I’m a Ramblin’ man, or at least I want to be

I have four main automotive stories that I tell and re-tell. The first is the one about the Hampshire College student who lived with us when I was in seventh grade, how his ’71 BMW 2002 marked me for life, and how I’m now doomed to follow that model around like a baby bird that imprinted on a glider. The second is how I’ve been attracted to the impossibly low, impossibly angular Lotus Europa since an old boss of mine owned one, and 40 years later I bought my own ’74 Europa Twin-Cam Special. The third details the woes of the 1970 Triumph GT6+ that I bought out of high school—the car that proved everything bad you’ve ever read about British cars is true. And the fourth is about the ’82 Porsche 911SC that I sold just before the air-cooled market went nuts.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/07/08/rob-siegel-ramblin-man

If you love Ramblers, or anything AMC you have to see this place!
Quotes from his website:
“Dedicated to the Preservation & Restoration of NASH, RAMBLER, & AMC Automotive History.”

“To explain further, Terry Gale is a person who derives his ideas, style and taste from a broad and diverse range of sources, in particular a life-long passion for the products of Nash, Rambler, American Motors Corporation (AMC) and it’s various subsidiaries such as Kelvinator Appliance; hence a uniquely diverse collection.
As with many other collections, Terry’s began with a cherished child-hood item. In this case, it was his father’s 1954 Nash Ambassador, which he judiciously saved from the scrap yard in 1977, following his father passing. Not until 1995 was Terry able to remove it from the family farm and begin the car’s restoration in earnest.
This single vehicle sparked what became, within a very few years, a collection of one to a collection of 30-some vehicles; an impressive collection in-and-of-itself at the time. The growing collection required a larger facility able to not only house it, but to also allow for its preservation and proper display. The location chosen is within the rolling hills and pine forest of nearby Elizabeth, Colorado.
As the collection grew, so too did word spread of Terry’s unique array of Nash/Rambler/AMC automobiles and with many viewing requests made, the result is now a very popular public attraction known the world-over as The Rambler Ranch.
Located approximately 45 minutes south of Denver, the display collection currently consists of over 200 vehicles and an impressive array of complimentary displays, picnic facilities, a vintage Sinclair Filling Station replica, gift shop and much more.”

Very interesting article. But I have to argue that the cartoon you mention–from the July 2019 issue of Sports Car Market–was fundamentally correct in picking the 1962 Ambassador. It was far more distinctive, stylish, and imaginative than the boring 1963. The '62 rear targa style roofline and front fender wings made it more avant garde than even the most worshipped Bertone or Pininfarina bodies. The colors in the article’s photos reflects this–brilliant turquoise green in 1962 vs. boring brown in 1963. Nevertheless, I empathize that you are dealing with massive regret over walking away from your '63 and will write almost anything to lessen your feelings of guilt.

There’s about a 65 rambler (Ambassador I think) down the street from me languishing on the lot of what I call “Garbage Can Motors”. If you’d like to rescue it, contact me and I’ll attempt to put you in touch. I might can get street photos, but I’m not going on that lot. I don’t use the forum, so you’d have to contact thru e-mail thru hagerty or something.

40 some years ago, when I was 18, a neighbour had a 1969 Rambler American standing in his driveway. Inquiring about how it ran and if it was for sale, he replied ‘If you can get her started, it’s yours for 50$’ Roughly 30 minutes later, I was pulling out of his driveway with my first ‘new’ car. Sure, its blue colour had been laid with a paint roller, but it looked clean and it ran well. Drove that car for years and have a fond memory of my times with it.

The '63 Rambler was (to me) the most beautiful Rambler ever. It seems to me that year won award(s) for it’s design.

I learned to drive in our family’s 1965 Ambassador 990. It had the 232 ci 6-cylinder, three on the tree, overdrive and a highway rear end ratio. Man was that thing a bastard to get going smoothly from a stop, especially for a 15 year old at an uphill stop. Still, it was a good car that was fun to drive in it’s own way. With overdrive engaged you could drive it like a semi-automatic around town; use the clutch to get rolling, let off the gas and shift to second without the clutch as the driveline freewheeled, then once you reached the desired 30 to 45 mph cruising speed, lift of the gas and it would drop into second over which was perfect. If you needed to accelerate, simply floor the throttle and a switch would shift the overdrive to second direct. Sounds complicated, but once learned it was far easier than a conventional manual transmission. I still think the 1965 Ambassador was a highlight of Rambler styling with a clean and simple shape and just the right amount of chrome. The metal grilles on the taillights were very vulnerable, however, and tiny parking lot contacts resulted in many trips to the dealer’s parts department over the years. If I were to buy an early Rambler today I would look for a Marlin with the V8 and twin stick.

I had the unique honor of chauffeuring George Romney, the former president of AMC in my 1963 Ambassador.

George was lecturing our business class at William and Mary in 1976. My professor thought it would be a great idea to give him a ride in an AMC product. When asked what he thought of my ride he replied, “The interior is nice, what’s left of it.”

He was preoccupied to get to a tennis match after the class and asked me to step on it. I regret not having him autograph my owners manual. I probably would have been able to ask more than $150 I was paid for it.

In around 1969, my parents turned down an offer of a '63 Rambler wagon for $1. They had recently had my youngest brother, their fourth son. The offer was generous and well meant. But at the height of the Vietnam war, these two Canadian leftists were not about to even drive an “American” car… Instead, they bought a brand-new Toyota Corolla two-door wagon, one of the first model year sold in Ottawa, a tiny vehicle that sipped gas and somehow accommodated us all, packed in like sardines, on a number of long distance trips, to Nova Scotia, Kennebunkport, Toronto, Montreal, etc. I was and remain disappointed we did not have the space and comfort of the Rambler wagon, and I have made very different automotive choices – virtue signalling and cars are a potent but not especially functional mix.

