RAMBLER automobile Kenosha Wisconsin USA Part II

1900 Emblem Rambler

RAMBLER automobile

1960 Rambler R

Kenosha Wisconsin USA Part II

for part one: 

https://myntransportblog.com/2015/03/20/rambler-automobile-kenosha-wisconsin-usa-part-i/

for nash:

https://myntransportblog.com/2015/03/19/nash-automobile-manufacturer-kenosha-wisconsin-united-states-1916-1954/

for hudson:

https://myntransportblog.com/2015/03/12/hudson-motor-car-company-detroit-michigan-united-states-1901-1957/

now we can start with Rambler Cars Part II

Rambler Rebel

Rambler Rebel
1957_Rambler_Rebel_hardtop_rfd-Cecil'10

1957 Rambler Rebel
Overview
Manufacturer American Motors Corporation(AMC)
Model years
  • 1957-1960
  • 1966-1967
Assembly Kenosha, Wisconsin
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size
Layout FR layout
1960_Rambler_Rebel_V8_green_Ann-lo

 1960 Rebel V8 emblems

The Rambler Rebel is an automobile that was produced by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) of Kenosha, Wisconsin for the 1957–1960 model years, as well as again for 1966 and 1967.

Introduced as a stand-alone model in one body style, the 1957 Rambler Rebel is credited for being the first factory-produced intermediate-sized high-performance car. This later became known as the muscle car market segment. It was also to be among the earliest production cars equipped with electronic fuel injection.

The second and third generations essentially became the equivalent Rambler Six models, but equipped with a V8 engine. The Rebel nameplate was reintroduced in 1966 as the top-line intermediate-sized two-door hardtop. For the 1967 model year, AMC’s all-new intermediate line took the Rebel name. American Motors dropped the historic “Ramblermarque from these intermediate sized models to become the AMC Rebel starting with the 1968 model year.

The cars were also produced in Argentina by Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA).

History

The strategy of American Motors President, George W. Romney, was to avoid a head-to-head battle with the domestic Big Three automakers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) by focusing AMC on cars that were smaller than the “standard” models in the marketplace. The “legacy” large-sized Nash and Hudson models were suffering from dwindling sales in a marketplace where consumers were only offered large-sized sedans and small economy cars. The new Rambler was designed “to split the market wide open with a mid-size model that featured aggressive styling and plenty of power.”

Development of AMC’s new overhead-valve V8 engine began in 1955, under the automaker’s chief engineer, Meade Moore, as well as David Potter who was hired from Kaiser-Frazer. The new engine evolved because component sharing relationships with Packard were terminated and AMC managers decided to manufacture a V8 engine in-house. The new engine debuted in mid-1956 in the Nash Ambassador Special and the Hudson Hornet Special. At that time, the 250 cu in (4.1 L) engine was the smallest American V8, butits 190 hp (142 kW; 193 PS) was more than either of Chevrolet’s contemporary two-barrel V8s.

The 1956 model year four-door Rambler models were completely redesigned. Edmund E. Anderson and Bill Reddig styled the new model with a “dramatic reverse-sloped C-pillar” as well as borrowing the Nash-Healey‘s Pinin Farina-designed inboard, grille-mounted headlamps.

For the 1957 model year the Rambler was established as a separate marque. The 1957 Rambler Rebel debuted as a special model in the Rambler line showcasing AMC’s big new V8 engine. The Rebel became the first factory-produced lightweight muscle car.

First generation

First generation
1957_Rambler_Rebel_rear Muscle car Pillarless AMC

1957 Rambler Rebel with continental tire
Overview
Model years 1957
Body and chassis
Body style 4-door hardtop sedan
Powertrain
Engine 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108 in (2,743 mm)
Length
  • 191.14 in (4,855 mm)
  • 198.89 in (5,052 mm) with optional continental tire mount
Width 71.32 in (1,812 mm)
Height 58.48 in (1,485 mm)

1957

1957_Rambler_Rebel_interior

 All Rebels were 4-door hardtops (no“B” pillar)

American Motors surprised most observers with the December 1956 introduction of the Rambler Rebel – “a veritable supercar”. The new 1957 model debuted as a high-performance vehicle that combined AMC’s lightweight 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase Rambler four-door hardtop body with AMC’s newly introduced 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 engine. This made it the first-time that a large block V8 was installed in a mid-size carin the post-World War II marketplace. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler offered no intermediate-sized cars whatsoever.

Although AMC was best known for their reliable economy cars, this special model came with a bigger engine than anything found at Chevrolet, Ford, or Plymouth—the Rambler’s most popular competitors at that time. The Rebel’s US$ 2,786 MSRP base price was economical for the amount of power provided. It was the fastest stock American sedan, according to Motor Trend.

All Rebels came with a manual (with overdrive unit) or GM’s four-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, as well as other performance enhancements such as a dual exhaust system, heavy-duty suspension with Gabriel (brand) shock absorbers, and front sway bar. The Rebel was capable of 0 to 60 mph (0-97  km/h) acceleration in just 7.5 seconds with its standard 255 hp (190 kW; 259 PS) carbureted engine. The car’s light monocoque (unibody) construction afforded a power-to-weight ratio of about 13 pounds per horsepower, a better ratio than other 1957 model year automobiles and a contrast to Volkswagen’s 45.

The Rebel’s engine also differed from the 327s installed in the 1957 Ambassador and Hudson Hornet models because it used mechanical valve lifters and a higher compression ratio. Since both engines were rated at 255 hp, it is probable that the Rebel’s was underrated.

Power steering and power drum brakes were also standard, as on all Rambler Custom models. The car was available only in silver metallic paint accented with gold anodized aluminum inserts along the sides. Padded dashboards and visors, rear child proof door locks, and seat belts were all optional. A total of 1,500 Rebels were produced in 1957. Integrated air conditioning system, the All Weather Eye was a $345 option.

The Rebel is considered to be a precursor of the muscle cars (rear-wheel drive mid-size cars with a powerful V8 engines and special trims) that became so popular in the 1960s. It also foretold that muscle-type performance would be included among AMC’s models.

Fuel injection option

The Bendix “Electrojector” electronic fuel injection (EFI) was to be optional on the 1957 Rambler Rebel with a flashy introduction at the Daytona Beach Road Course trials. The Rebel’s Electrojector equipped engine was rated at 288 bhp (214.8 kW). This was to have been the first mass-produced engine with a transistorized “brain box” fuel injection system. A Rambler Rebel with the optional EFI was tested by Motor Trend, and they recorded this sedan going faster from a standing start than the 1957 Chevrolet Corvette with mechanical fuel injection.

The Bendix system’s public debut in December 1956 was followed by a March 1957 price bulletin listing it as a US$ 395 option, but because supplier difficulties, EFI Rebels would only be available after June 15. This was to have been the first production EFI engine, but Electrojector’s teething problems meant only pre-production cars were so equipped: thus, very few cars so equipped were ever sold, and none were made available to the public. The Rambler’s EFI was more advanced than the mechanical types then appearing on the market and the engines ran fine in warm weather, but suffered hard starting in cooler temperatures. As a result, all of the production Rebels used a four-barrel carburetor. Nevertheless, the EFI option remained in the published owner’s manual.

Second generation

Second generation
1959 Rambler Country Club hardtop with optional continental tire

1959 Rambler Rebel 4-door hardtop
Overview
Also called IKA 5829-2 (RA)
Model years 1958-1959
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 250 cu in (4.1 L) V8
  • 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108 in (2,743 mm)

1958

For the 1958 model year, the Rebel name returned, but no longer with the 327 engine. Rather than identifying a specialty model, the name was applied to all Ramblers powered by AMC’s 250 cu in (4.1 L) V8 engine. Rebel came with a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts rated at 215 hp (160 kW; 218 PS) with 260 lb·ft (353 N·m) of torque. The 327 engine was made standard in the more luxurious Rambler Ambassador models. The 1958 Rebel lineup encompassed six models: Super or Custom trimmed four-door sedans and Cross Country station wagons, plus a base Deluxe four-door sedan that was reserved for fleet sales. A four-door hardtop in the top-line Custom trim was now Rebel’s sole pillarless model.

These Rebels were no longer the muscle car of 1957, but did offer more power than regular Rambler models. A test by Motor Trend concluded “the V8 powered Rebel is now able to reach a true 60-mph from a standstill in an estimated 12.0 seconds”—significantly slower than the limited-production ’57 Rebel, and this was pretty good for that era.

The 1958 Rambler Rebel and Rambler Six shared revised styling with new grille, front fenders containing quad headlamps, as well as a new hood design while the rear received new fenders with impressive tailfins.

1959

The 1959 model year Rambler Rebels featured hoods without ornaments, a new full-width grille with large inset turn signal lamps, bumpers and bumper guards that reduced overall length by 1.6 inches (41 mm), a thinner roof panel look with narrower C-pillars, windshield and rear window slanted at a greater angle reducing wind resistance, simpler bodyside trim, and restyled rear doors and fenders with a smooth line to the smaller tailfins. Car Life magazine called the 1959 Rambler “one of the most attractive cars on the road”.

All Rambler Rebels benefitted from bigger brakes, improved automatic transmission controls, and numerically lower axle ratios for improved fuel economy. A new option was adjustable headrests. The 1959 Rebel came with a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts rated at 215 hp (160 kW) with 260 lb·ft (353 N·m) of torque.

Third generation

Third generation
1960_Rambler_Rebel_V8_green_Ann-fl

1960 Rambler Rebel V8 sedan
Overview
Also called IKA 5829-2 (RA)
Model years 1960
Body and chassis
Body style
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108 in (2,743 mm)
Length 185.9 in (4,722 mm)
Width 72.32 in (1,837 mm)
Height 57.1 in (1,450 mm)

1960

American Motors downplayed the Rambler Rebel name in 1960. Rather than focus on the separate Six and Rebel models, as in previous years, emphasis was placed on the Rambler name and the trim levels, with the notation that each series was offered with “Economy 6” or “Rebel V8” engines. The 1960 model year saw the Rebel available with a lower compression 2-barrel version rated at 200 hp (149 kW).

The Rambler Rebel was all new, but retained the same styling concept. The front end featured a full-width die-cast grille, while the two-piece front and rear bumpers were promoted to cut repair costs. The C-pillars were made narrower and the tail fins were now smaller.

