Nash, Packard, Studebaker, Hudson still with us?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Electric Earth, Jan 26, 2008.

  1. Electric Earth Well-Known Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Henry Ford II, around 1952, cut prices on all Ford cars in an assault on GM; GM and Chrysler responded in kind, but the independents couldn't. They all withered and died, though Nash/American Motors struggled for decades. If Ford hadn't embarked on this futile, costly course of action, might all these cars have survived? (Perhaps not until 2008, given the state of GM, Ford & Chrysler in this TL?)
  2. 1940LaSalle Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    Southern New Jersey
    I think you'd need an earlier POD for some/all of the so-called postwar independents to have survived. Interestingly, Ford was in such dire straits in the late 1930s that there were serious negotiations with Studebaker that, if consummated, would have had Studebaker owning Ford outright. Setting that aside, had there been a move to merge in the years shortly after World War II, it's not impossible that there would have been a fourth major player in the US automotive industry, with Packard, Hudson, Nash, Studebaker, Willys and possibly Kaiser/Frazer under one umbrella.

    Packard would have provided excellence in engineering; Kaiser/Frazer the production know-how; Studebaker, a long-standing tradition of client loyalty and significant capital; Hudson and Nash, styling prowess. In that lineup (let's call it US Motors for convenience, you' might have had these matchups:

    Packard / Cadillac / Lincoln / Imperial
    Frazer (probably would have been sacrificed early; the pre-war LaSalle was about as close an analog as one might get)
    Hudson / Buick / upper end of Mercury / Chrysler
    Nash / Oldsmobile / lower end of Mercury / De Soto
    Kaiser / Pontiac / upper end of Ford / Dodge
    Studebaker / Chevrolet / lower end of Ford / Plymouth

    Willys probably would have continued as a sub-Chevrolet no-frills make (I doubt that there would have been a Henry J) or would have disappeared leaving only Jeep as perhaps a separate division.

    Ford might have forced the Edsel a few years earlier to work against Nash, De Soto, and Oldsmobile, but for the most part, I think these days, Ford would be bringing up the rear, concentrating largely on trucks, entry-level cars (Focus), quasi-senior citizen cars (Crown Victorias without the police interceptor package), and police cars. Given Ford's propensity for derivative styling, lagging in engineering (don't forget Fords had mechanical brakes late in the 1930s, years after everyone else had gone hydraulic), and doing things differently just to be different, today we might be speaking of Daimler-Ford, with Ford clearly the junior partner.
  3. David S Poepoe Banned

    Jan 1, 2004
    El Segundo, California
    This should be moved into the post-1900 forum. Its out of place here.
  4. freodhoric the Ignored

    Oct 20, 2006
    Transylvania Polygnostic University
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2008
  5. tallwingedgoat Well-Known Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    If Hudson had survived I wonder if they would have adapted to the 1970's oil crisis better than the Big Three. Afterall Hudson was already making monocoque small sized cars in the late 40's.
  6. TheMann Canuckwanker in Chief

    Aug 4, 2006
    Toronto, Canada
    A few points:

    - Could the US handle four major automakers? American Motors eventually went bust in 1987, but that was after hanging on for twenty years with terrible cars such as the Pacer, Gremlin and Hornet X. Once the imports come - and keep in mind Volkswagen first showed in 1949, Toyota in 1957, Nissan in 1959 - can the four of them all hang on?
    - The vaunted engineering prowess came at a price. Until the 1970s, the advanced engineering of the independents meant nothing against big, cheap Detroit iron. This fact was what eventually sank Packard and Studebaker.

    The way to keep this might be for the big 3 to recognize the growing demand for small cars earlier than they did, and build cars that matched the Japanese when the oil crisis hit in 1973. That is a problem on a bunch of fronts, though.

    That said, if a few cases if the big guys had stuck to your guns they might have been alright. The Corvair would have been bloody near ideal when the gas crisis hit - a stylish, great handling little coupe and sedan with terrific gas mileage for cheap. The AMC Gremlin could been the same, if it wasn't so nasty in the front end.
  7. tallwingedgoat Well-Known Member

    Sep 30, 2007
    As a matter of alternative business history, the biggest mistake US automakers made was failing to buy shares in Japanese and German car industries. Imagine if the Big Three bought 30% of Toyota, Honda, BMW, Mercedes in the late 40's. They could have done it for pennies to the dollar.