Story of the Week

Posted: 09.19.2016
Remembering the great George Walter Mason
By Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher
Images courtesy of the National Automobile History Collection

 

Mr. George Mason was born in Valley City, North Dakota on March 12, 1891. In 1911, Mason had received his Bachelor of Science degree at the University of Michigan, and shortly after joined the Studebaker Corp. After just a few years at Studebaker, Mason moved on to Dodge Brothers Co.

After his stint at Dodge, Mason’s career would continue working on domestic war-time manufacturing during World War I. Mason soon became the wartime treasurer of the Automotive Council for war time production, he coordinated activities of the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois for the Army Ordnance Council and later helped supervise production of many items of material.

After the war ended, Mason went back to automotive landing with Walter P. Chrysler as a supervised manager for the production of the first 1924 Chrysler automobiles. Two years later, when mechanical household refrigeration was becoming popular among most Americans, Mason left Chrysler to become vice-president of Copeland Products which was a leading manufacturer at the time in electric refrigeration systems in Detroit, Michigan.

 

In 1928, however, he left Copeland to take on the job responsibilities of becoming president of the Kelvinator Corporation. In 1936, Charles W. Nash offered Mr. Mason the presidency of Nash Motors and after the merger of Nash and Kelvinator, Mason became president and Mr. Nash as chairman of the board of the newly formed business.Mr. Mason was also the director of the Kelvinator of Canada.

During his automotive career, in 1946 Mr. Mason was elected president of the Automobile Manufacturers Association; he succeeded the late Mr. Alvin Macauley, who was the chairman of the board for the Packard Motor Car Company. Certainly Mr. Mason was one of the busiest and creative chief executives in the automobile industry, he never backed away from any job he couldn’t handle or an assignment he could not complete. He was considered as one of the best in the automotive industry.

 

In later years, George Mason would be become very well known and remembered as the president of the American Motors Corporation and as a pioneer who helped start the small car industry.

For several years since the end of World War II, Mr. Mason had sought to induce the independent car companies to pool their research designs and manufacturing programs to give them the same production cost advantages enjoyed by the top three automakers. The result of his efforts and creative ideas laid the groundwork for AMC by combining the assets of the Nash- Kelvinator Corporation with the Hudson Motor Car company – a famous deal that occurred on May 1, 1954.

 

It was said that George Mason was always a big fan of aerodynamics along with small car designs. Some of the popular vehicles that George Mason helped to create were the Nash Airflyte along with the Nash Rambler, Nash-Healey and the Nash Metropolitan models which many consumers thoroughly had enjoyed.

The consolidation of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson marked the biggest merger in the history of the American automobile industry. At the beginning, Mason would become president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board for American Motors, and as CEO, Mason had moved the Hudson assembly lines from Detroit to the Nash manufacturing plants to Milwaukee and Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In conclusion, George Walter Mason unfortunately passed away at the age 63 at Harper Hospital in Detroit on October 8, 1954. The late George Romney, who was the executive vice president of American Motors and who was a former preacher in the church of the Latter Day Saints, delivered the eulogy. George W. Mason, will always have his special place in automotive history.

 


A special thanks to Robert Tate, Automotive Historian and Researcher, for contributing this story to the MotorCities Story of the Week Program. 

For further information on photos please visit http://www.detroitpubliclibrary.org/ or email nahc@detroitpubliclibrary.org. Please do not republish the story and/or photographs without permission of MotorCities National Heritage Area. (Bibliography: Edwards, Robert. “Chrome, Fins & Style Exhibit info and photos.” Bayley, Stephen. “Harley Earl and the Dream Machine.” 1983; Holls, Dave & Lamm, Michael. “A Century of Automotive Style 100 years of American car design.” 1996.)


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