|THIS ACCOUNT IS AN ACTUAL COPY OF THE OFFICIAL AMERICAN
MOTORS HISTORY THAT I GOT IN 1957.
THE STORY OF AMERICAN MOTORS
On May 1, 1954, a new force appeared on America's industrial horizon.
The newcomer was American Motors Corporation, created by the merger
of two of the first families of the automotive and appliance
businesses---Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company.
Through the consolidation, the company joined the select circle of
America's one hundred industrial greats having an individual net worth
of more than one hundred fifty million dollars.
The two principals brought with them a record of having produced and
sold nearly ten billions of dollars worth of merchandise during the past
half century--over six million automobiles, more than ten million
household appliances and commercial products--more than sixty-eight
million automatic temperature controls, and a billion dollars worth of
Directly concerned with the merger were more than 30,000 employees;
58,000 stockholders; and 10,000 American Motors dealers and distributors
in more than 100 countries.
An important new page was added to the record of American industrial
Since the end of World War II, industrial mergers have grown apace.
It is estimated by Forture Magazine that 7,500 firms have merged since
V-J Day. Some of these consolidations have been for diversification and
integration of bussinesses; some for strengthening financial position
and physical assets for a stronger market position; some, frankly, for
At the end of World War II the nation found itself at a high level of
prosperity, with a tremendous pent-up demand for consumer goods--
especially for automobiles and household appliances. To get back into
production of these products meant a vast program of buying new
machinery and equipment, re-tooling, plant expansion and reorganization
of personnel. Billions of dollars had to be invested by American
industry in the coversion.
As an example, in the two years immediately following V-J Day, Nash-Kelvinator
and Hudson Motor Car Co. spent almost $40 millions for the purpose.
With peace and the unleashing of pent-up consumer buying the
inflation spiral skyrocketed. Millions of Americans had sizable hoards
of savings which they were yearing to spend.
George W. Mason, late president of American Motors Corporation, a
hard-headed realist, held no illusions about the ultimate result of the
publics buying spree. He clearly foresaw that one day it must end, that
when output caught up with demand, the relationship between rising
tooling costs and total units produced would be the most important
factor in the competitive race.
With that kind of manufacturing and marketing climate in prospect, to
Mason it was elementary that enormous benefits could be accomplished by
merging at least one other strong independent automobile manufacturer
with Nash-Kelvinator. With increased capital, more physical assets,
longer lines of credit, and concentrated production facilities, not only
could the corporation build more cars at a lower unit cost,but many of
these cost benefits would carry over into the company's appliance
Mason started making overtures to several companies in 1946, but it
was not until 1948 that one was sufficiently interested to listen to a
proposition. Nothing materialized, however, possibly because the
sellers' market still wore a healthy paunch--sales and earnings were far
By mid-1953, however, when the automobile industry entered a severe
readjustment period, conditions were more conducive for merger.
Officials of Hudson Motor Car Company sought out Mason to determine
whether he was still interested in consolidation. On January 14, 1954,
Hudson's board of directors, of which A. E. Barit was chairman, formally
accepted a proposal made by Nash-Kelvinator. The details of the proposed
merger were duly circulated among the stockholders of both companies,
who voted overwhelmingly to approve the plan. The new American Motors
Corporation officially began business on May 1, 1954.
The merger with Hudson was more logical at the time it was
accomplished, than with any other independent, for the following
1. Hudson's "Monobilt" construction was enough like Nash's
"unitized" method, in which body and frame are one all-welded
unit, that a changeover to one assembly line for two series of cars was
much easier to bring about that it would have been with other makes.
2. Because of this basic design similarity, car production could be
consolidated in the same plants, thereby effecting important economies.
3. Hudson dealers, with the Jet Series, were already active in the
market for compact cars, thus were ideally qualified to sell the popular
A merger of such large old-line companies as the principals of
American Motors involves tremendous physical problems in consolidating
personnel, plant facilities, sales organiza- tions, while continuing to
produce. Mason had laid his plans so well that by October 1, 1954, the
beginning of the first full fiscal year for American Motors, the
consolidation was virtually complete. The new company found that its
members were compatible, and that plans could proceed at full throttle.
