Car rambler classic

Car rambler classic DEFAULT

Rambler American

Compact car produced by American Motors Corporation

Motor vehicle

First generation: 1959 2-door sedan
Third generation: 1967 2-door sedan

The Rambler American is a compact car that was manufactured by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) between 1958 and 1969. The American was the second incarnation of AMC forerunner Nash Motors' second-generation Rambler compact that was sold under the Nash and Hudson Motors marques in 1954 and 1955.

The American can be classified into three distinct model year generations: 1958 to 1960, 1961 to 1963, and 1964 to 1969. During the entire length of its production, the car was sold under the Rambler brand name, and was the last Rambler-named automobile marketed in the Canadian and United States markets.

The compact Rambler American was most often the lowest-priced car built in the U.S. It was popular for its economy in ownership, as was proven by numerous Mobilgas Economy Run championships. After an optional second-generation AMC V8 engine was added in 1966, it also became known as a powerful compact performance model that also included the 390 cu in (6.4 L) version built in conjunction with Hurst, the 1969 SC/Rambler.

A special youth-oriented concept car, the 1964 Rambler Tarpon, was built on an Rambler American platform that foretold the fastback design of the 1965 Rambler Marlin, as well as future trends in sporty-type pony cars, including the 1968 AMC Javelin.


The genesis of the Rambler American began with the Nash Rambler, introduced in 1950. AMC President George Mason believed in small cars and had introduced the Austin-built, Nash-designed Metropolitan in 1954. The Rambler line grew to a larger size (108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase) in 1956. With costs to produce the Metropolitan rising, AMC decided to reintroduce a modified version of the 1955 Nash Rambler (the last 100" wheelbase model). The domestically produced replacement let AMC control costs more closely. New AMC president George Romney also wanted to build momentum in AMC's challenge to the domestic Big Three automakers by adding a third car line.[2] The introduction of the new low-priced subcompact Rambler was ideal—America had just entered into a recession in 1958 as the car was introduced.

The first proposals were to modify AMC's captive import by extending the Metropolitan with a station wagon-type roof design to make room for four passengers.[2] The 85-inch (2,159 mm) wheelbase of the Metropolitan, though, severely limited the necessary interior room, and costs of the overseas-built model were harder to control. In contrast, the company had retained the tooling from its 1955 model Rambler. The old model's 100-inch (2,540 mm) wheelbase fit between its bigger family-sized 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase Ramblers and the small import. The old design could be slightly modified and then used for the basis of the "new" American.

American Motors' financial condition meant it could not afford to develop an entirely new model. The reintroduction of the old model leveraged the Rambler's renown for fuel economy and wins in the Mobil Economy Runs, with the consumer's need for a smaller and more efficient alternative to the standard-sized cars that were marketed by the domestic Big Three at that time.

First generation[edit]

Motor vehicle


1958 Rambler American 2-door Super

Using the platform of the Nash Rambler, American Motors' designers gave the car a new grille and more open rear fender wells, giving the car a lighter appearance than that of the earlier car, which had hidden its rear wheels behind deeply skirted fenders. The original taillights were turned upside down, saving money on retooling.[6] This design was originally mandated by Nash's Airflyte styling motif, which sought to reach for the blinding optimism of post-World War II transportation.[7] The car's seemingly narrow 55-inch (1,397 mm) track was not much different from the industry standard, but rather an illusion fostered by the bulbous bodywork.[7]

Romney worried about cannibalizing sales of his larger, more profitable senior Ramblers, so for 1958, the American was available only as a two-door sedan (senior Ramblers came only in a variety of four-door body styles).[8] The only engine was a 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) flathead six producing 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS). The American went on sale late January 1958, with a minimum of marketing and promotion. It was available in two trims, a base Deluxe model priced at US$1,789 allowing AMC to claim the lowest-priced car made in America (adjusted only for inflation, equal to US$16,047 in 2020 dollars[9]) and as a Super trim version for $1,874, offering more "luxuries".[10] The car was advertised as being the only small car with an automatic transmission.[11] All Americans were completely dipped in rust proofing.[11]

The automotive press was positive to the reintroduced model. Tom McCahill wrote in Mechanix Illustrated, "There isn't a better buy in the world today." He continued, "The Rambler American ... is an ideal-size small family car... It will give up to 30 miles on a gallon of gas (and more, with overdrive) and will outperform any imported sedan selling for under $2,000 except in the cornering department... It is by far the most rattle-and-squeak-free 1958 Detroit product I've driven-and I've driven them all!"[12]

Reports by owners praised the car's economy of operation, but ranked at the top its ease of handling.[13] A "workhorse" priced at under $2,000, "it doesn't look as though every penny was pinched out of it", but retains a "chic look".[13] The American found 30,640 buyers during the abbreviated 1958 model year, and helped Rambler become the only domestic make to post an increase in sales that year.[12]


1959 Rambler American two-door Club Sedan

A two-door station wagon was added to the line in 1959. With the larger Rambler Six wagons offered only as four-door models, AMC's management thought little sales cannibalization from the American would occur.[14] The Deluxe wagon was priced at $2,060, while the $2,145 Super version included a standard cargo-area mat and roof rack.[14] A Deliveryman commercial wagon, with no rear seat and an extended cargo floor, was available, but found few takers. Self-adjusting brakes were added in 1959.[15]

Rambler sales increased in 1959, and AMC struggled to keep up with demand, as production tripled to 91,491 Americans, with 32,639 (almost 36%) made up by the new wagon.[14] The two-door sedans each sold nearly as well, also, at 29,954 for the lower-priced Deluxe and 28,449 for the top-line Super.[16]


1960 Rambler American Custom wagon

For the 1960 model year, the Rambler American line added a four-door sedan body style and a third trim level, a top-of-the-line Custom. The new four-door rode on the same 100 in (2,540 mm) wheelbase as the other models and was meant to battle the newly introduced compacts from the Big Three, the Ford Falcon, Chevrolet Corvair, and Plymouth Valiant.

The new Custom model came standard with a new 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) overhead valve engine with a slightly higher compression ratio of 8.7:1 producing an additional 37 hp (28 kW; 38 PS), for a total output of 125 hp (93 kW; 127 PS), while the base models retained the flathead as the standard engine.[17] The flathead six had no visible intake manifold since it was integrated within the cylinder head, while the exhaust manifold is a "log-type" that looks like a long tube.[17] All models received an enlarged gas tank, now 22 US gal (83 L; 18 imp gal) capacity, while power steering was a new option.[18]

Even in the face of the new competition from much larger automakers, the compact Rambler American enjoyed appeal not only because of its low initial price, economy, and high gas mileage, but also because its resale values ranked among the highest.[19] The suggested delivered price for the Deluxe two-door sedan was $1,795, and it was advertised as the lowest-priced car in America.[20]

Demand for the traditional American continued to grow, as sales increased to 120,603 units (of which 44,817 were two-door sedans, 46,973 four-door sedans, and 28,813 station wagons[21]), thus helping AMC reach 7.5% of the U.S. market with a total Rambler sales of 485,745 automobiles and third place among domestic brands.[22]

Second generation[edit]

Motor vehicle

The second-generation Rambler American was achieved through a heavy restyling of the previous year's model under AMC's styling Vice President Edmund E. Anderson. While mechanically identical to the 1960 model, Anderson's restyle resulted in a car that was three inches (76 mm) narrower and shorter in its exterior dimensions with an overall length of 173.1 inches (4,397 mm), but increased in its cargo capacity. Continuing to ride on the 100-inch (2,540 mm) wheelbase, the American's new styling was more square (sometimes described as "breadbox"[23]) instead of the round "roly-poly"[24] shape (or "bathtub"), and the visual connection with the original 1950 Nash model had finally disappeared[25] along with the last of the engineering compromises required to accommodate George Mason's favored skirted front wheels as the new skin, designed from the outset with open wheel arches in mind, reduced overall width a full three inches. Popular Mechanics wrote "seldom has a car been completely restyled as the 1961 Rambler American and yet retain the same engine, driveline, suspension on the same unit body".[26] All outside sheet metal was changed, but the side window frames remained the same as previous models. Only the back glass changed to conform to the new roofline. The firewall and dashboard were new stampings, with the clutch and brake pedals moved from under the floor to the firewall.


1961 Rambler American Custom Convertible
1961 Rambler American four-door wagon Super

For 1961 the American line added a four-door station wagon and a two-door convertible for the first time since 1954. It featured a power-operated folding top with roll-down door glass, rather than the fixed side-window frames of the original design.[27] Passenger room increased from five to six.[15]

The straight-six engine was modernized with an overhead-valve cylinder head for higher-grade models, but the base cars continued with the flathead engine.

American Motors built a new assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, for the production of Rambler Americans, as well as the larger Rambler Classics.[28]


Setting new sales records, American Motors continued its "policy of making changes only when they truly benefited the customer."[29] The 1962 model year Rambler American lineup was essentially the same as 1961. Model designations changed with the Custom trim becoming a 400.

A new "E-stick" option combined a manual three-speed transmission with an automatic clutch as a low-cost alternative to the fully automatic transmission.[30] The E-stick was also available in conjunction with an overdrive unit. The system cost $59.50, but offered stick-shift economy, performance, and driver control without a clutch pedal by using engine oil pressure and intake manifold vacuum to engage and disengage the clutch when shifting gears.[31]

Although the Big Three domestic automakers had introduced competitive compact models by 1962, the Rambler American remained the oldest, smallest, and "stubbornly unique", refusing "to conform to Detroit's standard pattern for scaled-down automobiles" and "free of gimmicky come-ons."[32] A 10,000-mile (16,093 km) road test by Popular Science described the 1962 Rambler American as "sturdy, solid, dependable little automobile, comfortable to drive ... a good buy for what it's built for – transportation, not a status symbol."[32]

The automaker's president, George W. Romney, appeared prominently in advertisements, asking potential customers to "think hard" about new cars and describing "more than 100 improvements in the 1962 Ramblers" and why they are not available in competitive cars, as well as AMC "workers as progress-sharing partners" so that buyers can "expect superior craftsmanship."[33]


A 1963 Rambler American 440 hardtop with "Twin-Stick" manual overdrive transmission
A 1963 Rambler American 330 two-door station wagon

For 1963, model designations were changed once again with the 400 now called 440. A new hardtop (no B-pillar) coupe body design debuted, whose steel roof was designed to mimic the appearance of a closed convertible top. This was a one-model-year-only design with a thin profile, clean lines, stamped faux-convertible ribs, and a textured finish. A special top-of-the-line model called the 440-H was equipped with sports-type features, including individually adjustable reclining front bucket seats and a center console, as well as a more powerful 138 hp (103 kW; 140 PS) version of Rambler's stalwart 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) inline-six engine.

