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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What If?!

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, The saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

John Greenleaf Whittier’s famous line resonates all over human history. Being a car nut I think of this line often in the context of great automobile designs never produced or produced but not successful because of exogenous circumstances.

No, this is not a picture of a first-generation Mercury Cougar:

As the caption reads this is actually a picture of the AMX II with more “traditional” styling than the AMX that was produced. (The resemblance to the first generation Cougar is striking, in my opinion.) Potential buyers may have claimed they liked the styling of the production car better, but only about 19,000 of the first generation AMX (1968-1970) were produced. In 1968 alone Chevrolet produced 235,000 Camaros and Pontiac produced 107,000 Firebirds. Yes, it is somewhat of a specious comparison given the relative sizes of GM and AMC, but it is what it is.

This picture and the ones that follow are shown here thanks to the gracious courtesy of Patrick Foster and the Patrick Foster Historical Collection. (Please do not use these photos without first obtaining permission.) The pictures are from Mr. Foster’s terrific book, American Motors Corporation – The Rise and Fall of America’s Last Independent Automaker. This book and others by Patrick Foster can be purchased here.

The red car was the AMX/2 and the yellow car was the AMX/3 that actually saw very limited production. The AMX/3 looks Italian to me, perhaps a little bit like the Lamborghini Miura. The Italian look is honestly derived as the exterior was designed by Giotto Bizzarrini.

Believe it or not USA Today ran a story about the AMX/3 in December, 2016 titled Just Cool Cars: AMX/3 could have saved American Motors. The text in the story actually contradicts the title, however.

OK, regular Disaffected Musings readers, you all know where this is going. For literally the n-hundredth time fewer automobile manufacturers means fewer sources of innovation for styling and for engineering. The consolidation of car companies also means fewer choices for the consumer and has led, with a big nudge from government regulation, to the homogenized group of automobiles sold today. (No, not all regulation is bad, but ALL regulation comes with a cost just like everything else in life. One definition of an ideologue is someone who refuses to acknowledge that the positions they advocate come with costs.)

AMC was late to the pony car market with the Javelin (one of my favorites) not being introduced until the 1968 model year. The AMX was a derivative of the Javelin. The Mustang was introduced in April, 1964 as a 1964 1/2 (1965) model year car. The Camaro and Firebird were introduced in the 1967 model year. That delay in entering a popular segment hurt American Motors. Still, perhaps it was inevitable that AMC would succumb to the Big Three. Remember, however, that I do NOT believe that what happened was the only thing that COULD have happened. All we can do at this point is simply to ponder what might have been.

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Another ho-hum game for Patrick Mahomes in a 45-10 Chiefs’ blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals. He threw for 358 yards in 39 attempts with 4 touchdowns. Mahomes also set a record by throwing 22 touchdown passes in his first eight career games. The NFL has changed the rules many times in the last 40 years; almost all of those changes favor offense and the passing game. Still, Mahomes’ accomplishments so far are noteworthy.

 

#somanycarsjustonelife

#disaffectedmusings