The new organization, whild retaining much of the character of each of
its three basic sales divisions, nevertheless emerged with a brand new
personality. As Mason put it, American Motors was "old in heritage,
new in concept, combin- ing the tested experience of long service with
the vigor and fire of youth."
On October 8, the new organization received a tragic jolt. On the
very day he was to fly to England and arrange further expansion of
American Motors' foreign operations, George Mason died.
Four days later, the board of directors elected as president and
board chairman the man whom Mason has selected six years earlier and had
been grooming for the job, 47-year old George Romey. SINCE
Romey moved in high gear to continue Mason's program for streamlining
the American Motors organization. Under his leadership, new pace was
given plans already under way, and the company promptly made these
1. Set up a Policy Board of key executives from every division, with
Romney as chairman.
2. Reorganized the corporate set-up. In addition to the Automotive
Division, with separate Nash and Hudson sales organizations, three major
autonomous divisions or profit centers were created: A. The Appliance
Division B. Export and Subsidiaries Division C. Hudson Special Products
Division, to handle defense work as well as making parts and equipment
for the Automotive and Appliance Divisions.
3. Concentrated Hudson and Nash production in Wisconsin, and adopted
the industry cost- cutting practice of spreading the heavy cost of basic
tooling over more the one line of cars---four lines, in this case. As a
result, in the first year alone, $15 millions were slashed from the cost
tooling the two separate 1955 Nash and Hudson lines. The move makes
American Motors the only independent enjoying this substantial
manufacturing cost advantage.
4. Strengthened the Nash and Hudson dealer set-ups, which are being
built up to 4,000 from about 3,000 dealers at the time of merger. Nash
has dealers in 600 communities not served by Hudson, while Hudson
dealers are located in 400 non-Nash areas.
5. Gave both Hudson and Nash dealers the popular Rambler series and
the Metropolitan, thus widening the market and customer service coverage
for these cars.
6. Accomplished the near-impossible by coming out in less than eight
months with a competely new, restyled line of Wasp and Hornet cars,
distinctly different in appearance from the Nash Statesman and
7. Broadened the export and foreign subsidiary operations for a more
aggressive invasion of the growing Canadian and overseas markets.
8. Consolidated seventeen parts warehouses, effecting an estimated
savings of about $2 millions annually.
9. Streamlined sales, administrative and purchasing departments,
resulting in added operating economies.
10. Expanded the research and engineering programs to improve the
company's products and develop new ones to augment its lines. **********
On December 27,1954, after one of the fastest major changeovers in
the industry's history--just ten days-- six distinct series of American
Motors cars were flowing from a single final assembly line. Even in an
industry accustomed to quick and decisive action, it was an engineering
production miracle ---completely effected in only 160 working days from
the date of the merger!
The company emerged a vastly strengthened industrial force--- with
major gains in net worth, physical assets, lines of credit,
manufacturing economy, organization strenght and marketing power.
It is a Romney conviction that, with its new stature, American Motors
is tagged for an increasingly important position in both the automotive
and appliance industries. And it is his purpose that the company shall
deliver fully on its slogan..."American Motors Means More for
The most satisfactory way to show that Romney's dedicated purpose is
realistic is to travel the road of the past into the present--and then
relate it to the future.
The following pages therefore present a pageant of the colorful
history and important milestones of the companies that banded together
to make up this new industrial entity. The history indicates the rich
heritage-- going back for more than a century-- the impressive records
of indutrial pioneering and high earnings that the principals brought
with them, and the strong foundation of continuing progress on which
corporation's future is being built.
HERITAGE AND PROGRESS
THE AUTOMOTIVE DIVISION
Actually, the Nash ancestral lines extend back will over a hundred
years - to 1846, the year President Polk sent General Zachary Taylor to
Texas to oust the Mexicans. In that same year the Seaman furniture
factory was founded in Milwaukee. Later it was to become the Seaman Body
Corporation, which built bodies for the original Rambler, and was
eventually purchased outright by Nash Motors to become its body
Strictly in terms of automotive background, however, Nash history
properly starts with Thomas Jeffery's 1902 "horseless
carriage", the one-cylinder Rambler runabout.
