March 31, 2009

History of Dead US Auto Makers

Yesterday there was news that the government did not accept the turnaround plans of GM & Chrysler. The CEO of GM was ousted. Chrylser is being pushed to merge with Fiat of Italy (apparently the only interested party). Bankruptcy is possible for both GM & Chrysler.

If GM or Chrysler go bankrupt or otherwise ceases to exist as a separate company it could have a large impact to our economy in the short term. But the death of either auto maker will by no means be an unprecedented event. Various brands have come and gone over the decades.

With this news I thought it would be interesting to look at the defunct and dead car manufacturers of America. I found the article Famous Defunct Auto Brands fr0m Businessweek. They list over two dozen auto brands that have died out over the years.

Brands that ended up dying in Chrysler

A lot of the old brands ended up as part of Chrysler. If Chrysler dies then their 'legacy' will die along with it. Several of which were part of AMC at one point.

Hudson 1909-1954 - 3rd largest in 1925, merged into AMC in 1954
Nash Motors 1916-1938, 1938-1954 - merged into AMC
Willys-Overland Motors 1908-1963 - turned into Jeep, bought by AMC
AMC - American Motors Corp. 1954-1987 - bought by Chrysler to obtain Jeep
Eagle 1988-1998 - remains of AMC at Chrysler, later killed
Desoto 1928-1961 - sub brand of Chrysler killed off.
Plymouth 1928-2001 - phased out Chrysler brand

Old GM brands phased out

Only a handful of old GM brands have been phased out:

Geo 1988-1998
Oldsmobile 1897-2004
LaSalle 1927-1940

Killed by Depression

Not surprisingly, a large number of auto makers died during or shortly after the great depression. Most of us won't recognize any of these brands unless you're a fan of auto museums.

Auburn Automobile Co. 1900 - 1936
Cord 1929-1932, 1936-1937
Duesenberg 1913-1937
Essex 1918-1932 (Hudson subbrand phased out)
Jordan Motor Car 1916-1931
Peerless Motor Co 1889-1931
Pierce Arrow 1901-1938
REO Motor Car 1905-1936
Stutz motor Co. 1911-1935
Terraplane 1932-1939

Met their own deaths

A number of other makers simply went under for various other reasons over the decades.

Checker Motors Corp. 1922-1982 ( anti-trust suit by NY state)
Hupp Motor Co. 1909-1940
Packard 1899-1958
Stanley Motor Carriage 1902-1927 (steam engine became obsolete)
Studebaker Corp 1852-1967 (bought by Packard in '54)
Tucker 1948-1949

Photos of AMC Gremlin and Duesenberg replica by dave_7

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