American Motors corporation
eventually sprang from these hectic beginnings. Between the
buggy-like Ramblers of 1902 and AMC's establishment in 1954 passed
such fondly remembered makes as Jeffery (1914-1917), Nash
(1918-1957), Ajax (1925-1926), LaFayette (1934-1939), Hudson
(1909-1957), Essex (1919-1932), Terraplane (1933-1938),
Metropolitan (1954-1962), Nash-Healey (1951-1954), Hudson-Railton
(1933-1938), and Hudson Italia (1954). But AMC was still a long
Thomas Jeffery Joseph Hudson Charles Nash
From 1902 until 1908, Jeffery
moved steadily to bigger, more reliable models. His cars were
built on assembly lines (the second manufacturer to adopt them --
Olds was first), and in 1903 he sold 1350 Ramblers. By 1905,
Jeffery more than doubled this number. One reason may have been
because he went back to the steering wheel before 1904.
In 1907, he was building a
large variety of different body styles and sizes. Among them was a
five-passenger, $2500 Rambler weighing 2600 pounds and powered by
a 40-hp engine. Cars were beginning to look like cars by then.
Jeffery died in 1910, and his
son Charles took over. That same year, Joseph L. Hudson and seven
business associates began producing a competing motor car called
the Hudson. It was an immediate success, selling for $900-$1700
and eventually earning a solid reputation for quality and safety.
But for the moment, Hudson and Jeffery were in two different
The Hudson Motor Car Company,
founded in 1909 and building its first cars in 1910, hit 17th
place among manufacturers by the end of its first production year.
Sales were about 5000. Rambler sales for the same period were some
2500 cars -- a self-imposed limit "in the interest of quality."
Rambler built by far the more impressive automobile.
In 1911, Rambler offered an
adjustable steering pillar, not unlike the modern
multiple-position columns. Hudson brought out a "simplified
chassis" and a four-cylinder en bloc engine with the magneto and
water pump on a single drive. Hudson also had one of the first
multiple clutch arrangements that year.
Roy Chapin George Romney Roy Abernethy
J.L. Hudson died in 1912,
undoubtedly as contented with his cars' success as T.B. Jeffery.
Two years later, Rambler's name was changed to Jeffery, in honor
of the company's founder. After Hudson died, Roy D. Chapin headed
the firm. Chapin had already helped found a motor company:
Thomas-Detroit (later Chalmers-Detroit). He stayed with Hudson
until his death in 1936, serving under Herbert Hoover in 1932 as
Secretary of Commerce.
During the war years of 1914
to 1918, Hudson became the world's largest manufacturer of
six-cylinder cars. Jeffery (soon to be Nash), became the world's
largest producer of trucks. Jeffery had brought out a
four-wheel-drive "Quad" truck in 1911, and this proved very
popular with foreign governments for military use. During World
War I, Jeffery Quads and Nash Quads played an important role for
the Allies, and by 1918, 21,494 of these trucks were built under
Charles W. Nash, in 1916,
resigned his post as president of General Motors and took over the
Jeffery Company. Next year, the first Nash made its bow, powered
by an ohv Six. Concurrent with the Nash debut, Hudson organized
the Essex Motor Car Company, which from 1919 until 1932 built
light, spirited models. Essex' appeal was to the
performance-minded and price-conscious -- in 1921 it offered a
closed coach for only $300 more than its touring. In 1924, when
six-cylinder cars were highly prized, it brought out a Six for
less than $1000. Also in 1924, Hudson had reduced its coach to
only $5 more than its touring car.
1897 - First experimental Rambler
1901 Rambler, Model B 1904 Rambler, Model L, with surrey top