The Rambler become one of America's first mass-produced cars- 1500
were built the first year. Jeffery, and his son, Charles, progressed
conservatively but steadily through a succession of improved models to
his handsome 4-cylinder namesakes - the Jeffery touring cars and
roadsters of 1914.
The Jefferys' record of mechanical soundness and attractive
contemporary styling won not only public favor but the interest of
automotive pioneer and aggressive head of the growing General Motors
Corporation, 52-year old Charles Nash. Nash learned that the Jeffery
heirs were anxious to retire. He negotiated the outright purchase of the
Jeffery Company. He resigned from the G.M. presidency, and in 1916
became the founder of what was to become Nash Motors.
Nash continued to build cars under the Jeffery name for the remainder
of 1916 and most of 1917, but in the fall of the latter year be brought
the first cars out under his own name. The 1918 Nash, with a years-ahead
six- cylinder engine, was the first all-new model under Nash's
leadership. So great was Nash's personal prestige with the public, the
car was an instant success.
World War 1 by this time had involved the U.S., so Nash began to turn
out mechanical workhorses for the A.E.F. -the famed four-wheel drive
Quad trucks, of which the company built more than eleven thousand in
1919 alone, thus becoming the world's largest manufacturer of trucks.
With peace, in November 1918, Nash purchased a half-interest in
Seaman Body Corporation and thereafter restricted its operation to
building bodies for Nash cars.
In 1924, to acquire additional manufacturing facilities, Nash bought
out two other automobile properties - the Mitchell Motor Car Company of
Racine, and the LaFayette Motors, builders of the luxury, $5,000 "LaFayette".
Because of its high price and limited market, the LaFayette line was
dropped, and both plants were put to work producing Nash cars. It was
from there facilities that the Ajax and the Nash Light Six of 1926, and
the popular low- priced Nash-LaFayette of the Thirties were to emerge.
And it was in there cars that now famous Nash beds were to make their
No happier circumstance could have occured for Nash Motors than the
public's wide acceptance of the new low-cost LaFayette, for its
introduction was shortly followed by the worst financial debacle in
World history. By 1928, the first year of the Ambassador de luxe models,
Nash production had reached nearly 140,000 units and was still rising in
1929 when the depression struck. With the nation's pocketbooks closing,
and the pulse of business faltering, Nash retrenched-- as did every
automaker, on passenger car production -- and stopped building trucks
Fortunately, the company's finances had been astutely generalled, and
it coninued to show profits through the first depression years. And even
in 1932, 1933, and 1934, when losses, did appear, they were small
compared to those of other companies. Nash stability is revealed in an
FTC analysis of the period from 1927-1937. The Company's average return
on investment was the second highest in the industy-- neck and neck with
In 1934, the 1,000,000th Nash rolled out of the company's Kenosha
As the company started its upturn in sales and profits, Charles Nash,
the in his seventies, looked around for a man to take over the reins,
and at the same time, a way to strengthen the company's capital
structure and diversify its operations. In Detroit, he found the happy
combination in George W. Mason and the Kelvinator Corporation, of which
Mason was president.
Negotiations led to merger, and the new company, Nash-Kelvinator
Corporation, officially began business on Juauary 4,1937, with Mason as
president, Nash as chairman of the board. With Kelvinator came a host of
profitable subsidiaries: ReDisCo, an appliance financing enterprise;
Kelvinator of Canada, Ltd.; Kelvinator,Ltd. of England; and Leonard
Division and ice-refrigerator manufacturer Kelvinator had purchased
Under Mason's management, Nash-Kelvinator advanced steadily. The
merger proved to a fortuitous one for Nash Motors becaused the
Kelvinator Division revitalized the company and was largely responsible
for the company's strong comeback after the drepression.
