Category Archives: Nash

What should Santa drive?

Santa's 'stang

Santa’s ‘stang

As Boxing Day approaches we were taken with a pristine ’65 Mustang convertible in red with a white top. It struck us as the perfect vehicle for Santa Claus if he were to ever cut that flying sleigh and reindeer loose.  It’s festive, fun and sports the right color combination for the jolly one.

Santa's macho rig

Santa’s macho rig

Then, again, it doesn’t have a huge trunk so the question of where the stash the presents looms.  Perhaps this huge ’63 Dodge Power Wagon would be the right answer to St. Nick’s theoretical quest.  It’s red and white so the color combo fills the bill and the pick up bed would accommodate lots of loot.  It’s a lifted four wheel drive truck which means snow drifts could be successfully challenged.  The fact that it’s a crew cab means he could bring along some staff to help with the schlepping.

Wagoneering at the pole

Wagoneering at the pole

If he were to seek a bit more civilized conveyance he could try this terrific Jeep Wagoneer that dates from the days when Jeep was a product of American Motors.  The same basic truck, produced successively by Willys, Kaiser, American Motors and Chrysler, was introduced in 1962 and continued in production through the 1991 model year.  It certainly has more creature comforts that the Dodge Power Wagon but not quite the payload.  Unlike the Mustang, he wouldn’t be able to take the top down which leads us to this early ’70s International Harvester Scout finished in spruce green .  It’s got four wheel drive and the top comes off and the exterior color offers a nice contrast to Santa’s outfit.

Green machine

Green machine

But what of the little guys?  Yes, the elves need appropriate wheels and we’ve come up with a few suggestions for them.

Elves' pet Met

Elves’ pet Met

What about this Nash Metropolitan convertible we found at a light the other day?  The color combo is right up Santa’s alley and the continental kit means the miniscule trunk has that much more space.

Sprite-o!

Just buggin’

Or what about this Austin-Healey Sprite, a “bug eye” that dates from the late ’50s. It certainly gives the Metropolitan (with which it share the same motor, by the way) a run for the money in the cute department.  It would seem to compliment Santa’s Mustang very nicely.

Mini for the help

Mini for the help

Lastly, for the little folks, we suggest this very original Austin Cooper, the Mini that started it all.  The sliding windows saved British Motors, its manufacturer, money on the mechanics of roll down windows and created a tiny bit more space for stuffing presents in the door shelves.  BMC actually built the Metropolitan for American Motors as well as the Sprite and the Mini.  It’s a wonder they couldn’t stay in business.

Next year if you don’t hear the sound of hooves on your roof but, rather, a Mustang, Power Wagon, Wagoneer, Scout, Metropolitan, Sprite or Mini you’ll know why.

The Bug Eye Guy has lots of Sprites for sale and, yes, they all have human names.  With a face like that it’s only to be expected.

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Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Gift rack optional

Gift rack optional

 

 

AMC: hey, they tried

The X stands for xtinct

The X stands for Xtinct

American Motors was formed in 1954 when Nash merged with Hudson.  The two domestic indies saw the handwriting on the wall as the Big Three (GM, Ford and Chrysler) became increasingly dominant.  Studebaker, likewise, threw its lot in with Packard.  Things didn’t work out so well in the latter case but the Hudson and Nash merger resulted in a relatively strong contender whose compact Rambler challenged the Big Three — especially in the early ’60s, when Rambler was the #3 best selling U.S. nameplate, exceeded only by Chevrolet and Ford.

The Sawzall approach to sports car design

The Sawzall approach to sports car design

AMC walked away from the Rambler brand in 1970, but the move to badge their passenger cars as AMC was already underway by then.  They fielded Javelin, a Mustang/Camaro “pony car” competitor in ’68 as well as AMX, a smaller 2-seater that was in some way a Corvette alternative. The one you see here was discovered by Feral Cars Field Scout Lynda Keeler.  We’re not crazy about the fact that the bumpers have been painted body color, but otherwise it’s mostly untouched.  This one is powered by a 390 cubic inch V8. Potent stuff.

