, Brock (1996). The Critical Path: Inventing an Automobile and Reinventing a Corporation “Showtime in St.Louis” p.209-11. Little, Brown.
  12. Jump up^ “How Plymouth Works: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Plymouths” by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, retrieved on 2011–01–20.
  13. Jump up^ “Dodge Intrepid, Eagle Vision, Chrysler 300M, New Yorker, and LHS – the LH cars, with reviews”. Allpar.com. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  14. Jump up^ Benjaminson, Jim. “Plymouth commercial vehicles”. Allpar.com. Retrieved 2011-06-26.
  15. Jump up^ http://www.conceptcars.it/usa/plymouth/xx500.htm
  16. Jump up^ http://www.rmauctions.com/lots/lot.cfm?lot_id=1052628
  17. Jump up^ http://www.carfolio.com/specifications/models/car/?car=228668&l=nl
  18. Jump up^ http://musclecars.howstuffworks.com/classic-muscle-cars/1970-plymouth-duster-340.htm
  19. Jump up^ http://www.theautochannel.com/news/press/date/19981029/press019465.html
  • Kimes, Beverly Rae (Historian and Author) and Clark, Henry Austin, Jr. (Chief of Research) (MCMLXXXIX). Standard Catalog of American Cars, 1805-1942 (Second edition). Krause Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-87341-111-0.

AMERICAN MOTORS CORPORATION

American Motors

American Motors Corporation
Industry Automotive
Fate
Successor Eagle (Chrysler)
Founded January 14, 1954
Defunct 1988
Headquarters Southfield, Michigan, United States
Key people
Products
  • Automobiles
  • Military vehicles
  • Buses and delivery vehicles
  • Sport utility vehicles
  • Major home appliances
  • Commercial refrigeration
  • Lawn care products
Subsidiaries

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.

George W. Mason was the architect of the merger to reap benefits from the strengths of the two firms to battle the much larger “Big Three” automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler). Within a year, George W. Romney, future governor of Michigan, took over, reorganizing the company and focusing AMC’s future on a new small car line. By the end of 1957 the original Nash and Hudson brands were completely phased out. The company struggled at first, but Rambler sales took off. A Rambler won the 1959 Mobil Economy Run and by 1960, was the third most popular brand of automobile in the United States, behind Ford and Chevrolet. After two model years (1963 and 1964) of only producing compact cars, AMC focused back to larger and more profitable cars like the Ambassador line from the perceived negative of the Rambler‘s economy car image. In the face of deteriorating financial and market positions, Roy D. Chapin, Jr., took charge to revitalize the company, and designer Richard A. Teague economized by developing several vehicles from common stampings. While prices and costs were cut, new and more sporty automobiles were introduced, and from 1968 AMC became known for the Javelin and AMX muscle cars.

AMC purchased Kaiser’s Jeep utility vehicle operations in 1970 to complement their existing passenger car business. Beginning in the early 1970s, they moved towards all-new compact car designs based on the Hornet, including the Hornet itself and the Gremlin. Other new models in the 1970s included the Matador and Pacer. In an effort to create a more efficient cost structure, in the 1979 model year, AMC eliminated the Matador line and then in the 1980 model year, eliminated the Pacer, focusing almost exclusively on their Hornet-based cars and the Jeep line. While the new lines of the late 1970s, such as the Spirit and Concord, were variations on the Hornet’s platform, the company continued with innovations on existing designs: the 4-wheel-drive AMC Eagle, introduced in 1979, was one of the first true crossovers.

From 1980, AMC partnered with France’s Renault to help finance their manufacturing operations, obtain much-needed capital, and source subcompact vehicles. By 1983 Renault had a controlling interest in AMC. In the 1983 model year, the AMC brand focused entirely on AWD autos; the company stopped producing two wheel drive cars. AMC facilities were used to produce Renault Alliance and Encore compact and subcompact cars. In 1985 Chrysler entered an agreement with AMC to produce Dodge Diplomats and Plymouth Furys as well as Dodge Omnis and Plymouth Horizons in AMC’s Kenosha, Wisconsin plant. At the time, AMC had excess manufacturing capacity thus contract manufacturing for Chrysler made sense. In 1987, after further new vehicle development that included the Medallion (a re-badged Renault 21) and Giorgietto Giugiaro’s Italdesign new full-size front-drive sedan that became the Eagle Premier, Renault sold its 47% ownership stake in AMC to Chrysler. Chrysler made a public offer to purchase all the remaining outstanding shares of AMC stock on the NYSE. Renault left the US market completely as a brand in 1987. The Renault Medallion was sold through the newly formed Jeep Eagle Division of Chrysler as an Eagle, not a Renault. AMC’s badge would be used on the Eagle Sports Wagon through the 1988 model year, then be eliminated entirely. The Jeep/Eagle division of Chrysler Corporation was formed from the AMC Jeep Renault dealer network. The Jeep and Eagle vehicles were marketed primarily by former AMC dealers. Ultimately, the Eagle Brand of car would be phased out like Chrysler’s DeSoto, Plymouth, and Imperial by 1998.

Formation

In January 1954, Nash-Kelvinator Corporation began acquisition of the Hudson Motor Car Company (in what was called a merger). The new corporation would be called American Motors Corporation. (An earlier corporation with the same name, co-founded by Louis Chevrolet, had existed in New Jersey from 1916 through 1922 before merging into the Bessemer–American Motors Corporation.)

The Nash-Kelvinator/Hudson 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 US$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.

 

 American Motors dealership sign

Mason, the architect of the merger, believed that the survival of the US’ remaining independent automakers depended on their joining in one multibrand company capable of challenging the “Big Three” – General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler – as an equal. The “frantic 1953–54 Ford/GM price war” had a devastating impact on the remaining “independent” automakers. The reasons for the merger between Nash and Hudson included helping cut costs and strengthen their sales organizations to meet the intense competition expected from autos’ Big Three.

One quick result from the merger was the doubling up with Nash on purchasing and production, allowing Hudson to cut prices an average of $155 on the Wasp line, up to $204 on the more expensive Hornet models. After the merger, AMC had its first profitable quarter during the second three months of 1955, earning $1,592,307, compared to a loss of $3,848,667 during the same period in the previous year. 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. The new Studebaker-Packard Corporation (S-P) made the new 320 cu in (5.2 L) Packard V8 engine and Packard’s Ultramatic automatic transmission available to AMC for its 1955 Nash Ambassador and Hudson Hornet models. When Mason died in 1954, George W. Romney succeeded him. Ironically, Romney had once been offered Nance’s job. In 1948, Romney received offers from Packard for the post of chief operating officer and from Nash for the number two position in the company. Although the Packard offer would have paid more, Romney decided to work under Mason because he thought Nash had a brighter future. S-P President James Nance refused to consider merging with AMC unless he could take the top position (Mason and Nance were former competitors as heads of the Kelvinator and Hotpoint, respectively), and a week after Mason’s death Romney announced, “there are no mergers under way either directly or indirectly.” Romney agreed with Mason’s commitment to buy S-P products. Mason and Nance had agreed that in return S-P would endeavor to purchase parts from American Motors, but S-P did not do so. As the Packard engines and transmissions were comparatively expensive, AMC began development of its own V8. AMC also spent US$40 million developing its Double Safe Single Unit monocoque, which debuted in the 1956 model year. In mid-1956, the 352 cu in (5.8 L) Packard V8 and TwinUltramatic transmission were phased out and replaced by AMC’s new V8 and by GM Hydra-Matic and Borg-Warner transmissions.

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.

Product development in the 1950s

Rambler American 1st-generation black sedan

 Rambler American

1958 Rambler sedan pink and white NJ

 1958 Rambler sedan

Product consolidation

American Motors combined the Nash and Hudson product lines under a common manufacturing strategy in 1955, with the production of Nashes and Hudsons consolidated at Kenosha. The Detroit Hudson plant was converted to military contract production and eventually sold. The separate Nash and Hudson dealer networks were retained. 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.

The pre-existing full-size Nash product line was continued and the Nash Statesman and Ambassador were restyled as the “new” Hudson Wasp and Hudson Hornet. Although the cars shared the same body shell, they were at least as different from one another as Chevrolet and Pontiac. Hudsons and Nashes each used their own engines as they had previously: the Hudson Hornet continued to offer the 308 cu in (5.0 L) I6 that had powered the (NASCAR) champion during the early 1950s; the Wasp now used the former engine of the Hudson Jet.