Station wagons with two rows of seats came with a conventional tailgate (roll down rear window and drop down gate) while three-row models received a new side-hinged door. All station wagons included a standard roof rack. A big feature was the 80 cubic feet (2.27 m3) of space, compared for example to the much larger-sized Oldsmobile station wagons that offered only 80 cubic feet (2.3 m3) of cargo room. Among the 17 different station wagons that were marketed by AMC for 1960, the Rambler Six Cross Country Super was the most popular.

After the 1960 model year all of the 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase models took the Rambler Classic name.

Fourth generation

Fourth generation
1966 Rambler Rebel 2-door hardtop

1966 Rambler Rebel 2-door hardtop
Overview
Model years 1966
Body and chassis
Body style 2-door hardtop coupe
Dimensions
Wheelbase 112 in (2,845 mm)

1966

The Rebel name reappeared for the 1966 model year on a version of the Rambler Classic two-door hardtop.

This model featured bucket seats, special interior and exterior trim, as well as a revised roofline. The base price of this top-of-the-line model was US$2,523 with the standard 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6; however, more sports oriented options were available that included a new-for-1966 Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual floor-mounted transmission, dash mounted tachometer, as well as the 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 producing 270 bhp (200 kW), which was only an extra $65.

This effort moved AMC once again toward the muscle car market segment; however the Rebel was criticized for its antiquated torque tube suspension system. The Rebel also suffered from Rambler’s “economy” reputation, but the Rebel model offered the recipe common to most of early muscle cars including the biggest-available engine, bucket seats, and special trim, but the Rebel did not have a non-functional hood scoop.

Total production of the Rebel model was 7,512. The 1966 Rambler Rebel “poses a great bargain for the muscle-car enthusiast [today] … rarity and performance wrapped up into a single cost-efficient package.

Fifth generation

Fifth generation
1967_AMC_Rambler_Rebel_sedan_aqua

1967 Rambler Rebel 4-door sedan
Overview
Also called
  • American Motors Rebel
  • Rambler-Renault Rebel
Model years 1967-1970
Assembly
Body and chassis
Body style
Dimensions
Wheelbase 114 in (2,896 mm)

1967

For the 1967 model year, all of AMC’s intermediates took the Rambler Rebel name. They were of a completely new design from the predecessor models. The new Rebels were bigger and rode on a longer 114-inch (2,896 mm) wheelbase allowing for more passenger space and cargo capacity. The new styling featured sweeping rooflines with more glass area, as well as a smooth, rounded “coke-bottle” body design. The Rebel was now available not only in 4-door sedan, 4-door station wagon, and 2-door hardtop versions, but also for 1967 as 2-door sedan (coupé) with a thin B-pillar and flip out rear side windows, as well as a convertible.

Traditional Rambler economy came standard with the redesigned Rebels featuring six-cylinder engines and overdrive transmissions. However, the Rebels were upgraded in numerous areas including a new four-link, trailing-arm rear suspension system. American Motors also introduced advanced V8 engines, and Rebels could now be turned “into a decent budget-priced muscle car” with the new 343 cu in (5.6 L).

Moreover, American Motors expanded its racing activities in 1967 by partnering with automotive performance parts company, Grant Industries, to build the Grant Rambler Rebel, a “Funny Car” racer to compete in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) X/S (Experimental Stock) and Super Experimental Stock classes. The relationship provided both companies with national exposure and publicity. The racing Rebel had an altered wheelbase 122-inch (3,099 mm) with chrome moly steel tube chassis and powered by the 343 cu in (5.6 L) AMC V8 engine that was bored and stroked to 438 cu in (7.2 L). The engine featured a GMC 6-71 blower and Enderle fuel injection, producing 1,200 hp (895 kW; 1,217 PS) at up to 9000 rpm on a mixture of alcohol and nitromethane. In 1967, Hayden Proffitt drove the Rebel on the quarter-mile (402 m) from a standing start in 8.11 seconds at 180.85 mph (291.0 km/h).

1968

1968_AMC_Rebel_convertible

 1968 AMC Rebel SST convertible

For the 1968 model year, the historic “Ramblermarque was dropped and the line was named AMC Rebel. The cars received only a modest restyle, but incorporated new safety features mandated by the U.S.National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), engine control systems to reduce unburned hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions, and the availability of the “AMX” 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS) 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine.

Declining sales of convertibles in general during the late 1960s saw discontinuance of this body style by AMC after only 823 were built in 1968.

Production of Rebels continued through the 1970 model year until replaced by the similar AMC Matador for the 1971 model year.

Production

Fifth generation Rebels were built at Kenosha, Wisconsin and Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Foreign assembly from Partial Knock Down (PKD) kits was undertaken by Australian Motor Industries in Australia and by Campbell Motor Industries in Thames, New Zealand and from Complete Knock Down (CKD) kits by Renault in Europe and by Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos in Mexico.

See also

AMC Ambassador

AMC Ambassador
1958_Ambassador_4-d_hardtop_wagon_1

1958 Ambassador hardtop station wagon
Overview
Manufacturer American Motors Corporation(AMC)
Also called
  • Ambassador by Rambler
  • American Motors Ambassador
  • Rambler Ambassador
  • IKA Ambassador
Production 1957–1974
Model years 1958–1974
Assembly
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size/Full-size
Layout FR layout
1967_Ambassador_990_4-d_aqua_pa-t
 Ambassador emblem (1958–1961) and name badge (1967–1973)

The Ambassador was the top-of-the-line automobile produced by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1958 until 1974. The vehicle was known as the AMC Ambassador, Ambassador V-8 by Rambler, and Rambler Ambassador at various times during its tenure in production. Previously, the name Ambassador had applied to Nash’s “senior” full-size cars.

The Ambassador nameplate was used continuously from 1927 until 1974 (the name being a top-level trim line between 1927 and 1931); at the time it was discontinued, Ambassador was the longest continuously used nameplate in automotive history.

Most Ambassador models were built in Kenosha, Wisconsin. They were also built at AMC’s Brampton Assembly in Brampton, Ontario from 1963 to 1966. Australian Motor Industries (AMI) assembled Ambassadors from knock-down kits with right-hand drive. The U.S. fifth generation Ambassadors were produced by Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) in Córdoba, Argentina from 1965 to 1972, as well as assembled by ECASA in Costa Rica from 1965 to 1970. Fifth and seventh generation Ambassadors were modified into custom stretch limousines in Argentina and the U.S.

Prologue

Following George W. Mason‘s unexpected death in the fall of 1954, George Romney (whom Mason had been grooming as his eventual successor), succeeded him as president and CEO of the newly formed American Motors. Romney recognized that to be successful in the postwar marketplace, an automobile manufacturer would have to be able to produce and sell cars in sufficient volume to amortize the high cost of tooling. Toward that end, he set out to increase AMC’s market share with its Rambler models that were selling in market segment in which the domestic Big Three (General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler) automakers did not yet compete. While development of a redesigned 1958 Nash Ambassador, based on a stretched and reskinned 1956 Rambler body, was almost complete, AMC’s designers were also working on a retrimmed Hudson equivalent, called Rebel, to offer Hudson dealers.

However, as sales of the large-sized Nash Ambassador and Hudson Hornet models slowed, it became clear to Romney that consumer confidence in the historic Nash and Hudson nameplates had collapsed. Reluctantly, he decided that 1957 would be the end of both nameplates, and the company would concentrate on the new Rambler line, which was registered as a separate marque for 1957.

First generation

First generation
1958 Rambler_Ambassador_(3893707660)

1958 Ambassador V8, Custom sedan
Overview
Also called Ambassador V8 by Rambler
Model years 1958–1959
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Transmission 3-speed automatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 117 in (2,972 mm)

1958

Samsung

 1958 Ambassador Custom hardtop sedan with continental tire
1958_Ambassador_4-d_hardtop_wagon_2

 Ambassador hardtop (pillarless) Cross Country station wagon

American Motors planned to produce a stretched a 117-inch (2,972 mm) wheelbase version of the Rambler platform for Nash dealers to be the new Nash Ambassador, and another for Hudson dealers. Shortly before committing to production of the new long-wheelbase versions of the Hudson and the Nash, CEO Romney decided to abandon the Nash and Hudson marques.

Despite the fact that the Nash and Hudson names were canceled, work on the car itself continued, and American Motors introduced debuted in the fall of 1957, the 1958 “Ambassador V-8 by Rambler” on a 117-inch (2,972 mm) wheelbase. Its features included a 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 (equipped with a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts and rated at 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) and 360 pound force-feet (490 N·m) of torque) mated to a BorgWarner supplied 3-speed automatic transmission with push button gear selection.

In 1956, AMC first produced its own V8, a modern overhead valve V8 displacing 250 cu in (4.1 L), with a forged steel crank shaft, which when equipped with a 4-barrel carburetor was rated at 215 hp (160 kW; 218 PS). In 1957, AMC bored and stroked the 250 CID V8 to 327 cu in (5.4 L) displacement which when offered in the Rambler Rebel used solid lifters and Bendix electronic fuel injection was rated at 288 hp (215 kW; 292 PS).

In 1958, the Ambassador was equipped with a hydraulic lifter version of AMC’s 327 CID V8 rated at 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS). Although AMC’s 327 CID V8 shares its displacement with the Chevrolet small-block, AMC’s 327 came out six years before Chevrolet first offered its 327 in 1962.

The Ambassador was available in a body style exclusive to its line, a pillarless hardtop Cross Country station wagon. The 1958 Ambassador was offered in a single high level trim level and came equipped with such luxury items as electric clock, twin front and rear ashtrays, Nash tradition “deep coil” spring suspension front and rear, split back reclining front seats that fold down into a bed, as well as upscale fabrics for the interior.

Management had found that the public associated the Rambler name with small economy cars, and did not want the upscale nature of the new Ambassador to be so closely associated with Rambler’s favorable, but economical image. Therefore, a decision was made that the larger Ambassador would be marketed as the Ambassador V-8 by Rambler in order to identify it with the Rambler name’s burgeoning success, but to indicate an air of exclusivity by showing it to be a different kind of vehicle. However, the car wore “Rambler Ambassador” badges on its front fenders.