An optional console-shifted "Twin-Stick" manual overdrive transmission was introduced. This transmission has a bigger gap between second and third gears compared to the regular three-speed transmissions with overdrive (that operated like a five-speed although the driver needed to know the governor cut-in speed, free-wheeling, as well as when to lock the overdrive in or out). This allowed the transmission to be shifted as a five-speed (1, 2, 2+OD, 3, and 3+OD). The Twin-Stick-shift had the kick-down button on top of the main shift-knob to facilitate five-speed shifting.[34]

The entire product line from AMC earned the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for 1963.[35] The recognition was used by AMC to promote the carryover Rambler American models.[36]

First, as the Nash Rambler and then as two generations of the Rambler American, this automobile platform performed the rare feat of having two distinct and successful model runs, an almost unheard-of phenomenon in automobile history.[25] The convertible and hardtop were the sportiest of the final 100-inch (2,540 mm) wheelbase Rambler Americans, and arguably the most desirable now.[27]

Third generation[edit]

Motor vehicle

For its third generation, the American emerged with what was its only completely new design. The entire line was treated to neat and trim lines with pleasing simplicity (compared to the more boxy predecessors) with characteristic tunneled headlights with a simple horizontal grille between them. The Rambler American's wheelbase grew by six inches or 152 mm (to 106 in or 2692 mm) and the interiors were made more spacious. The station wagons in the restyled 1964 series came with four doors and gained 17% more cargo space compared to the previous design. They all featured a new roll-down disappearing rear window for the bottom-hinged tailgate. Full coil front springs, along with soft rear leaf units, gave the new American an unusually smooth ride, better than many larger domestic cars. The new models also incorporated various parts and components (such as doors) that were interchangeable with AMC's larger cars. In essence, the new body was a shorter, narrower version of the previous year's new Rambler Classic.

The new styling was the work of designer Dick Teague, who later designed the 1968 Javelin and AMX. Teague selected the front-end design developed by Bob Nixon, who was later in charge of AMC's small-car studio.[38] Many viewed the newly designed station wagon as the best looking of any American wagon, with its new trim lines, with ample passenger and cargo room. Led by the top-line 440-series convertible, they were arguably the 1964's most attractive Detroit compacts.[39]Car Life magazine titled its road test of the 1964 Rambler American: "The Original Plain Jane Compact Car Just Got Back From the Beauty Parlor".


A 1964 American 440 convertible
A 1964 American 220 Sedan

In addition to the top-of-the-line 440 models, the cheaper 330 and 220 models were also available, and Rambler American sales soared to a record 160,000-plus.[39] The old 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) I6 was a gas stingy champ in the Mobil Economy Runs and available in 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS), 125 hp (93 kW; 127 PS), and 138 hp (103 kW; 140 PS) versions.

American Motors focused its marketing on the economy of the new models, advertising that was previously only popular during the Great Depression.[40] The company's series of "Love Letters to Rambler" advertisements included "ordinary user testimonials" about the economy and reliability of their Ramblers, rather than in pursuit of buyers in the whole compact car market segment. This strategy was copied 10 years later by Datsun.


A 1965 American 440 convertible

The 1965 Americans were little changed, but were advertised as "The Sensible Spectaculars".[41] This was part of Roy Abernethy's strategy for AMC to shed its "economy car" reputation and take on the domestic Big Three automakers in new market segments.[42] Few changes were made to AMC's smallest models, as Abernethy pinned his hopes for recovery not so much on the low-priced Rambler American as on the medium and higher-priced Classic and Ambassador lines.[43]

The 1965 models were the last year for the venerable flathead six available in 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS) or 125 hp (93 kW; 127 PS) versions. It was the last flathead engine to be used in a domestic U.S. car.[44]

The year also had the introduction of an entirely new 232 cu in (3.8 L) overhead-valve straight-six engine.[45] This 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) engine was available on any American model equipped with an automatic transmission. American Motors used this modern straight-six design through 1979, with a smaller 199 cu in (3.3 L) version used 1966–1970. The same engine was later available in a larger 258 cu in (4.2 L) version (used from 1971 to 1989) and the fuel injected 242 cu in (4.0 L) versions that debuted in 1987, known as the Jeep 4.0, which Chrysler would continue their production after its purchase of AMC in 1987, all the way through 2006.

The 440 trim was available as a convertible, and it was the most affordable U.S.-made open body style with prices starting at $2,418.[39] It was available with twin individually adjustable and reclining front seats or buckets with a center console.[45] It was one of the best convertibles on the market, but lacked some sporty features that buyers wanted, such as a V8 engine.[39]

Rambler Carrousel[edit]

The 1964 Chicago Auto Show featured a special version of a top-of-the-line American named the Rambler Carrousel on raised rotating platform.[46] The 1965 show car exterior was finished in "Turquoise Fireflake" and a white leather interior with turquoise carpeting, instrument panel, and slim bucket seats.[46] Other features included die-cast aluminum road wheels and AMC's console-mounted Twin-Stick manual transmission.[46]

American Motors made specially trimmed, production-based show cars and the Carrousel was one of three concepts displayed for 1965 at the Chicago Show, with the Rambler Tarpon fastback and the Rambler Cheyenne station wagon.[47]


A 1966 American 440 convertible
A 1966 Rambler Rogue two-door-hardtop with 290 V8

As the automobile marketplace in the U.S. was moving away from economy towards performance and luxury vehicles, American Motors began removing the historic Rambler name from its larger models. The American and Classic models retained their economy-car marketing image, and their traditional nameplate. To cement this image, a Rambler American was again the overall winner in the Mobil Economy Run. The mid-trim level 330 model was dropped, leaving the top 440 and base 220 models in the lineup for 1966. The top-of-the-line model, available only as a two-door hardtop, had its name changed from 440-H to Rogue.[48][49]

The American models were facelifted for the 1966 model year, with more squared-off front and rear styling. The front of the car was extended three inches (76 mm), which allowed the optional air conditioning to be installed with the new 199 and 232 in-line six-cylinder engines, which were longer than the previous 195.6 versions.[50]

A completely new 290 cu in (4.8 L) "Typhoon" V8 engine was developed by AMC; it was introduced in the special mid-1966 Rogue model. Available in 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS) two-barrel carburetor version or producing 225 hp (168 kW; 228 PS) with a four-barrel carburetor and high compression, the new engines used "thin-wall" casting technology and weighed only 540 pounds (245 kg).[51] The newly powered Rogue came with a three-speed automatic transmission or a floor-mounted four-speed manual, and made the car "suitable for the Stoplight Grand Prix."[52] American Motors' new engine design would expand in power and applications across the company's passenger cars, and eventually in Jeeps. The engine continued to be assembled through 1991 for the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, long after AMC was sold to Chrysler in 1987.


A 1967 Rambler American Rogue two-door hardtop
A 1967 Rambler American Rogue convertible

The 1967 model year Rambler American used the same body styling as the previous year's models, with only minor changes that included new taillamps and full-length body moldings on 440 and Rogue models that were now positioned lower on the sides.[53] The last convertible available in the American series was in 1967, and it was moved up from 440 models to join the hardtop in the Rogue trim version. The American was available in nine models, and was the only U.S. compact to be available in "all" body styles (two-door, four-door, sedan, wagon, pillar-less hardtop, and convertible).[54]

For 1967 only, AMC's new high-compression (10.2:1) 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor that produced 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS) and 365 pound force-feet (495 N⋅m) of torque @ 3000 rpm, was optional in Rogue and 440 models.[55] Factory installations of this engine were in 58 Rogues and just 55 in the 440 models, with seven of them being in the convertible version. Out of the total production of 69,912 Rambler Americans for the 1967 model year, 921 were Rogue convertibles.[50]

Rogues also received grille trim that wrapped around the fender sides. All Rambler Americans received a new grille insert with prominent chromed horizontal bars. The 1967 Rogue models were available in new two-tone paint schemes for the roof, trunk lid, and hood that included border trim along the upper body line.[56] The two-door hardtops were also available with a black or white vinyl roof cover. Taillight lenses were more sculptured into the rear panel.

The 1967 model year also had the addition of the new safety standards for passenger cars mandated by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The regulations began with seat belts on automobiles produced after 1 March 1967.[57] The 1967 Rambler Americans included a collapsible, energy-absorbing steering column and steering wheel, more padding on interior surfaces, four-way hazard flashers, and locking seat-back latches for two-door models. The instrument cluster was changed from the previous rectangular design to round gauges: The speedometer and odometer were center, with twin, smaller fuel and engine temperature gauges, with matching warning-light pods on both sides of the speedometer.

All 1967 Americans were covered by AMC's comprehensive warranty designed to increase customer confidence in their vehicles with the tagline "quality built in, so the value stays in". It was the strongest backing among all the automakers up to that time: 2 years or 25,000 miles (40,000 km) on the entire automobile, and 5 years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km) on the engine and power train.[58] American Motors continued its industry-exclusive ceramic-coated exhaust system as standard on Rambler Americans.

Newly appointed as AMC's new chairman and chief executive officer, Roy D. Chapin, Jr. began to promote and reposition the Rambler American, the automaker's least popular line.[59] He bet on the Rambler American to improve the automaker's financial performance after George W. Romney.[60] Chapin also saw a price gap between U.S. cars and inexpensive imports (primarily the Volkswagen) and lowered the price to make the Rambler American's "total value superior to the imports, as well as superior in both price and range of choice to U.S. compacts".[61] The suggested retail price of the base two-door Rambler American sedan dropped to $1,839 (its closest U.S. competitor was the $2,117 Plymouth Valiant), making the larger and more powerful American only $200 more than the Volkswagen Beetle.[61]

American Motors announced that it was foregoing the annual styling changeovers that were expected among the domestic firms, thus saving retooling costs and passing on the savings to consumers by keeping the car's price low.[62] The automaker promised in a special $300,000 advertising campaign future changes to the car would be to enhance safety and reliability.[59][62] The American's 1966 design was then continued mostly unchanged through the 1969 model year.[50]


1968 Rambler American Four-Door Sedan
1968 Rambler American 440 station wagon

For 1968, the line was further simplified from nine to five models,[63] with the two-door coupe and four-door sedan comprising the base line (with the 220 designation no longer used), four-door sedan and station wagon being offered in up-level 440 guise, and a lone hardtop coupe making up the top-line Rogue trim line. The American, along with "A-body" Chryslers, were the only domestics that came as a hardtop coupe model, the Ford Falcon and Chevy Nova being only available as pillared sedans (and a wagon in the Ford Falcon line).

All Americans received a new chrome horizontal grille bar that extended outboard to the headlights, while the grille sections got an attractive "blackout" treatment. The wraparound rear window on the sedans was modified to a flat unit, with a more squared-off "C" pillar, which changed the appearance from the earlier sedans with their overhanging rooflines. The overall effect was a more formal-looking car. The 440 and Rogue versions picked up a stainless-steel trim piece running stem to stern on either body side, straight back between the wheel wells and the beltline. At each end of the strip were the newly safety-mandated body side reflectors, amber for the front fenders, red for the rear. The NHTSA standards for all passenger cars sold in America for 1968 also called for shoulder harness for the front seats and elimination of reflective interior trim. Other requirements for all cars manufactured after 1 January 1968, included exhaust control systems to help reduce unburned hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions.[63]

The biggest change was the decision to keep the manufacturer's suggested retail price of the base two-door model to within $200 of the Volkswagen Beetle. The domestic Big Three automakers did not respond to this strategy, thus giving AMC a big price differential over the competing domestic models. Sales of the Rambler American increased and the showroom traffic boosted morale among AMC's independent dealerships. This was backed up by a marketing campaign stating, "Either we're charging too little for our cars or everyone else is charging too much."[64] The promotion and lower prices were designed to rekindle the Rambler American as a practical and economical car in customers' minds. Advertisements by AMC's new agency, Wells, Rich, and Greene, headed by Mary Wells Lawrence violated the accepted rule of not attacking the competition.[65]


A 1969 Rambler 440 station wagon

Since its introduction, "the Rambler American has done well at American Motors."[66] For its final model year, 1969, the "American" name was dropped as the car was now referred to as the "American Motors Rambler". Continuing the tradition of minimal changes, the models received a new "suspended" accelerator pedal and cable throttle linkage. Additional safety equipment for the 1969 models included front shoulder belts and headrests for both front outboard seating positions and the front parking lights stayed on with the headlights. On the exterior, the center horizontal chrome grille bar was deleted.

