Last post on Nov 23, 2010 at 8:55 AM
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#80 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [hpmctorque]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Nov 22, 2010 (3:18 pm)
Nance later went on to become a VP for Edsel, to continue his string of successes.
The Chevy small block's incredible success wasn't predicated strictly on HP, but rather lighter weight, ability to rev, lower deck height, and build-ability. These attributes are a great advantage for longevity of design. There were plenty of sturdy V8 engines in the 50s, but they were porkers. The Chevy 265 shoehorned very nicely into the 1955 Corvette and saved the model no doubt. No way you were going to get an AMC V8 into anything else unless it looked like a small house or didn't have a hood. Well of course I exaggerate but you know, a matter of inches, and weight, is important in car design.
#81 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [Mr_Shiftright]
Nov 22, 2010 (4:36 pm)
I didn't know about the seuqel to Nance's illustrious automotive career. From the Classic Car article, Nance and Romney disliked each other intensely. The writer of the article has a bias for Romney.
#82 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [hpmctorque]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Nov 22, 2010 (5:24 pm)
Well I'll give Nance one pass...it was Romney who accused Nance, and forever black-marked him, for trashing the Packard archives. This is now shown to have been untrue...it was Curtis Wright negligence whilst administering Studebaker that caused so much Packard material to be throw away.
Maybe Romney was PO'd at Nance for reneging on that parts deal.
#83 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [Mr_Shiftright]
Nov 23, 2010 (5:47 am)
We'll probably never know the truth, for certain, about which of these two men was more responsible for AMC and S-P not working more cooperateively. Maybe it was just bad chemistry. Or, maybe, as the Classic Car article suggests, Nance didn't behave honorably.
Since neither AMC nor S-P survived, maybe a merger would have given the combined company a fighting chance at survival. Maybe not. Both companies were probably too weak by, say, 1956, to compete with the Big Three and, later, the Japanese. Then there was the issue of model overlap. That might have been resolvable with the right leadership, but it would have been difficult. Anyway, it's too bad that we no longer have the opportunity to buy Packards, Sudebakers, Nashes and Hudsons, or even Croselys, for that matter. For whatever reason I don't feel quite the same about Kaisers, but, as long as we're dreaming, heck, why not Kaisers and even Frazers too. The Kaiser Darrin was a neat car in its day.
#84 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [Mr_Shiftright]
Nov 23, 2010 (7:32 am)
After working at Ford, Nance went to the banking sector, and apparently did quite well. Perhaps he finally found his niche. Packard wanted him in the first place because he had turned around Hotpoint (the apppliance maker). The Packard board of directors, realizing that the company desperately needed new blood at the top, recruited him for the job.
Regarding the Chevy V-8's success - in addition to the factors you mentioned, I've read that Chevy cleverly made sure that plenty of after-market parts were available for those who wanted more performance from their smallblocks. Ford did the same thing with the 5.0 and 4.6 V-8s from the 1980s forward - hence, their popularity with performance buffs today.
#85 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [hpmctorque]
Nov 23, 2010 (7:48 am)
Romney claimed that Nance called him "George Mason's errand boy," so there must have been bad blood between them even before Mason's unexpected death in 1954.
I doubt that a merger between AMC and Studebaker-Packard would have saved either company in the long run. Studebaker dragged down Packard. It probably would have dragged down AMC, too.
It's also worth noting that the visions that Nance and Romney had for their respective companies were so different that I doubt the men could have worked together. Nance wanted Studebaker-Packard to compete directly with the Big Three. He was planning a full-line of revamped 1957 Studebakers, Clippers and Packards to do just that until the insurance companies pulled the rug out from under him by denying the necessary financing.
Even if Studebaker-Packard had gotten the financing, the company probably would not have succeeded in the long run. Chrysler had trouble keeping up with Ford and GM by the late 1950s. I doubt that Studebaker-Packard would have had better luck, especially given that the clays of the planned 1957 models I've seen really weren't anything special. Not many people were going to swap their Oldsmobiles and Buicks for Nance's planned 1957 and later Clippers.
Romney was ready to bet the farm on the compact Rambler by 1956, which was considered quite a gamble by conventional standards. With sales of the "regular" Nash and Hudson models dwindling away after 1954, he had no real choice, but most auto executives would have tried to save those models by coming out with all-new models, or at least heavily facelifted ones, for 1958.
Nance would never have supported placing all of the company's bets on the Rambler - which turned out to be the correct one, buying AMC several more years of life. Nor would he have supported bringing back the 1955 Rambler as the 1958 Rambler American, another unorthodox move that was surprisingly successful for AMC.
#86 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [keystonecarfan]
by MrShift@Edmunds HOST
Nov 23, 2010 (8:14 am)
Yes, the aftermarket was critical to the Chevy small block's success, as was Chevy's often-secretive support for racing. It didn't hurt either to have their engines in the iconic Corvette, or their other small blocks and big blocks featured in rock n' roll lyrics.
Ford engines were pretty much unimpressive in the 1950s. The "Blower Birds" had no more effect on the general public than the blown Studebakers.
Without aftermarket, without street racing, without professional competitive successes, there was no way to beat GM in the "image" game when it came to engines. Finally Chrysler managed it, in the late 60s, once they had all the other prerequisites in order. Chrysler had to build the support network that GM had.
Engines in the 50s and 60s were about raw power. There was no demand for, nor need for, "sophistication". The most successful engines were brutes. Iron blocks, pushrods, and pistons the size of your head.
#87 of 87 Re: Pontiac Straight 8 [keystonecarfan]
Nov 23, 2010 (8:55 am)
What you said regarding the chances of a merger succeeding is very realistic.