The 1958 Ambassador is a substantially longer car than the 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase Rambler Six and Rebel V8, although both lines shared the same basic body, styling, and visual cues. However, all of the Ambassador’s extra nine inches (230 mm) of wheelbase (and, therefore, overall length) were added ahead of the cowl, meaning that the passenger compartment had the same volume as the smaller Ramblers. The Ambassadors came with plusher interior and exterior trims while the front end incorporated the Rebel “V-Line” grille from the prototype Hudson model. Through effective market segmentation, the Ambassador was positioned to compete with the larger models offered by other automakers.

Model identification was located on the car’s front fenders and deck lid. Super trim level Ambassadors featured painted side trim in a color that complemented the body color; Custom models featured a silver anodized aluminum panel on sedans and vinyl woodgrain decals on station wagons. Ambassador body styles included a four-door sedan and a hardtop sedan, a four-door pillared station wagon, and the aforementioned hardtop station wagon, a body style that first saw duty as an industry first in the 1956 Nash and Hudson Rambler line, on which all of the 1958 Ramblers were based.

The Ambassador had an excellent power-to-weight ratio for its time and provided spirited performance with 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) times of less than 10-seconds, and low 17-second times through a quarter-mile (402 m)dragstrip. It could be equipped with a limited slip differential, as well as power brakes, power steering, power windows, and air conditioning. Numerous safety features came standard, while lap seat belts were optional.

1959

For 1959, the Ambassador received a revised grille, side trim, and redesigned rear door skins that swept into the tailfins instead of terminating at the C-pillar. Scotchlite reflectors were also added to the rear of the tailfins to increase visibility at night. Front and rear bumpers were over 20% thicker, and featured recessed center sections to protect license plates. Adjustable headrests were now available as an option for the front seats, an industry first. AMC touted the added comfort the headrests provided, as well as their potential for reducing whiplash injuries in the event of a rear-end collision. Other changes included the activation of the starter through the neutral pushbutton (on automatic transmission equipped cars), and the addition of an optional “Powr-Saver” engine fan, which featured a fluid-filled clutch for quieter high-speed operation.

The 1959 model year also saw the addition of an optional “Air-Coil Ride” air suspension system, utilizing air bags installed within the rear coil springs. An engine-driven compressor, reservoir, and ride-height control valve comprised the rest of the system, but as other automakers discovered, the troublesome nature of air-suspension outweighed its benefits. AMC discontinued the unpopular option at the end of the model year.

Ambassador sales improved considerably over 1958, reaching an output of 23,769; nearly half of which were Custom four-door sedans. Much rarer was the hardtop station wagon, of which only 578 were built.

Second generation

Second generation
1960_AMC_Rambler_Ambassador_sedan_green_NJ

1960 Ambassador V8 by Rambler
Overview
Also called Rambler Ambassador
Model years 1960–1961
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Dimensions
Wheelbase 117 in (2,972 mm)

1960

1960 saw the Ambassador lineup totally reskinned, wearing new fenders, hood, deck lid, door skins, roofline, grille, taillights, bumpers, windshield, and backlight. Significant were the lower hood line, lower windshield cowl, simplified side trim, egg crate grill, while the tailfins were reduced in height and were canted to either side making for a modern and integrated appearance. The overall effect was rather fresh, as the new roof had a lower, lighter look, to complement the lower fins and grille.

All Ambassadors came equipped with the American Motors 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8, but for the first time it was available in two versions. First was the original 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS), 360 lb·ft (490 N·m) of torque, performance version equipped with the 4-barrel carburetor and a 9.7:1 compression ratio, which required premium fuel, and a second economy version running on regular gasoline making 250 hp (186 kW), 340 lb·ft (460 N·m) of torque, equipped with a 2-barrel carburetor and an 8.7:1 compression ratio.

Ambassadors now came with a unique compound curved windshield that cut into the roof. This improved visibility, did away with the “knee knocker” dogleg design of AMC’s first generation wrap-around windshield, and resulted in an even stiffer unitized structure. The 1960 Ambassador had a low cowl which with the compound windshield afforded excellent visibility. The Ambassador was offered in higher end Custom or entry level Super trim levels. All 1960 Ambassadors came with a new instrument cluster under a padded cowl, as well as illuminated controls for lights, wipers, fan, and defrost functions. The 1960 Ambassadors continued with an enclosed drive shaft (torque tube) and coil springs at all four corners, although the suspension was revised resulting in better handling. The top-of-the-line Ambassador models came standard with individual “airliner” reclining front seats that now had even more luxurious fabrics than in previous years.

The Ambassador was the only American midsize, luxury high-performance car offered in 1960. The 1960 Ambassador came in 4-door sedan, 4-door pillarless hardtop, 4-door station wagon, and a 4-door pillarless (hardtop) station wagon. Equipped with the 270 horsepower 327 cu in V8, and the Borg Warner pushbutton-operated 3-speed planetary gear and torque converter automatic transmission, the Ambassadors reached 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) in just over 9 seconds and passed the quarter-mile in 17 seconds.

1961

1961_Rambler_Ambassador_Custom_blue-fl

 1961 Rambler Ambassador Custom
1961_AMC_Rambler_Ambassador_4-door_pink_rear

 1961 Rambler Ambassador sedan

The 1961 Ambassador continued the previous year’s 117-inch (2,972 mm) basic unitized platform, but received an unusual new front-end styling that was overseen by AMC’s in-house design department headed by Edmund Anderson. The new face consisted of a trapezoidal grille and headlights that floated in a body-colored panel, while the front fenders arched downward and forward of the leading edge of the hood. Different from anything else on the market, AMC’s marketing department promoted the look as “European.” While the new look was meant to distinguish the Ambassador from the lower-priced Ramblers, it was neither a consumer success nor well received in the automotive press. Overall sales fell as the entire industry was experiencing a recession. The hardtop sedan and wagon models did not return for 1961.

Standard was the 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 with a synchromesh manual transmission. Optional was the 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) “power pack” version with dual exhaust system featuring new ceramic-coated mufflers guaranteed for the life of the car.

Third generation

Third generation
1962_Rambler_Ambassador_2-door_sedan_Kenosha_green-f

1962 Rambler Ambassador
Overview
Also called Rambler Ambassador
Model years 1962
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108 in (2,743 mm)

1962[edit]

By the 1962 model year, the Ambassador’s chassis was in its fifth season on the market. And while Rambler sales had been good enough for third place in industry sales (behind Chevrolet and Ford), AMC’s management was working on a revolutionary and somewhat costly design set to debut for the 1963 model year. In the meantime, American Motors needed to save money, and since the Ambassador’s sales had fallen in 1961, it was decided that the car would be downsized for 1962 to share its body, windshield and 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase with its Classic line mate. Accordingly, the car was marketed as a Rambler Ambassador.

The 1962 Ambassador received a new front end that was very similar to the 1961–62 Classic’s, but with a crosshatch design, recessed center section, and Ambassador lettering. New, rectangular taillights were seen at the ends of restyled rear fenders, which lost their fins entirely. Exterior trim was reshuffled, and a new 2-door pillared sedan debuted. A new ‘400’ trim line was added at the top of the line, with Super and Custom models remaining. The Ambassador offered even more luxurious interiors, perhaps to make up for the fact that it now shared its wheelbase with the Rambler Classic. The 400 could be had with vinyl bucket seats, headrests, and color coordinated shag carpets.

The only available engine was AMC’s 327 cu in (5.4 L) OHV V8, in either the regular fuel, 2-barrel carburetor and 8.7:1 compression ratio, 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) version or the premium gasoline, 4-barrel version with 9.7:1 compression ratio, 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) version. The 1962 Ambassador came with a dual chamber master brake cylinder that separated the front and rear brakes so that in the event of the failure of one chamber some braking function would remain. This design was offered by only a few cars at that time. The 1962 models were equipped with “Walker” (brand) flow-through mufflers. The 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase 1962 Ambassador was lighter than its 117-inch (2,972 mm) wheelbase predecessors and when equipped with the 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8, it was a spirited performer.

The 1962, 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 Ambassador for the first time used the same 108-inch (2,743 mm) wheelbase structure as did the 1957 Rambler Rebel which was also equipped with an earlier solid lifter version of the AMC 327. The 1957 Rambler Rebel equipped with a 3-speed column mounted manual transmission, was the quickest 4-door sedan made in the United States, achieving 0 to 60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) acceleration in just over 7 seconds, making it faster than the Hemi Chrysler 300C, the DeSoto Adventurer, the Dodge D500, the Plymouth Fury, and the Chevrolet fuel-injected 283. The 1962 Ambassador was available with a 3-speed manual transmission and being basically the same vehicle, should also reach 60 mph about as quickly as did the 1957 Rambler Rebel.

Fourth generation

Fourth generation
1963_Rambler_Ambassador_880_sedan_gold-white_K-f

1963 Rambler Ambassador 880 Sedan
Overview
Model years 1963–1964
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Dimensions
Wheelbase 112 in (2,845 mm)
Length 188.8 in (4,796 mm)
Width 71.3 in (1,811 mm)
Height 55.3 in (1,405 mm)

1963

In 1962 Romney left AMC to run for Governor of Michigan, a position that he won. The automaker’s new president, Roy Abernethy, who was responsible for the increasing sales under Romney, reacted to the mounting competition (in 1963 AMC built as many cars as they had in 1960, but overall total car sales had increased so much that it gave AMC only sixth place in production; the same output in 1960 had put them third) in a logical way: “Let’s get rid of this Romney image.”

A completely redesigned larger Rambler lineup appeared. The new cars continued the philosophy in building smaller cars than its larger “Big Three” competitors that also had a high degree of interchangeability in parts to keep tooling costs and production complexity to a minimum. The company, which pioneered “styling continuity”, introduced all-new styling for the 1963 model year Ambassadors and claimed that these were “functional changes …. not change just for the sake of change.” The Ambassadors featured a 4-inch (102 mm) longer wheelbase, but were 1.2-inch (30 mm) shorter due to reduced front and rear body overhangs, as well as a 3-inch (76 mm) drop in over-all height.

