AMC — The Spirit Still Lives (history of American Motors)

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The Spirit Is Still Alive: Motors Corporation 1954-1987

by Quella • also see Hudson and

Chad Quella supplied press photos. Many were provided by Frank of American Motors Cars and by Sealey. Yellow Cab 9033, San

AMC / Nash El Segundo Plant

and Kaiser Jeep Engines of

Through its 34-year existence, AMC some of the most memorable, and exciting cars the world has seen. You can read through the start, or scroll down to any year you might be interested in.

Motors was formed in 1954 the merger of Hudson Motors and The deal was the largest corporate up to that point — $197,793,366 — but was just one of a planned megamerger of Hudson, Studebaker, and Packard.

The combined would cover all segments of the and their size and ability to engineering would amortize nicely; at least, that was the of Kelvinator’s George Mason, company owned Nash. The “American Motors” originated Mason, who started working on the just after World War II Dan Minick.)

The standard Hudson were an excellent design in the range, but the lack of money for restylings had hurt sales. successes sold Hudson but not the bigger cars that Hudson’s main business. was, therefore, receptive to the to merge with Nash, had strengths in the low-to-middle range.

The casualties of the merger were the Hudson’s slow-selling entry the compact market, and the little sports car, which had its mark on European sports car but had not been a major seller. A later, the Nash Rambler and were badged as Hudsons and under both marques.

Hudsons kept their six cylinder L-head (flat engines; standard models had carburetors, while optional Power” package had higher heads with dual Moving up, the Nash Ambassador and Hornet models boasted the 320 V-8, producing 208 hp, with Ultramatic automatic transmissions. AMC used Packard V8 engines ]

new Wasp and Hornet

AMC proudly a new line of Hudson Wasps and in 1955, “new from to stern” (in reality, moved to the Nash platforms); but they did not the companies’ fortunes.

In Canada, one buy the Nash Rambler, Hudson Nash Canadian Statesman, and Wasp sedans, assembled in at the Nash plant on East Avenue in Toronto (Nash the plant from Ford of in 1946 and started production in Hudson dropped its contract CHATCO Steel Products, made Hudsons on an assembly in Tilbury, Ontario. Meanwhile, in a that would have for AMC years later, Kaiser made its final Manhattan and converted its car factories to Jeep

1956: the Rambler returns

Canada: The Little Company Could , 114 pages, is available James Mays, Box 47547, Maisonneuve West, Montreal, QC H3G 2V7. Send US $25 or CDN $37.50 via or money order made out to Mays.

The controversial Pinin-Farina Nash “bathtub” body was with open front but the big news was the new Rambler, a car of the future a name from Nash’s — indeed, from Jeffery, the that was later renamed

The new Rambler, selling as both and Nash, had a flashy body plenty of chrome, a wraparound reverse-slant C-pillar, and two-tone The Rambler carried either or Nash badging, depending on the selling it, branding similar to of the Dodge/Plymouth Neon .

A brand new 250 cid V-8 replaced the Packard V-8s story behind the engine ] in the 114-inch wheelbase Ambassador and Hudson Hornet Special; the Ambassador V8 and Hornet V8 continued Packard V8s for 1956, but moving up to the 220 horse 352 V8. Rambler four sedans and wagons, along the Hudson Wasp and Nash Statesman, were assembled in and imported to the U.S.; American Sales (Canada) Limited was taking over Nash of Canada Limited and Hudson of Canada Limited.

Frank added:

Packards contained of the same size but rated at power. Due to a parts sharing between Packard and AMC, AMC out its own 250 cid, four-barrel-fed, 190 hp V-8 in April, only in the 1956 Ambassador and Special models. The Specials built on the 114-wheelbase Statesman and bodies with Ambassador and trim, with the 250 V-8; the Specials performed as well as the Packard V-8 cars.

1957: and Hudson become Rambler;

1957 was the last year for the Nash and Hudson marques, were dropped in favor of simplifying sales and marketing. The was launched as the first American hot-rod. It came in silver, silver and black upholstery, a new 255 hp 4 bbl 327 cid four speed or auto, and exhaust. It ran the quarter in 17.0 Mike Sealey pointed out it was advertised as the fastest four car in America from 0-60

Only 1,500 silver were built; in addition to the paint, these Rebels had gold trim.

