American Motors was the company created by the merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company in 1954. At the beginning of the automotive era, there were literally hundreds of auto makes; Nash and Hudson were two of the largest independents.
When the Great Depression came along, almost all of the smaller ones were wiped out, leaving giants like General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, and a few small independents like Kaiser Frazer, Nash, Hudson, Packard, Studebaker, Willys, Checker, Crosley.
Kaiser swallowed up Fraser and Willys; while Packard merged with Studebaker, and Nash went with Hudson. The plan of then-Chairman of Nash, George Mason, was to eventually merge Studebaker-Packard with Nash-Hudson and then, taking the various strengths of each partner and creating a cohesive larger company on the model of Chrysler or Ford, to share subassemblies, engines and other parts across all divisions in an effort to become an all-market player.
It never worked out. Studebaker-Packard decided to go it alone and ultimately went out of business, in the mid-sixties. Nash and Hudson sales, for their part, dropped through the floor as sales from the company's Rambler division began a march toward profitability. In 1957, the last Nashes and Hudsons rolled off the assembly lines and American Motors became the sole division until 1970 when AMC purchased the rights and facilities of Jeep from Kaiser-Willys.
American Motors lasted thirty years. Some of the little company's best years were in the early seventies, when the company sold over 300,000 cars for a couple of years. Then, poor product planning such as the seven-year lack of a four-cylinder engine for the Gremlin and millions of dollars on development money wasted on poorly conceived models lineup ruined the future for AMC. They never recovered.
By 1987 a trail of red ink followed behind a stumbling and eviscerated company, and Chrysler Motors purchased it for a fire-sale price.