The origins of AM General can be traced to 1903, when the Standard Wheel Company of Terre Haute, Indiana, expanded its bicycle operation to include the Overland Automotive Division to manufacture motor vehicles, and the Overland "Runabout" was introduced.
In 1908, John North Willys purchased the Overland Automotive Company, which by then was located in Indianapolis, Indiana. In 1912 the Willys-Overland Company was formed and, in addition to the Runabout, began producing the Willys-Knight series automobile and the popular "Whippet." In 1936, the company became Willys-Overland Motors, Inc.
In the 1940's, Willys-Overland Motors, Inc. designed and manufactured America's first four-wheel drive 1/4-ton tactical utility truck - the famous "Jeep." After the war, Willys-Overland began to explore peacetime uses for the popular 4x4 Jeep vehicle.
In 1953, the facilities, plants and other physical assets of Willys-Overland were purchased by the Henry J. Kaiser interests and named Willys Motors, Inc.
In 1960, the company began its first civilian government program by successfully winning a bid to develop and produce a 1/2-ton delivery van for the U.S. Post Office. More than 14,000 of these 1/2-ton vehicles were eventually produced.
In 1963, Willys Motors was renamed the Kaiser Jeep Corporation.
Early the following year, 1964, marked a significant milestone in the company's history when the Kaiser Jeep Corporation purchased the Studebaker Corporation manufacturing facilities on Chippewa Avenue in South Bend, Indiana. Over the next 25 years, the Chippewa facility was to produce nearly 112,000 5-ton and 150,000 21/2-ton trucks for the armed forces of the free world.
In 1967, Kaiser Jeep Corporation formed a special division devoted exclusively to the research, development and production of government vehicles. The Defense and Government Products Division was a direct organizational forerunner of AM General.
In 1967, the company was awarded a contract by the U.S. Post Office for the production of the 1/4-ton DJ-5 Dispatcher. The U.S. Postal Service, police departments, utility companies and small package delivery firms used this rugged and durable delivery vehicle. Over 150,000 Dispatchers were produced.
In 1970, American Motors Corporation purchased the Kaiser Jeep Corporation from Kaiser Industries.
On April 1, 1971, AM General Corporation was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Motors Corporation and separate from the Jeep Corporation. This move was initiated to give independent status to AM General to fulfill the special transportation requirements of the U.S. Government and pursue further diversification.
Responding to the need for increased mobility in the military, AM General developed and patented the Central Tire Inflation System (CTI) to be used on the M809 and M939 5-ton trucks.
The CTI featured driver-activated dashboard controls that altered tire pressure to suit terrain conditions while the vehicle was in motion. The CTI improved vehicle-towing capability and contributed to longer vehicle life and lower life-cycle costs.
In 1979, AM General began preliminary design work on the M998 Series High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV, pronounced Humvee®); a 1.25-ton truck intended to replace the M151 and other light tactical vehicles. The U.S. Army awarded AM General a prototype contract in 1981 and the development and operational testing was conducted over a five-month period in 1982. In March 1983, AM General won an initial $1.2 billion contract to produce 55,000 Humvees to be delivered in five basic models and 15 different configurations over a five-year period. The Army subsequently increased their order with over 15,000 additional vehicles, raising the total contract order to 70,000 Humvees valued at $1.6 billion.
The Humvee offers exceptional speed, mobility and agility and is built upon a multi-purpose platform, which will accommodate a broad range of configurations. Humvees feature full-time four-wheel drive, independent suspension, steep approach and departure angles, 60 percent gradeability and 16 inches of ground clearance. Humvees are currently in use by the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy at locations throughout the United States and overseas.
In 1983, the LTV Corporation bought AM General from American Motors Corporation and established it as a wholly owned subsidiary of the LTV Aerospace and Defense Company.
In 1984, the AM General headquarters moved from the American Motors AMTEK Building to Livonia, Michigan, and two years later to South Bend, Indiana, where the primary manufacturing operations were located.
In 1989, AM General completed its remaining medium truck business and closed the Chippewa Avenue facilities in South Bend which had been acquired from Studebaker in 1964. In early 1990, the AM General headquarters relocated from Chippewa Avenue to its current offices in downtown South Bend.
Humvee is a registered trademark of AM General LLC.
HUMMER, H1, and H2 are registered trademarks of General Motors Corporation.