As a true compact-sized car on a 106 in (2,692 mm) wheelbase, the Rambler station wagon had no domestic competitors, and it offered interior space advantage compared to imported models with its 66 cubic feet (1,869 L) of cargo space.[67] Available only in 440 trim, the wagons came with a roll-down rear window with drop-down tailgate, as well as a roof rack.

In part to commemorate the impending passing of the Rambler name, American Motors added the Rogue-based SC/Rambler to the line (detailed separately).

Total production for the 1969 model year was 96,029.[50] The last U.S.-made Rambler was assembled in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on 30 June, making the production total of 4,204,925 units.[68]

After the 1969 model year, a completely redesigned model, the AMC Hornet, replaced the American.


The SC/Rambler was purposefully promoted by AMC as a potent dragstrip challenger.

One of the muscle-car era's "most visually arresting examples" was a special model that was produced during 1969 in collaboration with Hurst Performance, the Hurst SC/Rambler.[69] The objective of AMC was more than to "just build these cars for the street and claim they performed – they took the cars racing."[70] "Likely the most outrageous muscle car from AMC" with 1,512 built, it was probably the only production model made and promoted for a specific drag racing class, the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) F/Stock class.[71]

The SC/Rambler was a competent performer with quarter-mile times in the low 14-second range."[69] A true muscle car with zero options and a suggested retail price less than $3,000, it would take down some much more vaunted cars.[72] The marketing brochures suggested that owners check the current NHRA rule book as to racing classification and whether any modifications are allowed.[73]


Each Hurst SC/Rambler came equipped with the 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS) 390 cu in (6.4 L) AMC V8 engine from the AMX that translated into 10.03 pounds per horsepower.[74] No factory options were available for this package. Standard clutch was a 10.5-inch (267 mm) with a three-finger, long-style Borg and Beck pressure plate. The 390 engine was mated to a four-speed manual T-10 with close gear ratios. A Hurst shifter came with a large metal "T" handle. The rear end was an AMC 3.54:1 "Twin-Grip" limited slip differential using Dana internals, with outer wheel hubs attached through a spline and keyway system.[75]

Factory cast-iron manifolds exited to a true dual exhaust with Thrush (a Tenneco brand) two-chamber oval mufflers with Woodpecker logos. These were baffled mufflers, not glasspacks. Minimal baffling gave a deep throaty sound, similar to modern Flowmasters. The exhaust exited through chrome tips attached with hose clamps.

While similar Rogue and American models had standard drum brakes, the SC package came with front discs, a heavier sway bar, and a strengthened drive train and body components. These included connectors between the front and rear subframes. The rear end used fore-and-aft staggered rear shock absorbers to eliminate wheel hop (axle wrap) under extreme acceleration conditions with leaf spring suspensions.[76] The staggered shocks required a special plate riveted in the trunk pan, as well as brackets for the subframe end of upper torque links.[69] Other body modifications differentiating Hurst SC Ramblers from regular hardtop Ramblers included rolled-back front and rear wheel openings to allow for larger tires. American Motors called on Hurst to help develop a vehicle for the racing market. Stock class rules required a minimum of 500 identical vehicles to be produced and sold. This led to the Hurst SC/Rambler, SC meaning "Super Car". This vehicle is commonly referred to as a "Scrambler", although Jeeps later used the Scrambler name.

Available only as a two-door hardtop, the interior came in standard gray charcoal vinyl-upholstered reclining seats with a headliner embossed with small squares. The front seats reclined, and the new safety-mandated head restraints were upholstered in red, white, and blue stripes. The SC/Rambler included a standard 90-degree-arc dial Sun tachometer. It was attached to the right side or top of the steering column with a stainless hose clamp. The only factory option was an AM radio.

The SC/Ramblers came with wild factory paint jobs. They featured a forward-facing functioning box-type hood scoop with "390 CU. IN." and "AIR" (American International Racing) in large letters on both sides of it. The hood scoop air flapper was vacuum operated, allowing higher pressure cool air to pressurize a Carter AFB carburetor. A blue arrow on the hood pointed towards the air intake. The Scrambler came in only two red, white, and blue color schemes, "A" or "B". These schemes appeared randomly through early production.

Some AMC historians claim American Motors built a batch of 500 "A" scheme SC/Ramblers before switching to the "B" scheme, with 500 "B" models built before a switch to the final lot of 512 SC/Ramblers in "A" pattern.[77] However, some "B" scheme cars in the Hurst SC/Rambler registry have very early build dates, putting their manufacture among the "A" scheme versions.[69] AMC used the same paint code for all special paint schemes, so it cannot be used to determine exactly how the cars rolled out of the factory.

Some of the other unique standard items on this model included racing mirrors, antihop rear axle links, and blue Magnum 500 steel wheels (common to Fords) with chrome beauty rings and AMC hub centers. Tires were E-70-14 fiberglass-belted, four-ply tires with red-stripe Goodyear Polyglas tires. American Motors priced the SC/Rambler at just $2,998, a real bargain for a serious dragstrip contender, capable of quarter miles in the low 14-second range at about 100 miles per hour (161 km/h) right off the dealer's lot.[49] For example, Road Test magazine reported 14.4 at 100.44 mph and reached 109 miles per hour (175 km/h) without topping out.[78] With a few simple bolt-on modifications, they would run low 12s.[77] Modified SC/Ramblers have run the quarter mile in the 9-second bracket.[78]

The automaker provided AMC dealers with numerous "Group 19" parts and upgrades to make customer's SC/Ramblers even quicker.[79] Well-tuned legal stock S/Cs with allowable changes have run in the 12-second range.[80]

Charles Rauch set a D/S quarter-mile record of 12.54 seconds at Detroit Dragway. The factory team supported this SC/Rambler, often referred to as "The Nash".[81] Modifications included a special cast-iron manifold, advanced camshaft timing, heavier valve springs, factory-supplied carburetor, six-cylinder front springs with factory-supplied bottom shims to restore stock height, 90/10 front shocks, lightened chassis components, exhaust-system modifications, Chevrolet 10.5-inch diaphragm pressure plate, wide-ratio transmission gear set, 4.44 rear-axle ratio, and larger, softer, G70-15 rear tires on identical-design "Magnum 500" 15-inch Ford wheels painted AMC blue.[81] The manifold and some other parts were specially selected factory components for the stock 340 hp (254 kW; 345 PS) 1970 Rebel Machine engine, but legal for use in the big-bore, short-stroke 1969 AMC 390 engine.

International Production[edit]

The compact Rambler American was exported from the U.S. and Canada, and produced in other markets by AMC subsidiaries or assembled under license. It was manufactured in Australia, Iran, Mexico, Argentina, and South Africa.


Main article: IKA-Renault Torino

From 1966 to 1982, Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) produced in Argentina a hybrid of the second-generation Rambler American and Classic platforms. The car was called IKA Torino, later Renault Torino, and featured AMC's automobile platform with a facelifted front and rear design and instrument panel by Pininfarina to create a new car. The Torino was received by journalists and the public as the Argentinean car.[82] It was available in two-door hardtop and four-door sedan body styles, and all came with luxurious interior appointments.

The Torino's engine, transmission, and upgraded interior fittings were unique to Argentina and were not used on any of the U.S.-market Ramblers. The engine was the Tornado Interceptor 250 cu in (4.1 L) overhead cam (OHC) six originally developed for the new 1963 Jeeps. The car was actually a 1963-1964 Rambler Classic passenger compartment with 1964-1965 Rambler American front and rear sections. The front suspension sills extended all the way under the floor to meet the rear suspension sills, a feature that made the Torino much stiffer than its U.S.-produced cousins (The Rambler Marlin also used these long sills, but other models did not). The Torino handled the roads of the interior of the country very well, while its engine acquired fame for being robust and reliable.[83] The car was successful in Argentina. It was also entered in races against famous sports cars, including the "84 hours of Nürburgring" endurance race in 1969, where a Torino finished with the most laps, but was classified in fourth place due to penalties.[84][85]


Sherkate Sahami Jeep company built Ramblers in Iran. These cars used the 1966 American four-door body, but feature 1968-model trim, including the blackout grille and U.S.-type side marker lights.
Aria and Shahin advertisement (Iran)

From 1967 to 1974, the 1966 version of the AMC Rambler American was assembled by the Sherkate Sahami Jeep company in Iran. The American was offered in two trim levels as Aria (sometimes spelled "Arya") and Shahin.[86] Aria means "Aryan", and Shahin "Falcon". The Aria was a more luxurious version that came with a three-speed automatic, as well as manual transmission, while the Shahin was the base model with a manual transmission. The engine used was AMC's 232 cu in (3.8 L) inline-six producing 142 hp (106 kW; 144 PS).[87] The cars were available with factory air conditioning, a unique feature for the Iranian market during that time.

The Aria and Shahin were assembled under the license of AMC by Pars Khodro starting in 1967.[88] The factory in Tehran was dedicated by the last Shah of Iran.[89] Five-year projections called for the Pars Khodro plant to build 75,000 Rambler Americans.[89] The target was the upper and middle classes that had grown prosperous under the Shah.[90] The Arya and Shahin versions of the Rambler American, as well as the Jeep Aho (Grand Wagoneer), "were among the best domestically produced vehicles."[91]

Production was continued by the Iran Jeep Company plant in Tehran. The Iran Jeep Company (Sherkate Sahami) formed a new company called General Motors Iran Ltd. in June 1972,[87] and after production of Rambler Americans ended in early 1974, they continued to produce selected Opel Rekord, Chevrolet Nova and Pickup, Buick Skylark, and Cadillac Seville models from 1974 until 1987.[92]


A 1966 Rambler American 440 (Australia)

The Rambler American was introduced to the Australian market in 1964.[93] It was built by Australian Motor Industries (AMI) in Port Melbourne from semiknock-down kits shipped from the U.S.[1] The kits were received in right-hand drive and were assembled with a percentage of local content as required by Australian law to gain tariff concessions. Also differences and overlaps existed in the Australian production and equipment compared to U.S. model years. The 1965 model Ramblers were produced through 1966, mostly in 440 trim and with the smaller 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) engine.[94] Because AMI assembled other automobile brands at its facility (including Toyotas and Triumphs), some sharing of colors, options, and interior trims occurred.[94] By 1967, the local content of the Rambler Americans had been progressively raised to 53%.[95] Importantly for the Australian market, the Rambler was considered reliable, with the mechanicals being generally solid and trouble-free.[94] AMI stopped assembling the American in 1967, replacing it with the Toyota Corolla and Corona, the new Rambler Rebel, and the Triumph 2.5.[96]

AMI distributed Ramblers from Melbourne for the state of Victoria. Grenville Motors in Sydney distributed vehicles for New South Wales. Betterview Pty Ltd in Canberra distributed vehicles for Australian Capital Territory. Annand & Thompson Pty Ltd in Brisbane distributed vehicles for Queensland. Champions Pty Ltd in Adelaide distributed vehicles for South Australia. Premier Motors Pty Ltd in Perth distributed Ramblers for Western Australia, and Heathco Motors in Launceston distributed Rambler vehicles for Tasmania.[97]


The Rambler American was introduced to the Mexican market in 1958 through direct importation from the U.S. Early in the year, American Motors signed an agreement with an assembly plant based in Monterrey, Nuevo León, that produced a number of vehicles for different makes and had its own dealership network. Virtually the whole Rambler line was available. However, production and sales volumes were low and the agreement was terminated in late 1959. American Motors resumed the importation of its products into the country until a new partner was located. Early in 1960, the company signed a new agreement with Willys Mexicana S.A. de C.V., and the first model produced was none other than the Rambler American, becoming the first American Motors product made and sold by the company that would become Vehículos Automotores Mexicanos S.A. (VAM) in 1963.

