American Motors was formed in 1954 by the merger of Nash and Hudson, although those two nameplates were the face of the company through 1957.  The merger was supposed to also include Packard and Studebaker, but disagreements over who would head the new company delayed negotiations .  The head of Nash-Hudson died before things could be settled.  George Romney took over as head of American Motors and presided until 1962, when he became Governor of Michigan.  Packard bought Studebaker and continued independently.  Ironically, Studebaker was the weakest marque of the group, but the name carried on longer than the others.

The Nash Rambler was introduced in 1950 as America's 1st compact car and a companion model to their full-sized cars. The economic conditions that made the Rambler viable had changed by 1955, and the car was discontinued at the end of that model year.  The company kept the Rambler name in use for 1956 and 1957 , putting it on a larger car that would become known as the Rambler Classic / Rebel.  The Nash & Hudson nameplates were discontinued at the end of the 1957 model year and American Motors used the Rambler name to represent themselves.  They would continue to do so through 1965.

The 1958 Rambler American was a restyle and update of the original 1950-1955 Nash Rambler.  It would prove successful until the Big Three US auto makers introduced their own compact cars in 1960.