Allpar Forums banner

1 - 20 of 51 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Reading Allpar for many years has given me a great appreciation for AMC and Rambler. AMC was still around when I was growing up, but being in a family of die-hard Chevy people, AMC was not really on my radar. My loss!

I think it's fair to say that AMC stood for a few specific things: Excellence in engineering, innovation, and value for money. Those all seem like typical marketing buzzwords, but in reality they are so difficult to accomplish.

Thinking about all of this made me wonder: Who is "the AMC of today"? Which automaker best embodies those qualities now? Is there such an entity? AMC pioneered things like unit-body construction, full-body primer dip, dual brake cylinders, and many other features in mainstream, low-cost cars. Now that everyone is using those best practices, is there any more room for fundamental engineering innovations?

We're Mopar fans, but I for one won't be offended if someone answers my question with "Mazda", or "SEAT" (just grasping at straws, lol) -- or "nobody!"
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,969 Posts
Subaru is the first one that comes to mind for me. A relatively small company with somewhat quirky cars that have a loyal following.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,689 Posts
I worked at AMC from 79 to 85. Their "Engineering" consisted of buying other folks parts and attempting to package them all together in a car (or Jeep)
Jokingly, "AMC" was refered to "AlMost a Car". When I left the old Kelvinator complex on Plymouth Road and went to Chrysler Engineering in Highland Park, I thought I had died and went to heaven.

Hopefully, there is no "AMC" out there... Remember Renault bailed then out, then Chrysler did the same. I know, I was around for both events.

I won't even talk about the AMC "payless paydays".... :(
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@DC-93 - Fair enough, and I can't dispute your personal experiences. But you were there during the final years of the enterprise, long past the era of innovation -- and any meaningful investment.

But during the Rambler era, say 1956 to 1968 or so, AMC brought a lot of things to market that were either true innovations, or elements that were previously only found on Lincolns and the like (unibody, etc.). The cars were well-liked and were perceived as durable, with high resale value. That is really the AMC I'm thinking of here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Subaru is the first one that comes to mind for me. A relatively small company with somewhat quirky cars that have a loyal following.
Ooo, that's a good one. Marketed as durable; unique niche position in the marketplace; and perceived by some as being a bit dorky. :p Yep, sounds a lot like Rambler!
 

·
Registered
2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.7 Hemi Limited, 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee 4.0 Laredo, 2017 Jeep Wrangler
Joined
·
1,171 Posts
Well they were always a shoestring operation but in fairness to them, they were trying to sell what were pretty decent small cars way before it was fashionable or mandated by the gov't. If they had more capital their offerings could have been a good deal better. Yes I have seen Jeeps with:
AMC engines
Chrysler transmissions
GM Delco distributors
GM Saginaw steering boxes (still used all the way though the 90s on the ZJ series of Jeeps)
Ford Motorcraft carbs
etc. Nothing really wrong with this approach, look at what we have now. Chrysler is using mostly ZF transmissions now.
AMC's weakest points were the body corrosion resistance and the poor wiring harnesses that were a particular cross to bear on the SJ Wagnoneers.
But they had:
first full time 4x4 system in '73 or so
first real SUV (AMC Eagle made of Hornet and Jeep parts, I'd love to have one now actually). That is the spot that Subaru fit themselves in the 80s--90s and are still very well placed there.
some good race teams that they supported to a point (Trans Am Mark Donahue-Penske)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Blasirl

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,689 Posts
@DC-93 - Fair enough, and I can't dispute your personal experiences. But you were there during the final years of the enterprise, long past the era of innovation -- and any meaningful investment.

But during the Rambler era, say 1956 to 1968 or so, AMC brought a lot of things to market that were either true innovations, or elements that were previously only found on Lincolns and the like (unibody, etc.). The cars were well-liked and were perceived as durable, with high resale value. That is really the AMC I'm thinking of here.
Good to clarify. The AMC I knew was good at going out of business!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,969 Posts
Hmmm... I went from Highland Park to Plymouth Road with a stop at the AMC center in Southfield and Newark Assembly in-between.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
4,969 Posts
Hmmm... I went from Highland Park to Plymouth Road with a stop at the AMC center in Southfield and Newark Assembly in-between.
 

·
LOAD "*",8,1
Joined
·
982 Posts
You know, I honestly think FCA is the heir to AMC. The way they're trying to get the most that they can out of existing assets and products is pretty AMC-ish. What I don't see is the innovation aspect: FCA's been relatively efficient, but not all that innovative. I don't see them coming up with the Next Big Thing yet.

