Michigan Historical Review
Nash, Hudson, and now even American Motors are automobile brands that have largely disappeared from the American memory. Yet, despite riding the twentieth-century economic roller coaster and operating in the shadow of the Big Three, these firms made sustained, significant technological and economic contributions. Charles K. Hyde’s Storied Independent Automakers is the author’s latest foray into the area of automotive business history, following work on the Chrysler Corporation and the Dodge brothers. A professor of History at Wayne State University, Hyde has written a needed critical business history on an important topic that complements the vast amount of “buff” and coffee-table literature produced on this subject. Indeed, the author has resurrected the rich history feebly represented by once-a-year orphan car shows that take place on a summer Saturday afternoon, reminding us of a once-textured automotive past.
Key individuals are at the heart of Hyde’s story—Thomas B. Jeffrey, Charles W. Nash, George W. Mason, Roy D. Chapin, A. E. Barit, George W. Romney, and Roy Chapin, Jr., are the most significant persons. It was through their efforts and because of their foibles that these “outlier” firms waxed and waned from the pioneer days at the turn of the twentieth century to the energy crises of the 1970s. Hyde’s prose flows effortlessly, and the book’s readability is further enhanced by a chronological narrative that features lucid introductions and conclusions. In sum, although specific brands and models are frequently described, it is people—leaders as well as members of the rank and file—who drive this history.
Copyright © 2010, Central Michigan University
Central Michigan University
Heitmann, John Alfred, "Review: 'Storied Independent Automakers: Nash, Hudson, and American Motors'" (2010). History Faculty Publications. 73.