Cars we remember: Independent manufacturers

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1949 Kaiser VirginianBy: Greg Zyla

Sister Laurentina and the Rambler Metropolitan

Q: Enjoyed your article on the Metropolitan in the Washington Times-Reporter (Washington, IL). But I did notice a few errors…maybe a slip of the word processor!

American Motors was formed with a merger of Nash and Hudson, not Nash and Rambler. The Rambler was a model in the Nash line. The first Rambler car came out in 1902 manufactured by the Thomas Jeffery Company in Kenosha, WI. The name was later changed to Jeffery and then to Nash when Charles Nash bought the company. Nash then re-introduced the Rambler name in 1950 with the Nash Rambler.

When Nash and Hudson merged in 1954, there were Nash Ramblers and Hudson Ramblers in 1955 and 1956. In 1957 they were just called Rambler, with the Nash and Hudson names dropped. There were Nash and Hudson Metropolitans in 1955 and 1956, but again the Nash and Hudson part of the name was dropped in 1957 and they became just Metropolitan. Don’t believe there was ever a Rambler Metropolitan. The Rambler American came out in 1958, not 59, and it was a re-introduction of a slightly restyled 1955 Nash/Hudson Rambler as the 1956 Nash/Hudson Rambler was a completely new car and remained basically the same through 1962 except for styling and dropping the Nash/Hudson names. Steve Parsons, Washington, IL

A: Steve, first and foremost thanks for your letter. Many times, readers will prance on a writer if they make a mistake, but you handled it like my favorite teacher from back in the 1960s used to, namely Sister Laurentina of the Sisters of Saint Joseph who taught me at Sacred Heart High School in Vineland, NJ, from 1964 to 1967.

Instead of belittling a student, Sister always “gave an exit” for keeping a kid’s head high. Sister Laurentina also always stressed to me that if I followed what I loved, (and she knew I loved cars and racing) that regardless of how much money I made, I’d always be a success.

Thank you Sister and Steve!

Anyway, you indeed caught me in a brain fade error on the ’58 Rambler American and the official Nash/Hudson agreement, but Sister Laurentina would be the first to offer an exit on the Metropolitan in question. She would mention that from 1957 through 1962, all Metropolitans without the Hudson or Nash badge were available only at Rambler dealers, officially Rambler-Metropolitan showrooms. Thus the consumer took for granted he or she was buying a “Rambler Metropolitan.” (See attached advertisement of 1960 Metropolitan).

I’ve been writing a lot about Hudson/Nash/AMC/Rambler recently, and the person who made Nash such a commercial success (George Mason). I should have explained how I came up with the Rambler Metropolitan name, but I’ll let the artwork and Sister Laurentina’s memory handle that for me.

Your letter gives an excellent time capsule of Nash and Hudson, and I appreciate it very much. Have a Merry Christmas and happy holiday season and if you see me mess up again, don’t hesitate to write.

Kaiser Virginian

Q: Hi Greg. How many Kaiser 1949 Virginians were delivered in Polar Grey? My number is somewhere between three and six. Enjoy your columns, and I have sent photos from Kearney Classic Car Museum, located at 3600 E. Highway 30, Kearney, NE 68847. It’s open all year, too. Chris Becker, Nebraska.

A: Chris, the best I can come up with is a total of only 850 Kaiser 2-door Virginians produced in 1949, although there is no concrete evidence on colors. To make matters worse, Kaiser was known in the industry for offering numerous color combinations. Your photos are great, and Kaiser dubbed the new Virginians as “The Southern ‘Spirit of Pride and Importance”’ in its marketing campaigns.

Thanks again for the photos and letter.

Greg Zyla

Greg Zyla