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Itís never been a secret that Americans are fond with their cars. After all, the country saw the rise of the automobile due to the ingenuity of Henry Fordís using the concept of assembly line production to making cars. Decades later and cars still rule Americaís heart. Many car enthusiasts find different ways to take their love of cars to different levels Ė some race them, some fix them, while others just collect them. However, as popular collector car prices skyrocket due to a decrease in supply, car collectors are searching for other car models to collect. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this has been the cars produced by the American Motors Corporation (AMC). While American Motors did produce a number of collectable cars such as the 1957 Rambler Rebel and the 1970 Rebel Machine, AMC cars are getting a new lift by this car collecting frenzy. In fact, many AMC vehicles have been tagged with the term Ďfuture collectibles,í and it is likely to happen as time continues to move along and American Motors become more of a historical relic.
The American automotive industry may be declining right now but there was a period of time where it was completely dominant. Due to the innovations and business savvy of the Big Three American automakers that were located in Detroit (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), it was difficult for independent American automakers to compete in the marketplace. The sheer size of the big three ensured that independent automakers would have to work extremely hard just to survive. Surveying this gloomy landscape, George W. Mason had the idea of merging with another independent automaker so the combined resources would help them compete in the marketplace. A CEO that oversaw the merger between Nash Motors and the Kelvinator Appliance Company that created the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, Mason saw an opportunity to team up with the Hudson Motor Car Company.
The Hudson Motor Car Company was another Detroit automaker that had existed since 1909. An originator that created dual brakes, the first balanced crankshaft, and generator warning lights, Hudson Motor Car Company could see firsthand how difficult it was to operate independently in an industry that was being dominated by the big 3. So in January 1954, Nash-Kelvinator Corporation successfully merged with the iconic Hudson Motor Car Company to create a new car company - American Motors. The merger was the largest at the time and effectively shook up the American automotive industry of the time.
American Motors had an effective strategy of combining the production of Nash and Hudson vehicles under the same manufacturing strategy. They would see immediate dividends with their team up with the successful launch of the American Motors Rambler. The AMC Rambler, which was sold as both a Nash and Hudson vehicle, quickly became the staple of american motors in the 1950s. These efficient Ramblers would go through a number of designs and although they would eventually disappear, are now considered collectible cars. The 1957 Rambler Rebel models and the 1965-1967 Rambler Marlin line of cars are particularly coveted by car collectors.
One of the most common vehicles that are associated with American Motors has been its jeeps. While American Motors were not the first car manufacturer to produce civilian jeeps, they were the first one to do it without losing a lot of money. Purchasing the Jeep operations from Kaiser in 1970, American Motors were able to utilize the components involved in its passenger car manufacturing to make civilian jeeps a profitable component of the automotive industry. The Jeep Cherokee and Jeep Wagoneer models that American Motors has produced continue to be revered.
A car company that intended to produce high quality passenger vehicles that people could afford, it was easy for people to support American Motors Corporation (AMC). The company soldiered on until the late 1970s where they were confronted with a changing and even more competitive automotive landscape. With the public demanding more modern cutting edge cars, AMC desperately needed to develop new products. However, they were unable to generate the income needed to develop these new lines. Additionally, the small cars niche that AMC was filling was now suddenly more competitive. The emergence of Japanese automakers that were producing smaller vehicles meant that the increasingly broke American Motors Corporation (AMC) were fighting a new battle to hungry, innovative Japanese automakers.
To rectify this problem, AMC started an association with the French automaker, Renault, who bought a 5% stake in the company. Under the deal, American Motors would distribute Renault products in North America. The partnership produced immediate results with the introduction of the 1983 Renault Alliance. This beautiful car would win the Car of the Year Award and would revive an interest in purchasing smaller vehicles.
Unfortunately, the worsening domestic economy spelled doom for American Motors. The company would eventually be bought and be absorbed by Chrysler in 1987. While the move was viewed as risky at the time as Chrysler was going through difficult times itself, it eventually paid off. The former President of Chrysler cited the innovative ideas made by AMC and their excellent engineering team that they inherited to be the key reasons for Chryslerís revival in the 1990s.
In addition to the brain gain that Chrysler received after purchasing American Motors, Chrysler shrewdly revived a number of AMC vehicles under their names. The old AMC Spirit was revived as the Dodge Spirit and it was a popular car from 1989 to 1995. A car that American Motors and Renault were developing as the 1988 Renault Premier would eventually be sold by Chrysler as the Eagle Premier. While the Eagle Premier was only sold for four years, its platform was the backbone for Chryslerís passenger car model, the Chrysler Concorde that was one of Chryslerís best selling cars in the 1990s.
While the American Motors automotive story may have seemed to end in 1987, AMC continues to have a big presence among car lovers. Car collectors are realizing the beauty of older American Motors vehicles, while automakers are inspired by the little company that fought against the Big 3 and eventually the rise of Japanese automakers for decades. Although it is no longer with us, many people still remember the times of American Motors very fondly!