> Years active: 1909-1957
> Notable models: Super Six, Commodore, Hornet
Backed primarily by Detroit department store owner Joseph L. Hudson, a group of Detroit businessmen created Hudson Motor Car to make a sub-$1,000 sedan. The low-price Essex introduced in 1919 helped the company become (briefly) the third largest U.S. automaker by 1925, behind Ford and Chevrolet. Hudson was the first to introduce engine warning lights to the dashboard. Consolidation in the industry led to a merger between Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator in 1954, creating AMC. AMC stopped using the Hudson nameplate in 1957.
> Years active: 1992-2010
> Notable models:H1, H2, H3
The Hummer origins are in a contract AM General was awarded to develop high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, or HMMWV, for the U.S. ground forces. AM General briefly made a civilian version, the M998, which General Motors took over and renamed the H1 by 1998. The M998 and H1 were the only two Hummers that actually closely resembled the military version. Ensuing models looked more like typical SUVs. Rising gasoline prices, changing consumer tastes, and the Great Recession of 2008 put an end to the Humvee era.
> Years active: 1945-1953
> Notable models: Dragon, Henry J, Manhattan
Born out of an alliance between renowned entrepreneur Henry J. Kaiser and Joseph Frazer, an experienced automotive executive, the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation (later Kaiser Motors) built about 750,000 cars in eight years, a staggering feat for an automotive startup. The company focused on small, stylish, well-built, low-cost, no frills sedans and even briefly sold cars to American GIs in post-war Japan. But like other indie automakers, Kaiser could not compete with Detroit’s Big Three.
> Years active: 1939-2010
> Notable models: Comet Cyclone, Cougar, Turnpike Cruiser
Conceived by Ford Motor as a premium brand, Mercury deftly evolved technologically and aesthetically along with consumer tastes from the ’40s to the ’60s. The 1955 classic film “Rebel Without A Cause” starring James Dean enshrined the 1949 Mercury, while the 1957 Turnpike
Cruiser was for its time an edgy two-door hardtop with a roll down rear window. The Cougar was Mercury’s answer to the Ford Mustang. In later years, the brand ran low on gas and was junked by Ford amid the Great Recession.
> Years active: 1916-1957
> Notable models: 600, Airflyte, Metropolitan
Nash Motors Company rolled its first car off a Wisconsin assembly line in 1917, a year after it was founded by former General Motors President Charles W. Nash. The Model 671 was built as a low-cost, no frills sedan for working-class customers. The company went on an acquisitions spree in the 1920s, and in 1937 it became Nash-Kelvinator following a merger. Unable to compete with Detroit’s Big Three, Nash-Kelvinator merged with Hudson Motor Car in 1954, giving birth to AMC. The last models bearing the Nash brand produced in 1957.
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