The other manufacturers are even more conventional though. Except maybe Tesla.
 

·
Got parts?
Joined
·
2,610 Posts
From what I've read, Nash, where unibody started, was more innovative than the AMC that it became. The Nash Rambler beat the Kaiser Henry J, the Willys Aero, and the Hudson Jet to market, and outlasted them all. George Mason had a lot to do with that. He was for merging all of the independents, and started by merging Nash with Hudson, but died before he could complete his plan. His successor, George Romney, made the resulting AMC (just Rambler for several years) a small car company. Innovation wasn't a priority then; their push-button automatic transmissions copied Mopars, and they were the last of the U.S. makes to change from generators to alternators. Any Jeep innovations between 1955 and 1970 should be credited to Kaiser, which owned them then.

However, I'll grant engineering, reliability and value. Ramblers had to be reliable because, outside of the dealers, parts weren't common. They made some efficient engines, and Romney lucked out with the 1958 recession, as his was the only major U.s. make that produced economical, affordable cars.

Today, Hyundai/Kia is probably the best comparison regarding reliability and value. Size is different. Someone else can compare engineering and innovation.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,931 Posts
Subaru is the first one that comes to mind for me. A relatively small company with somewhat quirky cars that have a loyal following.
Funny you say that because Suburu was the first thing that popped in my head as well................and, if discussing the current Subies; they in many ways remind me of the mid 1970's AMC lineup. God knows I see a strong correlation between the 1972-73 Matador 401 police package and the WRX STi of a few years ago.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,931 Posts
You know, I honestly think FCA is the heir to AMC. The way they're trying to get the most that they can out of existing assets and products is pretty AMC-ish. What I don't see is the innovation aspect: FCA's been relatively efficient, but not all that innovative. I don't see them coming up with the Next Big Thing yet.

The other manufacturers are even more conventional though. Except maybe Tesla.
What you just stated makes 'crazy sense' to me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,291 Posts
I've thought of AMC/Rambler as a dependable inexpensive car, but the AMC name was dragged down by the Rambler association. And it was also known for its ugly duckling styling. Such as Gremlins and Pacers. That said, they had some clever innovations. Such as the Marlin [pre 1966 Charger], the Gremlin with a 258" 6 cyl was a little sleeper, the AMX with a 390 was a nice muscle car, the Javelin with a 304 was somehow competitive in TA racing. So they or somebody found a way to make ~ 450 hp from that engine. A little help from fast eddie or others more familiar than I am would be informative. The 4 wd Eagle sat lower than other 4 wd's. If my memory is correct [50 - 50 chance] there was an Eagle in a parking lot some years ago. The owner came by and I asked him how did they make the car so low. He popped the hood and pointed to the right side of the engine block. It looked like there was a transfer case mounted to the side of the special block [straight 6 cyl]. Am I dreaming?

And the Jeep 4.0 straight 6 is a long mileage engine. Like 250,000 to 300,000 miles. There are a lot of older Cherokees still driving around in New England. The kids by the beat up ones, lift them, bigger tires, and then go 4 wheeling .
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You know, I honestly think FCA is the heir to AMC. The way they're trying to get the most that they can out of existing assets and products is pretty AMC-ish.
I agree with you here. I'd call this category "Doing a lot with a little," and that certainly applies to FCA. (Granted, FCA is working at a much larger scale than AMC ever did, but it's still "a little" when compared to their major competitors.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I've thought of AMC/Rambler as a dependable inexpensive car, but the AMC name was dragged down by the Rambler association. And it was also known for its ugly duckling styling. Such as Gremlins and Pacers. That said, they had some clever innovations. Such as the Marlin [pre 1966 Charger], the Gremlin with a 258" 6 cyl was a little sleeper, the AMX with a 390 was a nice muscle car, the Javelin with a 304 was somehow competitive in TA racing. So they or somebody found a way to make ~ 450 hp from that engine. A little help from fast eddie or others more familiar than I am would be informative. The 4 wd Eagle sat lower than other 4 wd's. If my memory is correct [50 - 50 chance] there was an Eagle in a parking lot some years ago. The owner came by and I asked him how did they make the car so low. He popped the hood and pointed to the right side of the engine block. It looked like there was a transfer case mounted to the side of the special block [straight 6 cyl]. Am I dreaming?

And the Jeep 4.0 straight 6 is a long mileage engine. Like 250,000 to 300,000 miles. There are a lot of older Cherokees still driving around in New England. The kids by the beat up ones, lift them, bigger tires, and then go 4 wheeling .
All true, and these are excellent points.