The Nash Ambassador and Statesman continued with overhead- valve and L-head sixes respectively. Hudson and Nash cars had different front suspensions. Trunk lids were interchangeable but other body panels, rear window glass, dash panels and braking systems were different. The Hudson Hornet and Wasp, and their Nash counterparts, had improved ride and visibility; also better fuel economy owing to the lighter unitized Nash body.

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 popular British-built Metrooolitan subcompact continued as a standalone brand until it was discontinued in 1961. The prototype 1958 Nash Ambassador / Hudson Hornet, built on a stretched Rambler platform, was renamed at the last minute as “Ambassador by Rambler”. To round out the model line AMC reintroduced the old 1955, 100 in (2,540 mm) wheelbase Nash Rambler as the new Rambler American with only a few modifications. This gave Rambler a compact lineup with 100 in (2,540 mm) American, 108 in (2,743 mm) Rambler Six and Rebel V8, as well as the 117 in (2,972 mm) Ambassador wheelbase vehicles.

The “dinosaur-fighter”

Sales of Ramblers soared in the late 1950s in part because American Motors focus on the compact car and its marketing efforts. These included sponsoring the hugely popular Walt Disney anthology television series and as an exhibitor at the Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California. George Romney himself pitched the Rambler product in the television commercials.

While the “Big Three” introduced ever-larger cars, AMC followed a “dinosaur-fighter” strategy. George W. Romney‘s leadership focused the company on the compact car, a fuel-efficient vehicle 20 years before there was a real need for them. This gave Romney a high profile in the media. Two core strategic factors came into play: (1) the use of shared components in AMC products and (2) a refusal to participate in the Big Three’s restyling race. This cost-control policy helped Rambler develop a reputation as solid economy cars. Company officials were confident in the changing market and in 1959 announced a $10 million (US$81,175,799 in 2016 dollars) expansion of its Kenosha complex (to increase annual straight-time capacity from 300,000 to 440,000 cars). A letter to shareholders in 1959 claimed that the introduction of new compact cars by AMC’s large domestic competitors (for the 1960 model year) “signals the end of big-car domination in the U.S.” and that AMC predicts small-car sales in the U.S. may reach 3 million units by 1963.

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. Sonotone had the technology for making sintered plate nickel–cadmium batteries that can be recharged very rapidly and are lighter than a typical automobile lead–acid battery.

In 1959, AMC hired designer Richard A. Teague who had previously worked for General Motors, Packard, and Chrysler; after Edmund E. Anderson left the company in 1961, Teague was named principal designer and in 1964, Vice President.

Changing focus in the 1960

Innovation

1964 Rambler American 440-H

 1964 Rambler American 440-H

1964 Rambler Classic 770

 1964 Rambler Classic 770

1965 fastback Marlin

 1965 fastback Marlin

1967 Ambassador 990

 1967 Ambassador 990

1969 American Motors AMX

 1969 American Motors AMX

In an effort to stay competitive, American Motors produced a wide range of products during the 1960s, and added innovations long before the “Big Three” introduced them.

For example, the Rambler Classic was equipped with a standard tandem master cylinder in 1962, six years before U.S. safety regulations required that safety feature.

Rambler also was an early pioneer in offering an automatic shift indicator sequence (P R N D2 D1 L, where if one selected “D2”, the car started in second gear, while “1” started in first gear) on its “Flash-O-Matic” transmission which is similar to today’s “PRNODSL”, made mandatory in 1968, which requires a neutral position between reverse and drive, while General Motors still offered a shift selector that had reverse immediately next to low gear (PNDSLR) well into the 1960s.

In 1964, the Classic was equipped with standard dual reclining front seats nearly a decade before the Big Three offered them as options. Bendix disc brakes were made optional on the Classic in 1965, while the Big Three didn’t offer them until 1969 on many models.

In the early part of the decade, sales were strong, thanks in no small part to the company’s history of building small cars, which came into vogue in 1961. In both 1960 and 1961, Ramblers ranked in third place among domestic automobile sales, up from third on the strength of small-car sales, even in the face of a lot of new competition. Romney’s strategic focus was very successful as reflected in the firm’s healthy profits year after year. The company became completely debt-free. The financial success allowed the company to reach an agreement on August 26, 1961 with the United Auto Workers for a profit sharing plan that was new in the automobile industry. Its new three-year labor contract also included generous annual improvement pay increases, as well as automatic cost-of-living raises. However, in 1962, Romney resigned to run for Governor of Michigan. His replacement was Roy Abernethy, AMC’s successful sales executive.

Abernethy believed that AMC’s reputation of building reliable economical cars could be translated into a new strategy that could follow AMC buyers as they traded up into larger, more expensive vehicles. AMC in reality had produced large cars throughout most of its history, The Rambler Ambassadors were every bit as large as a Full Sized Ford or Chevy. There was only an absence of Full Sized cars from the AMC lineup in 1963 and 1964 The first cars bearing his signature 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. It competed directly with cars like the Dodge Charger, AMC’s “family-sized” car emphasized personal-luxury. Abernethy also called for the de-emphasis of the Rambler brand. The 1966 Marlin and Ambassador lost their Rambler nameplates, and were badged as “American Motors” products. The new models shared fewer parts among each other and were more expensive to build.

Tough choices

The continuing quest “in the business world’s toughest race – the grinding contest against the Big Three automobile makers” also meant annual styling changes requiring large expenditures. American Motors’ management total confidence “that the new 1965 models would stem a bothersome decline” actually began falling behind in share of sales. Moreover, a new line of redesigned cars in the full and mid-sized markets was launched in the fall of 1966. The cars won acclaim for their fluid styling, and Abernethy’s ideas did work as Ambassador Sales increased significantly. The dated designs of the Rambler Americans, however, hurt its sales which offset gains from Ambassador sales. There were quality control problems with the introduction of the new full-sized cars, as well as persistent rumors of the company’s demise because of their precarious cash flow. Consumer Reports negative ratings for AMC’s Safety didn’t help either.

American Motors did not have their own electric car program as did the Big Three, and after some negotiation a contract was drawn in 1967 with Gulton Industries to develop a new battery based on lithium and a speed controller designed by Victor Wouk. A nickel-cadmium battery powered 1969 Rambler station wagon demonstrated the power systems that according to the scientist was a “wonderful car”. This was also the start of other “plug-in”-type experimental AMC vehicles developed with Gulton – the Amitron and the Electron.

Abernethy was ousted from AMC on January 9, 1967 and damage control fell to the new CEO, Roy D. Chapin Jr. (son of Hudson Motors founder Roy D. Chapin). Chapin quickly instituted changes to AMC’s offerings and tried to regain market share by focusing on younger demographic markets. Chapin’s first decision was to cut the price of the Rambler to within US$200 of the basic Volkswagen Beetle. Innovative marketing ideas included making air conditioning standard on all 1968 Ambassador models (available as a delete option). This made AMC the first U.S. automaker to make air conditioning standard equipment on a line of cars, preceding even luxury makes such as Lincoln, Imperial, and Cadillac.

The company 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 by the Ford Mustang. Additional operating cash was derived in 1968 through the sale of Kelvinator Appliance, once one of the firm’s core operating units.

The Rambler brand was completely dropped after the 1969 model year in North America, although it continued to be used in several overseas markets as either a model or brand name, with the last use in Mexico in 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. However, the names American Motors and AMC were used interchangeably in corporate literature well into the 1980s. The branding issue was further complicated when the company’s Eagle all-wheel drive passenger cars were marketed as the American Eagle in the 1980s.

Chapin 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, as well as Kaiser-Jeep’s lucrative government contracts – notably the M151 MUTT line of military Jeeps and the DJ-Series postal Jeeps. AMC also expanded their international network. The military and special products business was reconstituted as American Motors General Products Division, later reorganized as AM General.

1970s product developments

1972 AMC Gremlin X

 1972 Gremlin X

1984 AM General transit bus

 AM General transit bus

1974 Matador X Coupe

 1974 Matador X Coupe

1975 AMC Pacer

 1975 AMC Pacer

1976 AMC Hornet Sportabout

 1976 Hornet Sportabout

Jeep Cherokee SJ Chief S f

 Jeep Cherokee (SJ) Chief S

1979 AMC Spirit GT V8 Russet FR

 1979 Spirit GT

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, the first North American-built 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, using an advertising campaign that asked, “What’s a Matador?” In 1972, AMC won the tender for Los Angeles Police Department cruisers, and Matadors were used by the department from 1972 to 1975, replacing the Plymouth Satellite. American Motors supplied Mark VII Limited owner Jack Webb with two Matadors for use in his popular television series Adam-12, increasing the cars’ public profile.

In 1973, AMC signed a licensing agreement with Curtiss-Wright to build Wankel engines for cars and Jeeps.