American Audi /  Dairlyand Subaru

American Audi / Dairlyand Subaru

As the years dragged on, AMC found itself in a somewhat desperate situation with not enough capital to develop new products to compete with the Big Three, let alone the onslaught of Japanese and European imports.  AMC acquired Jeep from Kaiser, which had earlier inherited it from Willys.  Jeep was a valued asset, and was one of the compelling reasons why France’s Renault bought into AMC in the late ’70s, and ultimately owned a controlling interest.  One of the unique products produced under the French regime was the Eagle, more or less a “lifted” AMC Hornet equipped with four-wheel drive borrowed from the Jeep division.  It wasn’t a massive sales success but development costs were minimal so it actually generated a profit.  The other day we found this ’82 wagon — they were offered as sedans and coupes, too — and its chatty driver informed us that she was only the second owner and seemed to be quite proud of having beaten the hell out of it over the course of the past 25 years.

AMC: re-purposing leader

AMC: re-purposing leader

Eagle was, in fact, the last car to carry the AMC brand during the time Renault built its ill-fated Alliance at AMC’s Kenosha, WI factory.  There’s an analogy to be made here to those Japanese soldiers on remote islands who didn’t surrender until the war had been over for decades.

Not just some

Count ’em: all 4!

Bowed but unbroken

Bowed but unbroken

Feral Cars Field Scout Andrew Keeler (it’s a family thing) encountered another Eagle wagon. This one is painted a sandy hue that AMC called Jamaica Beige.  We think it looks like it could have been a great staff car during the Desert Storm “war to begin all wars” but was out of production by the time of that conflict.

Desert camo?

Desert camo?

AMC was far ahead of the curve with the Eagle concept.  Four-wheel drive vehicles had usually been truck-based or passenger cars modified by aftermarket outfits. Here, then, was a factory built four wheeler that wasn’t “trucky.”  Like Subaru and Audi,  Eagle was in the vanguard of the idea that a four-wheel drive car might have some appeal, especially to those who drive in snow belt states.

Audi A3, anybody?

Audi A3, anybody?

After the demise of the Rambler American, Hornet became AMC’s bread-and-butter car. This chalky ’74 was one of the company’s standard bearers, along with the lamented Gremlin and Pacer during the dark days of the OPEC embargo. We kind of dig its formal look, especially the thick “sail panel” aft of the rear doors.

Profile in courage

Profile in courage

Just for the heck of it, we offer some AMC predecessors here. This ’54 Nash, built the year the Hudson merger was consummated, was styled by the legendary Pinin Farina and wears a saucy continental kit that adds even more bulk to its already generously proportioned body.

Freshman classy

Freshman classy

We like the mossy patina on this ’51 Nash Ambassador, the voluptuousness of which is truly breathtaking.

Tub 'o' Nash

Tub ‘o’ Nash

It wouldn’t be an AMC story without reference to the Metropolitan.  It was built in England by Austin and  marketed as either the Nash Metropolitan or Hudson Metropolitan beginning in 1954.  After those brands ceased to exist in 1957 it became a free-standing marque sold by Rambler dealers.  Yeah, we think it’s pretty cute, too.

Smarter car

Smarter car

These colors don't run

These colors don’t run

Check out this introductory Eagle commercial.  It has us convinced that four is better than two. Hey is that driver a young Jeff Daniels? Sure looks like he could be.  Like that hot AMX?  You can buy one now but get to it quickly.  Collectors have discovered them and prices are on the way up,  which leads us to conclude that AMC is still about value.

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Rambler’s American ressurection

Romney's zombie

Romney’s zombie

Fortunes for American Motors, the company formed after Nash and Hudson merged in 1954, took an upturn in 1958 after AMC Chairman George Romney (b. July 7, 1907, Colonia Dublán, Mexico) was told that tooling for the Nash Rambler, last produced in 1955, hadn’t been taken out with the trash years earlier.  The company was looking for something bigger than the tiny Metropolitan and smaller than the intermediate-size Rambler to put into battle against the rising tide of imports.  The unprecedented step of reanimating a “dead” car, three model years in the grave,  paid off when the “new” Rambler American, launched in midst of an economic recession, soon found a ready market.  The domestic compact car revolution had begun with smaller offerings soon coming from Studebaker (Lark) in ’59 and GM (Corvair), Ford (Falcon) and Chrysler (Valiant) in 1960.

