American Motors (Kenosha, WI) was formed from the merger of Nash and Hudson in 1954, and ended with the merger of AMC into Chrysler in 1987.
“Most people, if they think of American Motors at all, remember it as a failure that couldn’t compete effectively with the Big three and the imports. But it is perhaps more accurate to think of AMC as a scrappy survivor: The last American Independent, the company that outlived Packard, Studebaker, Kaiser, Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg, and all the rest.” – Historian/Author, Patrick F. Foster
Many companies, present and past, have contributed to the history of the automobile. However, I believe special recognition must be given to the last independent standing and it’s unmistakable contribution to automotive history. Here are some real testaments to AMC Engineering.
In Engine Design
The Rambler V8 most closely resembles the Ford FE V8; a “big block” Ford Motor. It seems quite obvious, that Ford nearly duplicated the Nash/Hudson/Kaiser Continental design. The Rambler V8 crankshaft is indeed at first glance a duplicate of the Chevy 396 crank, but the 396 had not yet been done by Chevrolet. At that time, the Chevy big block was the 348 and then 409; early versions of the later 396 and 455.
To see Richard Troxell’s history of American V8 engines at a glance, click here…
Inspiration for the Corvette?
Contrary to what mainstream auto media teaches, it is more plausible that there were many engineers from many car companies that worked hard to bring to the public sports car concepts like the Corvette. The Corvette has indeed endured, but the efforts of many should be acknowledged in spite of the common perceptions that GM and Ford alone took the first steps of innovation in every aspect of the American sports car design.
Just yesterday, I Emailed a Corvette club information on the 1951 Nash-Healey (pictured). It is so obviously the inspiration for the Corvette. Yet like many who cite the history of the Corvette only the mention of the Ford Thunderbird is made. It’s as if the Nash-Healey never existed.
They probably ignored the then all new ‘63 Studebaker Avanti also. It broke a list of speed records the same year the all new split window Corvette came out. Which was immediately revised in ’64 to a glass back fastback like the Avanti because the center rail of the window hindered critical rear vision, especially in racing.
Information provided courtesy of Richard Troxell at amcramblermarlin.1colony.com
First to offer Famous Designer Trim Packages
The 1972 Hornet Sportabout wagon was notable for being one of the first American cars to offer a special luxury trim package created by a fashion designer. Specifically, the model was called the Gucci package, named for Italian fashion designer Dr. Aldo Gucci. The car offered special beige-colored upholstery fabrics on the thickly padded seats and inside door panels (with the Gucci signature red and green pin striping), along with nameplates and a choice of four colors.
The Gucci Sportabout model proved to be a success, with 2,584 1972 Hornets so equipped, and would inspire other automakers, including Ford’s luxury brand Lincoln, to offer trim packages styled by fashion designers.
In 1973 AMC a Levi’s Jeans trim package in the Gremlin line, based on the world-famous jeans manufacturer was offered. The Levi’s trim package was popular and offered in the Gremlin line throughout the mid-1970s.
Dashboard Safety Design Innovation
The Hornet dashboard is directly related to the ’66 AMX Project (pictured). The American Society of Automotive Engineers awarded the 2-seater AMX “Best Engineered Car of the Year” two years in a row citing the logical application of the industry’s first one piece injection molded plastic dash in a high performance car for safety. The Hornet dash is AMC’s second “safety dash”. The inspired design has no peer in automotive history, and is a memorial to the mentally stimulating and exciting designs with which AMC served socially responsible products to the public and the automotive world.
Provided courtesy of RamblinMan – Richard Troxell.
Other Innovative Engineering tib-bits
- The Metropolitan prototype was also a design model for interchangeable panels.
- The AMC Cavalier/Vixen concept car (pictured) is a study symmetry and interchangeable parts. Hints of the Hornet’s dashboard, profile, and some interior cavities of can be seen in this thoughtful concept.