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

A. You just left it by the side of the road and never looked back? I hope that somehow it was rescued and adopted - I don’t know what the protocol is in a case like that. I once had a freshly restored DeSoto start spewing transmission fluid 50 miles into my trip home. I composed the ad for it while walking to the nearest phone to call AAA.

B. You wouldn’t travel 400 miles to check out the car you’d been searching for? It was in the next state! My parents drove me from Long Island to New Hampshire to check out a 1939 Studebaker before I had my drivers license and none of us are mechanics. The car needed restoration but Dad and I took the bus back there a couple of weeks later and he drove it home.

In the 1980’s my then girl friend sold me her 1955 Studebaker after she bought a 1963 American the same color as the one pictured above. “She went Nash on me” but I didn’t complain - I love all the independents.

My father bought his first Rambler in 1956 - brand new three tone white, pink and black station wagon DeLuxe Cross Country. It had supports in front of the back seat for when the front seats were folded down. Cannot tell you how many times I bruised my calves on those things. Took a lot of heat from the kids at school, even more when he traded that one in 6 years later for a 1962 Rambler American 400 2 door sedan Gold with a white top. That became my car three years later and he bought a 1965 Rambler Classic 660 two door sedan blue/green with a white top. In high school guys always wanted to borrow my car. Never to go anywhere, just borrow it. My girlfriend at the time said that the “go down” seats were the attraction. In 1968 I bought a Javelin SST 390 4 speed which I sold a few years later to buy my then girlfriend still wife an engagement ring. Now retired, I am building a 68 Javelin resto-mod. 401, 6 speed, upgraded suspension, the works. I also have a '74 Bricklin with the AMC 360 which I have warmed up. Love my AMCs

I love my 66 rambler rebel 2dr hardtop with an amc 327. Such a fun car with tons of questions and stares at stop lights. Unfortunately going to have to find a new home for it. :angry:

All three of my 1964 Rambler American 440s are covered by Hagerty and available to rent on DriveShare. People respond to these humble cars with exuberance beyond what their pecking order would dictate. Brides snatch up the Aquamarine convertible to match their bridesmaids’ dresses while grooms go for the V8 of the red one. The trio have also been used for commercials, rap videos and family gatherings. Perhaps a half century after their debut, they have finally come into their own.

That was my parent’s first car after they were married. A '65 770 Classic. Funny, but when my Dad bought it, he couldn’t drive it home as he didn’t have a driver’s license! He got his brother-in-law to drive it home for him!

I’ve been a Rambler guy for decades. Just Google “farna rambler” and you’ll see my screen name pop up on a lot of AMC/Rambler boards as well as hot rod boards. I like restored cars, but understand that people like to modify/customize cars, and would rather see them done well than sent to the crusher or allowed to sit and rust away. With the more popular makes and models getting pricey, more people are finding Ramblers to be good value alternatives – just like when they were new.

My own car is a 63 Classic wagon. It was built to be a daily driver, and while I was still in the USAF (retired in 2007 after 24 years) it was just that. Drove it from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes a couple times when stationed at Gulfport, MS. I didn’t want to much of a hot rod, so installed a hopped-up 4.0L six – EFI and AW4 four speed auto. While the 63 and 64 models only came with the little (and ancient!) 196, they were built with the upcoming (late 64) 232 in mind. Since the 4.0L is based on the old 199/232/258 block it drops right in. I don’t drive it as much these days, but it’s still a great car. Sized right, and styling still looks good. I agree that the 63 and 64 models are the best looking. Squaring the sleek body off for 65 and 66 didn’t do them any favors, but they still aren’t bad looking cars – on a par with others of the era.

Your old Rambler most likely suffered from (unintentional) maintenance negligence. When passed down several times required maintenance on the old 196 is forgotten about. It’s a conversion of the 196 L-head originally designed for the 1940 Nash Ambassador 600 (as a 172.6), converted to an OHV in 1956 since AMC didn’t have the money for a clean slate small six. The block was changed a bit, but retained as many parts from the L-head as possible. So you can’t bolt the OHC head to an L-head block, but the entire bottom end (including cam bearings and timing set) interchanges. One result of the conversion was the rather large head and smallish sealing surfaces. Even with a modern head gasket the head bolts have to be torqued every 10-12K miles or three years, whichever is first. The service and owner’s manuals say check at 4K and torque at 8K, but modern gaskets seem to hold up better. That big mass of cast iron expands and contracts about 0.020" every heat/cool cycle. This eventually loosens the head bolts. First sign of a loosening head is usually running hot. The heads are at an age now that they crack easily. Age and the fact that most have been run hot 2-3 times at least by now due to unknowing owners not torquing the head bolts.