Starting in 1974, the Matador sedan and station wagon were mildly refreshed, with new boxier front ends. The Matador two-door hardtop, known as the “flying brick” due to its poor aerodynamics in NASCAR competition, was replaced at great cost with a sleek, smoothly shaped, and radically styled two-door coupe. The model received praise for its design, including “Best Styled Car of 1974” by Car and Driver magazine, customer satisfaction, and sold almost 100,000 coupes over a five-year period. The Matador Coupe shared few components with the Matador sedan and station wagon other than suspension, drive train, some trim, and interior parts.

The Ambassador was redesigned and stretched 7 inches (178 mm) to become the biggest ever, just as the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo sparked gasoline rationing across the nation. The additional length was due to a new front end design and stronger energy absorbing bumpers required of all automobiles sold in the U.S. Sales of all large cars fell due to economic problems and rising gasoline prices. The full-sized Ambassador was discontinued as AMC’s flagship line after the 1974 model year. Nash and AMC made Ambassadors from 1927 to 1974, the longest use of the same model name for any AMC product and, at the time, the longest continuously used nameplate in the industry.

In 1974, AMC’s AM General subsidiary began building urban transit buses in cooperation with Flyer Industries of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The Metropolitan coach had sold 5,212 units when production ceased in 1978.

The AMC Pacer, an innovative all-new model introduced in March 1975 and billed as “the first wide small car”, was a subcompact designed to provide the comfort of a full-sized car. Its pre-production development coincided with two changes in U.S. Federal passenger auto laws: first, the reduction in permissible emissions for passenger auto engines, which the Pacer would have met with the Wankel-type engine it was designed for, as the Wankel’s compact dimensions allowed space for extensive emission control equipment in the engine bay; second, a tightening of U.S. passenger auto safety laws, which accounted for the Pacer’s designed-in safety features, e.g. internal door beams. These, together with the wide body and large glass area, added considerable weight.

With the advent of the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, General Motors aborted the Wankel rotary engine around which the Pacer had been designed, as its fuel consumption exceeded that of conventional engines with similar power. Therefore, AMC’s existing 258 and 232 cu in (4.2 and 3.8 L) AMC Straight-6 engines were used in the Pacer instead. Fuel economy was better than a rotary, but still relatively poor in light of the new focus on energy efficiency. Also, as the Pacer shared few components other than drivetrain with other AMC cars, it was expensive to make and the cost increased when sales fell steeply after the first two years.

Development and production costs for the Pacer and Matador Coupe drained capital which might otherwise have been invested in updating the more popular Hornet and Gremlin lines, so that toward the end of the 1970s the company faced the growing energy crisis with aged products that were uncompetitive in hotly contested markets. However, “AMC used cars, as far back as 1967, had the advantage of good warranty coverage … so most owners were conscious of low-cost car maintenance … AMC units [became] some of the very best buys on the used car market” by 1975.

The 1977 Gremlin had redesigned headlights, grille, rear hatch and fascia. For economy in the fuel crisis, AMC offered the car with a more fuel-efficient Volkswagen-designed Audi 4-cylinder engine 2.0 L (122 cu in). The engine was expensive for AMC to build and the Gremlin retained the less costly but also less economical 232 cu in (3.8 L) as standard equipment.

The AMX nameplate was revived in 1977. It was a sporty appearance package on the Hornet hatchback featuring upgrades, as well as the 258 cu in (4.2 L) inline six as standard with a choice of three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmissions. The 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 engine was optional with the automatic transmission.

As all Matadors now received standard equipment that was formerly optional (e.g. power steering, automatic transmission), the “Brougham” package was dropped. Optional on the Matador coupe was a landau vinyl roof with opera windows, and top-line Barcelonas offered new two-tone paint.

For 1978, the Hornet platform was redesigned with an adaptation of the new Gremlin front-end design and renamed AMC Concord. AMC targeted it at the emerging “premium compact” market segment, paying particular attention to ride and handling, standard equipment, trim, and interior luxury.

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 replaced the former X package. With falling sales of Matador Coupes, sedans and wagons, their 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 engine was dropped, leaving only the 258 cu in (4.2 L) Inline-6 (standard on coupes and sedans) and the 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 (optional on coupes and sedans, standard on wagons). The two-tone Barcelona luxury package was offered on Matador sedans, and two-tone red paint introduced as an additional Barcelona option. Matador production ceased at the end of the model year with total sales of 10,576 units. The Matador was no longer attractive as automakers struggled to overcome economic woes including continuing fuel price increases and double digit domestic inflation.[45]

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 was built to use up parts stock.

Concords received a new front end treatment, and in their final season, hatchbacks became available in DL trim. 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, in dealer showrooms.

Concord and Spirit models were dropped after 1983.

Financial developments, Renault partnership

Late 1970s to early 1980s

1978 AMC Concord

 1978 AMC Concord

1979 AMC Spirit liftback

 AMC Spirit liftback

1981 AMC Concord

 1981 AMC Concord

Jeep Grand Wagoneer

 Jeep Grand Wagoneer

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; that Stockholders had received no dividends since 1974; and that Pacer sales did not match expectations. However, Time noted record Jeep sales and a backlog of orders for AM General’s buses.

Also in 1977, Gerald C. Meyers was appointed chairman and chief executive.

On March 31, 1978, AMC and Renault announced a sweeping agreement for the joint manufacture and distribution of cars and trucks that would achieve benefits for both. A month later, AMC announced that it would halt the production of standard urban transit buses after about 4,300 were sold by its AM General subsidiary during three years. In May 1978, the U.S. 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. Total cost was estimated at up to $3 million—more than AMC had earned the previous quarter.

American Motors lost an estimated $65 million on its conventional (non-Jeep) cars for the fiscal year ended September 30, 1978, but strong Jeep sales helped the company to an overall $36.7 million profit on sales of $2.6 billion. However, AMC faced costly engineering work to bring their Jeeps into compliance with a federal directive for all 4-wheel-drive vehicles to average 15 mpg-US (16 L/100 km; 18 mpg-imp) by 1981.

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. AMC would receive a $150 million cash injection, $50 million in credits, and also the rights to start building the Renault 5 in 1982. (A deal for Renault products to be sold through the AMC-Jeep dealer network had already been made in 1979.) In return, Renault acquired a 22.5% interest in AMC. This was not the first time the two companies had worked together. Lacking its own prestige model line in the early 1960s, Renault assembled CKD kits and marketed Rambler cars in France.

In 1979, AMC announced a record $83.9 million profit on sales of $3.1 billion (US$10,107,336,084 in 2016 dollars) for the fiscal year ending in September—this despite an economic downturn, soaring energy prices, rising American unemployment, automobile plants shutting down, and an American market trend towards imported cars. In October, the company’s car sales surged 37%, while they sank 21% for the industry as a whole.

However, a drop in Jeep sales caused by the declining economy and soaring energy prices began to constrict AMC’s cash flow. At the same time, pressure increased on the company’s non-Jeep product lines. The face-lifts and rebranding of AMC’s once-innovative and successful cars were not enough in a competitive landscape that had changed dramatically. No longer was the threat limited to the Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler). The Japanese manufacturers (Honda, Toyota, Nissan) used streamlined production methods such as outsourcing and Just In Time (JIT) supply-chain management. They had new, highly efficient assembly plants in the United States. And now they targeted the heart of AMC’s passenger product line: small cars.

While Americans turned to the new imports in increasing numbers, AMC continued its struggle at the inefficient and aging Kenosha, Wisconsin facilities—the oldest continuously operating automobile plant in the world, where components and unfinished bodies still had to be transported across the city.

In early 1980, the banks refused AMC further credit. Lacking both capital and resources for the new, truly modern products it needed to offer, the company turned to Renault for a $90 million loan (US$258,477,383 in 2016 dollars). By September that year, AMC’s U.S. market share had fallen to 1.7%, and in November sales dropped 19.1%. AMC warned stockholders that the company could be bankrupted if they did not approve a plan for Renault to acquire as much as 59% of the company. On December 16, 1980, AMC shareholders “overwhelmingly approved making the French Government-owned Renault” their company’s principal owner.

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: as an engineer and international business executive with 23 years at Renault, 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. This development effectively ended AMC’s run as a truly American car company.

New ownership and new management heralded a new product venture for AMC: a line of modern front-wheel drive cars, designed by Renault, to be produced at Kenosha.

