Thursday Trivia

Thirsday Trivia
Welcome to Thursday Trivia where we offer up a historical automotive trivia question and you try and solve it before seeing the answer after the jump. It’s like a history test, with cars!
This week’s question: What was the AMC Lerma?
If you think you know the answer, make the jump and see if you’re right.
American Motors Corporation was the last big American car maker to fade into history. Oh sure since then we’ve lost Pontiac and Oldsmobile, and I’m, sure that most of us wondered why Mercury stuck around as long as it did, but those were all divisions, not entire companies. Perhaps most egregious is the company’s name: American Motors. Things that have American in their names just shouldn’t fail. It’s… unamerican!
Here’s a funny thing, American Motors wasn’t just North American. They were also Central American and Latin American! I guess that made them the most American of American Motors.
In the case of Central America, AMC maintained production facilities in Mexico City under the name VAM (Vehiculos Automotores Mexicano S.A.). The Kenosha Wisconsin-based company held a minority stake in the business, the majority share being owned by the Mexican government. The arrangement was established in 1963 when the Mexican government enacted a law passing control of the privately-held company, Sociedad Mexicana de Credito Industrial (SOMEX) to National control. SOMEX was the license holder for Willys Mexicana S.A. which held the rights to import and locally produce Ramblers and Willys products.
In addition to the existing Mexico City plant, the newly formed VAM opened an engine factory in Lerma Mexico, a ciudad bordering Toluca in central Mexico and about 30 miles west of Mexico City.
VAM’s production was comprised mostly of existing American Motors cars built for local consumption. The Mexican government required at the time that all cars sold in the country were to be comprised of 60% local content. There was only one vehicle that was unique to VAM, and that was one that was in fact a melding of two existing and related lines, but which was never offered in any other market. That car was the Lerma.
Lerma two-door
From PlanetHoustonAMX:

The Lerma was built by AMC’s division in Mexico, VAM (Vehiculos Automotores Mexicano) and is a FOUR DOOR Spirit. It is the only car ever built in Mexico “from scratch” unique to the Mexican market.

We’ve actually had discussion of the Lerma before on Hooniverse, so I hope you got this one before the jump.
AMC’s stake in VAM was passed on to Renault in 1980 when the French car maker took over the Kenosha company, while 1983 saw the last AMC products to roll out of the Mexico City plant. Production would begin the following year on a series of Renault products, but that would be short-lived as the collapse of the Mexican economy during the ’80s proved to be too onerous for the French company. Renault closed the VAM plant for good in 1989.
Image: Curbside Classic

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4 responses to “Thursday Trivia”

  1. dukeisduke Avatar

    I’ve heard the name Lerma, but not that familiar with it. The blurb there says it’s a “…FOUR DOOR Spirit”, but, where are the rear doors?

    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Must be a four door in the modern sense, like this is a coupe…

  2. stigshift Avatar

    Didn’t Mr. Spock drive a Lerma?