Designed by Richard A. Teague, the 1963 Ambassador’s shape was much tighter, cleaner, and smoother, with almost all of its parts interchangeable between it and the new Classic. All Ambassadors used unitized structure instead of the more rattl-prone, traditional body-on-frame construction which was still the industry standard. In 1963, AMC’s new 112 in (2,845 mm) wheelbase cars (Ambassadors and Classics) used a revolutionary method of unit construction which has since been almost universally adopted by automobile manufacturers. AMC Ambassador and Classics used outerpanels stamped from single sheet metal panels which included both door frames and outer rocker panels. This resulted in an extremely rigid and rattle-free structure, better fit of doors into frames, production cost savings and reduced noise, vibration and harshness. The “uniside” structure was superior to the conventional production methods in which multiple smaller pieces were welded together. There were 30% fewer parts and the result was greater structural rigidity, quieter car operation, and an over-all weight reduction of about 150 pounds (68 kilograms).

Curved side glass and push-button door handles were new and costly upgrades, but contributed to the new Rambler’s handsome, elegant, and modern Mercedes-like bodyside styling, by adding greater elegance in detail. At the time, curved side glass was used only in much more expensive luxury cars, but increased interior room and visibility, as well as reducing wind noise and improved proportions and styling of the cars. The Ambassador also featured a squared-off Thunderbird-type roofline. The front end featured a forward-thrusting upper and lower ends with a vertical bar “electric shaver” chrome grille insert. The Ambassador’s grille was differentiated from the Classic’s grille by its use of the Ambassador name in script in the small horizontal bar between the upper and lower grille sections. Round quad headlights were slightly recessed in chrome bezels mounted side-by-side within the grille at its outermost edges. Overall, the new Ambassadors were described by the staff of Automotive Fleet magazine as “probably the finest looking cars ever produced by American Motors.”

Ambassadors once again came in 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and 4-door wagon body styles, but new trim lines debuted. A “Mercedes-like three-number model designation was developed” with the 800 as the Ambassador’s base line (replacing the previous year’s Super model) for the police, taxi, and fleet market, a 880 model (in place of the Custom), and the up level 990 trim (replacing the previous 400 models).

The 1963 Ambassadors were offered only with the 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8, in either 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) 2-barrel or 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) 4-barrel versions. AMC’s smaller 287 cu in (4.7 L) V8 engine was only offered in the Classic line. The automatic transmission was controlled by a steering column mounted lever, replacing the previous pushbutton system. Maintenance was reduced with service intervals of the front wheel bearings increased from 12,000–25,000 miles (19,312–40,234 kilometres), the recommended engine oil change was at 4,000 miles (6,437 kilometres), and all Ambassador models included an alternator and a electronic voltage regulator as standard equipment.

Sales were brisk, and the redesign was billed a success, with Motor Trend Magazine bestowing Car of the Year status on the entire 1963 Rambler line, including the Ambassador. The marketing formula for the Ambassador generated record sales for the model with buyers favoring more luxury and features as evidenced by the Ambassador 990 models outselling the 880 versions by nearly 2-to-1, while the base 800 model had a total of only 43 two-door sedans built. The automaker did not have the resources of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, nor the sales volume to spread out its new model tooling and advertising costs over large production volumes; however, Richard Teague “turned these economical cars into smooth, streamlined beauties with tons of options and V-8 pep.”

1964

The 1964 model year introduced minor trim changes and new options. The “electric-shaver” grille on the 1963 model was replaced with a flush-mounted design, and the engine and transmission options were widened. A two-door hardtop body style called 990-H was added for the first time since 1957. Base 880 and the 880 models were dropped from the line.

The 1964 Ambassadors featured the 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS) 2-barrel 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 as standard, with the 4-barrel 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) version as optional. The automaker did not offer a 4-speed manual transmission to compete with the sporty mid-size V8 offerings from Ford or GM. Instead, AMC offered its innovative “Twin-Stick” manual transmission. The “Twin stick” option consisted a three-speed manual transmission, operated by one of the two console mounted “sticks” in conjunction with an overdrive unit that was controlled by the second “stick” in both 2nd and 3rd gears. This give the driver the option of using five forward gears. One magazine noted the Twin-Stick, 270 hp (201 kW; 274 PS) Ambassador was heading for a sub 16-second quarter-mile when they blew up the clutch.

Fifth generation

Fifth generation
1965_AMC_Ambassador_black_2door-HT_in_NJ

1965 Rambler Ambassador 990 2-door hardtop
Overview
Also called Rambler Ambassador
AMC Ambassador
Model years 1965–1966
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6
  • 287 cu in (4.7 L) V8
  • 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Transmission
  • 3-speed manual
  • 3-speed with overdrive
  • “Twin-Stick” on console (1965)
  • 4-speed manual (1966)
  • 3-speed automatic
  • 3-speed “Shift-Command” on console
Dimensions
Wheelbase 116 in (2,946 mm)
Length 200 in (5,080 mm)

1965

1965_Ambassador_990_convertible_yellow_pb-rr

 1965 Ambassador 990 convertible

No matter how much success the new Ramblers achieved in the marketplace, Roy Abernethy was not completely satisfied. Using the experience he gained as an outstanding salesman as a guide, Abernethy closely looked at the direction that American Motors’ competition was going and decided that the company would be much more successful if its products competed more directly with the Big Three. He would achieve this by pushing all AMC vehicles further upmarket among the various market segments, shaking off the company’s economy car image, and offering vehicles once again in all three major American car size classes: compact, intermediate, and full-size. The American and Classic were strong competitors in the former two segments, so for the 1965 model year, he set his sights on turning the Ambassador into a proper full-size car by stretching the Classic’s wheelbase and giving it much different styling. The general sizes of automobiles at that time were based on industry standard wheelbase lengths, rather than on the vehicle’s interior and cargo space. The 1965 Ambassador represented a fundamental shift in corporate ideology, a shift away from primarily fuel-efficient vehicles, to bigger, faster, and potentially more profitable cars.

Although the Ambassador rode the same platform as its 1963–64 forebears, the 1965 models looked all-new. American Motors’ designer Richard A. Teague styled the 1965 Ambassador with panache and gave the car an overall integrated look. Motor Trend magazine agreed, calling it a “strikingly handsome automobile.” Built on a 116-inch (2,946 mm) wheelbase four inches (100 mm) longer than the Classic, Teague extended the beltline level from the stacked quad headlights to the vertical taillights. The new Ambassadors were as attractive as anything built by AMC’s Detroit-based competitors, and with a list price of around $ 3,000, few could quibble about the cost of ownership. New disc brakes with a power brakes were optional.

The Ambassador received longer, squared-off rear fenders with vertical wrap-around taillights, taller decklid, squared off rear bumper mounted low, and squarer rear wheel arches. At the front, the Ambassador again sparked minor controversy with its new vertically stacked quad headlights, which were slightly recessed in their bezels, as they flanked an all-new horizontal bar grille. This new wall-to-wall grille projected forward, horizontally, in the center, to create an effect somewhat opposite to 1963’s grille treatment. The front end design provided a bold, rugged appearance.

Once again, the Ambassador’s entire extra wheelbase was ahead of the cowl, meaning that interior volume was the same as the intermediate-sized Classic. Another new body style debuted in the Ambassador lineup for 1965: an attractive new convertible offered as part of the 990 series. This was the first time a convertible was offered in the Ambassador line since 1948.

Ambassadors also saw an expanded list of trim lines, convenience options, and engine choices. The 990 and 990-H models were back, while 880 models were the new economy leaders in the 1965 Ambassador line, but even the $2,512 price for the two-door sedan was not attractive compared to the models with better trim, buckets seats, and special interiors. Ambassadors came standard with AMC’s new 232 cu in (3.8 L)Inline-6 engine, which was the first time since 1956 that an Ambassador was available with six cylinders. Far more popular in the Ambassador, however, were the two time-tested 287 and 327 cu in (4.7 and 5.4 L)AMC V8 engines.

American Motors’ management decided that the Ambassador could once again accept a standard six-cylinder engine, since its full-size competitors (e. g. Bel Air and Impala, Ford Custom 500 and Galaxie, as well as Plymouth Fury) came with six-cylinder engines as standard equipment. They therefore appealed to a wider range of customers than the Ambassador was getting. Also, since the Classic was now smaller and styled differently, the Ambassador six-cylinder would not threaten to cannibalize Classic 6 sales, which were the company’s sales volume leaders. The changes were on target as sales of the repositioned Ambassador more than tripled.

Motor Trend magazine tested an Ambassador convertible with a Twin-Stick overdrive transmission and found it commendably economical, averaging 16.4 mpg-US (14.3 L/100 km; 19.7 mpg-imp) over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) run, and noting that … “Traveling comfort was the Ambassador’s biggest selling point, along with its exceptionally powerful Bendix duo-servo drum brakes …With the thin bucket seats that recline, driver and passengers can enjoy a high degree of riding comfort… Many passers-by commented on the car’s good looks… Our summary: a nice, comfortable, quiet, well built family automobile that rather neglects the performance market.”

1966

1966_AMC_Ambassador_DPL_NJ-show

 1966 hardtops featured a formal roof design – DPL model
Samsung

 1966 AMC Ambassador 990 convertible
1966_Ambassador_990_wagon_azrr

 1966 Ambassador 990 Cross Country wagon

For 1966, minor changes greeted the Ambassador range. The V-shaped horizontal louver spanned unbroken between the headlamps and the effect was continued with twin rectangular trim pieces attached to the side of the front fenders at their leading edges by the headlamps. The effect was repeated in the new vertical wraparound taillamps with the top-line models receiving a twin set of horizontal ribbed moldings across the back of the trunk lid that simulated the look of the front grille. Hardtop coupes received a redesigned roofline that was angular in appearance with an angle cut rear side windows and rectangular rear window. The backlight no longer curved and wrapped slightly around the C-pillars. The changes made for a more “formal” notchback look that was popular at the time.

Station wagons also received a new roof (that did not have as pronounced dip over the rear cargo area) as well as a redesigned tailgate and optional simulated woodgrain exterior side panels. Available with two-rows of seats with a standard bottom hinged tailgate with electric, fully retracting rear window or with an optional rear-facing third row that featured a left side hinged rear door, with a regular exterior door handle on the right side. All station wagons carried a Cross Country badge.

The 880 served as the base model line. The two-door sedan was the price leader at $2,404, but finished with the least sales for the model year. The more popular and better trimmed 990 models were available in sedan, wagon, hardtop, and convertible versions. Options included a vinyl roof, wire wheel covers, AM/FM radio, adjustable steering wheel, and cruise control. A new luxury DPL (short for “Diplomat”) two-door hardtop debuted at the top of the range.