Mason promptly instigated long-range plans for Nash to enter the
low-priced field with a smartly designed, light- weight car, aimed at
large-volume sales. After four years of development and research, a car
with "unitized" construction -i.e. body and frame welded
together as one unit- was introduced. It eliminated a sub-frame, and
shed 500 pounds of useless weight carried by previous models of the same
proportions. Called the Nash "600" it was introduced in 1941,
and was an instantaneous hit. Not the least of its attractions was the
fact that the car achieved better than 25 miles to a gallon of gas at
moderate speeds. Nash's sales climbed impressively, and the
"600" undoubtedly would have gone on to make even more
noteworthy gains had not World War II intervened. The last pre-war Nash
moved over the assembly lines in February , 1942.
Nash-Kelvinator Corporations's World Was II defense production record
was outstanding. During a five-year span, N-K's 25,000 workers turned
out 2,000-hp engines by the thousands for fighter planes; high precision
hydromatic propellers for 18 types of warplanes; propeller governors by
the hundreds of thousands; helicopters for reconnaissance and rescue
work on land and sea; rocket motors and bomb fuses for the war on water;
cargo trailers for an army on the march and high-powered binoculars.
Nash automobile production was resumed in October 1945. Nash's
smaller size and greater manufacturing flexibility, as compared with the
Big Three, enabled the company to be one of the first two to come out
with post-war cars.
Each year after that the company's car output increased, settting new
all-time records, with a peak of 178,827 cars in 1950.
All along, Mason's philosophy was that Nash's clearest road to growth
as an independent was to deliver something distinctly different from any
thing competitors offered, thus creating its own market. Upon that
concept, he instigated a long-range research program, studying changes
in the automobile market caused by the growing traffic and parking
problems, population increase, home-building boom and other factors. It
led to the development of a car more compact that the "600"
(which was renamed the Statesman in 1950). The new car with its 100-inch
wheelbase, debuted in March, 1950, under the nostalgic name originated
by Thomas Jeffery, The Rambler.
The frist model was a convertible, followed three months later by a
station wagon. A hardtop model bowed in early 1951. Later a four-door
station wagon and sedan with 108-inch wheelbases were introduced. With
their low smart lines, compactness, riding comfort, and welcome gasoline
economy, the new Ramblers made an instant hit.
Still seeking the Plus-X that he felt Nash cars must have to command
increasing public interest, Mason, long impressed with the advanced
styling of European autombiles, sought out the man recognized as the
world's greatest car designer and custom- builder, Pinin Farina.
Farina's crest could be found on de luxe motorcars he had built for
members of royalty and hundreds of the world's social and financial
luminaries. As a result of a meeting with Mason at the Paris Auto Show,
Farina completely restyled the Nash line in collaboration with Nash's
own design department. The 1952 models bore his distinctive design
Early in 1951, Mason made a deal with the Donald Healey Company of
England to build bodies for and assemble a distinguished luxury sports
car with a Nash Ambassador engine. Called the Nash-Healey, it was the
first sports car introduced by an American manufacturer in two decades.
Still questing in the realm of opportunity, Mason made another move.
He was convinced there was a place in the American family for a small,
economically operated car, and that the European design influence was
going to spread. After testing every known make of foreign small car,
Nash engineers turned out an experimental model, called the NXI (for
Nash Experimental International) which was sent "on the road"
around the country in 1950 and 1951. More that 250,000 people in all
walks of life, were asked to fill out questionnaires giving their
opinions on a score of items concerning the car.
With this guidance for further development, Nash in 1953 announced it
spirited continental-type automobile - the Metropolitan. Assembled in
England, it featured a 4-cylinder Austin engine and body by
Fisher-Ludlow. With a wheelbase of 85-inches, the Metropolitan had
exceptional roadability. Built to Nash specifications, with Nash
unitized construction, it offered up to 40 miles per gallon at moderate
highway speeds. Launched as a small car "experiment" the
Metropolitan found a ready market in congested East and West Coastal
areas, particularly among multi-car families, and in Canada where the
light, economy car has enjoyed favor.
That is the Nash phase of American Motors story...highlighting only
important milestones on the way to the merger of May 1, 1954.
