Storied Independent Automakers
Nash, Hudson, and American Motors
Charles K. Hyde
2009 Choice Outstanding Academic Title; 2009 Society of Automotive Historians Award
Narrated by Mike McCartney
Approximately 11 hours
Book published by Wayne State University Press
With roots extending back to the first decade of the twentieth century, Nash Motor Company and the Hudson Motor Car Company managed to compete and even prosper as independent producers until they merged in 1954 to form the American Motors Company, which itself remained independent until it was bought in 1987 by the Chrysler Corporation. In Storied Independent Automakers, renowned automotive scholar Charles K. Hyde argues that these companies, while so far neglected by auto history scholars, made notable contributions to automotive engineering and styling and were an important part of the American automobile industry.
Hyde investigates how the relatively small corporations struggled in a postwar marketplace increasingly dominated by the giant firms of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, which benefited from economies of scale in styling, engineering, tooling, marketing, and sales. He examines the innovations that kept the independents' products distinctive from those of the Big Three and allowed them to survive and sometimes prosper against their larger competitors. Hyde also focuses on the visionary leaders who managed the companies, including Charles Nash, Roy D. Chapin, Howard Coffin, George Mason, George Romney, and Roy D. Chapin Jr., who have been largely unexamined by other scholars. Finally, Hyde analyzes the ultimate failure of the American Motors Company and the legacy it left for carmakers and consumers today.
Storied Independent Automakers is based on extensive research in archival collections generated by the three companies. Residing in large part in the DaimlerChrysler Corporate Collection, these sources have been seldom tapped by other scholars before this volume. Auto historians and readers interested in business history will enjoy Storied Independent Automakers.
Charles K. Hyde is professor of history at Wayne State University and author of several books, including The Dodge Brothers and Riding the Roller Coaster: A History of the Chrysler Corporation
“Charles K. Hyde's Storied Independent Automakers is the author's latest foray into the area of automotive business history, following work on the Chrysler Corporation and the Dodge brothers. Hyde's prose flows effortlessly, and the book's readability is further enhanced by a chronological narrative that features lucid introductions and conclusions, In sum, although specific brands and models are frequently described, it is people-leaders as well as members of the rank and file-who drive this history.”
—Michigan Historical Review
“That the stories of Nash, Hudson, and American Motors have not yet been fully told in academic literature is a glaring oversight. Storied Independent Automakers fills in a major gap in our knowledge.”
—David N. Lucsko, managing editor of Technology and Culture
“A scholarly but very readable history of Nash, Hudson, and American Motors. Hyde's mastery of both business and technological history is exceptional, and his attention to biographical detail brings the story to life. This book is filled with astute assessments of management decisions, automobile designs, and marketing strategies. Hyde shows that even the losers in highly competitive industries can make important contributions. ”
—Patrick Malone, professor of American civilization and urban studies and director of the Urban Studies Program, Brown University
“Charles K. Hyde has rescued American Motors and its ancestors Nash and Hudson from the dusty attic of automotive history. He brings us the engaging stories of engineers, managers, and stylists who needed all the wit and resourcefulness they could muster during their companies' spirited, protracted, but ultimately doomed battles with Detroit's then dominant 'Big Three.'”
—Robert Casey, curator of transportation at The Henry Ford and author of The Model T: A Centennial History
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