AMC had always led a precarious financial existence, and Renault, its French owner, wasn't much help in changing that. When gas became cheap in the mid-1980s, the market moved away from AMC's small cars. After Renault chairman George Besse, who had championed AMC, was assassinated in 1986, Renault sold it to Chrysler for $1.5 billion.
The deal produced a windfall for Chrysler, which leveraged AMC's Jeep business into a huge moneymaker. Renault made a longer-lasting acquisition in 1999 when it acquired 36.8% of then-struggling Nissan. The Renault-Nissan alliance has mostly thrived since then under CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Democrats and Republicans are debating that question today, but we may not know the answer for 10 or 15 years.
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