History of National Car Rental


National Car Rental History - 1947 - 1970s

National Car Rental was established on August 27, 1947, as a group of 24 independent car rental operators with 800 vehicles and 60 locations convened at Chicago's Drake Hotel to create the company.

Two years later National's headquarters were moved to Jackson, Mississippi, when a Minneapolis-based investment group took charge of the corporation.

By 1958, National had grown to the point where 50% of the nation's major hub airports had a National Car Rental presence.

Based on this strength, this alliance was incorporated as of 1959 to form a uniform corporation.

Over the years National has become known for several industry firsts.

As an example of this, in 1954, the company became the first car rental brand to offer one-way rentals for those wishing to rent cars in one town and leave them in another.

In 1965 National relocated to Minneapolis to operate closer to the owners headquarters.

Also, in 1966, National equipped the regional reservation offices of the company with the "Telemax" computer system, officially becoming the first car rental company to bring computers into daily reservation operations in the process.

By 1968, National was under the ownership of the Greatamerica Corporation. That year, Greatamerica decided to sell the company to Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV Corporation), a Dallas-based conglomerate.

However, before the decade was over National had yet another change in ownership, this time by Illinois-based Household International.

During 70s, National pioneered a new trend in leisure travel car rental when it became the first to offer flat rates to car renters in 1976.

The company grew quickly during the 1970s, despite the energy crisis early in the decade.

Partly this can be attributed to the company's focus on an international Interrent network, which in 1974 was expanded to include Europcar Interrent, the largest car rental network outside the United States, serving all of Western Europe and much of Eastern Europe, as well as Russia, the Middle East, and Africa.

National also proceeded in diversifying its core operations, and was one of the earliest companies to initiate corporate account business in the late '70s.

National Car Rental History - 1980s - 1990s

Mid-80s was a financially unsettling time for the rental companies, and National was part of that evolution.

In 1986, former National chairman Vincent A. Wasik engineered a leveraged buyout (LBO) of the company from the owner, which was by then Household International.

In 1987, National pioneered another industry first, with a frequent-renter program called "Emerald Club".

In the same year, National introduced "Paperless Express Rental Agreement," which made car rental faster by using information stored in the computer to process the whole transaction in seconds.

As part of an international expansion, in 1988, National made an affiliated agreement with Nippon Car Rental that secured National Car Rental's coverage in Japan, Asia and the Pacific Rim.

In 1989, National signed a 10-year agreement with Walt Disney that named National the official car rental company of Disney in its resorts.

Wasik, who earlier had gained control of the company in 1986 through a leveraged buyout, was forced out by GM executives in 1992 due to poor performance and inability of the company to repay loan obligations to GM by 1992.

In 1993 Jay Alix, a turnaround specialist, was brought in and he assumed CEO position by late 1993 from former CEO Thomas Murphy.

After restructuring, the company continued international expansion by mid-90s, with one notable major international expansion move happening in 1996, as National purchased Canada's oldest car rental company, the Tilden Car Rental.

National Car Rental History - 2000 - present

National initiated "QuickRent" service in 2002, which offered customers not enrolled in the Emerald Club the ability to bypass the counter when they complete their rental transaction online.

National is owned by Vanguard Car Rental USA Inc., which also owns Alamo Rent A Car. In turn, as of August 2007, Enterprise Rent-A-Car owns Vanguard.

Today, National Car Rental has a network of more than 2,000 locations in the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific, Africa and Australia.


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