My 1st car was a 1960 Rambler Rebel with a 250 cubic inch motor with holley 4 barrel dual exhaust and (possi) Twin Grip rear 3 on the tree O/D 215hp all factory car.On Long Island in1965-1967 I used to eat up 283 chevey’s and 289 fords on Sunrise Hwy light to light on Friday nights.They would be so heart broken when a Rambler would blow thier doors off! I wish I had that car now. Only 1 major flaw I must have put 6 rear possi axles in it. Not strong enough for the power.

I really enjoyed this article! We were a Rambler family when I was growing up,I was a soph in high school in 1963 and my Mom had a lovely '63 base car in maroon, I’ve always thought it was a great looking car. In '65 as a senior I got a snazzy American coupe (red with white roof) with bucket seats and the Twin Stick option; on a maiden voyage (New York to Shenandoah Nat’l Park)) with 4 buddies, while my friend was driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway, he managed to lose control and flip the car on its roof (!). Fortunately no one was injured, he was saved by the then-innovative lap belts as the roof was crushed just above his head.Still miss that car!

Adam

Having owned numerous AMC muscle cars, I am also somewhat knowledgeable about the earlier Ramblers. A few weeks ago I was at a salvage yard in Brockton, MA and saw a pretty decent 1964 Rambler Classic Typhoon third in line for the crusher. Missing the front seats and console, and had typical quarter rust but the rest is pretty solid. No keys so i don’t know about the trunk floor. Cost me $650 to save it, price included delivery. Now this was a special edition yellow/black car, with only 2520 Typhoons being made-all two door hardtops, all yellow/black, all six cylinders. Interior is pretty decent. So I offered it for sale on the various Rambler sites and other venues for exactly what I paid: $650. Had a lot of responses, all saying “thanks for saving this”, but nobody wanted to buy it. In another week it will be back in the junkyard and i’ll have my $650 back. What a shame, but I won’t be “saving” any more Ramblers.

I can’t say for sure but before bringing that 64 Typhoon back to the junkyard I would check with the original person of this article who seemed to be very interested in finding a 64. The Typhoon is a pretty rare Rambler and for $650 thats a very good price.After all BMWs and a Porsche are great cars to own but I promise you that Rambler is a much better than the Lucas (Prince of Darkness} Triumph could ever be! Really enjoyed this article. I own a 1965 Rambler Ambassador 990 V8 and think it’s a great car. AMC people are like a family always happy to help out.

I’ve always liked the 63-64 body style as well. More importantly there is more to this car and its MT car of the year award than the writer states. First, those curved side windows were really advanced stuff for a moderate priced car in 1963 (the new 63 Riviera was one of the few others that had them). They made for much thinner, lighter doors and a flusher side style. Second, AMC had switched in 1962 to dual master brake cylinders for safety well before the rest of the industry & government required it. Third, and of greatest geeky engineering importance, AMC had become a leader in unibody technology (they switched to all unibody by 1949). The 63 body was the last great advancement. Previously bodies were built from the floor pans up to the roof and tiny variations in positioning before welding of the many parts could result in compromised door fit. The 63 was the first car to use a large 1-piece side stamping which included the full perimeter door frames and rear quarter, which were then built out and attached to the platform & roof. This resulted in near perfect door fitment and an industry leading tight body structure. All current cars (as far as I know) currently use this unibody construction method. Once built, their full-body dip in rustproof coating helped corrosion resistance (though we can see it was marginally effective today). So these cars were truly a major advancement and deserving of the MT award.

My second car was a 1962 Rambler Classic wagon. Driving around with a buddy, we spotted the car in a driveway. My friend stated that he had fond memories of standing on the back bumper, holding onto the luggage rack and having friends pull donuts in a parking lot. I suggested we stop and see if the car was for sale. The man that owned the car had stated he had just bought a new car (an AMC Matador!) and would think about selling the car. He called me the next day and stated that he had just bought two new snow tires for the car for $30.00 and would sell the Rambler for that price. So the story goes that I bought a set of snow tires with a Rambler attached! I drove the car all over NE Ohio that winter, some of it pulling donuts with friends on the back bumper. That started my love affair with AMC. I have owned numerous Ramblers and AMCs from bare bone Classics to Hot Rod AMX’s. Presently I am restoring a 1966 American convertible I rescued from a field in Missouri. Rambler/AMC’s are great because many people have no idea what the car is or the history. Ramblers 4 ever!!

I found it interesting that there is no mention of the 1957 Rambler Rebel. This is the car to own. It had a 327 ci V8 with a four barrel carburetor. It was the same engine used in the 1957 Hudson Hornet and was rated at 255 hp. There was optional Bendix fuel injection that appeared in a few cars (I think) and was rated at 288 hp. According to several car mags, it would run with a 1957 Corvette. That probably made it the fastest American sedan. I rode in one (driven by my father) when I was 12 years old. Five or six years later I saw one on a used car lot for $1075 dollars. It had a 3 speed overdrive transmission. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money. The car was very fast.

Being a Hudson guy, I like to think that the Ambassador would have carried the Hudson nameplate if AMC marketing gurus had not decided to abandon the Hudson & Nash brands.