My dad was on the board of a local Kansas bank in the 'sixties and brought home one evening a repo’d '63 Classic 770 Cross-Country. Red inside and out, with bucket seats and a console. 6 cylinder and automatic, so slow and steady but a very nice ride. I drove it through high school and sold it to a friend who used it as his fishing wagon. Later my mom had a '69 Rogue convertible (one of very few made), but that’s another story . . . .

The first car our family had with factory air conditioning was a new 1963 Rambler Classic 660 4-door sedan as described in the story.
I distinctly recall the three round cold air outlets situated in the center of the dash above the push button AM radio. Ours was the in-line 6-cylinder with automatic transmission shifted on the steering column.
It was a medium gold metallic with matching gold colored interior that featured the twin lay-down front seats. I don’t believe they were ever used as such, but I often reclined the passenger seat to snooze on longer rides.
After having the car for five years, my parents gave it to my grandparents and they had it until they passed on. It was then sold to one of their neighbors and that’s the last I heard of it. As I recall it was awarded Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year award for 1963 for it’s many innovative features.

Our dad worked for Nash Kelvinator, then AMC. Chrysler paid his pension after 40 years. Family cars were tall, upright Nashes, bathtub models, large Nashes with “LIFT TO START” column shifters, Hudson Wasps, etc. Then we had new company cars every six months such as red Rebels (pushbutton drive and FM radio) and a chartreuse (!) beauty with the stacked headlights. My brother had a Marlin. At Michigan State I had a Spartan green 2-door American hardtop with white vinyl top. Faux cast wheel wheel covers. Never lucked into a Javelin or 2-seat AMX. After that, I diverged into 20-some other brands from Avanti II, Isetta to Rolls-Royce; a very car-full history. But my favorite AMC model is the British-built Metropolitan hardtop I had and the convertible I have now. If you look in the dictionary under “cute” you’ll find a photo of a little Metro. Trust me.

Well, somebodies gotta love um.

I suffered through high school with a ‘59 Rambler American. Was only allowed to park in the last row! But you missed mentioning the wonderful execution of the last Americans, which were one of the cleanest U.S. designs of the ‘60’s…and could be ordered with some hair on its chest.

In 1963 my parents bought a new Classic Cross Country. I was 13 at the time, and the oldest of 3 children. In those days, we were a one car family, the previous 2 vehicles both were wagons, which worked well for family trips across Washington state. My parents took a trip in that Rambler across several states that summer and dad really liked the car and its comfort. In '64, he changed jobs and got a company car. At that time he saw no reason to have a second car, so sold the Rambler. That is the only car I ever recall him regretting selling. I don’t have a Rambler, but I have had several 2 door wagons over the years, most were way before I started a family. I have a Volvo 1800 ES at this time, which replaced a Volvo 122 that I had for almost 30 years before it was totaled.

My first car was a Classic 550, but it had a bench seat that didn’t recline. My parents bought if for $60 from an attorney friend of theirs who bought it new and eventually was driven by his sons. It was fairly reliable and got over 20 mpg. The first car I actually purchased was a 70 Javelin with a 304 V8.

1 Like

Sometime in early 1963 my dad was car shopping and decided to buy a Rambler Classic 550 4-dr. sedan. The car was very basic with the only options being A/C and the “E-Stick” transmission. He had looked at a Ford Fairlane that I really wanted him to buy, but he chose the Rambler instead. After getting over my disappointment of not having a Ford to drive, I grew to like the Rambler. It took all the punishment that a newly licensed (I took my driving test in the Rambler) 16 year old could dish out. The 197.7 CID inline six was barely adequate but returned pretty decent mileage for 1963. The handling left a lot to be desired, but I never got into trouble because of it. I did push it to it’s limits, but imminent disaster was always telegraphed by the car, avoiding disaster. My dad, my oldest sister and I put over 55,000 miles on the car in the two years we owned it. In '65 dad got a company car so we sold it. I Would love to find a 2-dr. version today that I could transform into a toy to play with, but there’s no budget for that, so my wishes won’t come true.

Phil in TX

`My first car was a 1962 Rambler American 4 door, flat head 6 with three on the tree. My Dad’s friend was John Rosol the head mechanic for Lipman Motors (AMC dealer) in Hartford CT. John could fix anything and loved Ramblers. In 1968 the car cost my Dad $250. I recall a triple date in that car one time. In 1973 I was in grad school in washington DC and John found a 1963 Rambler classic 550 4 door sedan. He got it for $50 and needed and new head. Which he had and talked me through replacing the head. On the way back to Washington DC the car overheated about every 75 to 100 miles. So we did the best thing and stopped for a beer to let the car cool down. Recored radiator solved that issue. The vacuum operated wipers were and issue. I recall driving in the rain having to reach out and give the wipers a help. That Rambler got me through grad school. The Ramblers were great cars. John Rosol was the best person and a super mechanic. Ramblers weren’t selling well aso he went to a Ford dealer and towed a new thunderbird into the show with his 1968 rambler. The owner of the Ford dealership wasn’t too happy with John.

I love my 63 770. Just like the 2 tone gold/yellow in the lower picture, and I would say as stock and quite original.

My parents had a 56 Hudson Hornet Hollywood 4 door that had the lay-down seat option, and we actually used it just as shown in the photo. Before the days of freeways and super highways, when you got tired you just pulled over to the shoulder of (2 lane) highway 40 and slept for awhile.