Gerald C

Thursday 20th October 1977

Gerald C. Meyers was elected Chairman of American Motors. At the time, Meyers was 49 years old and became the youngest top executive in the automobile industry bringing a wealth of manufacturing experience. “The company was looking for a lot more than a steady hand on the tiller — it was looking for a saviour” but Meyers disagreed and argued that the company could survive and remain a factor in the automobile industry by abandoning its policy of head-on competition and instead focusing on and revamping its four-wheel-drive vehicles, a market segment left untended by the large automakers, and by acquiring advanced technology. For fiscal 1977, AMC’s profits more than doubled compared to the previous year to a record $83.9 million on sales of $3.1 billion. The smallest U.S. automaker saw its car sales increase 37%, while they dropped 21% for the industry as a whole. Meyers described AMC strategy as a “three-legged stool” of small cars, Jeeps, and steady government and military contracts. By 1979, the automaker’s management team headed by Meyers, … “sharply cut back its money-losing car operations … The perennially ailing baby of the auto industry suddenly looks healthy, and its new management team has a clear design for the future.”

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