Random auto history thought
Alt-history is fun, but needs to use realistic analogies.
Among the many active auto companies that failed, it's pretty easy to figure out a realistic Shoulda/Coulda for most of them.
Auto writers always assume that a company ceased to exist when it stopped making sedans.
Realism tells us that many of those "failures" simply switched from making sedans to making something else. Reo switched to trucks and lasted into the '70s. Hupp switched to HVAC equipment and lasted to the '90s. Peerless switched to beer and is still active now. Studebaker ran a holding company for a variety of products into the '70s, and its defense-contract plant is still running as AM General. Willys gave up on sedans and stuck with its own niche, and is now bigger than ever.
Packard should have switched to aircraft in '51, specializing in luxury corporate jets.
In terms of unique skills and factory usage, Packard was already more of an aircraft maker than a car maker.
Nash and Studebaker should have merged. Their strengths and weaknesses were exactly complementary. In the end, Nash didn't need the Hudson merger and survived on a mix of sedans and Willys products until 1987.
But what about Hudson, which would have been left out in the cold by the Nash-Studie merger? It's hard to imagine an alternate future. Hudson never diversified, never branched out from sedans. The other independents at that time were already making a variety of products before
the sedan "failure". Hudson's defense contracts
were profitable but much smaller than the other independents. No aircraft or trucks or cars, just an assortment of parts and pieces. The contracts didn't add new skills or create new types of manufacturing.
Hudson had a couple chances to specialize in sporty cars, but blew both. In '33 the Terraplane was light, fast, economical and attractive. Hudson quickly eliminated the nice fast car and reapplied the name to the base trim level of big Hudsons. Around the same time, Hudson partly owned Railton, a British sports car firm that used Hudson engines. They never imported Railtons.
Labels: Alternate universe, skill-estate