THE FIRST RAMBLER
Thomas B. Jeffery, an expatriate British inventor, began making
vehicles for human transportation in Chicago in 1879, when he started
assembling parts of fine English-made bicycles and selling them under
the name of Ideal and American.
The imported two-wheeler soon became one of the country's fastest
selling bicycles. When Jeffery invented the clincher bicycle tire, he
revolutionized the business and sales spurted. At the Columbian
Exposition in 1893, his now famous bicycle was displayed under a new
name - Rambler.
Two years later Jeffery and his mechanically inclined son, Charles,
were to see their interest in bicycles wane. They were among the
fascinated throng which witnessed the finish of the famed Times-Herald
automobile race in Chicago in 1895. Charles started driving and testing
all makes of gasoline buggies he could lay hands on, and finally
developed one of his own. The Jefferys sold the bicycle business in
1899, and the next year Charles' mechanical marvel was shown at the
International Exibition and Race in Chicago.
The Jefferys bought a plant in Kenosha, for $65,000, to start
building gasoline vehicles. They built two experimental models, called A
and B, in 1901; two more labeled C and D in early 1902. The latter were
exhibited on March 1 of that year at the automobile exposition in
Chicago's Coliseum. They carried price tags of $750 and $825
respectively. The public reaction was good, so the Jefferys went into
production, and called the cars Ramblers after their first love, the
bicycle. In the first year 1500 were built.
Four years after Thomas Jeffery died, in 1914, the Rambler was
renamed the Jeffery, in tribute - and the Rambler was not to appear
again on an automobile until 1950, when George W. Mason, president of
Nash-Kelvinator brought out a Rambler series.
In 1916, the Jeffery heirs accepted the offer of Charles W. Nash, who
retired as president of General Motors and purchased the Jeffery
Company. The latter had produced more than 57,000 cars in its 14 year
PIONEER IN CAR BODIES
A business which delivered its products, fine furniture, by oxcart
and eventually became the world's largest manufacturer of early American
telephone booths, wound up being American Motor's body division.
It all started back in 1846, when Alonzo Duretto Seaman established a
furnitured factory in Milwaukee. The business grew rapidly. After
Seaman's death in 1868, his four sons took over management with the
eldest, William D., as president. Under William Seaman, the company
continued to prosper. In 1887, nine years after Alexander Graham Bell
invented the telephone, Seaman had a bright idea. Why not make
sound-proof telephone booths for use in public areas? Almost overnight,
the Seaman Company became a thriving producer of fancy telephone
cubicles, from which today's are not too dissimilar.
The same year, 1906, that an earthquake and fire nearly leveled San
Francisco, flaming disaster also struck the Seaman Company; its
furniture plant was razed by fire. The company then leased a new, larger
plant, allowing for expansion. Space was rented to a number of small
businesses. One was the Petrel Motor Car Company.
The proximity of a furniture manufacturer to an automobile company
was a natural, since automobile bodies of those days were made mostly of
wood. Petrel, in 1909, contracted with Seaman to manufacture its bodies.
Foresighted William Seaman realized that this was a potentially
tremendous business. He branched out and started making bodies by the
thousands for such makes as Moline, Velie, Dorris, Columbia Taxicab,
Kissel, F.A.L. and Nash Motors.
Soon Seaman gave up Making telephone booths and switchboards and
restricted all hs body-building to the Nash Company. In 1919, Nash
bought half interest in the company. On July 16, 1936, Nash bought the
remainder of the stock, and the Seaman Body Corporation ceased to exist
as such and became the Nash Body Division.
THE HUDSON STORY
The story of the Hudson Motor Car Company is one replete with
automotive "first," many of which were adopted by other
members of the industry; an impressive volume of production - more than
three million cars built; outstanding defense activities on a grand
scale; and scores of stock car racing records which emphasize Hudson's
leadership in engine power development.
The story began on February 24, 1909, when eight Detroit businessmen
banded together to form a corporation to produce an automobile which
would sell for less than $1,000. The eight visionaries were Roy D.
Chapin, who organized the group, J.L. Hudson, famed department store
magnate who gave permission for the company to be named after him, R.B.