Bill noted that the Rambler Six and Rebel V8 were assembled in until July 1957, the Toronto plant closed; all were then imported December 1960, when a new in Brampton opened. Frank noted that the 327 was a larger of the 250 and 287; they used the block, crank, and rods as the 250 crank and rods were and expensive to change). The 250 was used in the V-8. Bob Goyette added: 250 was a 3.5 inch bore, the 287 was 3.75 and the 327 was 4.0 inches.”

1958: Rebel, and Classic

The big news for 1958, at according to AMC at 1957 car shows, was the new Electrojector electronic fuel system. a design which was similar to modern systems. confronted with Chevrolet’s fuel injection option, set at an AMC spokesman said theirs cost less; but high and poor reliability led AMC to drop to use the system, and it ended up at Chrysler, replaced nearly every with conventional carburetors.

The of the system was excellent; but electronic of the day were not up to underhood duty. would end up buying the rights to the and successfully launching it, many later.

All lines were now badged with the historic Hudson and names in the dustbin. The original wheelbase Nash Rambler was back with modern and 195.6 cid six, and named the American (100 wheelbase). The V8 (108), Rambler 6 (108), and (117) were restyled as with quad headlights, chrome grilles, and pointy

Frank Swygert wrote: The V-8 was renamed Rebel and received its own number (20). It was produced 1960. The only V-8 Ramblers 1961-mid 1963 were The 1958 American was a reintroduction of the Nash Rambler, the only an old model has been successfully

It had a reintroduced L-head 195.6 of 90 hp; the too, had been dropped the 55 Nash Rambler, being to overhead valaves for 1956. The shared the same lower crank, rods, and timing (except grind of cam) as the overhead valve engine. was no bolt-on conversion because the side of the block was changed.

The 125 hp OHV was in the American.

James K. Sims We owned a 1958 Rambler Country Club. I understand there were only 1200 made. It was a four-door with all power accessories, tire on the continental kit, and a automatic transmission. It had 900-15 and would spin them on I pumped it up to almost 120 mph (it had no problem up there).

It continually had power failures, but otherwise, I remember it a dependable vehicle.

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1959 brought cosmetic only (the Metropolitan without any styling changes).

Next Generation Rambler

The generation of Rambler arrived, cleaner styling and increased room. The Rebel was deleted 1960, but was still available for one year with the V8. American and were available only the 195.6 cid six, with carb or optional two-barrel Pak.

Ambassador was powered by the 327 cid Metropolitan importing stopped, but stock lasted through the model year, making the Mets very collectible (Gerald Henry disagreed: last Metropolitan for the North market was E-95981 and it was built on 19, 1961.)

AMC’s Brampton opened in December 1960. It be used until 1994, it was sold to Wal-Mart and used as a


Bill Watson This was the first year for the Classic name (in both 6 and

Though mechanically unchanged, the American was completely restyled to the breadbox American, with shape and attractive grille. receives a memorable, European front end.


The Classic came as a six only, as the was shrunk to the 108 wheelbase, and shared the front end clip.

The slanted tailfins on Classic and Ambassador eliminated for a rounded back much like MoPars of the period.


The entire line was named Motor Car of the Year for their unitized (a Nash tradition), modern and value. Classic and Ambassador completely redesigned with clean styling and the unforgettable Pac Man The V-8 was available again in the Classic, and a new 287 cid was introduced.

A 287 V-8 was introduced for the Classic line due to demands for a V-8 option late in the 63 year. It was used only in the with the 327 still reserved for use in the only.

Over at Kaiser-Jeep, the Wagoneer was launched. In 1974, AMC build the lower-cost Cherokee of it; and when the Cherokee finally got its own Jeep sales would


The Rambler American got its redesign, with neat, lines, tunneled headlights, and a horizontal bar grille. The Ambassador and were sold in two-door form, the first AMC full-sized hardtops since the 1957 Ambassador Country Club and Hornet Hollywood. A special of the Classic two-door hardtop, in Yellow with a black was the first AMC to be powered by the Typhoon 232 cid

This block spawned the 258 4.2l and the Jeep Power-Tech Six which was used through The 4.0 liter engine was still competitive when it was retired.

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