Saturday, May 7, 2011

The American Motors Building

Well at least the building that was formerly known as the American Motors Building. It is still called the American Center even though the building itself is now owned by Charter One Bank (which as of 2004 is owned by Citizens Financial Group).

I've wanted to take a picture of this building for a while now. Not so much for the structure because its a pretty boring structure to me. More for the history of the company that used to occupy it.
The building itself was built in 1975 as the headquarters of American Motors. It is 26 stories tall with a basement level meaning it has 27 stories total. It stands at a height of 331 feet making it the 33th tallest building in the state of Michigan. It is the 4th tallest building in Southfield.
American Motors was formed in 1954 as a result of the merger of the Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Automobile companies. At the time, this was the largest merger in American history (and probably small potatoes now). It was an attempt to do battle with the Big Three Automakers (GM, Chrysler and Ford).

In 1955, George Romney took over (later he would become Governor to the State of Michigan and the father of Mitt Romney who is governor of Massachusetts and potential Presidential candiate) and reorganized the company to focus on smaller cars. By 1957, the Nash and Hudson brands were phased out.

The company struggled but started to find success with the Rambler line. By the 1960's, the company was starting to focus on the more profitable large car lines. It was in this time, they built the Javelin and AMX muscle cars. These cars used common stampings to save money.

In 1970, the company bought the Kaiser Jeep lines. The company struggled through the 70's (the AMC Gremlin is notorious). By the 80's, they found themselves partnering with Renault. By 1983, Renault had a controlling interest in the company and ended the AMC line except for the Eagle (but kept the Jeep lines). In 1987, the company was bought by Chrysler and renamed the Jeep/Eagle division. By the 90's, the Eagle brand disappeared but Jeep stuck around.

The AMC legacy lives on though as many of the designs Chrsyler touts were invented by AMC. Much of GM still has some of the AMC legacy as well.

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