The DPL included special lower body side trim, numerous standard convenience items such as reclining bucket seats upholstered in brocade fabrics or optional vinyl. An optional interior trim featured houndstooth fabric and included two throw pillows. The DPL model was aimed to compete with the new, more upscale trimmed Plymouth VIP, Ford LTD, Chevrolet Caprice and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme.

The 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6, as well as the 287 and 327 cu in (4.7 and 5.4 L) V8s remained in the line, but transmission selections now included a new console mounted four-speed manual. Most Ambassadors continued to be ordered with automatic transmissions.

Motor Trend magazine tested a 1966 DPL equipped with a 327 engine that “definitely has snap we hadn’t felt before” and even with an automatic transmission experienced “healthy wheelspin from both rear wheels [because of the Twin-Grip limited slip differential]… Subtle changes in this year’s suspension, which include longer shocks and different springs, have a pronounced effect on the way the car feels and handles. Most welcome is the improved steering response. The car has a new feet-on-the-ground feeling, and body lean seems to have been reduced. The ride remains very good… As before, the interior’s the outstanding feature of the Ambassador. Its quality is such that other luxury cars, even higher priced ones, could well imitate it…”

Perhaps the biggest change, however, was that the Ambassador lost its historic Rambler nameplate, as the car was now marketed as the “American Motors Ambassador” or “AMC Ambassador”. Abernethy was again responsible for this marketing move, as he attempted to move the stylish new Ambassador even further upmarket. To him, that meant that the Rambler name, and its economy car image would be eschewed to give the car a clean slate in a market that was turning away from economy and toward V8 performance. The evidence suggests that Abernethy was on the right track with moving the Ambassador upscale to compete with other manufacturers’ luxury models as sales of the AMC’s flagship jumped from 18,647 in 1964 to over 64,000 in 1965, and then in 1966 they went to more than 71,000. Although the Ambassador accounted for a mere fraction of total passenger car sales in the U.S., it was an important step in bringing the AMC’s products in line with what the consumer of the day wanted.

Sixth generation

Sixth generation
1967_Ambassador_DPL_conv_top-up-winter-WV

1967 AMC Ambassador DPL convertible
Overview
Model years 1967–1968
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6
  • 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8
  • 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8
  • 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase 118 in (2,997 mm)
Length 202.5 in (5,144 mm)

1967

American Motors introduced a completely restyled longer, lower, and wider Ambassador for the 1967 model year, now riding on a 118-inch (2,997 mm) wheelbase, or two inches (51 mm) longer than before. The Ambassador’s platform was four inches (100 mm) longer than the new Rambler Rebel’s 114-inch (2,896 mm) wheelbase. The Ambassador was positioned in the standard-size category, against traditional big cars such as Ford Galaxie, Chevrolet Impala, and Plymouth Fury. The convertible was offered again—this time in DPL trim—for 1967; but it would be the final year with only 1,260 built. It featured an all new “split stack” folding mechanism with concealed side rails that did not intrude into the backseat area, thus offering room for three adult passengers in the rear.

The car once again looked completely new, with a more rounded appearance that sported sweeping rooflines, “coke-bottle” fenders, greater glass area, and a recessed grille that bowed forward less than that of the 1965–66 models. Taillights were wider, rectangular, and divided by one central vertical bar. Motor Trend magazine described the all-new styling of the new Ambassador as “attractive” and “more graceful and easier on the eye in ’67.”

1967_Ambassador_990_4-d_aqua_pa-i

 1967 Ambassador 990 standard interior
1967_AMC_Ambassador_DPL_yellow

 1967 Ambassador DPL hardtop with satin chrome trim

The 880 two-door sedans sported the identical roofline as the hardtops, but had slim B-pillars that gave them a more open-air coupe appearance. Adding more elegance to DPL two-door hardtops and convertibles was an optional was a “Satin-Chrome” finish (paint code P-42) for the lower body side replacing the standard full-length stainless steel rocker moldings. A black or white vinyl cover was optional on 990 and DPL sedans and hardtops. The 990 Cross Country station wagons were available with 3M‘s “dinoc” simulated wood-grain body side panels trimmed in a slim stainless steel frame.

The fastback Marlin two-door hardtop that was previously built on the Rambler Classic platform in 1965 and 1966, was continued for 1967, but was now based on the larger Ambassador platform. It featured the Ambassador’s front end, longer hood, and luxury appointments with an even longer fastback roofline than the previous version.

The Ambassador featured a lengthy list of standard features and options. The interiors “rival more expensive cars for luxury and quality, yet are durable enough to take years of normal wear.” The premium materials and fittings included wood-grain trim, and even an optional “Custom” package with special upholstery and two matching pillows. Ambassador DPL hardtops included reclining bucket seats with a center armrest between them (with a center cushion for a third occupant or a floor console with gear selector), as well as a foldaway center armrest for the rear seat. The new safety-oriented instrument panel grouped all gauges and controls in front of the driver, with the rest of the dashboard pushed forward and away from the passengers. Focusing on safety, there were now no protruding knobs, the steering column was designed to collapse under impact, and the steering wheel was smaller than previous Ambassadors.

AMC’s long-lived “GEN-1” family of V8 engines was finally replaced by an all-new line of 290 and 343 cu in (4.8 and 5.6 L) engines debuted for 1966 in the Rambler American. With a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, the 343 V8 produced 280 bhp (210 kW) at 4800 rpm and 365 pound force-feet (495 N·m) of torque at 3000 rpm. The old torque tube design was eliminated by a new four-link, trailing-arm rear suspension system providing a more comfortable coil spring ride.

American Motors promoted the new 1967 Ambassador as an “uncompromising automobile with the red carpet ride” in print advertisements, as well as in an innovative TV commercial. Unfortunately, sales of the redesigned models were disappointing, due to customer confusion caused by the entire company’s abrupt upmarket push, which seemed uncomfortably “me too” to the traditional domestic Big Three‘s customers, and they also alienated American Motors’ loyal buyer base. Abernethy’s ideas of entering new markets were not working. These strategy changes resulted in a new round of financial problems for American Motors. Because of this, Abernathy was released from AMC by its board of directors later that year, and was replaced by William V. Luneberg and Roy D. Chapin, Jr.

1968

1968_Ambassador_SST_4-d_green_pa-s

 1968 AMC Ambassador SST sedan
1968_AMC_Ambassador_yellow_2-door

 1968 AMC Ambassador base model
1968_AMC_Ambassador_DPL_station_wagon_FL-fl

 1968 AMC Ambassador DPL wagon

For the 1968 model year, a new SST trim line was placed above the now mid-line DPL trim for the Ambassador. American Motors was a pioneer in the field of air conditioning through its Kelvinator refrigerator division, and AMC’s marketing chief Bill McNealy wanted to make the Ambassador stand out in a crowded market segment and decided to add greater distinction to the Ambassador line by making the All Weather A/C system as standard equipment. This was the first time any volume car manufacturer had done so, something that even Cadillac and Lincoln had not offered on their luxury cars – although some of them were priced at more than twice as much as Ambassador. While all Ambassadors came with air conditioning as standard, consumers could order the car without air as a “delete option” and decrease the price by $ 218. As AMC pointed out in their advertising campaign for the Ambassador, the only other major automaker that offered air conditioning as standard equipment in 1968 was Rolls-Royce.

Due to slow sales, both the convertible and the pillared coupe models were dropped from the line, leaving the 990 hardtop coupe and sedan, DPL hardtop coupe, sedan, and wagon, and new SST hardtop coupe and sedan in the Ambassador line. The personal luxury fastback Marlin was also discontinued to make way for the smaller new AMC Javelin in the pony car segment. The top-of-the line 1968 Ambassador SST version was “especially appealing” and “a very luxurious package” with standard V8 power, air conditioning, expensive upholstery, individual reclining front seats, wood-look interior trim, upgraded exterior trim, as well as numerous conveniences such as an electric clock and a headlights-on buzzer.

Styling changes were minor. Taillights were now recessed in body-color bezels that were divided by a single central horizontal bar. Front headlight bezels were now made of nylon and similarly body colored. A new injection molded ABS plastic grille was dominated by a horizontal bar that extended forward in the center from the sides, while its outline had squared off edges that wrapped forward into the inner headlight extensions. Fender-mounted marker lights were added at the front and rear as standard equipment, as the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations mandated their application (along with seat belts beginning January 1, 1968) to all passenger cars sold in the United States for 1968.

However, AMC’s most enduring styling feature debuted on the Ambassador for 1968, as flush-mounted paddle-style door handles replaced the former push-button units on all American Motors cars, save the Rambler American. The practical and “disarmingly simple design” predated safety-related mandates and industry norms. The interior locking was no longer by the traditional windowsill pushbutton, but a lever set into the armrest.

Front-wheel alignment was made easier with and with greater accuracy by moving the camber adjustment from the upper to the lower control arm on the double wishbone suspension, and the caster angle adjustments also moved from the upper control arm to the drag strut. At midyear, AMC’s new top engine, the AMX 390 cu in (6.4 L) 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS) V8 became an option in the Ambassador line, bringing the total engine options up to four.

In June 1967, American Motors started a new advertising campaign created by Mary Wells Lawrence of Wells, Rich, and Greene marketing agency. The US$12 million AMC account was high-profile assignment and helped established the agency as innovative and daring in its approach. The new advertising violated the convention of not attacking the competition, and AMC’s campaigns became highly controversial. The publicity worked with AMC’s total retail sales improving 13% for the fiscal year, but 1968 Ambassador numbers were slightly down.

Seventh generation

Seventh generation
1969_AMC_Ambassador_SST_sedan_green-e

1969 AMC Ambassador SST 4-door sedan
Overview
Also called
  • American Motors Ambassador
  • Rambler Ambassador
Model years 1969–1973
Body and chassis
Class Full-size
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6
  • 258 cu in (4.2 L) I6
  • 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8
  • 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8
  • 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8
  • 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8
  • 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8
Dimensions
Wheelbase 122 in (3,099 mm)
Length
  • 206.5 in (5,245 mm) (1969)
  • 208 in (5,283 mm) (1970)
  • 210.8 in (5,354 mm) (1971–72)
  • 212.8 in (5,405 mm) (1973)

1969

In 1969, the Ambassador received a major restyling, with a 4-inch (102 mm) gain in overall length and wheelbase. The 122-inch (3,099 mm) wheelbase was accompanied by an increase in front and rear track from 58.5 to 60 inches (1,486 to 1,524 mm). The front end appearance was revised with new quad headlight clusters mounted horizontally in a new molded plastic grille. The grille itself was blackout with a chrome horizontal bar that connected the headlight clusters. The hood was redesigned to accommodate the grille’s raised center portion, and it faintly recalled Packard’s classic grille/hood combination. Richard A. Teague, AMC’s Vice President of Styling, had worked at the luxury car manufacturer before joining AMC. Parking lights were rectangular and mounted horizontally in recessed wells in the front bumper, just beneath each set of headlights. The entire front fascia leaned forward slightly to lend an air of forward motion to the car’s appearance.