1980s product developments

AMC Eagle

1981 AMC Eagle Wagon.

 1981 AMC Eagle Wagon.

In August 1979, for the 1980 model year, AMC introduced four-wheel drive versions of the Spirit and Concord, calling the collective line the AMC Eagle. Eagles rapidly became one of the company’s best-known products and is considered one of the first “crossover SUVs“. Eagles used the 2-wheel drive body shells mounted on an all-new platform developed by American Motors in the late 1970s. Featuring an innovative full-time four-wheel drive system, it sold best in snow-prone areas. Sales started strongly but declined over time. While the two-wheel drive Spirit and Concord were both discontinued after 1983 as the company concentrated on its new Renault Alliance, the Eagle survived for five years longer, albeit only in station wagon form, into the 1988 model year. This meant the four-wheel drive Eagle was the lone representative of the AMC brand from 1984–1988. All the company’s remaining output was branded Renault or Jeep. The last AMC Eagle was built on December 14, 1987.

Renault Alliance

Later Alliance model with AMC badging in place of Renault alliance

 Later Alliance model with AMC badging in place of Renault

The Renault Alliance was the first joint product of the AMC-Renault partnership. Introduced in 1983, the Alliance was a front-wheel drive Renault 9 compact restyled for the American market by Richard Teague and produced by AMC at Kenosha. The car was initially badged as a Renault, and some cars carried both Renault and AMC badges, however most 1986 and all 1987 models had only AMC branding; it was available as a sedan with two or four doors, a hatchback (introduced in 1984 and badged as Encore), a two-door convertible and, for the final 1987 model year, a higher-performance version of the 2-door sedan and convertible sold as the GTA.

The new model, introduced at a time of increased interest in small cars, won several awards including Motor Trend Car of the Year. Motor Trend declared: “The Alliance may well be the best-assembled first-year car we’ve ever seen. Way to go Renault!” The Alliance was listed as number one on Car and Driver‘s list of Ten Best cars for 1983, The positive reception and sales of 200,000 Alliances by 1984 was hindered by the availability of only two body styles. The Alliance was a European-designed car and not fully suited to U.S. market demands. The distribution network was also not well supported, which led to lower quality delivered by dealerships with “disastrous consequences” for the image of the automobiles, as well as high warranty costs. Alliance production ended in June 1987.

Jeeps

Jeep Cherokee Laredo

 Jeep Cherokee Laredo

Jeep Comanche Pioneer

 Jeep Comanche Pioneer

More beneficial to AMC’s future was the introduction of an all-new line of compact Jeep Cherokee and Wagoneer models in the autumn of 1983 for the 1984 model year. The popularity of these downsized Jeeps pioneered a new market segment for what later became defined as the sport utility vehicle (SUV). They initially used the AMC 150 C.I.D. (2.5L) OHV four-cylinder engine with a carburetor, and a General Motors-built 2.8 L (171 cu in) carbureted V6 was optional. In 1986, throttle-body injection replaced the carburetor on the 2.5 L I4 engines. A Renault 2.1 L (128 cu in) Turbo-Diesel I4 diesel was also offered. Starting with the 1987 models, a 4.0 L (244 cu in) I6 engine, derived from the older 258 cu in (4.23 L) I6 with a new head design and an electronic fuel injection system, replaced the outsourced V6. American Motors’ “new” engine was designed with help from Renault and incorporated Renault-Bendix (Renix) parts for fuel and ignition management. The 4.0 developed an outstanding reputation for reliability and toughness. Retained by Chrysler after the buyout, the design continued to be improved and refined until its discontinuation at the end of the 2006 model year. The 4.0 engine saw extensive application in XJ Cherokees and Wagoneers, Grand Cherokees, and Wranglers, and many of those engines saw (or are seeing) extremely long lives, quite a few exceeding 300,000 mi (480,000 km). The XJ Cherokee itself was built by Chrysler until the end of the 2001 model year in the U.S. and until 2005 in China.

Three other designs continued to be used after the Chrysler buyout: the Grand Wagoneer full-size luxury SUV, the full-sized J-series pickups, built on the same chassis as the earlier SJ model Wagoneers and Cherokees that dated from 1963 with the AMC 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8, and the Jeep Comanche (MJ) compact pickup, which debuted in 1986. Unlike most sport-utility vehicles which are based on adapted pickup truck designs, the Cherokee XJ SUV came first and the Comanche was designed as a later pickup truck version.

Production of the full-sized pickups ceased after 1987. The Grand Wagoneer and 360 V8 engine were dropped after 1991 (the last American-made vehicle whose engine used a carburetor for fuel delivery), and the Comanche bowed after 1992.

1985 and the final buyout

Marketplace and management changes

There were significant changes in 1985 as the market moved away from AMC’s small models. With fuel relatively cheap again, buyers turned to larger more powerful automobiles and AMC was unprepared for this development. Even the venerable Jeep CJ-5 was dropped after a 60 Minutes TV news magazine exposé of rollover tendencies under extreme conditions. AMC also confronted an angry work force. Labor was taking revenge, and reports circulated about sabotage of vehicles on the assembly lines because of the failure to receive promised wage increases. There were rumors that the aging Kenosha plant was to be shut down. At the same time, Chrysler was having trouble meeting demand for its M-body rear-drive models (Dodge Diplomat, Plymouth Gran Fury and Chrysler Fifth Avenue). Because they were assembled using the old “gate and buck system” and the tooling could be easily moved, Chrysler could supply the components and control the quality, while AMC assembled the car. Therefore, Lee Iacocca and Joe Cappy reached an agreement to use some of AMC’s idle plant capacity in Kenosha.

These problems came in the midst of a transfer of power at AMC from Paul Tippet to a French executive, Pierre Semerena. The new management responded with tactical moves by selling the lawn care Wheel Horse Products Division and signing an agreement to build Jeeps in the People’s Republic of China. The Pentagon had problems with AM General, 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 important defense supplier. As a result, the profitable AM General Division was sold. Another milestone was the departure of Dick Teague: AMC’s design vice president for 26 years, he was responsible for many Jeep and AMC designs including the Rambler American, Javelin, Hornet, Gremlin, Pacer, and Matador coupe.

Problems at Renault and the assassination

American Motors’ major stockholder, Renault, itself was experiencing financial troubles of its own in France. The investment in AMC (including construction of a new Canadian assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario) forced cuts at home, resulting in the closure of several French plants and mass layoffs. Renault was down to just three alternatives regarding its American holdings: (1) They could declare AMC officially bankrupt thereby lose its investment; (2) They could come up with more money, but Renault management perceived AMC as a bottomless pit; or (3) AMC could be put up for sale and the French could get back part of their investment. Against these detractions, Renault’s chairman, Georges Besse, continued to champion the French firm’s future in the North American market; pointing to the company’s completion of the newest and most-advanced automotive assembly plant in North America, then known as Bramalea Assembly, as well as the recent introduction of the thoroughly modern, fuel-injected 4.0 L and 2.5 L engines. In addition, Jeep vehicles were riding an unprecedented surge in demand. It seemed to Besse and others that AMC was on course for profitability.

However, on November 17, 1986, Georges Besse, who had a high profile among French capitalists, was assassinated by Action Directe, a clandestine militant extremist group variously described as communist, anarchist and Maoist, which professed strong sympathies for the proletariat and the aspirations of the Third World. The murder was carried out by members of Action Directe’s Pierre Overney Commando (named after a Maoist militant killed by a Renault factory guard). The group stated that the murder was in retaliation for Besse having sacked tens of thousands of workers – 34,000 from the French aluminum producer PUK-Péchiney and 25,000 from Renault.

Chrysler purchase AMC Stock

Under pressure from Renault executives following Besse’s death, Renault’s new president, Raymond Levy set out to repair employee relations and divest the company of its investment in American Motors. Renault owned 46.1% of AMC’s outstanding shares of stock.

The earlier agreement between Chrysler and AMC in 1985, under which AMC would produce M-body chassis rear-drive large cars for two years from 1986–88, fed the rumor that Chrysler was about to buy AMC. According to the head of manufacturing for Chrysler at the time, Stephan Sharf, the existing relationship with AMC producing a car for a competitor facilitated the negotiations.

Jeep Grand Cherokee 1st.

 The Jeep Grand Cherokee was the driving force behind Chrysler’s buyout of AMC; Lee Iacocca wanted the design. Chrysler completed development and released it to the public in late 1992, and continues to use the nameplate today.