Jackson, Huch Chalmers, Harold E. Coffin, F.O. Bezner, J.J. Brady and
The automobile they had all agreed there was a good marked for was
called the Hudson "Twenty" was one of the first low-priced
cars on the American market, selling for $900 f.o.b. Detroit. It boasted
a sliding gear transmission, selective type, and a French Renault type
vertical, four cylinder, water cooled motor.
The company started production at a small two-story plant in Detroit,
and first car was driven out of the factory on July 3, 1909. The
partners had a better reason than most Americans to celebrate
Independence Day, for the "Twenty", years ahead of its time in
design, was a smashing success. More than 4,000 were sold the first
year, the biggest first year's business in the history of the industry
up to that time. Net sales for the first sixteen months were an
impressive $3,980,999, which encouraged the company to buy a tract of
land at Jefferson and Conner Avenues, five miles from the Detroit City
Hall. There they built a new larger plant, with 172,000 square feet of
floor space. Roy D. Chapin was elected president, succeeding J.L.
Shortly afterward, Chapin made an extended tour of European
automobile factories. He was impressed with how far advanced they were
over American companies is design and construction methods. Many of the
observations he made during this junket were reflected in subsequent
Hudson cars and plant operations.
For example, Chapin became impressed with the superiorities of
six-cylinder power plants he had seen in European plants. He induced
Coffin and Hudson's engineers to develop a car with a six-cylinder
engine to sell at a medium price. The first new Hudson with the
stepped-up power was introduced in July 1912, and was followed by a
roadster, the first low-priced car to 60 miles an hour.
Chapin had also been impressed with the fact that, although European
cars were made mostly of steel, they were lighter and stronger than
American made automobiles with wooden bodies. He therfore had Hudson's
designers and engineers create a car that was to create another
sensation in the automobile world - the Six-Forty, the first
six-cylinder car of moderate weight. It weighed less than 2,700 pounds,
hundreds of pounds lighter than other sixes, and came equipped with a
four-speed, over-drive transmission. This car had the dual advantage of
greater speed, with lower gasoline consumption.
In 1916--while a major war raged in Europe and a minor one sizzled in
Mexico--Hudson introduced its Super-Six, which had the first fully
balanced crankshaft, turned by an engine with stepped up power with
compression ratio of 5 to 1, considered a great improvement at the time.
This type or crankshaft was copied by other manufacturers and became
Hudson's high compression efforts represented in the Super-Six also
kicked off a power race that continued down the decades, and led to
engines with compression ratios of up to 12.5 to 1. An idea of the
significance of Hudson's increased compression ratio in the 1916
Super-Six is shown in the fact that it had a 76 h.p. output, against
only 48 h.p. on the previous year's six-cylinder engine.
A Hudson 1916 Super-Six demonstrated its tremendous power by zooming
along at a 102 mph clip in the white sands of Daytona Beach. This was to
the first of hundreds of performance exhibitions and races in which
Hudson cars were to be entered in the decades following.
The Super-Six's outstanding performance was largely responsible for
Hudson selling 26,393 cars in 1916, a record up to that date, and for
the expansion of factory floor space to 247,000 square feet.
In 1917, Chapin brought about the creation Essex Motors, a subsidiary
of Hudson, which was to produce the "dream car" that he had
conceived in Europe, and which he felt would revolutionize the American
automobile industry - the closed coach.
Up to this time, the vast majority of American-made cars were of the
open touring or runabout type, which were obviously restricted to fair
weather use. Closed cars where priced $1,000 or more above open cars,
which thus put them out of reach of the average car buyer. Hudson's
engineers revamped their production methods to the point where they
could bring out a closed coach selling at ony $100 more than the
comparable open car.
The Essex closed sedan and coupe were introduced in 1919 - and once
again Hudson scored a sensation. Forty-one thousand were sold the first
year. The closed automobile marked one of the most important milestones
in automotive history - for it transformed the industry overnight from a
a six-months' operation to a year-round affair. The Essex coach also
boosted Hudson's sales tremendously, and by 1922, they were being sold
in 50 foreigh countries.
