George Romney (yes, Mitt's dad) led what could be called an interesting life. Born in Mexico in 1907 to Mormon parents, Romney built houses, worked for Alcoa, and was a member of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, where he served as spokesman during World War Two and general manager until 1948. It was while at the AMA that he was tapped by Nash president George Mason, who engineered the merger of the Nash and Hudson in 1954.
Mason died shortly after the merger, pushing Romney to the presidency of the newly formed American Motors Corporation. With AMC's back to the wall, Romney bet everything, staking the company's future on the compact Rambler. This at a time when all that Detroit's Big Three offered were full-sized, two-ton land yachts--what Romney called "gas-guzzling dinosaurs."
In the recession year of 1958, Romney's AMC turned the corner after ditching both Nash and Hudson. AMC stock options granted during the Rambler's rise made Romney a millionaire. In 1962, when he left AMC to run for governor of Michigan, Rambler was the country's third-best-selling nameplate.
After his election victory, Romney turned back to AMC in 1964 looking for a daily driver. Instead of picking the year's top-of-the line Ambassador 990-H hardtop, however, he chose a base-model Rambler
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