Another Wacky Wednesday

OK, so maybe this story is not important, but it’s my blog and I am going to tell it, anyway. For some unknown reason, a few days ago I thought about an episode of Crossing Jordan. My wonderful wife and I used to watch the show when it aired on NBC from 2001 to 2007. The show starred Jill Hennessy as Dr. Jordan Cavanaugh, a crime-solving forensic pathologist employed in the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The specific episode was about a despicable attorney, played by the late Ron Silver, who had an extremely antagonistic relationship with everyone in the ME office. He was brought in, apparently killed by a gunshot. However, he wasn’t dead, but paralyzed from eating improperly prepared Fugu, a fish.

During the episode flashbacks were shown to explain how the relationship between Silver’s character and the staff had evolved. Eventually, the team figures out he’s not dead and determines the identity of the person who shot him and two other people.

After the attorney recovers, he vows vengeance against the Chief Medical Examiner for not having figured out he was still alive more quickly. After his vow, he walks out of the office, where he is struck by an ambulance and killed.

OK, so what’s the “punchline?” Yesterday, while vegging out in the bonus/media room, I noticed we have a channel called Start TV among our Hulu + Live TV choices. Wouldn’t you know this channel airs Crossing Jordan? Wouldn’t you know the first episode that was airing after I realized the show was available was the episode I had thought of days earlier?!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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On this day in 1954 stockholders of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company formally approved plans for the two companies to merge into a new company called American Motors Corporation. AMC survived until being purchased by Chrysler in 1987.

Independent automobile manufacturers–meaning those not affiliated with the Big Three of General Motors, Ford and Chrysler–really began to struggle in the early 1950s. The Nash-Hudson merger was only one of three that took place during this time. Kaiser-Fraser purchased Willys in 1953 and later in 1954 Studebaker and Packard merged, although technically the transaction was in the form of a Packard buyout.

George Mason was Chairman and CEO of Nash-Kelvinator from 1937 through the merger and the first CEO of American Motors, although he died later in 1954. Many sources state that Mason had been pursuing mergers among the Independents since not long after World War II. Some sources reject that notion; since all of the people involved are dead, we may never know the exact truth.

AMC continued to manufacture cars under the Nash and Hudson nameplates, in addition to Rambler and the Metropolitan. (OK, the Metropolitan was really built by Austin of the UK, but the car was designed by Nash and built for the North American market.) However, Nash and Hudson were discontinued after the 1957 model year so AMC could focus on Rambler. George Romney, who succeeded Mason as AMC CEO, believed the Big Three were selling “gas-guzzling dinosaurs” and that AMC could have a niche offering a different type of car, something like this:

 

See the source image

 

From momentcar.com a picture of a 1958 Rambler American. By 1961, Rambler had moved into the third position among US makes in sales, albeit a distant third behind Chevrolet and Ford.

With the Big Three entering the compact car market and with Romney leaving AMC to wage a successful campaign for Governor of Michigan, AMC lost its way in the mid-1960s. (Yes, he was Mitt Romney’s father.)

Would American automotive history have turned out differently if Romney had stayed with AMC? Of course, we will never know.

 

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6 thoughts on “Another Wacky Wednesday

  1. “George Romney, who succeeded Mason as AMC CEO, believed the Big Three were selling “gas-guzzling dinosaurs.”

    That being said, in 1957 they dipped their toe into that pool, albeit briefly. They built 1,500 Rebels with a 327, 4 barrel, solid lifter, high compression V-8. It was rated the fastest American made sedan, yes 4 doors, that year. It was a “one year wonder”, as for 58 they cut back on the power. It was 12 more years before AMC dove into the muscle car pool with the SC Rambler in 69. While the AMX was introduced in 68, it was a “pony car”. The Rebel was again a muscle car for 1970, dressed as “The Machine”. It too was a “one year wonder”.

    My brain is full of info like this, that I have no problem remembering. However I usually can’t remember what I had for breakfast yesterday, or even if I HAD breakfast. At least I still remember to put on pants before I go outdoors. So far.

    Growing up sucks. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, DDM. Of course, you are correct about the ’57 Rebel. However, I believe it was Romney who remarked, “the only race American Motors cares about is the human race.”

      Yes, growing up sucks, but beats the alternative.

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  2. AMC did win the 1971 Trans-Am Championship with a Javelin built and Raced by Roger Penske and Mark Donahue.

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  3. I tend to think that had Romney stayed, AMC would have been a much healthier company. I haven’t read as many sources but what I have seen, it sounds like Roy Abernathy saw the money the Big Three were making at the upper end of the market and thought “why not us?”
    I suspect Romney would have held out against the expense of competing in that arena, and concentrated on cornering the compact market. Perhaps he might have been more prudent and been able to spend in a way that subsequent AMC/Ramblers would have been high quality, attractive cars that sold in numbers that really bolstered the company coffers. And maybe they would have avoided the costs of quality issues, being overextended by expansion, etc.
    Then again, as we say, no one really knows. Maybe it wouldn’t have made a difference. Maybe AMC still would have struggled to sell against the Novas Falcons Darts and the pony cars. Or maybe Romney, who was obviously an ambitious man, may also have been persuaded to go upmarket with his company.
    Interesting to speculate though.

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