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Home/Technical Info/ American Motors
& Nash
2.0 History - Formation & Early History

1954 Nash with air conditioning.
Nash pioneered the in-dash A/C
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Early History

In January 1954, Nash-Kelvinator Corporation acquired the Hudson Motor Car Company to form American Motors Corporation (AMC). The acquisition was called a "merger", so as to allay fears that the Hudson line of automobiles would disappear. When the merger was completed in the spring of 1954, Hudson's CEO, A. E. Barit moved to the title of "consultant", but he was given a seat on the Board of Directors in the new company. Nash's CEO, George W. Mason, was made President and CEO of the new organization.

Mason, who had been the architect of the merger, believed that the only chance of survival for America's remaining independent automakers was for them to join forces in one large, multi-brand auto giant, able to challenge General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler (the "Big Three") as an equal.

While the merger was taking place, Mason had entered into informal discussions with James J. Nance of the Packard Motor Car Company to outline his strategic vision. Nance saw value in the concept, and he OK'd a plan for AMC to buy Packard Ultramatic automatic transmissions and Packard V8 engines for certain AMC products.

Meanwhile, Packard acquired Studebaker as part of an earlier plan, and the resulting Studebaker-Packard Corporation (S-P) did cooperate with AMC by making the new 320 cubic inch Packard V8 engine and Packard's Ultramatic automatic transmission available to AMC. Mason wanted these components for his upper level Nash Ambassador and Hudson Hornet models.

Tragically however, Mason passed away in 1954. His death placed George W. Romney at the helm of AMC. Unlike Mason, Romney was a penny pincher whose real dream was to turn AMC into a niche market player in the economy market, a segment that didn't really exist at that time. As such, his vision was a 180 degree turn from that of Mason's. It may be that Romney's management sent AMC into such a small niche that they did successfully occupy, but one that never resulted in enough sales to garner the cash to survive.

One of Romney's first official statements a week after Mason's death, as reported in October 25, 1954 edition of Time Magazine, was to announce that there would be no merger talks with Studebaker-Packard "at this time or in the foreseeable future." This announcement was rumored to have been made in response to S-P President James Nance's refusal to consider any merger proposal in which he could not be in the top command position. Nance's vision was just too far apart from Romney's, so no deal was struck, and it was a true lost opportunity.

Romney did honor Mason's commitment to buy S-P products; however, the understanding between Mason and Nance had been that S-P would endeavor to purchase parts from American Motors in return. S-P never lived up to its end of the gentleman's agreement, mostly because Nance had been insulted by Romney's method of handling the potential merger. Likely, the two had personalities and vision which were just too far apart.

Consequently, Romney felt that he had been duped into buying Packard engines and transmissions that were too expensive, perhaps even being priced as such by S-P to diminish his competitive advantage versus the Big Three and S-P. Thus, he ordered AMC engineers to begin development of the company's own V8 engine. This decision sealed the chances of any reconciliation between the two. What could have produced a viable competitor to the Big Three became two smaller auto companies scrabbling for the edges of the US market.

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The 1954 Hudson. This vehicle was designed by Hudson and in place prior to the merger. The body was in tune with the styling trends of the time. After the merger it was replaced with the rather garish Nash designs - with even more chrome than the Nash had



1955 Hudson V8 Ad. It used the Packard unit that was part of the George Mason Deal.


1956 Packard Patrician. This vehicle was rivaled only by the Cadillacs of the time in styling and innovation. The merger would have given AMC its premium brand.


1956 Nash V8s. These cars were powered by AMC's own new 250 cu. in V8 that would later grow to 327 inches in the following year.


1957 Hornet V8. This car received the 250 HP AMC 327 V8, along with the Ambassador.












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