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Pour One Out For A Stunning, Iconic Bit Of 1920s Architecture

AMC badge
Photo via CZmarlin.

American Motors Corporation may have gone defunct in the 1980s, but the iconic former AMC headquarters in Detroit, Michigan endured long after the last AMC badge was fitted on the assembly line.

Now, however, the sun is setting on that sprawling bit of historic architecture, as The Detroit News reports that the complex will be demolished to make way for a new, $66-million development.

The structure, which served as the AMC headquarters from 1954 until 1975, when American Motors picked up and moved to the nearby city of Southfield, has sat abandoned since 2010. It was originally built in 1926 for the Electric Refrigeration Corporation, which was later renamed Nash-Kelvinator, and ownership passed on to AMC when the company was formed by Nash-Kelvinator’s merger with Hudson. After AMC’s departure, the AMC headquarters complex passed on to the Chrysler Corporation, which used it to house some truck engineering operations, complete with testing facilities and labs. As recently as 2007, Chrysler still had a workforce of some 1,600 people located at the complex.

Then, in early 2010, Chrysler put the former AMC headquarters up for sale, and it was snatched up by a local man who harvested it for scrap material and left it empty and dilapidated, until it was eventually foreclosed upon and landed in the ownership of the city of Detroit. The video below shows how quickly the facility – once a glowing example of art deco architecture – has deteriorated.

The American Motors Corporation is perhaps best known as the automaker that turned the Civilian Jeep into an icon in the 1970s, after acquiring the rights to the tough, nimble off-road vehicle in the aftermath of Kaiser-Jeep’s dissolution. But of course, AMC was behind many other classic American motoring icons, from the AMC Javelin pony car, which in 1968 set a record as the only factory Trans-Am entry to finish every race it entered, to the AMC Eagle – a compact 4×4 car model that’s commonly regarded as being (unofficially) the first crossover utility vehicle.

And we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the AMC AMX/3 – a rear-mid-engine supercar meant to go toe-to-toe with the likes of the De Tomaso Pantera, which was to be built in Germany by Karmann, featuring development input from the likes of BMW, Italdesign, and Giotto Bizzarrini. Sadly, a production version never saw the light of day, as AMC abandoned the endeavor shortly after the car’s initial presentation in 1970.

According to The Detroit News, the old AMC headquarters will be demolished and its land bundled together with 26 residential land parcels to make way for a pair of industrial buildings with a combined 728,000 square-feet of space suitable for an automotive parts supplier.

Ringbrothers AMC Javelin

Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron has held multiple positions in the automotive industry, from magazine videographer to dealership sales. And because his background isn't diverse enough, he's currently attending engineering school at University of Michigan Despite his expertise in covering the American performance vehicle industry, he's a devout Porsche enthusiast.

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