Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xii

This book is rooted in my research on the history of the Chrysler Corporation, which resulted in a book published in 2003. While poring over documents in the DaimlerChrysler Historical Collection for several years, I noticed a section of the archives filled with boxes of materials on Nash Motors, the Hudson Motor Car Company, and American Motors. These documents came to the Chrysler Corporation after its...

Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction

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p. xv

The “Big Three” American automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) dominated the U.S. auto industry by the late 1920s and further tightened their dominant grip when most remaining independent automakers did not survive the Depression. Substantial producers such as Hupp, Pierce-Arrow, Franklin, Auburn, Willys-Overland, Durant Motors, and others could not match the production and marketing economies...

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ONE: The Thomas B. Jeffery Company, 1902–16, and Its Bicycle Heritage

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pp. 1-20

In August 1916, Charles W. Nash bought the Thomas B. Jeffery Company, an automaker since 1902, changed the company name to Nash Motors, and introduced the Nash nameplate the following year. The Jeffery firm, a manufacturer of the popular Rambler automobile, had its roots in bicycle making but had achieved its greatest success in manufacturing automobiles. For Charles Nash, the Jeffery firm was an attractive...

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TWO: From Indentured Servant to President of General Motors: Charles W. Nash’s Michigan Years

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pp. 21-38

The details of the childhood and early adulthood of Charles William Nash (28 January 1864–6 June 1948) are not easily discerned, partly covered by a fog created by faded memories and the lack of written records. No Charles W. Nash collection has survived in any single archive, but scattered materials are found in a half-dozen locations.1 Some details of Nash’s early life may be subject to dispute, but the general topography...

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THREE: Nash Motors, 1916–36, and Charles W. Nash in Historical Perspective

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pp. 39-63

Charles Nash took control of the Thomas B. Jeffery Company in August 1916 and thoroughly transformed the firm. Combined Jeffery automobile and truck production in 1916 was a mere 6,725 units, less than 1 percent of Ford’s output of 734,811 Model T’s. Jeffery’s production did not place it among the top twenty nameplates. In sharp contrast, Nash Motors could boast production of 138,169 units in 1928, and a number eight ranking among American brands, after Chevrolet, Ford...

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FOUR: The Nash-Kelvinator Corporation under George W. Mason, 1936–54

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pp. 64-92

The George W. Mason era began with the merger of Nash and Kelvinator in 1937 and ended shortly after the merger of the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation with the Hudson Motor Car Company in May 1954 to form American Motors. Mason died suddenly in early October 1954 at age sixty-three. His executive vice president, George W. Romney, immediately succeeded him as president. In one sense, we could call this chapter...

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FIVE: The Founding of the Hudson Motor Car Company and the Roy D. Chapin Era, 1909–36

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pp. 93-135

The Hudson Motor Car Company, the automaker that joined with Nash Motors in 1954 to form the American Motors Corporation, had a long and distinct history in Detroit. On 28 October 1908, Detroit department store magnate Joseph L. Hudson (1846–1912) entered a partnership with four young men who wanted to start a new automobile company in what was still a very young automobile industry. The sixty-two-year-old Hudson had operated a clothing store in Detroit since 1881 and he owned the...

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SIX: Hudson under A. E. Barit, 1936–54

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pp. 136-167

A. E. Barit led the Hudson Motor Car Company through very difficult times— the coming of organized labor and collective bargaining in 1937, the return of severe depression conditions in 1938, the end of civilian production during World War II, severe postwar conversion challenges, and then a crippling sales crisis in the early 1950s. Barit was at the helm during Hudson’s long-term decline, which had..

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SEVEN: George W. Romney and American Motors, 1954–62

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pp. 168-193

Merging Nash Motors and the Hudson Motor Car Company in the spring of 1954 was easier to achieve on paper than in reality. The sudden death of George Mason in early October 1954 made a smooth merger of the two automakers even more difficult. The combined production of Nash and Hudson cars in 1954 (99,774 units) was less than half the two companies’ total the year before. After a robust recovery to 194,175 cars in 1955, output skidded to a mere 104,189 units in 1957...

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EIGHT: American Motors in Sickness and in Health, 1962–78

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pp. 194-229

American Motors continued to endure several crises and recoveries during the middle years of its existence. During the five years (1962–66) following the departure of George Romney from active management, the company’s fortunes slipped under the leadership of Roy Abernethy. During the chairmanship of Roy D. Chapin Jr. (1967–78..

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NINE: American Motors, Renault, and Chrysler: The Final Decade, 1978–87

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pp. 230-248

American Motors earned profits in only four of its last eleven years of operation, in part the victim of the depressed American auto market of 1979–82. The company signed a sales and marketing agreement with the state-owned French automaker Renault in January 1979, and within nine months Renault owned 22.5 percent of AMC stock. By September 1980, this stake had grown to 46 percent, giving AMC badly needed..

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Nash, Hudson, and American Motors: A Retrospective

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pp. 249-254

In many significant respects, the Nash Motor Company and the Hudson Motor Car Company operated in a business environment that became increasingly competitive well before the Great Depression. The number of producers fell from 253 in 1908 to 108 in 1920 and then to only 44 in 1929. Following the rapid growth of the Ford Motor Company to a dominant position in the 1910s with the remarkable Model...

Appendix: The Nash Family in Genesee County, Michigan, 1870–1910

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pp. 255-256

Notes

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pp. 257-298

Index

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pp. 299-308