1969 AMC_Ambassador_Hardtop_ca_1969_in_Vlaams-Brabant

 1969 Ambassador hardtop in the Netherlands
1969_AMC_Ambassador_SST_sedan_green-i

 1969 Ambassador sedan standard interior

At the rear, ribbed rectangular taillights were mounted inboard the Ambassadors rearward-thrusting rear fenders. Square ribbed marker lights of similar height were mounted at the trailing edge of each fender side. The deck lid had a slightly higher lift over. The base and DPL models had no decorative panel connecting the taillights while the top-line SST versions featured a panel painted red to match the taillights. Station wagons saw vertical wraparound taillights replacing the previous “hooded” units, which were not visible from the side. The 1969 AMC Ambassador was a smooth, powerful, well-proportioned sedan that did not look like anything else on the road.

The interiors were upgraded and a new deeply hooded dashboard clustered instruments and controls in front of the driver. There was an increased emphasis on luxury-type trim and features. The base model two-door hardtop was dropped for 1969.

The 1969 Ambassador stressed luxury, with the marketing tagline developed by Mary Wells Lawrence at the Wells Rich Greene agency, tying the car’s value, “It will remind you of the days when money really bought something.” The combination of rich velour upholstery, individually adjustable reclining seats, standard air conditioning, and the longer wheelbase were highlighted in advertisements with Ambassador’s posh”limousine” ride at an economical price. One aspect of this new advertising theme included many AMC dealers inviting prospective customers to call and request a “demonstration ride”, in which a uniformed chauffeur would arrive at the prospect’s home and drive them around in an Ambassador SST sedan. AMC’s efforts worked, and Ambassador sales shot up again.

1969_AMC_Ambassador_limousine_in_Wisconsin_sideR

 1969 Ambassador Royale Stretch Limo by Armbruster/Stageway

Not only did AMC promote the 1969 Ambassador as having a “limousine” ride and deluxe appointments, but Chicago auto leasing executive, Robert Estes, had the Armbruster/Stageway Company convert Ambassadors into real 24-foot (7.3 m) limousines riding on a 158-inch (4,013 mm) wheelbase. Known as the Royale Stretch Limo, one was owned by the State of Wisconsin as the official vehicle for Governor Warren Knowles. The conversions were unusual in that they did not keep the stock rear doors—as is typical in most limos. The back doors were welded shut and the Ambassadors were lengthened by inserting a section just behind the original B-pillar that had an entirely new central door in this center making a large opening for entry and egress. Four-inch (100 mm) steel “I-beams” bridge the expanse created by stretch. Power comes from the “AMX” 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS) 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine backed with the BorgWarner automatic transmission and a “Twin-Grip” limited-slip differential with 3.15 gears.

American Motors exported Ambassadors from the United States, as well as assembled under license from complete knock down (CKD) kits. They were adapted to the requirements of different markets, including right-hand drive (RHD) versions.

1970

1970_AMC_Ambassador_SST_hardtop_yellow-black_K-s

 1970 Ambassador SST 2-door hardtop

For the 1970 model year, the rear half of Ambassador hardtop coupes and sedans was treated to an overhaul that was also shared by the intermediate 1970 AMC Rebel. On hardtop coupes, this restyling resulted in a sloping roofline that saw upswept reverse-angle quarter windows. The belt line kicked up at the point the hardtop’s rear windows swept upward, and tapered back to the fender end, meeting a new loop-type rear bumper.

On sedans, the roof line showed a slimmer “C-pillar”, squared-off rear door windows, and met a belt line that kicked up beneath the trailing edge of each rear door window. The belt line tapered back to the same rear fascia as the hardtop coupe’s. This rear fascia contained a new ribbed taillight lens that stretched wall-to-wall and included twin square white reverse light lenses in its center.

Station wagons received no change to their rooflines, doors, and rear fascias. However, all Ambassadors received a new extruded aluminum grille at the front, featuring several widely spaced bright horizontal bars with one wide, body colored horizontal grille bar extending to each headlight cluster. The 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 was replaced for 1970 by a new 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 engine. This 210 hp (157 kW; 213 PS) at 4400 rpm and 305 pound force-feet (414 N·m) of torque at 2800 rpm was the standard engine on all DPL and SST models. The 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8 was also supplanted by a 360 cu in (5.9 L) engine available in either 2-barrel, regular gasoline, or high-output, 4-barrel, premium fuel versions. The 4-barrel “AMX” 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine was optional, producing 325 hp (242 kW; 330 PS) at 3200 rpm and 420 pound force-feet (569 N·m) of torque at 3200 rpm.

1971

1971_AMC_Ambassador_2-door_hardtop_coupe

 1971 Ambassador hardtop with TurboCast II wheels from 1979–83
1971_AMC_Ambassador_wagon_green_NJ

 1971 Ambassador station wagon

Following the previous year’s redesign, the 1971 Ambassadors received only minor changes and improvements. The marketing tag line for the year was the underdog asking, “If you had to compete with GM, Ford and Chrysler, what would you do?”—that was answered by AMC including more features, advantages, and benefits for buyers of its cars compared to the models from its much larger competitors. This was reflected by shuffling the Ambassador models for 1971 and by including more equipment in the standard feature list. The previously nameless base models were dropped, as the sedan-only DPL trim line was relegated to base model status, and a new top-line Brougham trim line was added above mid-line SST models. Both SST and Brougham models came as hardtop coupes, sedans, and wagons.

The DPL came with AMC’s new 258 cu in (4.2 L) 150 hp (112 kW; 152 PS) Inline-6 with seven main bearings. All the SSTs and Broughams featured the 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 engine with 210 hp (157 kW) as standard. BorgWarner’s “Shift-Command” automatic transmissions were standard equipment across the line. Two of AMC’s 360 cu in (5.9 L) were optional; an 8.5:1 compression version with a two-barrel carburetor or a high-compression four-barrel V8 that required premium-fuel. The previous “AMX 390” V8 gave way to a new 401 cu in (6.6 L) 335 hp (250 kW) V8 as the top engine option.

Styling changes consisted of a new fascia up front. It featured headlights contained in their own chrome pods separate from, but flanking the new grille with a bright rectangular surround, with rounded edges. The “natural” cast pot metal grille insert was recessed and featured a bright vertical bar pattern. A second set of parking lights was added outboard of the headlight clusters, and they were integrated into the fender extension to eliminate the need for separate front marker lights.

Taillights on hardtop coupes and sedans still ran wall-to-wall, but the twin backup lights were moved from the center to further outboard—approximately eight inches in from either fender side. Once again, the wagon received few changes at the rear, but added a new design for its optional woodgrain side trim, which filled in its upper bodysides. Its lower edge flowed downward aft of its peak at the leading edge above each front wheelhouse, in similar fashion to the Buick Skylark‘s side “sweepspear” styling cue.

Ambassador base models were offered to fleet buyers with various police, taxicab, and other heavy-duty packages. Governments and police departments in the U.S. historically used standard-size, low-price line four-door sedans. Equipped with the 360 or 401 engines, the base Ambassadors saw use as police cruisers and support vehicles.

1972

Minor changes greeted 1972 Ambassadors, as AMC’s biggest news for the year was the addition of the innovative AMC Buyer Protection Plan, that included the industry’s first 12-month or 12,000-mile (19,000 km) bumper-to-bumper warranty. This was the first time an automaker promised to repair anything wrong with the car (except for tires) and owners were provided with a toll-free telephone number to the company, as well as a free loaner car if a warranty repair took overnight. This backing also included mechanical upgrades to increase durability and quality, such as the standardization of electric windshield wipers on all model lines, replacing AMC’s vacuum-powered units, as well as better interior trims. By focusing on quality the smallest domestic automaker was solidly profitable for 1972, earning US$30.2 million (the highest net profit achieved by AMC since 1964) on $4 billion in sales.

The base Ambassador DPL model was canceled, with three body styles now available in SST and Brougham trim. A six-cylinder engine was no longer available; thus, Ambassador became a V8-only car for the first time since 1964. This made the Ambassador the only volume-produced American car that included air conditioning, an automatic transmission, and a V8 engine as standard equipment; all while being priced less than the Big Three’s full-sized cars. The Borg-Warner transmission was replaced by the “Torque-Command” (TorqueFlite) three-speed automatic sourced from Chrysler.

Styling changes on the 1972 Ambassador were limited to a new crosshatch cast metal grille with bright trim and new integrated fender extension mounted side marker lamps on the front.

A Popular Mechanics magazine survey after driving a total of 1,000,000 miles (1,609,344 km) found Ambassador owners were pleased with their cars, describing them to be “very comfortable to drive and ride in” with handling listed as a top “specific like” by half of the drivers. A very a high percentage (92%) would buy one again. Although the Buyer Protection Plan was listed by only 8.5% as a reason to buy an Ambassador, owners valued the smaller AMC dealers that “had more time to be courteous and to pay personal attention to customers.”

1973

1973_Ambassador Brougham sedan_4-d_401 6.6litre.V8

 1973 Ambassador Brougham sedan with 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8

The SST models were dropped from the line, as all Ambassadors now came in one high-level Brougham trim. An AM radio and tinted glass were added to the extensive standard equipment list. Heftier front and rear bumpers were included to comply with new U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) regulations that required all passenger cars to withstand a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) front and a 2.5-mile-per-hour (4 km/h) rear impacts without damage to the engine, lights, and safety equipment.

