Sunday, April 3, 2016

Automoblog Book Garage: American Motors Corporation

If there was ever a dynamic story in the automotive world, it would be that of American Motors Corporation. Born during the 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator Company and Hudson Motor Car Company, AMC seemed poised for success under George Romney.

They remained independent of The Big Three, establishing a headquarters in nearby Southfield, Michigan. Their notoriety was unsurpassed with the Ambassador and Rambler lines. Romney was commonly seen on television with them while tourists passed through the company’s Disneyland display.

Perhaps, at the time, it seemed the ride would never end …

The most popular and coveted product of the new American Motors Corporation was the four-door Rambler station wagon, seen here in Custom trim. The trademark dipped roofline was designed by Bill Reddig, Assistant Director of Styling. He also suggested including the small roof rack as standard equipment, feeling it improved the looks. The 1965 model year saw many changes in the Rambler lineup. One change was that for the first time a convertible model was offered in all three series; American, Classic, and Ambassador. During the year the company produced the 3 millionth modern Rambler. The final AMC cars were the 1988 Eagles. By this time only the station wagon was offered and only in one model, which had most major options: air conditioning, AM/FM radio, etc., as standard equipment. All were built before the end of 1987.

Dress for Success

Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to live in another time – to be an automotive journalist in another decade. When I look at the photo below (and the one of pretty lady next to the Rambler Rebel above) I ponder if generations of yesteryear, although lacking in modern beautification fads and communication devices, were in fact, better looking and more intelligent.

I see the man below as successful. He’s well dressed with his coat and tie; the hat lends a classic appeal now, but in his time, a contemporary flare. The pensive look suggests focus while the paper he is clutching shows our common “connectivity” buzz word. This is a pragmatic man in dress and mind, who knows what is going on the world but has a plan to change it.

And then, there is his car. Does he make the AMC or does the AMC make him?

My thought is a little bit of both …



Patrick Foster details the AMC story, chronicling the automaker’s birth, merger with Chrysler, association with Renault, and final decline. Foster is widely considered an authority on AMC as well as Jeep and Studebaker. He has written for a number of automotive publications and helped create the Society of Automotive Historians Press.

While the days forever preserved in these photographs have passed, opening the pages of Foster’s book will bring it right back to life. It will be as if not a moment passed. You will be the guy in the coat and tie, or the woman in the swimsuit, living the embodiment of an entire generation and driving the car that moved them in their everyday lives.

American Motors Coporation: The Rise and Fall of America’s Last Independent Automaker is available through Motorbooks or Amazon.  

*Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. 


AMCPage27 AMCPage76 AMCPage20 AMCFrontis AMCPage93 AMCPage194 AMCPage63 AMCPage100 AMCPage21

*Muscle cars and their lasting legacy were featured last week on Automoblog Book Garage.

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