A specialist in heavy-duty transportation for such long-forgotten car companies as Kaiser-Jeep, AM General is remembered for briefly morphing into a car company when it produced the AM General Humvee for civilian use, a vehicle best remembered as the Hummer H1.
The company in South Bend, Indiana, grew from a bicycle company at the turn of the Twentieth Century into Willys-Overland by the 1930s and ultimately became one of the primary manufacturers of the World War II military vehicle known as the jeep. It became Kaiser Jeep after the war and ultimately merged with the Studebaker division devoted to manufacturing military vehicles.
It produced busses, military vehicles and jeeps as part of American Motors Corporation in the late 1970s when it was contracted to develop the High Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV or "Humvee"). The invasion of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990 and the subsequent military action by the U.S. popularized the Humvee and AM General began to manufacture street-legal versions of the off-road vehicle. Powered by a GM-built diesel engine, it was known as the Hummer.
General Motors bought the rights to the Hummer brand name in 1999, and AM General continued to produce the Humvee for GM as the Hummer H1 until June 2006. AM General also built a special factory to assemble the Hummer H2, which was based on a GM pickup truck. The H2 was produced from 2002 until GMâ€™s bankruptcy forced the end of the Hummer brand in 2009.
AM General continues to build military vehicles in South Bend, Indiana, the town where Studebaker once built Conestoga wagons.