Ambassadors complied with the regulation by incorporating a stronger front bumper equipped with self-restoring telescoping shock-absorbers. Designed to “give” as much as 3.5 in (89 mm), it jutted slightly forward from the front fascia and incorporated flexible trim matching the body paint. This bumper also featured a more prominent horizontal rubber guard at its upper portion near the grille, thus eliminating the need for a pair of vertical chrome bumper guards that was optional before. The rear bumper gained vertical black rubber bumper guards that also replaced a pair of similar and previously optional chrome bumper guards. The grille gained heavier horizontal bars and headlight bezels took on blackout trim in their recessed portions.

Eighth generation

Eighth generation
1974_AMC_Ambassador_Brougham_4-door_sedan_beige

1974 Ambassador Brougham sedan
Overview
Model years 1974
Body and chassis
Class Full-size
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8
  • 401 cu in (6.6 L) V8
Transmission 3-speed Torque Commandautomatic
Dimensions
Wheelbase 122 in (3,099 mm)
Length 217.8 in (5,532 mm)

1974

1974_AMC_Ambassador_sedan_blue-white_Kenosha-r

 1974 AMC Ambassador sedan

Ambassador sales had remained steady since 1970, despite the lack of major changes to the vehicle. However, the 1974 model year would bring out the biggest Ambassador—just as the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo sparked gasoline rationing across the nation. The Ambassador sedan was stretched seven inches (180 mm) compared with the 1973 versions. This additional length was due to a new front end design and stronger energy absorbing bumpers with hydraulic backup.

The 1974 Ambassador Brougham was no longer available as a 2-door (pillar-less) hardtop, leaving the 4-door sedan and station wagon body styles in the line. The hardtop’s cancellation was due in part to low sales volume of the Ambassador 2-door versions, as well as the introduction of an all-new 1974 Matador coupe that featured a very long hood and a short rear deck. The new coupe was selected as the “Best Styled Car of 1974” by the editors of Car and Driver magazine and did not have the requisite share the typical mid- to late-1970s styling hallmarks that included an upright grille, a notchback roof, and imitation “landau bars” or opera lights. It was probably viable for AMC to build a “formal”-styled, personal luxury Ambassador version from the same platform.

Styling changes for the sedan and wagon included new front fender caps on the same fenders as used since 1969, and hood, grille, bumpers, rear fascia, instrument panel, interior trim, hood ornament, and a new font for the Ambassador nameplate. The grille showed off a new squared-off loop-type design surrounding the circular recessed quad headlights, and featured a forward-protruding center. The insert held a crosshatch pattern dominated by two thick horizontal bars that connected the headlight bezels and contained new parking lights between them. These parking lights had amber lenses, followed the grille protrusion forward, and were overlaid by the grille’s crosshatch trim. Headlamp bezels were once again blacked out in their recessed areas. The new hood and front bumper followed the grille’s central protrusion forward, giving the car a slight “coffin nose” look. The contemporary Matador saw a similar frontal treatment, but with a much more pronounced effect and with different single headlamp clusters, hood, and grille insert.

At the rear, the new bumper was much larger and backed by shock absorbers, as it was beefed up to comply with new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations for standardized front and rear bumpers on passenger cars that could sustain a 5-mile-per-hour (8 km/h) impact with no damage. Fiberglass end caps were added to the ends of each rear fender on sedans. They wrapped inward to create a recessed space that met a carryover decklid. In this space was mounted the new rectangular taillight housings, which featured taller white backup lights mounted inboard of the new taillights. The license plate moved from the rear bumper to the area between the new taillight assemblies, and the whole taillight and license plate system on the sedans was surrounded its own loop of chrome trim.

The cargo area and the rear design of station wagons remained similar to previous Ambassadors, save for a massive new bumper and revised taillamps. The wagon was available with two-row bench seats for six passengers or with a rear-facing third row for a total eight seat-belted passengers. All came with numerous practical, appearance, and comfort items as standard. These included a two-way opening tail gate: (1) hinged at the bottom for convenient loading or hauling long cargo and (2) hinged at the side to open as door for ease of entry and exit for passengers or cargo; wood grained semi-transparent vinyl side and rear trim, a full-length roof rack; as well as a chrome and wood grain roof air deflector to help keep the tailgate window clean.

Powertrain selections remained the same as in 1973, with only V8 engines and automatic transmissions available. When ordered with a trailer package (special wiring harness with heavy-duty flasher and heavy-duty suspension with rear sway bar), the Ambassador was rated for up to 5,000-pound (2,268 kg) towing capacity. Other increases for 1974 included a larger capacity fuel tank, 24.9 US gal (94 L; 21 imp gal), and an alternator producing 62 amperes. New sound insulation made the Ambassador even quieter. All came with a very lengthy list of standard equipment that was typically optional on competing makes. These included comfort items such as air conditioning, an AM radio and vanity mirror to appearance enhancements such as pin striping and whitewall tires.

Sales of all full-size vehicles, regardless of the automaker, fell significantly in 1974 as America’s focus shifted to smaller cars. Ambassador sales were no different, and in June 1974, the final AMC Ambassador rolled off the Kenosha, Wisconsin assembly line, ending a nameplate that had been in continuous production in some form for 48 years.

Overseas production

Argentina

Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) produced the U.S. fifth generation Ambassadors in Córdoba, Argentina from 1965 to 1972. The vehicles were powered by the 3.77 L (230 cu in) overhead camshaft (OHC) straight-six “Tornado Interpector” engines that were originally developed by Kaiser Motors in the U.S. in 1963 for the new Jeep Gladiator pickups and Wagoneer vehicles. This engine was later produced in Argentina and it increased the domestic (local sourced) content of the automobiles. Stretch versions of the IKA Ambassador were used as official government limousines.

Australia

1969 Ambassador hardtop New Zealand with RDH 3a

 1969 Ambassador hardtop, a New Zealand model with RHD

Australian Motor Industries (AMI) obtained the rights to assemble and distribute Ramblers, and the 1961, 1962, and 1963 model year Ambassadors were built in Australia. The 1961 sedan, which was powered by a 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8, was the most powerful car being assembled in Australia at that time. Knock-down kits featuring right-hand drive were shipped from Kenosha to AMI’s facilities in Port Melbourne, Victoria. The Australian-built Ambassadors included a significant a percentage of “local content” to gain import tariff (tax) concessions by using parts and components (such as interiors and upholstery) that were sourced from Australian manufacturers.

Costa Rica

Rambler vehicles were marketed in Costa Rica since 1959. New local content regulations enacted during the 1960s effectively required vehicles sold in those markets to be assembled from knock-down kits. An assembly plant for Rambler and Toyota vehicles was established, ECASA, and the first Ramblers were produced in Costa Rica by the end of 1965. The company built Ambassadors and other AMC models through 1970, with Toyota increasing ownership of ECASA.

Epilogue

Because AMC was focusing its attentions on their newly acquired Jeep line, the redesigned 1974 Matador coupe, and the AMC Pacer, which would debut in 1975, the company would not put forth the investment to continue the full-size Ambassador line after its 1974 redesign. Instead, the automaker upgraded the Matador sedan and wagon counterparts starting with the 1975 model year. The basic automobile platform was used by AMC since the 1967 model year, and the full-size automobile market segment was declining. American Motors strategy now aimed at smaller cars and sport-utility vehicles. However, the Ambassador basically continued as the similarly sized and styled Matador sedans and wagons became available in uplevel “Brougham” trim from 1975, as well as in a unique top-of-the-line Barcelona trim in its final year of production, 1978.

Rambler Classic

Rambler Classic
1965_Rambler_Classic_770_convertible-white

1965 Rambler Classic 770 convertible
Overview
Manufacturer American Motors Corporation (AMC)
Also called Rambler-Renault Classic (RIB)
Production 1961–1966
Assembly
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size
Layout FR layout
Chronology
Predecessor Rambler Six and V8
Successor AMC Rebel

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 at first only as six-passenger four-door sedan and station wagon versions, additional body styles were added with two-door models available as a “post” sedan and in 1964 as a sporty pillar-less hardtop, as well as a convertible for 1965 and 1966.

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

The Rambler Rebel name replaced Classic on AMC’s completely redesigned large-line of cars in 1967, and for 1968 the Rebel 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

First generation
1961_Rambler_Classic_four-door_sedan-NJ

1961 Rambler Classic 4-door sedan
Overview
Production 1961–1962
Designer Edmund E. Anderson
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 195.5 cu in (3.2 L) I6
  • 250 cu in (4.1 L) V8 (1961)
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase 108 in (2,743 mm)
Length 189.8 in (4,821 mm)
Width 72.4 in (1,839 mm)
Height 57.3 in (1,455 mm)
Curb weight
  • 2,915 lb (1,322 kg) I6
  • 3,255 lb (1,476 kg) V8

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. 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.

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 Motor’s 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.”

1961

1961_Rambler_Classic_sedan-green

 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.

In 1961, the Classic was available in either an I6 – 195.5 cu in (3.2 L) – or with a V8 – 250 cu in (4.1 L) – engine. 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. 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.

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”.

1962

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 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.

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”. 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.” 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. 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.

The popularity of the compact-sized Classic continued in the face of a dozen new competitors. Sales of the 1962 model year Classics increased by over 56,000 in the first six months compared to the same period in 1961. 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.

Centaur

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

Second generation

Second generation
1963 Rambler Classic 660 Cross Country station wagon

1963 Rambler Classic 660 wagon
Overview
Also called
Production 1963–1964
Assembly
Designer
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 195.5 cu in (3.2 L) I6
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 (Typhoon only)
  • 287 cu in (4.7 L) V8
Transmission
Dimensions
Wheelbase 112 in (2,845 mm)
Length 188.8 in (4,796 mm)
Width 71.3 in (1,811 mm)
Height 54.6 in (1,387 mm)
Curb weight 2,650 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 Trendmagazine’s 1963 “Car of the Year.” These were also the first AMC models that were influenced by Richard A. Teague, the company’s new principal designer. He “turned these economical cars into smooth, streamlined beauties with tons of options and V-8 pep.”

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.

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

1963 Rambler Classic 770 four-door gold-NJ

 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).

As in 1962, the 1963 Classics were initially available only as 6-cylinder 195.5 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 (15 L/100 km; 19 mpg-imp) to 20 miles per US gallon (12 L/100 km; 24 mpg-imp).

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, it also increased structural rigidity and provided for better fitting of the doors.

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.[20] 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.”

1964

1964_Rambler_Classic_770_wagon-green

 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.

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.” 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.

