Once upon a time, the Detroit auto industry had the "Big 4."

The fourth wheel dated to 1954, cobbled together by two "name" carmakers of the time. It would build some memorable models. An early chief was businessman and politician George Romney, whose son Mitt would make an unsuccessful run for president as a Republican in 2012.

Best known by its three letter acronym, the carmaker designed muscle cars for stock car racing and public consumption and reignited an Army soldier-mover as a rough-and-tumble utility vehicle. The company's name and red, white and blue logo couldn't have been more Uncle Sam-like.

The corporation had its share of gremlins and in the end, couldn't keep up the pace by itself - even with the Pacer. French manufacturer Renault would own a big share, then Chrysler Corp. bought the company, which wound up as Eagle.

The end.

Well, not really. American Motors Corp. succumbed as an independent carmaker, but its spirit lives on. So do a few examples of its Spirit, an early '80s edition.

AMC enthusiasts buy, mend and fuss over their up to 60-year-old models. And thousands of motorists a year purchase cars and SUVs from its one surviving marque, Jeep (purchased from Kaiser in 1970 and for the past 27 years, a division of Chrysler).

The national American Motors Owners Association held its 14th international convention July 30-Aug. 2 in North Charleston. The 2014 show also marked the 60th anniversary of the merger of Hudson and Nash-Kelvinator, which at the time built the Rambler, into AMC.

Despite rainy conditions, the Saturday show drew dozens of AMXs, Javelins, Gremlins and other AMC originals as owners arrived during the week from as far as Ohio, New York and Indiana.

Lowcountry Mopars, a local club that represents Chrysler brands while claiming a tie with AMC through Jeep, hosted a drive-up event in Summerville last Friday for local American Motors car owners and for those in town for the four-day fest.

Organizers said the convention went off well.

On its website, sponsor Carolina AMC thanked "everyone who attended the . convention," calling the event a success.

"Our gathering in Charleston was a blast, with 104 of the best AMC vehicles in the world on display, lots of rare parts, fun activities and great friends spending a few days together," chapter organizers said.

"What an awesome show and great bunch of people," said Charleston area car buff Mary Helzer on the Carolina AMC Facebook page. She owns and displays a reconditioned late '70s Pacer.

Next year's American Motors Owners Association convention and show will be July 22-25 in Cleveland.

For more information, visit www.carolinaamc.com or www.amonational.com.

Reach Jim Parker at 937-5542 or jparker@postandcourier.com.