On March 9, 1987, Chrysler agreed to buy Renault’s share in AMC, plus all the remaining shares, for about US$1.5 billion (US$3,124,340,949 in 2016 dollars). AMC became the Jeep-Eagle division of Chrysler. It was the Jeep brand that Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca really wanted – in particular the ZJ Grand Cherokee, then under development by Jeep engineers, which ultimately proved highly profitable for Chrysler (the nameplate remains in production today). However, the buyout included other attractive deal sweeteners for Chrysler. Among them was the world-class, brand-new manufacturing plant in Bramalea, Ontario, which offered Iacocca an unprecedented opportunity to increase his company’s production capacity at a fire-sale price. AMC had designed and built the plant in anticipation of building the Renault 25 based Eagle Premier. Additional profitable acquisitions were the AMC dealer network (the addition of which strengthened Chrysler’s retail distribution – many AMC dealers switched to selling Chrysler products); and AMC’s underrated organization and management talent – which Chrysler quickly assimilated (numerous leading Chrysler engineers and executives were ex-AMC). AMC was fully merged as of March 29, 1990.

The sale came at a time when the automotive press was enthusiastic about the proposed 1988 lineup of Renault, Eagle and Jeep vehicles, and reports that the financial outlook for the tiny automaker were improving. AMC quarterly results for all of 1987 were positive, Chrysler purchased AMC at a time the company appeared to be in very good financial position with its new product line.

The sale marked Renault‘s withdrawal from the North American market (excluding Mexico) in the 1988 model year. However, the French company has since returned to that market with its subsequent purchase of a US$5.4 billion controlling stake in Nissan in March 1999. In contrast to the AMC/Renault partnership, Carlos Ghosn, CEO and President of Renault of France and Nissan of Japan, is guiding the Renault-Nissan alliance away from national identities.

Business legacy

American Motors was forced to constantly innovate for 33 years until Chrysler absorbed it in 1987. The lessons learned from this experience were integrated into the company that bought AMC. The organization, strategies, as well as several key executives allowed Chrysler to gain an edge on the competition. Even today, the lessons gained from the AMC experience continue to provide benefits to other firms in the industry. There are a number of legacies from AMC’s business strategies.

AMC had an ability to formulate strategies that were often evaluated by industry critics as “strokes of brilliance”. According to Roy D. Chapin Jr., AMC realized they were up against the giants of the industry, so to compete successfully they had to be able to move quickly and with ingenuity. An essential strategy practiced by AMC was to rely on outside vendors to supply components in which they had differential advantages. This approach was finally accepted within the U.S. auto industry, but only after each of the Big Three experienced the failure of attempting to be self-sufficient.

The smallest domestic automaker did not have “the massive R&D budgets of General Motors, Ford, and foreign competitors … [thus] AMC placed R&D emphasis on bolstering the product life cycle of its prime products (particularly Jeeps).” In 1985, AMC originated product lifecycle management (PLM) as a strategic business approach according to Sidney Hill, Jr., executive editor for Manufacturing Business Technology, in an effort to better compete against its much larger rivals by ramping up its product development process.

Another example of AMC’s agility was the ability of management to squeeze money out of reluctant bankers, even in the face of bankruptcy. These core abilities helped save the company from collapse and after each obstacle, give it the wherewithal to keep it operating. Ironically, AMC was never stronger than just before its demise.

AMC’s managers anticipated important trends in the automotive industry. It preached fuel efficiency in the 1950s, long before most auto buyers demanded it. Led by AMC’s Rambler and several European cars, the small car innovation reduced the Big Three’s market share from 93% in 1957 to 82% in 1959. The company inherited foreign manufacturing and sales partnerships from Nash and continued developing business relations, decades before most of the international consolidations among automobile makers took place. AMC was the first U.S. automaker to establish ownership agreement with a foreign automaker, Renault. Although small in size, AMC was able to introduce numerous industry innovations. Starting in 1957, AMC was the only U.S. manufacturer to totally immerse all automobile bodies in primer paint for protection against rust, until competitors adopted the practice in 1964. Even one of AMC’s most expensive new product investments (the Pacer) established many features that were later adopted by the auto industry worldwide. These included aerodynamic body design, space-efficient interiors, aircraft style doors, and a large greenhouse for visibility. AMC was also effective in other areas such as marketing by introducing low rate financing. AMC’s four-wheel drive vehicles established the foundation for the modern SUV market segments, and “classic” Jeep models continue to be the benchmark in this field. Roy D. Chapin drew on his experiences as a hunter and fisherman and marketed the Jeep brand successfully to people with like interests. The brand developed a cult appeal that continues.

The purchase of AMC was instrumental in reviving Chrysler. According to Robert Lutz, former President of Chrysler, the AMC acquisition was a big and risky undertaking. The purchase was part of Chrysler’s strategic “retreat-cum-diversification” plan that he states did not have the right focus. Initially the goal was to obtain the world-renowned Jeep brand. However, Lutz discovered that the decision to buy AMC turned out to be a gold mine for Chrysler. At that time, Chrysler’s management was attempting to find a model to improve structure and operations, “something that would help get our minds unstuck and thinking beyond the old paradigms that we were so familiar with“. In this transformation, “Chrysler’s acquisition of AMC was one of the all-time great moments in corporate serendipity” according to Lutz “that most definitely played a key role in demonstrating how to accomplish change“.

According to Lutz (1993), while AMC had its share of problems, it was far from being a bunch of “brain-dead losers”. He describes the “troops” at AMC as more like the Wake Island Marines in battle, “with almost no resources, and fighting a vastly superior enemy, they were able to roll out an impressive succession of new products”. After first reacting with anger to the purchase, Chrysler managers soon anticipated the benefits. To further solidify the organizational competencies held by AMC, Lee Iacocca agreed to retain former AMC units, such as engineering, completely intact. In addition, AMC’s lead engineer, François Castaing, was made head of all engineering at Chrysler. In an unthinkable strategic move, Castaing completely dismantled the entrenched Chrysler groups. In their place AMC’s “platform team” was implemented. These were close-knit cross-functional groups responsible for the whole vehicle, as contrasted with Chrysler’s highly functional structure. In this capacity, Castaing’s strategy was to eliminate the corporate administrative overhead bureaucracy. This move shifted corporate culture and agitated veteran executives who believed that Chrysler’s reputation as “the engineering company” was being destroyed. Yet, according to the popular press, by the 1980s Chrysler’s reputation was totally shot, and in Lutz’s view only dramatic action was going to change that. In summary, Chrysler’s purchase of AMC laid the critical foundation to help re-establish a strategy for its revival in the 1990s.

Top managers at Chrysler after the AMC buyout appeared to have made errors similar to those by AMC. For example, Chrysler invested heavily in new untested models while not keeping up its profitable high-volume lines.

After the DaimlerChrysler merger, the combined company also encountered the problem of having too many platforms. It also failed to achieve synergies by sharing components and from Chrysler’s paperless design and supplier capabilities. Mercedes-Benz managers were protective of their designs and components and “advanced R&D was clearly put under German direction.” This policy increased production costs. They could have observed the experience of the Nash and Hudson merger designed to achieve manufacturing efficiencies and savings from component sharing. The first product combining Chrysler and Mercedes technology and engineering with a Mercedes name was in 2006, eight years after DaimlerChrysler AG was created.

The AMC influence also continued at General Motors. GM recruited a new executive team to turn itself from near bankruptcy in the early 2000s. Among the new strategists at GM was Lutz who brought an understanding of the importance of passion in the product design. Lutz implemented a new thinking at GM that incorporated the systems and structures that originated from AMC’s lean and focused operations.

Renault implemented the lessons it learned from its investment in AMC. The French firm took a parallel approach as it did with its initial ownership of AMC and applied it to resurrect the money-losing Nissan automaker in Japan.

In 2009, in a deal brokered by the Obama administration, Italian automaker Fiat initiated a white knight takeover of Chrysler to save the struggling automaker from liquidation. The deal was immediately compared to the AMC-Renault deal; Some commentators noted the irony in that Chrysler now faced the same fate that AMC faced 30 years earlier, while others expressed skepticism of whether the Italian firm could save Chrysler, given how the Renault deal failed. However, there have been key differences between the two; Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne became CEO of Chrysler as part of the deal and immediately began globally integrating Fiat and Chrysler’s assets and product lines; The Fiat-Chrysler merger doesn’t face the political opposition the AMC-Renault deal did since Fiat is entirely private and independent and the US Government supported the merger; Most importantly, while AMC proved to be a continuous money-loser for Renault, Chrysler returned to profitability fairly quickly and has since become an important source of revenue and profits for Fiat, which has been struggling to maintain volume and profitability amid the European debt crisis. The two firms would later fully marge to create Fiat Chrysler Automobiles in 2014.

