A Brief History of American Motors

A Brief History of American Motors


American Motors Corporation (AMC) (now defunct)

AMC was formed in 1954 from the merger of two struggling independent automakers: Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company. The company was initially called Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, but was renamed American Motors Corporation in 1957.

During the 1950s and 1960s, AMC focused on producing small, economical cars that were marketed as alternatives to the larger, more expensive cars produced by the Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler). In 1958, AMC introduced the Rambler, which became its best-selling model.

1958 AMC Rambler (Wikimedia)

In the 1960s, AMC expanded its lineup to include larger cars and entered the muscle car market with models like the AMC Javelin and the AMX.

1971 AMC Javelin SST (Wikipedia)
1969 AMC Hurst AMX 390 Super Stock

The company also acquired the Jeep brand from Kaiser Industries in 1970, which became a profitable division for the company.

77 AMC Jeep J20 Pick-Up (Wikimedia)

However, by the 1970s, AMC was facing increased competition from foreign automakers and struggling to keep up with the rapidly changing automotive industry. In 1979, the French automaker Renault acquired a controlling interest in AMC and began making major changes to the company.

Under Renault’s ownership, AMC shifted its focus to producing smaller, front-wheel-drive cars, such as the Renault Alliance and Encore. However, sales continued to decline, and in 1987, Chrysler Corporation purchased AMC, primarily to acquire the Jeep brand.

After the acquisition, most of AMC’s models were discontinued, and the company’s factories were retooled to produce Chrysler vehicles. The last AMC-branded car, the Eagle Premier, was produced in 1992.

1992 Eagle Premier

Despite its relatively short history, AMC played an important role in the American automotive industry and produced several popular and influential models. The company’s focus on small, fuel-efficient cars in the 1950s and 1960s foreshadowed the shift toward smaller cars that would become more widespread in the 1970s and beyond.

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