In mid-1948, George Mason of Nash Motors (pictured) arranged a get-together with the Chairmen of Hudson, Studebaker, and Packard. He told them that he had a plan which would affect all four companies and stabilize their futures.
mid-1948 - Automobile Revolution in Detroit"Gentlemen, let's face it, we ALL spy on one another and have a pretty good idea what we're all working on. We at Nash have the best overhead valve six-cylinder in the business in our Ambassador engine, experience in building unitized construction body and frame with our "600," the best car heating system in our "Weather Eye," are working on a much smaller air conditioning package for cars through our Kelvinator division, and are developing several smaller cars to fill a developing trend in that direction.
"We know that Studebaker has an excellent smaller flathead six in their Champion engines, is working on a fully-automatic transmission, has the excellent "Hill Holder," and has introduced some recent models with really innovative styling. But even better yet, there is an excellent smaller overhead valve V-8 engine in the works there.
"Packard has a wonderful reputation for luxury, the smoothest and most powerful flathead straight-eight engine in the business, is going to introduce very soon a fully automatic transmission designed "in-house," has a larger overhead valve V-8 in development, and is even experimenting with torsion bar suspension.
"And Hudson has developed "step-down" body construction permitting a lower center of gravity and resultant better handling for their cars, and is working on a big, powerful flathead six-cylinder with the intent of entering stock car auto racing.
"This year is the last in which we can offer the public essentially warmed-over prewar styling and technology, so we will all have to get truly new offerings out there in the 1949 model year. By 1951 and 1952 some really new cars will be available from GM, Ford, and Chrysler, and we must all be able to respond!"
"Now the big corporations are also working on many of these developments, a few of which are already available. GM has their Hydramatic automatic transmission which we at Nash may end up buying from them to install in our cars soon. Cadillac and Oldsmobile have modern overhead valve V-8s appearing very soon, Chrysler is developing a very powerful overhead valve V-8 with hemispherical cylinder heads, and even Ford is developing overhead valve V-8s for introduction a few years down the road.
"Now flathead engines are on their way out and have perhaps another five years of decreasing appeal for the buyers. The "Big Three" all have introduced or soon will introduce overhead valve sixes and V-8s. Automatic transmissions are the new thing and will become almost standard equipment. Ford and Chrysler are working on true automatics and will introduce them over the next few years. Car air conditioning is about to be reintroduced, but will involve using up quite a bit of trunk space for the equipment like the pre-war units did, and Kelvinator says this will really not be required.
"My point is that our four companies have in development for introduction in the next couple of years ALL of these, so why not merge, offer all of this by 1950 or 1951 and stop competing against one another when GM, Ford, and Chrysler should be our targets? Our development money could be better spent on styling and advertising!"
And over the next year and a half merger efforts resulted in American Motors, which rapidly supplanted Chrysler as the #3 large company and began a half-century and more of innovation and financial success.......
Author's Note: in reality Nash suffered through 3 years with the streamlined but unattractive 1949-1951 models, and rather attractive Pinin Farina-designed 1952-54 models, and didn't develop an "in-house" V-8 until 1956. Hudson stuck with its flatheads through 1954, when it merged with Nash to form American Motors. Both Nash & Hudson used Packard overhead valve V-8s in 1955 and early 1956, and GM Hydramatic until 1956 in their 6-cylinder cars, with Packard Ultramatics in their 1955-56 V-8 models. The Farina bodies were rather unattractively facelifted for use in both Nash & Hudson from 1955-57. Kelvinator supplied Nash (and Hudson after 1954) with an excellent self-contained under-hood A/C unit in 1954. Nash introduced the successful Rambler series in 1950, which survived under that name until 1969 and under other marques into the 1980s.
Studebaker and Packard joined forces in 1954. The smaller Studebaker overhead valve V-8 turned out to be a very good engine, and the Packard overhead valve V-8 introduced in 1955 was very powerful and smooth. Both makes had "in-house" automatic transmissions beginning in the early 1950s, with Packard's styling redesigned in 1951 and subjected to attractive facelifts in 1955-56, and the incomparable "Loewy" Studebaker of 1953-on. Packard's 1955-56 offerings also had their excellent torsion bar suspension systems.
Nash and Hudson, as American Motors, displaced Chrysler as the #3 automaker for a few years in the early 1960s, but by the time Packard merged with Studebaker in 1954, it was too late, and by 1959 the Packard nameplate was deceased. AMC struggled on until the late 1980s......
But imagine all 4 manufacturers pooling their still significant resources in 1950 or 1951 and introducing most or all of these fine features more or less simultaneously at a time when GM, Ford, and Chrysler were only partially able to respond.....