Legacy of products

Passenger automobiles

Eagle Premier

 Eagle Premier

Chrysler revived the “Spirit” name dropped by AMC after 1983 for use on one of its A platform cars, (the Dodge Spirit) from 1989–1995. The planned Renault Medallion was sold as the Eagle Medallion in 1988 and 1989. A Renault/AMC concept, the Summit, was produced by Mitsubishi Motors beginning in 1989. The planned all-new 1988 Renault Premier, a joint development effort between American Motors and Renault, and for which theBrampton Assembly plant (Brampton, Ontario—originally called the Bramalea Plant) was built, was sold by Chrysler as the 1988–1992 Eagle Premier, with a rebadged Dodge Monaco variant available from 1990–1992. The full-sized Premier’s platform was far more advanced than anything Chrysler was building at the time. After some re-engineering and a re-designation to Chrysler code LH, the Eagle Premier went on to form the backbone of Chrysler’s passenger car lineup during the 1990s as the Chrysler Concorde (a revived model name that was briefly used by Plymouth in 1951 and 1952), Chrysler New Yorker, Chrysler LHS, Dodge Intrepid, and Eagle Vision. Plymouth almost received their own rendition of the LH platform, which was to be called the Accolade, but Chrysler decided to nix this idea not long before LH production started. The Chrysler 300M was likewise a Premier/LH-derived car and was initially to have been the next-generation Eagle Vision, until the Eagle brand was dropped after 1998.

Jeep vehicles

Jeep Comanche Chief

 Jeep Comanche

Chrysler marketed the SJ Jeep Grand Wagoneer until 1991, leaving it almost entirely unaltered from the final AMC rendition before the buyout. The Jeep Comanche pickup truck remained until 1992, while the Cherokee remained until 2001 in the U.S. (the XJ Cherokee was produced in China through 2006 as the Cherokee 2500 [2.5L] and Cherokee 4000 [4.0L]). Although it was not introduced until 1993, the Jeep Grand Cherokee was initially an AMC-developed vehicle.

Traces of AMC remained within. AMC’s Toledo, Ohio plants continued to manufacture the Jeep Wrangler and Liberty, as well as parts and components for Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep vehicles (although Toledo Machining and Forge was closed in 2005). AMC’s main plant in Wisconsin, albeit heavily downsized, operated as the Kenosha Engine Plant, producing engines for several Chrysler Group products including the Wrangler. The plant was closed as part of the post bailout restructuring of Chrysler in October 2010. The 4.0 litres (242 cu in) engine was used until the 2006 model year by DaimlerChrysler in the Jeep Wrangler. AMC’s technologically advanced Bramalea Assembly and Stamping Plants in Brampton, Ontario later produced the LX-cars – the Dodge Charger and the Chrysler 300, and the now discontinued Dodge Magnum.

In terms of AMC-related parts, some were used as late as 2006, when the Jeep Wrangler (the last new product introduced by AMC before the Chrysler deal) was still using the AMC Straight-6 engine in some models, as well as the recessed “paddle” door handles that were used since the 1968 model year by AMC. Both were retired when the Wrangler was completely redesigned for the 2007 model year.

AM General, sold by American Motors in 1982, is still in business building the American Motors-designed Humvee for American and allied militaries. AM General also built the now-discontinued civilian variant – the H1 – and manufactured a Chevrolet Tahoe-derived companion, the H2, under contract to GM, who acquired the rights to the civilian Hummer brand in 1999. GM was forced to phase out the Hummer brand in early 2010 as a part of its bankruptcy restructuring after offering it for sale, but failing to find a suitable buyer.

Although Chrysler introduced new logos for its brands in the 1990s and again in 2010 after the Fiat Group took control of the company, Jeep still uses the AMC-era logo introduced shortly after AMC’s purchase of the brand in 1970. Until the Chrysler purchase, Jeep’s logo also featured the AMC emblem.

Legacy of divisions and facilities

Former divisions

During its history, American Motors bought or created, then later sold and divested itself of several specialized divisions, some which continue to exist today:

Kelvinator, the subdivision of Nash-Kelvinator, was sold by American Motors in 1968 to White Consolidated Industries and subsequently became part of Electrolux. The Kelvinator Company is still in business.

Jeep is now a brand of the Chrysler Group. Many Jeep models retained the mechanical specifications and styling cues that were developed by AMC well into the 1990s or even into the first decade of the 2000s.

AM General is now owned by MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings and the Renco Group. It was organized as an LLC in August 2004.

Wheel Horse Products Division is now owned by the Toro Company.

Beijing Jeep was established by AMC in 1983 to produce Jeeps for the burgeoning Chinese market; the joint venture was inherited by Chrysler and continues under the ownership of the new Chrysler. AMC’s trials with the venture were the subject of a fairly well known book on the venture, “Beijing Jeep”, by James Mann.

Facilities

AMC World Headquarters (1954–1975) was located at 14250 Plymouth Road in Detroit and was widely known as the Plymouth Road Office Center (PROC). In 1975, AMC moved its headquarters from the facility on Plymouth Road to a newly constructed building on Northwestern Highway in Southfield, Michigan known as the American Center.

The initial building had been built in 1926–27 by the Electric Refrigeration Corporation (subsequently Nash-Kelvinator) with design by Amedeo Leoni, industrial layout by Wallace McKenzie, and tower enclosure and industrial units by William E. Kapp, of SHG. The original 600,000 sq ft (56,000 m2) three-story factory and four-story administration building had been headquarters to Nash-Kelvinator from 1937–1954 as well as a factory for refrigerators, electric ranges, and commercial refrigeration—as well as airplane propellers for the U.S. military effort during World War II.

During World War II, the U.S. War Department contracted with Nash-Kelvinator to produce 900 Sikorsky R-6 model helicopters. As part of that contract, a 4.5 acres (1.8 ha) site north of the factory was used as the smallest airport in the world as a flight testing base. Nash-Kelvinator produced about fifty R-6s a month during the war. When the contract was terminated at the end of the war, a total of 262 helicopters had been constructed.

During Chrysler’s occupancy of the complex, it was known Jeep and (Dodge) Truck Engineering (JTE), including facilities for Body on Frame (BoF) work as well as testing facilities and labs. The buildings included 1,500,000 square feet (140,000 m2), approximately one third devoted to engineering and computer functions.[93]

As of 2007, Chrysler still employed over 1,600 people at the complex, moving those operations in mid-2009 to the Chrysler Technology Center. PROC was made available for sale by Chrysler in early 2010.