In that year, Essex Motors was dissolved as a separate corporation,
and became part of the parent company. A year later, Chapin, satisfied
that the company's affairs were running smoothly and anxious to devote
most of his time to public affairs, particularly in his campaign for an
improved highway system, resigned as president. He became U.S. Secretary
of Commerce under President Coolidge.
By 1926, Hudson was building all its bodies on a production basis in
it own plants. Saaembly line methods, which Chapin had studied in
Europe, were put into effect.
The company celebrated its 20th anniversary in 1929, with a record of
1,779,360 cars built since it began business. The 1929 Hudson featured
such innovations as an improved engine oiling system, with combination
electric oil and gasoling gauge.
Although the depression which began in 1929 retarded engineering
advances in many industries, Hudson's engineers still kept at it.
On July 21, 1932, Hudson introduced another famout name in automotive
history - the Terraplane - which was christened by the popular aviatrix,
The unit-engineered method of construction introduced with the
Terraplane is the key to Hudson's phenomenal record of 120 official
American stock car awards for performance, endurance and economy between
1932 and 1940. The record of which the company was proudest was the
all-time 24-hour mark, set by a Hudson Eight on October 10, 1936, at
Bonneville Salt Flats. The Eight taveled 2,104 miles in 24 hours at an
astonishing average of 87.68 miles an hour.
In 1933, Chapin returned as president of Hudson which, like all
automobile companies and most industrial firms, was beginning to
experience heavy losses. During the next three years, through
streamlining operations and refinancing, the company pulled out of its
slump and was beginning to show profits again by early 1936, when Chapin
died. A. E. Barit, who had been purchasing agent of the origianal Hudson
Company, and treasurer of Essex Motors, and hadworked his way steadily
up the line, was elected president.
Under Barit, Hudson continued to develop styling and engineering
improvements. The 1936 Hudson were equipped with patented double-safe
Hydraulic brakes, and the automobile draft eliminator which equalized
air pressure inside and outside the car. The '37 Husdson was the first
American car to have the battery under the hood, rather than under the
front seat. Auto-poise, front-wheel stabilization, airfoam seats and
dash-locking hoods came in the 1939 Hudson, and Drive-Master automatic
transmission was the 1942 contribution. Like other automobile companies,
Hudson stopped making passenger cars in early 1942, and plunged all-out
into war contracts.
Immediately after V-J Day, Hudson prepared for the vast changeover
back to automobile production and had cars moving out of its plants by
October, 1945. The year 1947 marked the sale of the 3,000,000th Hudson.
On September 19, 1947, the company ceased production on the 1947
models to prepare to build a completely re-designed car for the 1948
season, a retooling operation that cost $16 million. Hudson hailed the
'48 as the "car you step down into", the first American-made
automobile with a low silhouette, combining greater beauty, stability,
"hug-the- road" ride and safety, with adequate interionr
headroom and comfort.
Hudson cars since then have retained this low silhouette, now common
in the industry, while its engines kept being improved and the line
rounded out, until it had a range of seven powers. The company expanded
its operations on the international front, purchasing plants in Canada
and England, and establishing sales and service facilities in more than
100 countries. The selling and service organization was gradually built
up to a network of 3,000 world wide outlets.
In 1951, the company outdid its previous efforts as far as engine
power was concerned, with a 145 h.p., six-cylinder engine in the new
Hornet. Hornets have won scores of racing car victories since then. In
1951, Hudson also re-entered defense production. Contracts to
manufacture the Wright R-3350 engine, fuselage sections of the twin-jet
B-57 Canberra Night Intruder bomber and fuselage sections of the B-47
bomber were assigned to Hudson.
Conditions within the automobile industry in late 1953 made A. E.
Barit and Hudson's board of directors realize that if the company were
to continue to make notable contributions to the automobile field, its
position had to be strengthened. Accordingly, they were the mood to
listen to and accept George W. Mason's suggestion that Hudson merge with
the Nash-Kelvinator Corporation, for the mutual benefit of both.
EARLY 1950'S HUDSON