Station wagons represented a significant percentage of the larger Rambler’s sales so a Nomadesque two-door wagon was added to the range in ’59.  Feral Cars Merit Badge Award Winner Panagiotis “Petey” Andrews captured this turquoise and white bundle of bulbosity the other day and it is, indeed, a tidy little package.

American, the beautiful

American, the beautiful

American Motors’ Rambler American (paging the Department of Redundancy Department) continued through the decade with a full line of two and four-door sedans, station wagon, a (pillarless) hardtop and even a convertible. A third generation Rambler American, a major redesign, launched in 1964 and offered much more sophisticated, contemporary styling and continued as a staple of AMC’s offerings through the remainder of the swingin’ 60s until replaced by the Hornet. Those ’64 – ’69 Americans were designed by  Richard Teague who also is credited with the Javelin pony car and AMX sports car and, after AMC fell to Renault rule,  Jeep’s wildly successful Cherokee.

American update

American update

This ’65 wagon, finished in Barcelona Medium Taupe and Frost White, is lusterless after 48 years but not lackluster; it’s still carting home the groceries for at least one Southern California shopper.

Marketplace acceptance of the American was excellent, helping Rambler become the #3 selling domestic nameplate by 1960.  The parent company’s decision to drop “Rambler” in favor of “AMC” as a marque in 1970, foreshadowing Nissan’s ill-advised early 1980s move to dump “Datsun” and brand everything as a Nissan.

Hindsight tell us dropping the Rambler brand might not have been such a good idea

Hindsight tell us dropping the Rambler brand might not have been such a good idea

The brain trust at these two companies, obviously, cut the class when brand equity maintenance was taught. Nissan, somehow, survived and recently resurrected Datsun as a downmarket brand for developing countries.  That ship has, sadly, sailed for AMC/Rambler.

“Beep, Beep” was the title of a 1958 novelty song by The Playmates that chronicles an apocryphal inadvertent race between a (Nash) Rambler and a Cadillac. Newton’s Second Law Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 5.57.44 PM  is ignored in the narrative as the underpowered underdog overtakes the high compression luxury barge.  Listen and watch here.

Perhaps because of the car’s real world inability to beat a 2+ ton, V8-powered Cadillac in a road race, Rambler Americans are among the more modestly priced collector cars.  We found a 55,000 mile bottom-of-the-line ’66 for only $3800. Idea: Buy It Now.

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Meet the Met and its big brother

Attention Lois Lane! Your parking meter is running out

Not so American Motors product

Awww! Isn’t this a cutie pie?  It’s a Nash Metropolitan doing what it does best: standing still.  American Motors, despite the corporate handle, had these built in Longbridge (Birmingham), England at British Motor’s Austin plant from 1954 to 1961.  While the running gear was British, styling seemed to be uniquely American but that’s a deception caused, no doubt, by the two-tone paint treatment.  The baby Nash (also sold as the Hudson Metropolitan until that marque bit the dust) was styled in Turin by none other than Pinin Farina, the big baccalà of Italian automotive design.

Farina (no gluten jokes, please) also styled Nash’s big cars in the early ’50s with his signature enclosed front wheel openings — who needs to make sharp turns when your car has reclining seats, right?   We found a hulking example of one of these, a top of the line ’54 Ambassador Custom, not too long ago.

Yes, there's a Pinin Farina badge on the C-pillar and a continental kit out back..

Yes, there’s a Pinin Farina badge on the C-pillar and a continental kit out back..

 

By 1958, Nash was no more, with all AMC’s eggs in Rambler’s basket and the Metropolitan considered a brand unto itself.  Speaking of Ramblers, here’s a ’59 or ’60 (hard to tell with the OEM grill removed) on a Havana street.  License plate seems to be a reference to the Bay of Pigs fiasco of 1961.

¡AMSí!

AMSí ?

 

Farina also styled the Nash-Healey sports car, another Anglo-Italo-American experiment.  Get in on this Ebay offering now; the clock is ticking!

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