The 1960 Rambler American produced under Willys Mexicana was available in two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and two-door station wagon body styles. They were powered by a 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS) L-head 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) I6 with 8.0:1 compression ratio and single-barrel carburetor coupled to a three-speed manual transmission with column shift. It featured built-in flow-through ventilation, four-wheel drum brakes, regular suspension, regular cooling system, manual steering, pull-handle parking brake, bench seats, four-side armrests, vacuum wipers, cigarette lighter, front ashtray, hood ornament, glove box, driver's side remote mirror, and hubcaps over standard steel wheels. Factory optional equipment included the one-barrel OHV version of the 195.6 cu in engine.

For 1961, the Rambler American for Mexico was available as the new second generation of the line, growing from three to four body styles with the introduction of the four-door station wagon. Wipers and washers changed to electric units, a Motorola AM radio with an antenna and twin-circuit brakes became standard. The line continued with minor changes in 1962, which were mostly cosmetic.

In 1963, a fifth body style, a two-door hardtop, was introduced. Named the Rambler American Hardtop, it was the Mexican equivalent to the Rambler American 440H model in the US. This made the 1963 Rambler American line the broadest ever in the history of VAM with only the convertible model missing. The car became VAM's first sporty compact, its first high-end luxury model (even above the also-new regular-production Rambler Classic), and its first limited edition. Its main characteristic was the standard presence of the top-of-the-line 138 hp (103 kW; 140 PS) 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) with two-barrel carburetor and OHV configuration. A total of 90 units of this version was sold.

For 1964, the third-generation Rambler American debuted in Mexico and was available only in the two-door sedan, four-door sedan, and four-door station wagon body designs. At first available with the L-head 90 hp (67 kW; 91 PS) 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) I6, but it soon was replaced by the one-barrel 127 hp (95 kW; 129 PS) OHV version. After this change, the two-barrel version of this engine became an option. The only transmission available was the three-speed manual with a steering column-mounted shifter on all body styles.

The Rambler American line for 1965 switched to AMC's new one-barrel 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS) 232 cu in (3.8 L). The new 199 cu in (3.3 L) version became available at midyear as the standard and only engine. The 232 engine series was already being produced in Mexico, while the 195.6 engine series was imported from the U.S. In terms of product line volumes, warranty claims among others, having those two engines available was not a cost-effective procedure. The company intended to consolidate and standardize production as much as possible, which was achieved by terminating the 195.6 engine and offering both the Rambler Classic and Rambler American lines with the 232 engines until the 199 was available for the latter. Aside from the engine, the VAM Rambler American had the same aesthetic features of its AMC counterpart, such as a partially redesigned grille design with four vertical lines and new tail lights with a flat internal side and a curved external one.

Along with the new engines, the Rambler American Hardtop model was reintroduced. It featured luxury and sporty touches of the original model and was once again a low-volume, limited edition. The cars came standard with the two-barrel 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) version of the 232 engine coupled to a Borg-Warner "Flash-o-Matic" three-speed automatic transmission with floor shift. Other standards included a luxury steering wheel, individually adjustable and reclining front seats, high-trim upholstery, a center console with locking compartment, custom wheel covers, a full bright molding package (including 440H emblems), and an under-dash tissue holder. Despite incorporating the top-of-the-line engine plus the sportier and more luxurious focus of this version compared to its 1963 counterpart, several performance-minded and luxury items were still optional such as seat belts, power steering, power brakes, and a heater.

The Mexican Rambler American for 1966 got mostly the same cosmetic changes as its U.S. counterparts in the form of more squared external lines, squared headlight bezels, and redesigned taillights. A padded surround for the dashboard edges for safety purposes was now standard, as was the updated instrument cluster with the horizontal speedometer. The hardtop model was dropped and the line was restricted to the 199 cu in (3.3 L) I6 engine with three-speed manual transmission on the column.

The 1967 models received a new semiconcave, squared taillight design and the five-dial instrument cluster with a round speedometer at the center. A fully synchronized 150-T model three-speed manual transmission was now standard equipment, meaning the end of nonsynchromesh units in VAM cars. The new transmission was joined by a 3.73:1 rear differential gear ratio. Hazard lights were added to the standard equipment list.

The 1968 models had stronger changes in the form of the 232 cu in (3.8 L) engine as included standard equipment in the station wagon, while becoming optional equipment in both sedan models. These two body styles also received an all-new rear glass without wraparound portions, and all got new larger side armrests. Front two-point seatbelts became standard for the first time. The rear differential was changed to 3.54:1 gear ratio.

The 1969 model year cars were almost the same as their immediate predecessors with only minor changes. VAM developed its own performance model in the form of an optional package for the two-door sedan that was named Rambler American Rally, being the highest novelty for the year. This model was inspired by VAM's successful 1965 racing season using Rambler American sedans and hardtops, as well as growing domestic market demand for muscle and performance cars in general. The package consisted of a two-barrel 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 engine, power drum brakes, fender-mounted "232 SIX" rectangular emblems and individual reclining front seats with center folding armrest. The transmission was still the three-speed manual with a column-mounted shifter with a floor-mounted gearshift as a dealership option. Other dealership options included front disc brakes, a front sway bar, stiffer shock absorbers, and a Hurst-linked four-speed manual transmission. Factory options included a dash-mounted 8,000 rpm tachometer and the sport steering wheel used in the Javelin models.

The Rambler American line was discontinued in 1969 to make way for the all-new AMC Hornet models. Unlike in the U.S., the "Rambler American" name was continued on the new Mexican-made compact as the "Hornet" name had no connotation in VAM's market aside from the fact that unlike in the U.S., the model still had a highly positive image among the Mexican buyer. However, the 1970 model year Hornet line did not include a station-wagon body style, but AMC had the larger-sized Rebel wagon for the U.S. market. The VAM Rambler American four-door station wagon was carried over for one more year. The 1970 Camioneta Rambler American also became the first VAM regular-production compact model (unless the 1968 VAM Javelin is counted) to offer a three-speed automatic transmission as an option. Optional was a bright molding package that included "440" emblems, though no other trim levels or versions were offered.

The Hornet-based Rambler American model continued as a "fourth generation" until it was replaced with an updated and expanded new VAM American line for 1975.[98]


Rambler American photo on display at the Oslo Museum, Norway

Ramblers were imported into Norway during the 1950s and 1960s by Norwegian importer Kolberg & Caspary AS located at Ås, Norway. K&C, formed in 1906, imported automotive, industrial, and construction products.[99] The Rambler American was imported from 1963 until 1969, peaking in 1965. A total of 260 cars was brought in to Norway by production end. K&C also imported the Rambler Ambassador, Classic, and Rebel.[100]


Ramblers were assembled in Peru by Rambler Del Peru S.A, and sold throughout the country by a network of 13 dealers.[101]


While the Philippines was almost exclusively an American car market until 1941, the post-World War II years had an influx of European cars enter the market. Despite a saturation of international brands, American Motors Corporation managed to establish a presence, and the Rambler Classic and Rambler American were locally assembled by Luzon Machineries Inc. in Manila during the 1960s.[102] Rambler Americans quickly became the favorite of the Manila Police Department.[103]

South Africa[edit]

Rambler Americans were assembled in South Africa by National Motor Assemblers (NMA), in Natalspruit (Gauteng) beginning in 1961.[104] The Rambler American was available in sedan, station wagon, and hardtop until 1970, after which it was replaced by the locally assembled AMC Hornet. The American sedan was marketed as the "Rambler Rogue" and the station wagon was marketed as the "Rambler 440 Super Stationwagon".[105][106]

NMA had existed as a motor assembly plant since the 1920s, and assembled numerous automobile marques, including Hudson, throughout the years before it was sold to the Rootes Group in 1964. Thereafter, NMA assembled Hillman, Humber, and Sunbeam, alongside Peugeot and Rambler. Rambler assembly at NMA ceased in 1967 after Chrysler in the U.S. acquired Rootes Group. Between January 1968 and January 1969, Rambler production was moved to the Datsun assembly plant, Rosslyn Motor Assemblers. In 1969, Rambler production was moved to the former GM plant, Motor Assemblies Limited in Durban, which had come under the control of Toyota South Africa in 1964.

In total, 3,664 sedans, 736 wagons, and 288 hardtops were produced.[107]

United Kingdom[edit]

Rambler Americans (along with Rambler Classics) were first imported into the UK by London company Nash Concessionaires Ltd.[108] Nash Concessionaires had previously been the UK importer of Nash vehicles. UK vehicles were imported in factory right-hand drive from the Brampton plant in Canada. The company also was involved in the export of the British-built Nash Metropolitan to the U.S.[109] The 1960 American was priced at £1630, which was more expensive than contemporary British cars.

Rambler Motors (AMC) Ltd of Chiswick in West London had assembled Hudson motor vehicles for the UK market since 1926. The operation became a subsidiary of AMC in 1961 and changed its name to Rambler Motors (AMC) Ltd in 1966.[110] Rambler Motors went on to import factory right-hand-drive AMC vehicles from 1961 and into the 1970s. Parts and spares were supplied locally out of the Chiswick service center located on Great West Road for the whole of the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East. In addition to Rambler parts, the stock of spares also covered Hudson, Nash, and Austin Metropolitan parts.[111]

Rambler Tarpon[edit]

Main article: Rambler Tarpon

The Rambler American also served as the basis for the Rambler Tarpon, a sporty 2+2 "youth-oriented" concept car. The semiboat-tail-roofed fastback hardtop coupe was developed in 1963 from the tooling that was already set for the 1964 model year Rambler Americans. Shown before the introduction of Ford's compact Falcon-based Mustang, AMC's show car was "an instant success" with 60% of surveyed potential buyers stating they would buy one.[112] The Tarpon was aimed at the Plymouth Valiant, and anticipated a new market segment that later became known as the pony cars; however, AMC executives introduced the Rambler Marlin, a larger personal luxury car.[113] The automaker waited until the 1968 model year to introduce the Javelin, a small fastback aimed directly at the market segment that was created by the Ford Mustang.



The American was introduced as the North American economy was in a recession and buyers were looking for smaller and more economical cars, and the Rambler brand was known as a fuel miser.[25] The Rambler American was a yearly winner of the best fuel economy in the Mobil Economy Run and the Pure Oil Company Economy Trials, even during later years when fuel efficiency was not a major factor in the purchase of automobiles.

