One of the aspects of the auto industry we gearheads love to “armchair quarterback” is the demise of brands during the postwar era. Some were planned, many were not. And while we have the benefit of hindsight and tactful study, back in the day management bet on a hunch, optimism, and a clever sales pitch. So, in this week’s This or That window shopping exercise, let’s take a look at a quartette of the more memorable – good, bad, or indifferent – makes and models that were one of the last offerings before a brand’s demise, all of which are currently available in the Hemmings classifieds. So, which one would you take home this week?
Price new: $3,011 (Today’s currency: $30,416)
There were two significant mergers during the Fifties, the first being the January 1954 union of Nash and Hudson, which became the foundation of American Motors Corporation. Volumes have been written about the fiscal pros and cons behind the scenes, all while the separate brands continued to develop models over the next few years. After ’56, though, management dropped three Hudson series—Rambler, Wasp, and Hornet Special, 11 models in total—leaving only the the Hornet Super and Custom series available through AMC’s dealer network in 1957, including this Hornet Custom sedan, which would prove to be the most popular model after attaining 1,256 buyers. That low number was due to production ceasing on October 25. In total, just 4,108 Hudsons were built (including exports), despite several “new” advances touted by the division. From the seller’s description:
Presenting well in Tri-color White, Gotham Grey and Red with reupholstered red, grey, and black interior. Originally equipped with Hudson/AMC 327/255HP Overhead valve V-8 motor mated to an optional column shift Automatic transmission. Generously equipped with Power Brakes, Power steering, optional Radio, and Parkomatic A/C. This Hornet shows well with nice paint finish and re-chromed bumpers and grill work. Has operating center emblem light, dual side mirrors, sound trunk floor and undercarriage. Short comings include door handle finish and A/C compressor removed and intact coming with vehicle purchase. Recent Service including: Engine out; Resealing of Engine; Cleaning and Repainting of Engine; Oil Change; Coolant Flush; Belts; Flush gas tank and clean out inside; Spark Plugs; Plug Wires; Ignition Coil; Motor Mounts; Rebuilt Holley Carb; New Battery; Rebuilt brake booster; Exhaust Manifold Gaskets; Fuel Pump Gasket; Fuel Filter; Battery Cables
Price new: $3,262 (Today’s currency: $32,023)We can’t discuss mergers without bringing up the 1955 announcement pertaining to Studebaker and Packard. Here again, entire libraries could be filled with the vast assessments of the union that were penned decades later. Suffice it to say, it didn’t fare so well for Packard by the time the thinly veiled ’57 models were announced. Damage control did no better, which pitched the ’58 models – such as this 58L hardtop coupe – as a mid-year line, complete with a very identifiable front end that eventually attained a fishy nickname. Arguably a styling flop, total Packard output numbered 2,622 units, including 675 hardtop coupes. From the seller’s description:
Complete restoration including the engine, transmission, drive- train, interior and exterior. Rare, gorgeous car from the dry Nevada desert; Vintage Air Conditioning; Rebuilt 289 V-8 motor; two-speed Flight-O-Matic transmission; red with tan leather exterior trim and a beautiful gray and tweed interior; power steering; power disc brakes up front; brand new tires; 12 Volt system; Edelbrock carburetor; new exhaust; new gas tank; super straight gorgeous body; beautifully reupholstered interior; new carpet; JVC sound system; tons Of receipts included; extra parts, plaques and awards included.