The AMC name was dragged down by the Rambler association.
This is true, and yet with hindsight I feel it was undeserved. On the one hand, Rambler was a "known quantity":
  • A nameplate that was a decent seller
  • A simple lineup with only two (later three) body sizes between American, Classic, and Ambassador (which made sales, service, and parts easier & streamlined)
  • An earned reputation for economy and durability
On the other hand...the image of Rambler was nerdy, for lack of a better term, and Roy Abernethy wanted to improve that image. But doing so would require re-vamping the entire lineup, which brought huge engineering costs that dragged the company down for the next 10+ years. Would the company have lasted longer if they had just continued making Ramblers for their loyal customers? Possibly, but I also can't really fault Abernethy for his decision -- just the execution. AMC traded boring durability for more "flash", but the allure of the AMX was not extended to the bread-and-butter products.

And it was also known for its ugly duckling styling.
At the time, yes. But I find the designs to be ahead of their time and mostly preferable to the sometimes ridiculous ostentation of that era.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
13,931 Posts
I've thought of AMC/Rambler as a dependable inexpensive car, but the AMC name was dragged down by the Rambler association. And it was also known for its ugly duckling styling. Such as Gremlins and Pacers. That said, they had some clever innovations. Such as the Marlin [pre 1966 Charger], the Gremlin with a 258" 6 cyl was a little sleeper, the AMX with a 390 was a nice muscle car, the Javelin with a 304 was somehow competitive in TA racing. So they or somebody found a way to make ~ 450 hp from that engine. A little help from fast eddie or others more familiar than I am would be informative. The 4 wd Eagle sat lower than other 4 wd's. If my memory is correct [50 - 50 chance] there was an Eagle in a parking lot some years ago. The owner came by and I asked him how did they make the car so low. He popped the hood and pointed to the right side of the engine block. It looked like there was a transfer case mounted to the side of the special block [straight 6 cyl]. Am I dreaming?

And the Jeep 4.0 straight 6 is a long mileage engine. Like 250,000 to 300,000 miles. There are a lot of older Cherokees still driving around in New England. The kids by the beat up ones, lift them, bigger tires, and then go 4 wheeling .
Gremlin: it was a BIG seller for many years despite its looks or, maybe because of its looks.

Pacer: that coupe was a pretty decent seller in it's first 2-3 years and; looking back on it, many of its cutting edge design features, for better or worse, have become all but standard in the auto industry in the early 21st Century. I'm referring to cab forward, doors wrapping into the roofline, rack and pinion steering, etc.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Blasirl

·
Banned
Joined
·
3,817 Posts
Gremlin: it was a BIG seller for many years despite its looks or, maybe because of its looks.

Pacer: that coupe was a pretty decent seller in it's first 2-3 years and; looking back on it, many of its cutting edge design features, for better or worse, have become all but standard in the auto industry in the early 21st Century. I'm referring to cab forward, doors wrapping into the roofline, rack and pinion steering, etc.
Another thing all of their V8 engines where the same size so big or small they eased production by using the same structure . Also the Pacer passenger door was I believe 4 or 5 inches bigger.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,010 Posts
I also think FCA would be the AMC of today, quite literally. AMC even built the Omnirizon and M body at their Kenosha plant for a time. Used Chrysler transmissions in their cars from 1972 onward.

The Fiat/Chrysler connection and the AMC/Renault connection. Long running full size car platforms. Definitely similarities.

Plus the direct bloodline of AMC/Jeep into Chrysler. A lot of that engineering talent that worked on the LH cars came from AMC didn't it?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
615 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
I also think FCA would be the AMC of today, quite literally. AMC even built the Omnirizon and M body at their Kenosha plant for a time. Used Chrysler transmissions in their cars from 1972 onward.

The Fiat/Chrysler connection and the AMC/Renault connection. Long running full size car platforms. Definitely similarities.

Plus the direct bloodline of AMC/Jeep into Chrysler. A lot of that engineering talent that worked on the LH cars came from AMC didn't it?
The AMC acquisition had a huge influence on Chrysler, especially in engineering as you state. Supposedly the AMC/Renault (later Eagle) Medallion jump-started the LH development program, with the Medallion being a much more advanced platform than what was then being developed by Chrysler for that segment. This inspired Chrysler to develop the awesome Intrepid/Concorde instead of another "me-too" sedan. (I'd love for somebody with inside knowledge to confirm that story.)
 
1 - 20 of 51 Posts
Top