For example, the five-day event in 1959 covered 1,898 miles (3,055 km). A Rambler American Deluxe topped the 47-car Mobilgas Economy Run field with an average 25.2878 miles per US gallon (9.3015 L/100 km; 30.3694 mpg‑imp).[114] The 1959 Pure Oil Trials were conducted from Los Angeles to Miami, featuring 2,837 miles (4,566 km) covering over all types of terrain and driving types, where a Rambler American with overdrive set the all-time NASCAR-supervised coast-to-coast average economy record of 35.4 miles per US gallon (6.64 L/100 km; 42.5 mpg‑imp).[115]

In the 1960 Mobilgas Economy Run, a Custom two-door sedan returned 28.35 miles per US gallon (8.30 L/100 km; 34.05 mpg‑imp) over a route of more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km), finishing first in the compact class. Further proof of the American's exceptional fuel economy came when an overdrive-equipped car driven coast to coast under NASCAR's watchful eyes averaged 38.9 miles per US gallon (6.05 L/100 km; 46.7 mpg‑imp). However, the most astounding demonstration was the record set in the Pure Oil Economy Trials, another NASCAR-supervised event: 51.281 miles per US gallon (4.5868 L/100 km; 61.586 mpg‑imp), which AMC sagely noted, "No car owner should expect to approach in everyday driving."[19]

In the 1964 run, a six-cylinder Rambler American 440 sedan averaged 27.8336 miles per US gallon (8.4507 L/100 km; 33.4268 mpg‑imp), once again the best of all the cars that year.[116]

Economy claims for stock cars could be confirmed by these open and sanctioned trials. American Motors (and its original equipment manufacturer suppliers, such as the print advertisement for Champion spark plugs) promoted the results of this popular event in its advertising as a marketing technique that further emphasized the thriftiness of the Rambler Americans.

Rambler's emphasis on economy over performance can be observed through the example of automatic transmission use in a Rambler American where the 1959 owner's handbook describes leaving the gear selector in the D-2 position (1.47:1 gear ratio) blocks access to low gear (2.40 ratio) when starting out from a stop; therefore, given the car's 3.31 axle, this yields an initial 4.86:1 final drive ratio reducing crankshaft revolutions for maximum fuel economy.[7]


In 1958, the Playmates recorded a novelty song called "Beep Beep" about a duel between a Cadillac driver who just cannot shake a "little Nash Rambler" following him. The song uses an accelerating (accelerando) tempo and ends with the Rambler passing the Cadillac " second gear!" The song was on BillboardTop 40charts for 12 weeks while also selling over a million copies, and it was awarded a gold disc.[117] Concurrently with the popularity of this song, AMC was setting production and sales records for the Rambler models.[118] This was also the same year the old Rambler reappeared as the new American, with the song popularizing the re-released car and making AMC the only automaker have increased sales during the recession of 1958.[119]

Drag racing[edit]

"The Little Stud" remains as an original race-prepared H Super Stock class from 1969.

American Motors was not actively involved in auto racing during the early 1960s as not to glamorize corporate sponsorship of activities that promote dangerous speeds and driving.[120] It continued to support the 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association prohibition on automobile racing.[121] The automaker ran national advertisements:[122] "Why don't we enter high-performance Rambler V-8s in racing? Because the only race Rambler cares about is the human race."[123]

However, independent AMC dealerships began sponsoring cars in drag-racing events. Preston Honea achieved fame with the 1964 "Bill Kraft Rambler" American from Norwalk, California. The car had a transplanted AMC V8 engine that was bored out to 418 cu in (6.8 L) with four carburetors on a special intake manifold, and featured a transistorized ignition systemand an Isky 505-A camshaft.[124] The big engine from an Ambassador added only 80 pounds (36.3 kg) more than the venerable 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) straight six normally found in the small two-door American. However, with its 8200-rpm redline, the Rambler ran 112 mph (180 km/h) at the Fontanadragstrip.[125]

After the departure of Roy Abernethy, AMC eagerly embraced automobile competition and its effect on car sales.[126] It sponsored Rambler Americans in various motorsport venues and produced a factory-ready Rambler American for drag racing – as noted above with the 1969 SC/Rambler.


Mexico hosted a grueling mostly off-road race, the Baja 500. In July 1967, a Rambler American, in the passenger-car category, driven by Spencer Murray and Ralph Poole finished the run in a record 31 hours.[127]

American Motors then got serious in this type of racing and signed up James Garner's American International Racers (AIR) team to a three-year contract. Garner's shops prepared 10 1969 SC/Ramblers provided by AMC. The cars were modified for the punishing Baja 500 race.[128] Raising the suspension and using Goodyear tires on 10x15-inch wheels increased ground clearance. All window glass was removed and roll cages were installed. The cars had 44 US gal (167 L; 37 imp gal) fuel tanks. Two cars were further modified with four-wheel drive. The AIR team built AMC's 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engines to blueprint tolerances, thus increasing horsepower to 410 hp (306 kW; 416 PS) at the flywheel. The cars were capable of 140 mph (230 km/h) runs along smooth straights at about 7000 rpm in fourth gear.

On 11 June 1969, eight of the Ramblers were entered into the passenger-car category and the two 4WD versions were in the experimental class. Garner did not drive in the race because of a film commitment in Spain. Seven of the Ramblers finished the grueling race, taking three of the top five places in the passenger-car class. One of the 4WD came in fourth in its class. The AIR team included a car with Bob Bondurant and Tony Murphy that took the first place. For one of the winning Rambler drivers, this was his first race and the experience launched the career of Walker Evans.[129]


Rambler Americans competed with good results in the Shell 4000 Rally that was held in Canada. In 1968, the grueling 4,000-mile (6,437 km) rally was from May 31 to June 8 over the often-tortuous muddy road from Calgary to Halifax.[130] The AMC team finished second, third, and fifth, winning the manufacturers' team award.[131]

The cars were built in AMC's Brampton Assembly in Canada.[132] Three were painted white with black hoods and one was finished in blue.[133] Their competition equipment included AMC's new 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8s, 16:1 steering boxes, four-piston disc-brake calipers, bigger rear brakes, and twin-grip rear differentials.[132] The cars continued to be campaigned in Canada during the early 1970s.[132]

Battery power experiments[edit]

In 1959, AMC and Sonotone Corporation announced work on a car to be powered by a "self-charging" battery.[134] It was to have sintered plate nickel-cadmium batteries.[135] During the 1960s, AMC partnered with Gulton Industries to develop a new battery based on lithium and to use an advanced speed controller designed by Victor Wouk.[136] However, the actual running prototype was a 1969 Rambler American station wagon converted from 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 to an all-electric car using nickel–cadmium batteries.[137] Power consisted of 160 cells, each rated at 75 ampere hours (Gulton KO-75), arranged in two banks of 80 cells each, and connected in parallel.[138][139] The equipment Wouk designed "gave it good acceleration, but there was still a problem with the car's range."[140] Later, AMC and Gulton developed the Amitron and the similar Electron city cars.


3rd Rock from the Sunmuseum display

American Motors used the compact Rambler American chassis as the basis for the 1968 Javelin, a two-door hardtop marketed as a "hip", dashing, and affordable pony car, available in several muscle car performance versions.[141]

In 1988, Ben Vaughn, a musician and a longtime Rambler automobile fan, released "El Rambler Dorado" on his Blows Your Mind album. He later recorded an entire album in his 1965 Rambler American.[142] Released in 1997 by Rhino Records and titled Rambler '65, Vaughn turned his car into a makeshift studio. Putting the recording equipment inside his Rambler was a gimmick or an act of showmanship, but according to most reviews, the music he created inside his car is "timeless" rock 'n' roll.[143] The Rambler '65 24-minute music video also includes vintage AMC TV advertising clips.

Vaughn also achieved success in Hollywood as the composer for the hit NBC television series 3rd Rock from the Sun, in which the main characters use a 1962 Rambler American convertible.[144] The car is featured in posters and in the 100th episode (during season five) entitled "The Fifth Solomon", the space aliens "learn that it's possible to get emotionally attached to a car" after they crash their Rambler and have no insurance.[145]

During his 2006–2007 campaign for U.S. president, Mitt Romney sat in a Rambler American at fund-raising events as a way to emphasize the need for more efficient cars. He also stated that his father (George W. Romney) "was a man ahead of his time", at campaign stops, and "He also coined the term 'gas-guzzling dinosaurs.' That's what we're driving today and that's got to change."[146]


More than 50 years after it was produced, the mission of the first-generation Rambler American as "an affordable, stylish people mover hasn't changed - though now it's rolling stingily down the road as a collector's item rather than a daily beater."[21] The economical car "that put Detroit on notice is one of today's most affordable, fun collectibles."[21]

Benefiting from network television exposure, the 1962 Rambler American convertible became "a hot ticket item" for collectors after it began to appear regularly on 3rd Rock from the Sun with owners of rusty cars asking high prices and prime examples commanding upward of $14,000.[147] A fully restored 1962 convertible was given to Mitt Romney on his 60th birthday by his son, Tagg, in 2008.[148][149]

The "outlandishly adorned" limited-edition, midyear addition to the Rambler line "built under the aegis of the Hurst shifter people" is unique.[150] The SC/Rambler has a strong collector following, with websites, clubs, and a registry.[151]

The SC/Rambler has become a popular muscle car to replicate because of the ease of installing a powerful AMC V8 drivetrain into one of the large number of inexpensive 1966 through 1969 Rambler Americans.[69] To identify a true SC/Rambler, it must be a hardtop and the vehicle identification number must have the letter M in the third digit and the engine code of X as the seventh digit.[152]

Most SC/Ramblers took extensive abuse, as they were raced hard, and stories are told of cars being sold with their time slips passing along with the vehicle.[153] According to Old Cars Weekly magazine, "a No. 1 condition example can still be had for mid-five figures. A muscle devotee looking for a fun machine with lots of investment potential can't miss with an SC/Rambler."[78]


