The United States has laid host to some of the world\'s most iconic automobile brands, and American Motors is one of them. Founded in 1954 with the merger of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company, American Motors set itself apart from other automakers by innovating new technologies as well as pushing heavy duty off-road-capable vehicles in the market. Although the brand was declared defunct in 1988, the American Motors legacy still lives on to this day.
An eye for innovation
Arguably what made American Motors stand out from the competition was that it anticipated key trends in the car industry. It was among the first manufacturers to preach fuel efficiency long before its competitors did and led the small car revolution via the AMC Rambler. The company was also open to foreign manufacturing and fostered sales partnerships with other businesses, decades before most international consolidations amongst automakers took place. In addition, American Motors also held the distinction of being the first US automaker to establish an ownership agreement with a foreign counterpart.
The technology that American Motors parts are made with, which are now standard in the modern automobile industry, is staggering. Beginning in 1957, the company was among the first to immerse all automobile bodies in primer paint to protect against rust. They also pioneered other features that were later adopted by other manufacturers, including aerodynamic body designs, space-efficient interiors, aircraft-style doors, and a large greenhouse for added visibility. In addition, American Motors\' four wheel drive vehicles were also credited to ushering in the modern SUV market.
American Motors has also developed two of the most popular SUVs of all time, the Cherokee and the Wagoneer. These sporty vehicles were smaller than their predecessors, but they were also lighter and had more passenger room. Both vehicles were also upgraded with a carbureted V6 engine and were outfitted with special American Motors parts such as those in Selec-Trac or Command-Trac 4WD systems for superior suspension performance. Today, only the Cherokee lives on under the Jeep Grand Cherokee marque.
The Jeep, Hummer, and Humvee legacy
Probably the most resilient legacy of American Motors lies within a very appropriate brand: Jeep. With its roots in the iconic Willys Jeep of World War II, American Motors took the Jeep brand in 1970 and revitalized the once-ailing marquee into one of the most recognized brands of today. Jeep\'s utility vehicles complemented American Motors\' line of passenger cars, and it shared components, achieved volume efficiencies and capitalized on international and governments through the partnership. In fact, Jeep\'s bestselling Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee were developed under the stewardship of American Motors.
Aside from the Jeep, American Motors was also pivotal in developing another now-famous brand, the Hummer and Humvee manufacturer AM General. Formerly the defense and government products division of Jeep, American Motors turned it into a brand that provides rugged, reliable, and powerful vehicles and vehicle components for both military and civilian applications. So if you see a Jeep, Humvee, or a Hummer on the road, you can thank American Motors for taking part in its success.