  • American Center – AMC’s corporate headquarters in Southfield, Michigan is still standing, still open, and still called “American Center”. The original “American Center” signage at the top of the building remained until 2005, although the AMC logo has been removed. The signage has since been changed to Charter One. The 25-story building is rented to several different organizations and companies as office space. After the Chrysler acquisition, Chrysler Financial occupied as much as 175,000 square feet (16,300 m2) of the building.
  • Toledo South Assembly Plants – Torn down in 2007 by Chrysler. Until it was demolished, still visible on most of the signage on the outside of the factories were areas where Chrysler painted over the AMC logo.
  • Toledo Forge  – Torn down by Chrysler in 2007.
  • Brampton (formerly Bramalea) Assembly and Satellite Stamping Plants. – still in use by Chrysler. AMC designed this US$260 million (US$592,203,716 in 2016 dollars), 2,500,000-square-foot (230,000 m2) plant, which was operational by 1986. This plant was designed and built by AMC for the specific purpose of building the Eagle Premier. Like the older Brampton plant (see “Former Factory Facilities”, below), this factory was also part of American Motors Canada, Inc., and with the Chrysler buy-out in 1987, became part of Chrysler Canada Limited. The plant currently builds the LX series of vehicles including the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger. Also Producing a slightly modified version of the lX series; renamed the LC series; supporting the Dodge Challenger nameplate.
  • Kenosha “Main” Plant – Portions of the Kenosha Main Plant (later Chrysler’s Kenosha Engine plant with some new additions) at 52nd Street and 30th Avenue continued to be run by Chrysler as an engine-production factory. This plant closed in October 2010 as part of Chrysler LLC’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy procedure which resulted from the automotive industry crisis. Demolition of the plant began in early December 2012.
  • Canadian Fabricated Products Ltd. – An AMC division (part of AMC Canada, Ltd.) in Stratford, Ontario; established 1971 and sold post-buyout by DaimlerChrysler in 1994; produced automotive interior trim.
  • Guelph Products – An AMC division (also part of AMC Canada, Ltd.) in Guelph, Ontario; opened in 1987, and subsequently sold by Chrysler in early 1993; the operation supplied moulded plastic components to the Brampton Assembly Plant.
  • Coleman Products Corporation – An AMC subsidiary in Coleman, Wisconsin. Manufactured automotive wiring harnesses for AMC and other automakers. (Not the same as Coleman Company)
  • Evart Products Co. – An AMC subsidiary in Evart, Michigan. The plant was established in 1953 with 25 workers and eventually expanded to over 1,200, becoming Osceola County’s largest employer. This factory manufactured injection molded plastic parts (notably, grilles) for AMC (supplying 90% of in-house needs), as well as for other automakers. In 1966, Products Wire Harness was built. After Chrysler’s purchase of AMC, Collins & Aikman took over the factory.
  • Mercury Plastics Co. – Mercury Plastics operated a plant at 34501 Harper Ave., Mt. Clemens, Michigan. The company was acquired in 1973 for 611,111 shares of AMC stock. The company produced plastic parts for AMC, as well as for uses in other industries.
  • Windsor Plastics Co. – Windsor Plastics, 601 North Congress Avenue, Evansville, Indiana was acquired in 1970. The division produced plastic parts for AMC and other industries. The company was sold to Guardian Industries in 1982, and underwent a name change to Guardian Automotive Trim, Inc. It is still in operation today. The original factory in Evansville continues to manufacture plastic parts for the OEM and aftermarket automotive industries. Items manufactured include grilles, bezels, and other parts.
  • The AMC Proving Grounds – The former 300 acres (1.2 km2; 0.47 sq mi) AMC Proving Grounds in Burlington, Wisconsin had initially been Nash’s test track and subsequently became Jeep’s test facilities (after AMC’s acquisition of Willys in the 1970s). The grounds fell into disuse after Chrysler’s takeover of AMC in 1987 and subsequently became the engineering and test facility for MGA Research. The company rents out this proving grounds to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), for “ride-and-drive” events by automakers, as well as for movies and commercials.
  • Axle tooling equipment – sold in 1985 to Dana Holding Corporation, and they named the AMC-15 axles as Dana 35. Dana manufactured the AMC-20 axles for AM General‘s Hummer H1. The company also continues to produce the AMC-15 axle as well; however they have been upgraded from AMC’s original design with multiple variations (including front axle designs).
  • Holmes Foundry, Ltd. – AMC’s block-casting foundry was a major AMC factory which is now completely obliterated. Holmes had its main office and foundry at 200 Exmouth Street, Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Holmes was established in 1918, by Mr. J. S. Blunt, and was called Holmes Blunt Limited. In the early years, Ford Motor Company contracted the plant for a steady supply of engine casting blocks. This factory had a reputation locally as a dirty, dangerous place to work. The company had three divisions, all operating on one site at the edge of Sarnia. Beginning in 1962, AMC contracted with Holmes Foundry to supply AMC with cylinder block castings. American Motors acquired 25% interest in the foundry in January 1966. In July 1970, AMC acquired 100% of Holmes Foundry through an exchange of shares, making it a wholly owned subsidiary. However, it was not until October 1981 that Holmes Foundry finally became a Division of American Motors, Canada. As part of its acquisition of AMC in 1987, Chrysler Corporation took ownership of the Holmes facility and its manufacturing business, but closed the operation on September 16, 1988. The industrial facilities were cleaned of their environmental contaminants in 2005, in preparation for a new highway interchange to be built on the site.
  • Kenosha “Lakefront” (Kenosha, Wisconsin) Plant – The AMC plant in downtown Kenosha along Lake Michigan was razed, and after reclamation the land was used for new development. At the company’s inception in 1954, the plant covered 3,195,000 sq ft (296,800 m2) and together with the Milwaukee plant had an annual production capacity of 350,000 cars.
  • Milwaukee Body (Milwaukee, Wisconsin) Plant – AMC inherited a 1,600,000 sq ft (150,000 m2) body plant in Milwaukee from Nash. The plant was the main body plant for Seaman Body Company, which did a lot of business with Nash and other makers assembling bodies of various designs. For AMC, the plant was sometimes an internal headache. For instance, in late 1961, George Romney himself stormed through the plant and threatened to close it and eliminate its 9,000 jobs due to labor problems. The plant survived until the Chrysler buyout. Chrysler later decided to dispose of the factory. Upon closure, the site was named as a Superfund site. The factory was demolished and the site rehabilitated and redeveloped.
  • Danforth Ave (Toronto, Ontario) Plant – Inherited from Nash. This plant was purchased by Nash from Ford of Canada in 1946. The first Canadian-built Nash rolled off the line in April, 1950. Upon the formation of American Motors in 1954, the plant assembled 1955 Nash and Hudson Ramblers (2- and 4-door sedans); as well as Nash Canadian Statesman and Hudson Wasp (4door sedans). In 1956, the plant continued to assemble Nash and Hudson Rambler (4-door sedans and wagons) and the Nash Canadian Statesman (4-door sedan); but The Hudson Wasp was imported. That same year, American Motors Sales (Canada) Limited was formed – taking over Nash Motors of Canada Limited and Hudson Motors of Canada Limited. In 1957, AMC assembled the Rambler Six and Rambler Rebel V8 at the Danforth plant; but in July, 1957, AMC closed the plant and imported Ramblers into Canada until 1961. The structure remains today as the Shoppers World Danforth Target store.
  • Tilbury, Ontario Assembly Plant – Another plant AMC inherited from the 1954 merger; this one via Hudson. Specifically, it was a contract with CHATCO Steel Products which actually owned the plant. American Motors ceased Hudson production at the Tilbury plant in 1955.
  • Brampton Assembly Plant – AMC opened a plant in 1960 in Brampton, Ontario, Canada. It was part of American Motors Canada, Inc. Rambler Drive, a small street just west of this plant, still exists and leads into a residential subdivision that was built in the 1960s. In 1987, with the Chrysler buy-out, the division and the plant were absorbed as well, becoming part of Chrysler Canada Limited. The plant was closed in 1994 and sold to Wal-Mart for use as their Canadian warehouse. This plant/warehouse was demolished in 2004 and redeveloped in 2007 with multiple smaller commercial buildings now onsite; a new Lowes Home Improvement Warehouse now takes up the largest section of this commercial development. Note that this is a separate facility from the current Brampton (formerly Bramalea) Assembly and Satellite Stamping Plants nearby.

In October 2006 its recent tenant, Union Stamping and Assembly, declared bankruptcy.

Earlier use of the name

The era of 1900 to 1925 saw various corporations, in several U.S. states, use similar “American” names, such as American Motor Carriage Company (Ohio, 1902–1903), American Automobile Manufacturing Company (Indiana, 1911–1912), and American Motors Incorporated (New York, 1919–1920). In 1916, An earlier “American Motors Corporation”, apparently unrelated to the more famous later corporation of the same name, was formed in 1916 in Newark, New Jersey, with Louis Chevrolet as vice president and chief engineer. By 1918 it was producing cars in a plant at Plainfield, New Jersey. In 1923 it merged with the Bessemer Motor Truck Company of Pennsylvania into Bessemer–American Motors Corporation, which lasted less than a year before merging with the Winther and Northway companies into Amalgamated Motors. The latter company apparently ceased soon after.

Later reuse of trademark

A new company was formed in Palmdale, California, in 2001. A registration for the American Motors trademarks was filed in 2001 by this California-based firm. The company’s website specifically claimed no affiliation to the previous American Motors, but used AMC’s history and logos on its website. The website is now dead, and the company’s claims to AMC’s trademarks expired in 2005.

The new Chrysler LLC holds a live registration for the name “American Motors”, which was applied for in 2005. The AMC trademark, complete with “A-mark” – as was originally used in 1970 and through the late-1980s – was registered and published for comment by Chrysler as of 2010.

AMC passenger cars

1969 AMC SC Rambler Hurst B-scheme exterior finish at Potomac Ramblers Club meet 2of2

 1969 SC/Rambler

1982 AMC Eagle

 1982 Eagle SX/4

1957 Rambler Rebel hardtop rfd-Cecil'10

 1957 Rambler Rebel

1970 AMC The Machine 2-door muscle car in RWB trim by lake

 1970 The Machine

 

Samsung

 1976 Matador coupe

1971 AMC Ambassador 2-door hardtop coupe

 1971 Ambassador

1974 AMC Ambassador Brougham 4-door sedan beige

 1974 Ambassador
Subcompact
1957 Nash Metropolitan Series III Hardtop1957 Nash Metropolitan Series III Hardtop1955–1962: Metropolitan*

1975 AMC Gremlin
1975 AMC Gremlin 1970–1978: AMC Gremlin**

1979–1983: AMC Spirit

1987 AMC Eagle wagon burgundy-woodgrain NJ

1987 AMC Eagle wagon burgundy-woodgrain NJ

1981–1983: AMC Eagle (SX/4 and Kammback)

1985 Renault Alliance convirtible photographed in College Park, Maryland, USA.

1985 Renault Alliance convirtible photographed in College Park, Maryland, USA.

1983–1987: Renault Alliance based on the Renault 9.