  1. ^ ab1964 Rambler V8 and American - Sales brochure, Australian Motor Industries, 1964
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  3. ^Railton, Art (August 1958). "the Rambler American". Popular Mechanics. 110 (2). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  4. ^American Motors - form AM-58-6655. "AMC 1958 Rambler American Brochure". p. 8. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  5. ^Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (27 November 2007). "1958-1959 Rambler American". Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  6. ^Mays, James C. (26 December 2012). "1959 Rambler American".
  7. ^ abcMagnate, Steve (March 2006). "Rambling American: Preparing a 1959 Rambler American Super Two-Door Club Sedan to be a daily driver". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  8. ^Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (6 November 2007). "1958 Rambler American Styling".
  9. ^1634 to 1699: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy ofthe United States: Addenda et Corrigenda(PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700-1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How much is that in real money?: a historical price index for use as a deflator of money values in the economy of the United States(PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  10. ^Auto Editors ofConsumer Guide (6 November 2007). "1958 Rambler American". Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  11. ^ abAmerican Motors - form AM-58-6655. "AMC 1958 Rambler American Brochure". p. 7. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  12. ^ abAuto Editors of Consumer Guide (6 November 2007). "1958 Rambler American Performance".
  13. ^ abRailton, Art (August 1958). "The Studebaker Scotsman and the Rambler American". Popular Mechanics. 110 (2): 79, 82–83, and 212. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
  14. ^ abcAuto Editors of Consumer Guide (6 November 2007). "1959 Rambler American". Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  15. ^ abcAmerican Motors - form AM-59-7011. "AMC 1959 Rambler American Brochure". p. 5. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  16. ^Flory, J. Kelly (2008). American Cars 1946-1959: Every Model Year by Year. McFarland. p. 1004. ISBN .
  17. ^ abMattar, George (October 2007). "1958-1960 Rambler American". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  18. ^"Smaller, more sensible cars lead 1960 parade". Popular Mechanics. 112 (5): 84. November 1959. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  19. ^ abAuto Editors of Consumer Guide (6 November 2007). "1960 Rambler American". Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  20. ^"New free automotive x-rays". Popular Science. 176 (2): 19. March 1960. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  21. ^ abcMcNessor, Mike (July 2011). "1958-'60 Rambler American: The economical car from Kenosha that put Detroit on notice is one of today's most affordable, fun collectibles". Hemmings Motor News. 58 (7): 26–31. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  22. ^Auto Editors of Consumer Guide (23 October 2007). "1965-1966 Rambler Ambassador". Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  23. ^Wilson, Bob. "Rambler American Advertising Graphics". arcticboy com. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  24. ^"Rambler American: after 10 years, a new shape". Popular Mechanics. 114 (5): 91. November 1960. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  25. ^ abcVance, Bill (28 July 2006). "Motoring Memories: AMC Rambler American 1958-1960". Autos Canada.
  26. ^"Rambler American". Popular Mechanics. 114 (5): 88. November 1960. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
  27. ^ abAuto Editors of Consumer Guide (24 July 2007). "1961-1963 Rambler American Convertible & Hardtop". Archived from the original on 28 September 2020. Retrieved 6 February 2021.
  28. ^Mattar, George (August 2005). "1961-1962 American Motors Rambler Classic Custom Six". Hemmings Classic Car. Retrieved 28 December 2012.

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1966 AMC Rambler Classic 770 Convertible

Car: AMC Rambler Classic 770 Convertible

Year: 1966

What makes it special: The intermediate Rambler Classic model was produced and sold by American Motors Corporation, more commonly known as “AMC” for the 1961 to 1966 model years. It took the slot once occupied by the Rambler Six and Rambler Rebel V8 models that were retired at the end of the 1960 model year. It began as a six-passenger four door sedan and station wagon, but a two door post and hardtop model style were added around 1964, then a convertible was added for the ’65 and ’66 production years.

What made it famous: The 66 Rambler Classic model’s were on the receiving end of some trim changes and safety feature additions. The mid-trim level 660 was dropped from the line-up, leaving just the 550 and 770 models available for 1966. Available for the first time was a floor-mounted 4-speed manual transmission and a dash-mounted tachometer. Engine choices were the same as the ’65 models, beginning with a Modern Straight-Six replacing the 195.6 cu in choice. The 770 model choices were a 145hp, 232 cu in six, and a 155hp version was available as an option. Also additional were a 198hp, 287 cu in and a 270hp, 327 cu in V8 as dealer options.

Why I would want one: It’s different. In a world of Ford, GM and Chrysler products, it’s nice to see the old AMC’s still kicking around. I love it.

Fun fact: The name Classic was no longer considered a positive factor in the marketplace and AMC began reshuffling model names in 1966.
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Rambler Classic

Car model produced by American Motors Corporation

Motor vehicle

The Rambler Classic is an intermediate sized automobile that was built and sold by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from the 1961 to 1966 model years. The Classic took the place of the Rambler Six and Rambler Rebel V-8 names, which were retired at the end of the 1960 model year.

Introduced a six-passenger four-door sedan and station wagon versions, additional body styles were added. Two-door models became available as a "post" sedan in 1963 as well as a sporty pillar-less hardtop. A convertible was also available for 1965 and 1966.

Motor Trend magazine selected AMC's Classic line as Car of the Year award for 1963.

The Rebel name replaced Classic on AMC's completely redesigned intermediate-sized cars for the 1967 model year, and for 1968 the Rambler Rebel line was renamed the AMC Rebel as AMC began the process of phasing out the Rambler marque.

Throughout its life in the AMC model line-up, the Classic was the high-volume seller for the independent automaker.

First generation[edit]

Motor vehicle

The Rambler was the focus of AMC's management strategy under the leadership of George W. Romney. American Motors designed and built some of the most fuel-efficient, best-styled and well-made cars of the 1950s and 1960s.[2] Their compact cars (for the era) helped AMC to achieve sales and corporate profit successes. In 1961, the Rambler marque ranked in third place among domestic automobile sales.[3]

Ramblers were available in two sizes and built on different automobile platforms. The larger-sized Rambler series was based on a 1956 design and was renamed as the Classic for the 1961 model year to help create a stronger individual identity and contrast from the smaller Rambler American line. American Motors' Edmund E. Anderson designed the new 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase Ramblers "that looked new and fresh, but were in fact inexpensive reskinned models."[4]


1961 Rambler Classic sedan

The 1961 Classic featured a new front end with a one-piece, rectangular extruded-aluminum grille, new fenders, hood, sculptured door panels, and side trim, as well as one-piece bumpers. Models included the Deluxe, the Super, and the Custom (featuring bucket seats in a four-door sedan). The suggested retail price for the basic Deluxe four-door sedan was US$2,098 and was only $339 more for a station wagon.[2]

In 1961, the Classic was available in either an I6 - 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) - or with a V8 - 250 cu in (4.1 L) - engine.[5] A lighter by 80 pounds (36 kg) aluminum block version of the OHV I6 engine, sometimes referred to as the 196, was offered as an option on Deluxe and Super models.[1] The die cast block features iron "sleeves" or cylinder liners with a cast iron alloy cylinder head and produces the same 127.5 horsepower (95 kW) as the cast iron version.[6]

American Motors "defied the detractors" with its emphasis on economical and compact-sized cars achieving a sales total of 370,600 vehicles in 1961, "lifting the Rambler to an unprecedented third place in the charts behind Chevrolet and Ford".[3]


1962 Rambler Classic 4-door sedan

For the 1962 model year, the Super models were dropped and replaced by a 400 model. Also for 1962, AMC's flagship Ambassador models were shortened to the same 108-inch (2,700 mm) wheelbase as the Classic's at the same time as the V8 engine was no longer available in the Classic models. This meant the Ambassador models were the only models with V8s in the AMC lineup. The two-door sedan bodystyle Rambler Classic was a unique one-year offering for 1962.[7]

The front grille was modified for 1962, but the free-standing Rambler lettering in the lower center remained. The revised rear end received new round tail lamps, while the previous tailfins were "shaved off".[8] Rambler was one of the last cars to incorporate the tail fin design and became one of the first to "do away with them, and to build clean, simple, uncluttered cars."[9] The back door upper window points were also rounded off for 1962.

Starting in 1962, AMC took a leadership role with safer brake systems in all Ramblers featuring twin-circuit brakes, a design offered by only a few cars at that time.[2] Classics with an automatic transmission continued to use push-buttons mounted on the left side of the dashboard with a separate sliding pull tab for the "park" position. The cast-iron block six-cylinder engine was standard on Deluxe and Custom models with the aluminum version optional. The 400 received the aluminum block, but the cast-iron was a no cost option. Other improvements for 1962 included a price cut of $176 on the popular Custom Classic sedan.[10]

The popularity of the compact-sized Classic continued in the face of a dozen new competitors.[11] Sales of the 1962 model year Classics increased by over 56,000 in the first six months compared to the same period in 1961.[12] A Popular Mechanics nationwide survey of owners that had driven a total of 1,227,553 miles (1,975,555 km) revealed that the Rambler is likeable, easy handling, providing stability and comfortable, roomy ride with low-cost operation. Flaws included inadequate power and poor workmanship.[11]


American Motors highlighted the Rambler Centaur at the 1962 Chicago Auto Show on a raised platform in the center of automaker's exhibit area.[13] The car was based on a two-door sedan that did "not look remarkably different from regular production models."[13]

Second generation[edit]

Motor vehicle

Second generation
1963 Rambler Classic 660 Station Wagon.jpg

1963 Rambler Classic 660 wagon

Also called
Body style
  • 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) I6
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 (Typhoon only)
  • 287 cu in (4.7 L) V8
Wheelbase112 in (2,845 mm)
Length188.8 in (4,796 mm)
Width71.3 in (1,811 mm)
Height54.6 in (1,387 mm)
Curb weight2,650 lb (1,200 kg) approximate

For the 1963 model year, the Rambler Classic line was completely redesigned with subtle body sculpturing. Outgoing design director, Edmund E. Anderson, shaped the Classic that was named Motor Trend magazine's 1963 "Car of the Year."[15] These were also the first AMC models that were influenced by Dick Teague, the company's new principal designer. He "turned these economical cars into smooth, streamlined beauties with tons of options and V-8 pep."[16]

Being of a suitable size for international markets, this Rambler was assembled in a number of countries. In Europe, Renault built this car in their Haren, Belgium plant and marketed it as a luxury car, filling the gap above the tiny Renault Dauphine.[17]

The 1963 Classics were also the first all-new cars developed by AMC since 1956. Keeping the philosophy of the company, they were more compact – shorter and narrower by one inch (25 mm), as well as over two inches (56 mm) lower – than the preceding models; but lost none of their "family-sized" passenger room or luggage capacity featuring a longer 112-inch (2,845 mm) wheelbase.


1963 Rambler Classic 770 sedan

American Motors' "senior" cars (Classic and Ambassador) shared the same wheelbase and body parts, with only trim differences and standard equipment levels to distinguish the models. Classics came in pillared two- and four-door sedans, as well as four-door wagons. The model designations now became "a Mercedes-like three-number model designation" going from the lowest 550 (essentially fleet cars), 660, to highest 770 trims (replacing the Deluxe, Custom, and 400 versions).[18]

As in 1962, the 1963 Classics were initially available only as 6-cylinder 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) models. The Ambassador's standard V8 power, featuring AMC's 327 cu in (5.4 L) engine, was the chief distinguishing feature from the Classic model line.

In mid-1963, a new 287 cu in (4.7 L) V8 option was announced for the Classic models. The 198 hp (148 kW; 201 PS) V8 equipped Rambler Classics combined good performance with good mileage; even with the optional "Flash-O-Matic" automatic transmission, they reached 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) in about 10 seconds and returned fuel economy from 16 miles per US gallon (14.7 L/100 km; 19.2 mpg‑imp) to 20 miles per US gallon (11.8 L/100 km; 24.0 mpg‑imp).[19]

The new AMC cars incorporated numerous engineering solutions. Among these was curved side glass, one of the earliest popular-priced cars with this feature. Another engineering breakthrough was combining separate parts in the monocoque (unit construction) body into single stampings. One example was the "uniside" door surround that was made from a single stamping of steel. Not only did it replace 52 parts and reduce weight and assembly costs, but it also increased structural rigidity and provided for better fitting of the doors.[20]

American Motors' imaginative engineering prompted Motor Trend magazine to give the Classic – and the similar Ambassador models – their Car of the Year award for 1963.[21] Motor Trend's "award is based on pure progress in design, we like to make sure the car is also worthy of the title in the critical areas of performance, dependability, value, and potential buyer satisfaction."[21]


1964 Rambler Classic 770 wagon

The 1964 model year Classics, were refined with stainless steel rocker moldings, a flush single-plane aluminum grille replacing the previous year's deep concave design, and oval tail-lamps replacing the flush-mounted lenses of the 1963's. Classics with bucket seats and V8 engine could be ordered with a new "Shift-Command" three-speed automatic transmission mounted on the center console that could be shifted manually.[22]

A new two-door model joined the line only available in the top 770 trim. The pillar-less hardtop offered a large glass area, and "its sales were brisk."[18] A sporty 770-H version featured individually adjustable reclining bucket seats, as well as center a console. Consumers continued to perceive Ramblers as economy cars and the six-cylinder models outsold V8-powered versions.[18]


1964 Rambler Typhoon two-door hardtop

American Motors unveiled the Typhoon in April 1964. This mid-1964 model year introduction was a sporty variant of the Classic 770 2-door hardtop. This special model was introduced to highlight AMC's completely new short-stroke, seven main bearing, 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS) 8.5:1 compression ratio 232 cu in (3.8 L) "Typhoon" modern era inline-6.

Production of this commemorative model was limited to 2,520 units and it was only available in a two-tone Solar Yellow body with a Classic Black roof, and a sporty all-vinyl interior for US$2,509.[19] The car also featured a distinctive "Typhoon" script in place of the usual "Classic" name insignia, as well as a unique grille with blackout accents. All other AMC options (except engine choices and colors) were available on the Typhoon.

The engine became the mainstay six-cylinder engine for AMC and Jeep vehicles. It was produced, albeit in a modified form, up until 2006. The 232 I6 engine's name was soon changed to "Torque Command", with Typhoon to describe AMC's new line of V8s introduced in 1966.


The 1964 Chicago Auto Show was used by AMC to exhibit the Rambler Cheyenne in a viewing area made from knotty pine planks.[23] The show car was based on the top-of-the-line Classic Cross Country station wagon finished in white highlighting its full-length gold-tone anodized aluminum trim along the upper part of the bodysides (replacing the side spear that was standard on 770 models) as well as matching gold trim on the lower part of the tailgate between the tail-lights.[23] This was one of AMC's concepts displayed at the Chicago Show that included the Rambler Tarpon fastback and the Rambler Carrousel convertible, but the Cheyenne was likely most significant because AMC "did lots of specially trimmed, production-based show cars in its day" given the large number of station wagon models it sold.[24]

Third generation[edit]

Motor vehicle

The 1965 model year Classics underwent a major redesign of the new platform that was introduced in 1963; essentially the 1963–1964 design with a rectilinear reskin similar to that of concurrent Ambassadors.[25] Fresh sheet metal design was applied to the original 112 in (2,800 mm) wheelbase and 195 in (5,000 mm) long integral body-frame with only the roof, doors, and windshield as carryovers.[26] Unchanged was the suspension system including a torque tube with coil springs with a Panhard rod.[27]

The Rambler Classic was now shorter than – as well as visually distinctive from – the Ambassador line, while still sharing the basic body structure from the windshield back. For the first time, a convertible model was available in the 770 trim version. The two-door sedan was dropped from the 770 model lineup.


1965 Rambler Classic 770 sedan

The 1965 Classic models were billed as the "Sensible Spectaculars," with emphasis on their new styling, powerful engines, and their expanded comfort and sports-type options, in contrast to the previous "economy car" image.

American Motors now only offered its modern straight-six engine design, retiring the aging 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) versions. The 1965 Classic base 550 models featured the modern and economical 128 hp (95 kW; 130 PS) 199 cu in (3.3 L) six-cylinder, which was basically a destroked 232 engine. The 660 and 770 series received the 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS) 232 cu in (3.8 L) six, while a 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) version was optional. Additionally, the 198 hp (148 kW; 201 PS) 287 cu in (4.7 L) or 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 engines were optional.

Popular Science magazine reported, "you can have a 1965 Classic as a penny-pinching economy car or a storming performance job."[26] Additional performance options for 1965 included power front disk brakes with four-piston calipers that were supplied by Bendix. The standard 4-wheel drum brakes also continued to feature AMC's "Double-Safety" master cylinder system. The dual master cylinder was available in only one "Big Three" car: Cadillac.


Main article: Rambler Marlin

On March 1, 1965, during the middle of the model year, AMC introduced the Rambler Marlin, a halo car for the company.[28] The fastback design used the Rambler Classic platform.[29] Marketed as a personal luxury car, the Marlin had unique styling and featured an exceptional array of standard equipment.[30]

Rambler Hialeah[edit]

A specially prepared Classic two-door hardtop was campaigned for the 1965 auto show circuit.[31] The exterior was finished in yellow pearlescent paint.[31] It was the interior treatment that differentiated the concept car with its yellow and green "Hialeah Plaid" trim.[31] The door panels and bucket seat bolsters were genuine leather while the seats featured yellow and green plaid silk cloth inserts that were woven in Thailand.[31] The same material was also used for the dresses worn by the models that stood by the cars during auto show days.[31] Public reaction to the tartan interior design was favorable.[32] This market study resulted in AMC offering a new large plaid custom fabric upholstery - along with two matching throw pillows - as an option for the 1966 Classic Rebel hardtop model.[33]


1966 Rambler Classic 770 sedan

The 1966 model year Rambler Classics received minor trim changes and additional standard safety features, including padded dash and visors, left outside mirror, as well as seat belts for the front and rear passengers. The 660 mid-trim level was dropped leaving the 550 and 770 models for 1966. Available for the first time was a floor-mounted four-speed manual transmission and a dash-mounted tachometer.[34]

Classics received particular attention to the styling of the roofs for 1966. The two-door hardtop models received a rectangular rear window and a more formal and angular "crisp-line" roofline that could be covered with vinyl trim. Sedans had an optional trim-outlined "halo" roof accent color. The station wagon's roof area over the cargo compartment was at the same level with the rest of the roof, no longer dipped down as in prior years. The wagons carried Cross Country insignia and featured 83 cubic feet (2.35 m3) of cargo space, as well as a standard roof rack. Two wagon seating capacities were available: a standard six-passenger version with two rows of seats with a drop-down bottom-hinged tailgate incorporating a fully retracting rear window for accessing cargo, or in an optional eight-passenger version with three rows of seats (the third rear-facing) and a left-side hinged rear fifth door.

The name Classic was no longer considered a positive factor in the marketplace and AMC began reshuffling model names in 1966.[35]

Rambler Rebel[edit]

See also: Rambler Rebel (fourth generation)

1966 Rambler Rebel 2-door hardtop

A top-of-the-line version of the two-door hardtop Classic was offered under the historic Rambler Rebel name. It replaced the 770-H and featured special badges and standard slim-type bucket seats with optional checked upholstery with two matching pillows.[25] Public reaction to the tartan touch appearing in some of AMC's "Project IV" automobile show tour cars, was judged favorable enough to make the unique trim available on the Rebel hardtop.[36]

Serving as one example to verify how AMC products were routinely derided by various automotive press, Popular Science magazine wrote that the new "Rambler Rebel reveals a sudden interest in performance," but its handling package cannot overcome the car's obsolete suspension design.[37] However, AMC was reluctant to forfeit their Nash engineered suspension design which employed a strut-type front and a Panhard rod controlled torque tube rear-drive system, both having long coil springs to place the upper spring seats higher into the body of the car. This feature was to afford a softer ride quality and better handling by reducing the geometrical leverage of the car's center of gravity for less body roll "sway" in cornering. What was labeled as "obsolete" is juxtaposed by noting how General Motors employed a similar suspension system on their third generation Camaro and Firebird nearly twenty years later which had MacPherson strut front and a torque arm mounted rear-drive axle.

Rambler St. Moritz[edit]

A customized show car was displayed along production models during the 1966 automobile show circuit, the snow- and ski-themed Rambler St. Moritz station wagon.[38] The wagon with three rows of seats featured tinted rear side "observation" windows that curved up and over into the roof.[39] The remaining roof over the cargo area was finished with polished stainless steel and equipped with a special ski rack.[39] The exterior was a light ice-blue pearlescent paint, while the car's dark blue interior featured Corfam upholstery with a metallic thread embroidered snowflake in each seat back.[38]

International markets[edit]

Third generation right-hand-drive versions utilized the second generation instrument panel

In addition to direct exports from the United States, AMC was directly involved or utilized licensees in several overseas business ventures for the production or distribution of Rambler Classics. The cars were marketed in various international markets.


American Motors established a vehicle assembly plant in Brampton, Ontario, Canada in 1961 to assemble AMC vehicles for the Canadian market. With Canada being a Commonwealth country, the Brampton plant also undertook to export complete vehicles to right-hand-drive markets including the United Kingdom.[40] For example, records for the Brampton plant show that 129 RHD Rambler Americans and 255 RHD Rambler Classics were exported in 1964 of which the majority were exported to the United Kingdom.[41]


IKA Rambler Cross Country in Argentina

Industrias Kaiser Argentina(IKA) produced Rambler Classics in Córdoba, Argentina from 1962 to 1971.[42] Throughout its production, the four-door sedan, and station wagon models were produced, with the sedan being sold as the "Classic" and the station wagon being sold by the name "Cross Country." Each car received a numerical nomenclature, depending on the level of equipment: "400", "440", "550", "660" and "990". All were powered by the 3.77 L (230 cu in) overhead camshaft (OHC) straight-six"Tornado Interceptor" engines that were originally developed by Kaiser Motors in the U.S. for the 1963 Jeep Gladiator pickups and Wagoneer vehicles. This engine was later produced in Argentina and increased the domestic (local sourced) content of the automobiles to gain tariff concessions for the imported components from AMC.

In 1963, the best-selling model in Argentina was the IKA Rambler.[43] A road test of an IKA Rambler Classic 660 by the Argentinean automotive magazine, Revista Parabrisas, described significant differences to the 1962 versions, noting the new stylized simple lines and more fluid design, as well as concluding that it is "a large and comfortable ride for both the city and touring, as well as – depending on the driver – can be sporty."[44]

In June 1966 IKA launched a special Taxi version of the Rambler Classic in Buenos Aires. The IKA-modified cars included heavy-duty running gear, vinyl interior, taxi-specific accessories, and were powered with the standard IKA Tornado 230 cu in engine.[45]


Right-hand-drive 1966 Rambler Classic 770 in Australia

Rambler Classics were assembled by Australian Motor Industries(AMI) in Australia from 1961. They were produced from semi Knock-down (SKD) kits.[46][47] The vehicles were partially assembled and painted at AMC's Kenosha, Wisconsin, factory.[46] They were built with right-hand drive and the body had the engine, transmission, front suspension, rear axle, and doors installed.[46] Some of the other components were boxed and shipped inside the car for final assembly by AMI. Interior components such as upholstery and various other parts were locally sourced to get import tariff concessions. Australian cars were also fitted with amber rear turn signal lights to comply with safety standards in Australia.

The Australian-assembled versions were identical in appearance to the U.S. models through the three generations.[48] The base prices of Rambler Classics dropped with the introduction of the redesigned 1963 models due to the elimination of some standard equipment such as the reclining front seats and heater.[48] Two four-door body styles were available: sedan and station wagon. A Classic sedan was offered in Australia for the first time with a manual transmission.[48] However, the biggest selling model was the six-cylinder Classic sedan with an automatic transmission.[48] The AMI Rambler Classics exhibited high standards of assembly and finish.[48]

Additionally, the Brampton, Ontario AMC plant in Canada sent 8 fully assembled, right-hand-drive Classic 770 hardtops to Australia in 1964 and 1965.