1985 Encore 2-door hatchback

1985 Encore 2-door hatchback

1984–1987: Renault Encore – based on the Renault 11.

* – The Metropolitan was introduced by Nash in 1954.
** – The Gremlin was the company’s first modern subcompact.

Compact
Crossover
Mid-size
Full-size

AMC engines

199 six-cylinder

343 4-bbl V8

390 Go Pac V8

Main article: List of AMC engines
  • 1954–1956:
    • 184 cu in (3.0 L) Nash I6 (Rambler)
    • 196 cu in (3.2 L) Nash L head I6 (Rambler/AMC I6)
    • 252 cu in (4.1 L) Nash I6
    • 320 cu in (5.2 L) Packard built V8
    • 352 cu in (5.8 L) Packard built V8 (used only 1956)
  • 1956–1966:
    • 196 cu in (3.2 L) Rambler I6/AMC I6 (L head and OHV version-ended 1965)
    • 199 cu in (3.3 L) Typhoon Six I6 (Starting in 1966)
    • 232 cu in (3.8 L) Typhoon Six I6 (Beginning in 1964)
    • 250 cu in (4.1 L) AMC V8 (Ending in 1961)
    • 287 cu in (4.7 L) AMC V8 (Beginning in 1963)
    • 327 cu in (5.4 L) AMC V8 (also used by Kaiser Jeep 1965–1967)
  • 1967–1970:
    • 199 cu in (3.3 L) Typhoon Six I6
    • 232 cu in (3.8 L) Typhoon Six I6
    • 290 cu in (4.8 L) AMC V8 (Ending in 1969)
    • 304 cu in (5.0 L) AMC V8 (Beginning in 1970)
    • 343 cu in (5.6 L) AMC V8 (Ending in 1969)
    • 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8 (Beginning in 1970)
    • 390 cu in (6.4 L) AMC V8
  • 1971–1980:
    • 121 cu in (2.0 L) AMC I4 1
    • 232 cu in (3.8 L) AMC I6
    • 258 cu in (4.2 L) AMC I6
    • 304 cu in (5.0 L) AMC V8
    • 360 cu in (5.9 L) AMC V8 (Ending in 1978 for automobiles and through 1991 in Jeeps)
    • 401 cu in (6.6 L) AMC V8 (Ending in 1974 as a regular production order in automobiles; was available in fleet/police use until at least 1975, in 1975 89 units were installed in Matadors; 4 coupes and 85 sedans-wagons. Available in full-size Jeeps through 1979, also used by International Harvester in 1974 in 1200 series pickups & Travelall during a strike at International Harvester, though IH called the engine a 400 CID)
  • 1980–1983:
  • 1984–1986:
    • 2.5 litres (150 cu in) AMC I4
    • 258 cu in (4.2 L) AMC I6
  • 1987:
    • 2.5 litres (150 cu in) AMC I4
    • 258 cu in (4.2 L) AMC I6
    • 4.0 litres (242 cu in) AMC I6
  • 1988–1989:
    • 2.5 litres (150 cu in) AMC I4
    • 258 cu in (4.2 L) AMC I6
    • 3.0 litres (183 cu in) PRV V6

Also: Kaiser Jeeps used the AMC 327, Buick 225 (“Dauntless V6”), Buick 350 (“Dauntless V8”), Willys 134 I4 (“Hurricane”). The Downsized Jeep XJ Cherokee/Wagoneer used the Chevrolet 2.8 Litre V6 in 1983–1984.

1 AMC contracted with Volkswagen to buy tooling for the Audi 2.0 L OHC I4. Major parts (block, crankshaft, head assembly) were initially purchased from Audi and shipped to the U.S. where final assembly was accomplished by AMC at a plant purchased specifically for production of this engine. Sales never reached numbers to justify taking over total production. AMC made several changes to the engine. They were prevented from using the Volkswagen or Audi names in association with the AMC assembled version by contractual agreement.

Collectibility

1970 AMC Javelin SST with Go package in bitter sweet orange

 Javelin with “Go” package

1958 Ambassador 4-d hardtop wagon 1

 Ambassador hardtop wagon

1964 Rambler American 440 convertible-red NJ

 Rambler American convertible

AMC models historically regarded by hobbyists as particularly “collectible” include the Javelin, AMX, and performance specials such as the 1957 Rambler Rebel, 1965–67 Marlin, 1969 Hurst SC/Rambler, 1970 Rebel Machine, and 1971 Hornet SC/360. These models enjoyed limited popularity when new, resulting in low production figures. In January 2007, the AMC AMX was “really taking off in the muscle car market” according to the editors ofHemmings Classic Car, and it had “left its mark among AMC collectors’ minds as a great alternative” to higher-priced Hemi-powered muscle cars.

The early Javelin (1968–70) stands out from the Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler pony cars. Car expert Jack Nerad noted in a 2007 article “several fully restored AMX models” listed for sale at “little more than half the price of a comparable Buick Gran Sport, Chevrolet Chevelle, Olds 4-4-2 or Pontiac GTO” in support of the author’s opinion that the 1971–74 Javelin was “clearly an outstanding alternative muscle car for the enthusiast on a budget.”

According to James C. Mays, automotive historian and author of The Savvy Guide to Buying Collector Cars at Auction, the “Wow! Factor” is an important and measurable pleasure to an owner whether their car is driven or sits in a climate-controlled garage. His “Wow! Factor” includes examples of a bright red 1969 AMX that according to its owner “is just a fast Rambler”, but draws more people at events than the more prestigious Ferraris and Lamborghinis, as well as a “million-dollar moment” when a Rambler owner was serenaded with the “Beep Beep” song by The Playmates while fueling at a travel plaza. Moreover, the author’s collector car, a 1969 Ambassador station wagon, made friends as strangers came to greet and host him as if “long lost kin”. Mays points out the ready availability of parts for AMC engines and his experiences in having service done on Ramblers without being charged for the work in exchange for the experience of driving a “sassy Rambler” (a 1966 American convertible) and having pictures taken with it.

Other AMC models, once somewhat ignored by the hobby, are now considered “future collectibles”. Examples include the 1959 Ambassador 4-door hardtop station wagon, of which only 578 were produced, and the Jeep Scrambler CJ8, a combined pickup truck-Jeep, of which only a few thousand were produced.

Hemmings Classic Car magazine included the 1969–70 Rebel SST and the 1974–78 Matador coupe in their 2008 list of “dollar-for-pound [weight]” cars that could be bought in show-quality condition for a comparatively modest outlay, The writer also noted that “most of AMC’s ’70s lineup” qualified for inclusion on the list.

The AMC Gremlin is described to have “a cult-like following in today’s collectible car market. The Gremlin shares components with some other AMC models its repair and restoration can be relatively inexpensive compared with other “historic cars”.

The AMC Pacer increased in value according to a Pacer owner who is the CEO of a major insurance provider for collector car owners.

There are active Rambler and AMC car clubs in the U.S. and elsewhere (examples in External Links).

Hot Rod Magazine revival April Fool’s joke

In April 2008, Hot Rod Magazine released an article claiming that American Motors was in the process of being revived. The vehicles in the works were to be the AMX, Matador, Ambassador, Pacer, and Gremlin. Illustrated with drawings of the concept cars entering production and accompanied by plentiful information, it was a popular article, although it was later revealed to be an April Fools’ joke.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Jump up to:a b c

My personal photo collection:

1959 AMC Rambler Station Wagon1960 AMC Rambler American Wagon1961 AMC Metropolitan 562, 2-Door Coupe1965 AMC Rambler Marlin1966 American Motors Cavalier1966 American Motors Vixen1967 AMC AMX III Concept Car - to become a Javelin Frt Qtr BW1968 Amc ambassador sedan1968 Amc ambassador sw1968 Amc amitron1968 AMC AMX Cut-Away Frt Qtr BW1968 Amc amx gt1968 Amc amx1968 AMC AMX-R Prototype1968 Amc javelin karmann1968 Amc javelin sst sport coupe1968 Amc javelin1968 Amc rebel (2)1968 Amc rebel1968 Amc rebel_7701968 Amc rebel_sw1969 AMC Ambassador SST 4d Limo1969 Amc ambassador sst hardtop1969 AMC Ambassador Sst Station Wagon Bw1969 Amc amx II tyl1969 Amc amx II1969 Amc amx1