AMI also acted as the State distributor for Ramblers for Victoria. Rambler sales for New South Wales were managed by Sydney company Grenville Motors Pty Ltd, which were also the State distributor of Rover and Land Rover. A network of Sydney and country NSW dealers were controlled by Grenville which was in direct communication with AMI.[49][50]

Australian Capital Territory sales were managed by Betterview Pty Ltd in Canberra. Annand & Thompson Pty Ltd in Brisbane distributed Rambler vehicles for Queensland. South Australian sales were managed by Champions Pty Ltd in Adelaide. Premier Motors Pty Ltd in Perth distributed Ramblers for Western Australia, and Heathco Motors in Launceston distributed Rambler vehicles for Tasmania.[51]

New Zealand[edit]

Right-hand-drive New Zealand-assembled 1964 Rambler Classic

Rambler Classics were assembled by New Zealand company VW Motors in their Volkswagen assembly plant in Otahuhu, Auckland until 1962.[52]

In 1964 Campbell Motors, the importer of Studebaker and Willys vehicles, built a plant in Thames, New Zealand to assemble AMC vehicles. The assembly business was named Campbell Motor Industries(CMI). CMI assembled Peugeots and Ramblers and later Hino, Isuzu, Renault, Datsun, and Toyota. The first Rambler to come off the line was a Rambler Classic in September 1964.

Like Australia, New Zealand cars were assembled from knock-down kits from Kenosha.[47] The vehicles were partially assembled and painted at the factory. They were built with right-hand drive and the body had the engine, transmission, front suspension, rear axle, and doors installed. Some of the other components were boxed and shipped inside the car for final assembly by CMI. Unlike Australia, interior trim was also supplied with the knock-down kits, as the motor trimming industry in New Zealand had ceased to exist since the end of the 1930s following the demise of local coach building due to the preference of full imports. Hence New Zealand assembled Ramblers are more "American" than their Australian equivalents. For 1966, CMI assembled 336 Rambler Classics for the New Zealand market, only slightly fewer than the Datsuns and Peugeots they also assembled in the same year.[53]


Rambler vehicle assembly began in Chile at the beginning of 1964 under a partnership between AMC and Renault. The Rambler Classic was assembled alongside Renault vehicles at the Indauto plant in Arica. Vehicle production was transferred to Automotores Franco Chilena in Los Andes, Santiago after 1967.[54]

Costa Rica[edit]

Starting in 1959, Purdy Motor, owned by Xavier Quirós Oreamuno, distributed Rambler vehicles in Costa Rica.[55][56] Many Central and South American nations established local content regulations during the 1960s. These laws effectively required automobiles sold in those markets to be assembled locally from knock-down kits.[56] A new company, ECASA was established in 1964 by Oreamuno, and by September 1965, the first vehicle to be built in Costa Rica was a 1964 Rambler Classic 660 that still exists.[57] The company assembled Rambler Classics until 1969 and other AMC models until 1974, as well as Toyota's Corona and Land Cruiser.[55] By 1973, Toyota acquired 20% of ECASA.[58]


1965 Renault Rambler brochure
1962 Rambler Renault Presidential

All three generations of the Rambler Classics were assembled from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits by Renault at the Vilvoorde factory in Haren, Belgium beginning in 1962 and sold through Renault dealers in Algeria, Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg,[59]

The French automaker no longer had a large car in its own model range and the Rambler Classic was chosen for its "European-style" features and sold as an "executive car" in Renault's markets,[60] and badged as the "Rambler Renault", under the terms of a cooperation agreement concluded between the two automakers on 21 November 1961.[61][62]

The French coach builder, Henri Chapron, modified 1962 Rambler sedans to serve as a presidential limousines for the government of Charles de Gaulle.[63] Modifications included a custom grille and a single chrome strip the full length of the bodyside, a raised roof, as well as the elimination of the stock panoramic rear window by straight back glass framed by large C-pillars.[63] One objective of Renault, the state-owned automaker at the time, was to recapture the French limousine market segment from Citroën.[63] However, de Gaulle selected the slightly less roomy Citroen.[64]


Willys Mexicana S.A. had agreements with AMC to assemble the compact Rambler American models and began preparing for the introduction of the larger Rambler Classic to the Mexican market in 1963.[65] During this time the automaker became Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos (VAM). This coincided with the launch of the second generation of the U.S. Classic, and the VAM Classic became the second AMC product made by VAM in Mexico. The new model was focused as the luxury companion to the Rambler American compact line and as VAM's flagship automobile as the Ambassador line was not produced in Mexico. A major marketing campaign by VAM promoted the inaugural 1963 models using Motor Trend's Car of the Year award. The VAM Rambler Classic was a success among consumers and the automotive press; obtaining praise for the car's roominess, comfort, styling, advanced engineering, as well as its economy and value.

The 1963 Rambler Classics were available only in two- and four-door sedan body designs, both called Rambler Classic 660. No other trim levels or versions were available. The standard engine and transmission combination was the OHV 195.6 cu in (3.2 L) I6 engine with a single barrel carburetor producing 127 hp (95 kW; 129 PS) at 4200 rpm with an 8.7:1 compression ratio and coupled to a three-speed manual transmission with column-mounted shifter. The 138 hp (103 kW; 140 PS) two-barrel version of the 195.6 six was also available at extra cost. Standard equipment for all included built-in flow-through ventilation, four-wheel drum brakes with twin-circuits and a double master cylinder, manual steering, electric wipers and washers, coil-spring-based suspension, carpeting, front and rear bench seats consisting of foam rubber and coil springs, side marker lights, hazard lights, backup lights, luxury steering wheel with horn ring and "R" emblem, 200 km/h speedometer, fuel and water temperature gauges, dual front ashtrays, cigarette lighter, electric clock, AM radio, rearview mirror, front and rear side armrests, dual rear ashtrays, dual coat hooks, round dome light, padded sun visors, driver's side remote mirror, as well as a bright molding package. Optional equipment included power brakes, power steering, front seatbelts, heater, passenger's side remote mirror, bumper guards, bumper tubes, and full wheel covers.

For 1964, the VAM Rambler Classic incorporating the new styling upgrades from its AMC domestic counterpart models. The two-barrel 138 hp (103 kW; 140 PS) version of the 195.6 six became standard.

The 1965 model year followed the styling changes of the U.S. cars.[66] The biggest change was AMC's new seven-main-bearing 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 engine in 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS) version as standard equipment and a double barrel 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) version as optional. The new engines were now manufactured in VAM's own factory that was built in 1964 at Lerma, State of Mexico. The new engines replaced the imported L-head and OHV 195.6 engines in VAM's vehicles.

The cars saw a name change for 1966, from Rambler Classic 660 to Rambler Classic 770. Despite the "trim level" upgrade, the car was mostly the same. The cars received progressively more luxurious over the years since their introduction. The two-door Rambler Classic 770 featured individual reclining front seats and its marketing focused on sportiness, marking for the first time a difference between the two body styles other than their number of doors.

The VAM Rambler Classic was not available in Mexico as a two-door hardtop, two-door convertible, or four-door station wagon. The Rambler Classic-based Marlin fastbacks were also not produced under VAM as also were not the 1963-1964 Ambassador models based on the same platform. The Rambler Classic model enjoyed popularity and a positive image among the Mexican public. For this reason in 1967, with the arrival of AMC's completely new Rebel line in the mid-size market segment, VAM continued the Rambler Classic name for its new cars.


Ramblers were imported into Norway during the 1950s and 1960s by Norwegian importer Kolberg & Caspary AS located at Ås, Norway. Kolberg & Caspary was formed in 1906 and imported automotive, industrial, and construction products.[67] The Rambler Classic was imported from 1963 until 1966, with the majority between 1963 and 1965. A total of 558 cars were brought into Norway by 1966. Rambler Ambassadors, Americans, and Rebels were also imported in small numbers.[68]


Ramblers were marketed in Peru during the 1960s by Rambler del Peru S.A and sold throughout the country by a network of 13 dealers.[69] In January 1966, Renault and AMC created Industria Automotriz Peruana S.A. to locally assemble Renault, AMC, and Peugeot vehicles. Only small numbers were produced of all three brands with AMC vehicles amounting to 750 built between 1966 and 1970, including the Rambler Classic.[70][71]


While the Philippines was almost exclusively an American car market until 1941, the post-World War II years saw an influx of European cars enter the market. Despite a saturation of international brands, American Motors Corporation managed to establish a presence and the Rambler Classic and Rambler American were locally assembled by Luzon Machineries Inc. in Manila during the 1960s.[72][73]

United Kingdom[edit]

The Rambler Classic and Rambler American were first imported into the U.K by London company, Nash Concessionaires Ltd.[74] Nash Concessionaires had previously been the U.K importer of Nash vehicles. U.K vehicles were imported in factory right-hand drive from the Brampton plant in Canada. The dash plaque read “Rambler of Canada." The company also was involved in the export of the British-built Nash Metropolitan to the United States.[75] The 1961 Classic '6' saloon (sedan) sold for £1798 and the Classic station wagon sold for £1963.

Rambler Motors (A.M.C) Ltd of Chiswick in West London, had assembled Hudson motor vehicles for the U.K market since 1926. The operation became a subsidiary of AMC in 1961 and changed its name to Rambler Motors (A.M.C) Ltd in 1966.[76] Rambler Motors went on to import factory right-hand-drive AMC vehicles from 1961 and into the 1970s. Parts and spares were supplied locally out of the Chiswick service center located on Great West Road for the whole of the United Kingdom, Europe, and the Middle East. In addition to Rambler parts, the stock of spares also covered Hudson, Nash, and Austin Metropolitan parts.[77]


Ramblers were assembled in Venezuela from May 1963 under a partnership between the Venezuelan government, AMC, and Renault. Automovil de Francia built an assembly plant at Mariara, 100 kilometres (62 mi) north of Caracas to build AMC and Renault vehicles including the Rambler Classic. Partnerships with AMC to locally build AMC vehicles continued throughout the 1960s and early 1970s and as with all export markets vehicles continued to be branded in Venezuela as "Rambler" even after the brand was dropped by AMC after 1969.[78]


Former U.S. presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, received his first car in 1965 while he was as a student at Brigham Young University, a used 1963 Rambler Classic from his father, AMC President George W. Romney.[79][80]


Rambler Classics share numerous parts and components with other AMC models. New parts are somewhat plentiful and several vendors specialize in AMCs.[2] There are also active AMC car clubs to assist owners. "Long admired for their simplicity, utilitarian design approach and servicing ease, Ramblers of the early-1960s are an inexpensive way to get into the collector-car hobby."[2]

Among the most collectible models are the 1964 Typhoon hardtop and the 1965–1966 Rambler Classic hardtops and convertibles.[25] At collector auctions, Rambler Classics that are in original condition, such as a low-mileage 1965 convertible, will see bidding soaring "above condition #1 values" with "their continued popularity".[81]


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External links[edit]

Granny Car - 1965 AMC Rambler American 660 Classic


Rambler classic car


Rambler New for 1960


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