Typhoon

1964_Rambler_Classic_Typhoon_2D-hardtop-NJ

 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. The car also featured a distinctive “Typhoon” script in place of the usual “Classic” name insignia, as well as a unique grille with black out 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.

Cheyenne

The 1964 Chicago Auto Show was used by AMC to exhibit the Rambler Cheyenne in a viewing area made from knotty pine planks. 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.

Third generation

Third generation
1965_Rambler_Classic_770_convertible-NJ

1965 Rambler Classic 770 convertible
Overview
Production 1965–1966
Body and chassis
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 199 cu in (3.3 L) I6
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6
  • 258 cu in (4.2 L) I6
  • 287 cu in (4.7 L) V8
  • 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8
Transmission
  • 3-speed manual
  • 3-speed with overdrive
  • “Twin-Stick” on console (1965)
  • 4-speed manual (1966)
  • 3-speed automatic
  • 3-speed “Shift-Command” on center console
Dimensions
Wheelbase 112 in (2,845 mm)
Length 195 in (4,953 mm)
Width 74.5 in (1,892 mm)
Height 55 in (1,397 mm)
Curb weight 2,980 lb (1,350 kg) V8 hardtop

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. 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. Unchanged was the suspension system including a torque tube with coil springs with a Panhard rod.

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

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 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.” 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.

Marlin

Main article: Rambler Marlin

At mid-model year, AMC introduced the 1965 Marlin, a halo car for the company. It was a mid-sized fastback design using the Rambler Classic platform. Marketed as a personal luxury car, the Marlin had unique styling and featured an exceptional array of standard equipment.

1966

1966 Rambler Classic 770 Sedan dark blue 77066

 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.

Classics received particular attention to the styling of the roofs for 1966. The two-door hardtop models received a rectangular rear window and 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.

Rambler Rebel

1966 Rambler Rebel 2-door hardtop

 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. 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.

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. However, AMC was reluctant to forfeit their Nash engineered suspension design which employed a strut type front and 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 McPherson strut front and a torque arm mounted rear drive axle.

Rambler St. Moritz

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. The wagon with three rows of seats featured tinted rear side “observation” windows that curved up and over the roof. The less than half of the original metal roof remaining over the cargo area was finished by a polished metal band and equipped with special ski rack. The exterior was a light ice-blue pearlescent paint, while the car’s dark blue interior featured Corfam upholstery with a metallic embroidered snowflake in each seat back.

International markets

IF

 IKA Rambler Classic in Argentina
1963_Rambler_Classic_Sedan Right hand drive Australia

 1963 Right-hand-drive Rambler in Australia
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 1963 Rambler in Germany
1965 Renault Rambler sales brochure

 1965 Renault Rambler sales brochure

Noteworthy were AMC’s overseas business ventures involving the production of Rambler Classics that were marketed in various international markets.

Argentina

Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) produced Rambler Classics in Córdoba, Argentina from 1962 to 1971. All were powered by the 3.77 L (230 cu in) overhead camshaft (OHC) straight-six “Tornado Interpector” 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. A road test of an IKA Rambler Classic 660 by Revista Parabrisas noted the significant differences to the previous version, noting the 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.

Australia and New Zealand

Rambler Classics were assembled in Australia and New Zealand by Australian Motor Industries (AMI), Campbell Motor Industries (CMI) in Thames, New Zealand. They were made from Partial Knock Down (PKD) kits. The vehicles were partially assembled and painted at AMC’s Kenosha, Wisconsin, factory. Thy 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 AMI or CMI. Interior components such as upholstery and various other parts were locally sourced to get import tariff concessions. The cars were also fitted with amber rear turn signal lights to comply with safety standards in Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian-assembled versions were identical in appearance to the U.S. models through the three generations. 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 recking seats and heater. 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. However, the biggest selling model was the automatic six-cylinder Classic sedan with an automatic transmission. The AMI Rambler Classics exhibited high standards of assembly and finish.

Costa Rica

Starting in 1959, Purdy Motor, owned by Xavier Quirós Oreamuno, distributed Rambler vehicles in Costa Rica. 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. 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. The company assembled Rambler Classics and other AMC models through 1970, as well as Toyota’s Corona and Land Cruiser. By 1973, Toyota acquired 20% of ECASA.

Europe

All three generations of the Rambler Classics were assembled from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits in Renault’s factory in Haren, Belgium and sold through Renault dealers in Algeria, Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, The French automaker no longer had a large car in its own model range and the Rambler Classic was sold as an “executive car” in Renault’s markets, and badged as the “Rambler Renault”, under the terms of a cooperation agreement concluded between the two automakers on 21 November 1961.

Mexico

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. 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 at the absence the Ambassador line that was never produced by the company. A major marketing campaign by VAM promoted the model using Motor Trend’s Car of the Year award as an asset. The VAM Rambler Classic was a success among consumers and the automotive press; obtaining praise for the car’s roominess, comfort, beauty of 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 single barrel carburetor producing 127 hp (95 kW; 129 PS) at 4200 rpm and 8.7:1 compression ratio 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 double safety system, 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 sunvisors, driver’s side remote mirror, and bright molding package. Optional equipment included power brakes, power steering, front seatbelts, heater, passenger’s side remote mirror, bumper guards, bumper tubes, and luxury wheel covers.

For 1964, the VAM Rambler Classic incorporating the new styling touches from its American Motors counterpart. The two-barrel 138 hp version of the 195.6 six became standard.

The 1965 model year underwent the styling changes of the U.S. cars. 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 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) 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, despite that it did get slightly more luxurious over the years. The two-door Rambler Classic 770 featured individual reclining front seats and its marketing focused towards sportiness.

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 models were also never produced under VAM. The Rambler Classic model enjoyed popularity and positive image among the Mexican public. For this reason in 1967, with arrival of AMC’s completely new Rebel line in the mid-size market segment, VAM continued the Rambler Classic name for its new cars.

Owners

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.

Collectibility

Rambler Classics share numerous parts and components with other AMC models. New parts are somewhat plentiful and several vendors specialize in AMCs. 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.”

Among the most collectible models are the 1964 Typhoon hardtop and the 1965–1966 Rambler Classic hardtops and convertibles. 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”.

AMC Rebel

AMC Rebel
1968_AMC_Rebel_Station_Wagon-GoldWhite

1968 AMC Rebel 770 station wagon
Overview
Manufacturer American Motors Corporation
Also called
  • Rambler Rebel
  • Rambler Classic (Mexico)
  • Rambler-Renault Rebel (Europe)
Production 1967 – 1970
Assembly
Body and chassis
Class Mid-size
Body style
Layout FR layout
Platform AMC’s “senior cars”
Related AMC Ambassador
Powertrain
Engine
  • 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 145 or 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS)
  • 252 cu in (4.1 L) I6 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS) (Mexico)
  • 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 220 hp (164 kW; 223 PS) 1967-1969
  • 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 210 hp (157 kW; 213 PS) 1970 only
  • 343 cu in (5.6 L) V8 235 or 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS) 1967-1969
  • 360 cu in (5.9 L) V8 245 or 290 hp (216 kW; 294 PS) 1970 only
  • 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 315 or 325 hp (242 kW; 330 PS) 1969 and 1970
  • 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 340 hp (254 kW; 345 PS) (standard The Machine)
Transmission 3-speed manual
3-speed with overdrive
4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
3-speed “Shift-Command” on console
Dimensions
Wheelbase 114 in (2,896 mm)
Length
  • 197 in (5,004 mm)
  • 199 in (5,055 mm) 1970 coupe & 4-door
Width 77.29 in (1,963 mm)
Height 53.5 in (1,359 mm)
Curb weight 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) approx.
Chronology
Predecessor Rambler Classic
Successor AMC Matador

The AMC Rebel (known as the Rambler Rebel in 1967) is a mid-size car produced by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1967 to 1970. It replaced the Rambler Classic. The Rebel was replaced by the similar AMC Matador for the 1971 model year. The Rebel was positioned as the high-volume seller in the independent automaker’s line of models.

The Rebel was available in several specialty models that included a limited number of station wagons with special themed trim and luxury equipment that were offered only in certain geographical areas. A high-performance, low-priced muscle car version was produced in 1970, the Machine, that is most recognized in its flamboyant white, red, and blue trim.

The Rebel is the shorter wheelbase ‘intermediate-size’ version of the longer wheelbase ‘full-size’ Ambassador line.

For the U.S. and Canadian markets, the Rebel was built at AMC’s West Assembly Line (along with the Ambassador) in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and in Brampton, Ontario, Canada (Bramalea – Brampton Assembly Plant).

The Rebel was also assembled from complete knock down (CKD) kits under license in Europe (by Renault), in Mexico (by Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos), in Australia (by Australian Motor Industries), and in New Zealand (Campbell Motor Industries in Thames). Despite the Rambler name being dropped from the North American market by AMC in 1967, Rebels continued to be sold in these and other international markets under the “Rambler” brand name.

Background

1968_Rebel_770_Cross_Country_station_wagon_e-Cecil'10

 Rebel 770 emblem

The “Rebel” name was introduced by AMC in 1957 as a special model with a big V8 engine: the Rambler Rebel, the first factory-produced lightweight muscle car, and the first hint that muscle cars would be part of the company’s future.

The Rebel name reappeared in 1966 on the top-of-the-line version of the Rambler Classic two-door hardtop. It featured bucket seats, special trim, and a revised roofline. For 1967, AMC’s entire intermediate line took the Rebel name.

The new Rebel models were designed under the leadership of Roy Abernethy, but the automaker changed management with Roy D. Chapin, Jr. as chairman and CEO was trying hard to change AMC’s frumpy image. The redesigned intermediate line began to be promoted with a focus on performance and print advertising as one of the “now” cars, as well as having numerous factory and dealer installed high-output options.

During its production from 1967 to 1970, the Rebel was available as a six-passenger four-door sedan, and two-door hardtop, and a four-door station wagon with an optional third row seat for two more passengers. In addition, a two-door sedan (coupé) with a thin B-pillar and flip out rear side windows was available in 1967 only, and a convertible was offered in 1967 and 1968.

The six-cylinder engines that were introduced by AMC in 1964 were continued. However, the 1967 Rebel models introduced the first of a family of all-new V8s that replaced AMC’s long-lived “Gen-1” designs in the mid-sized automobile market segment. These included the 290 cu in (4.8 L) and 343 cu in (5.6 L) engines that debuted in the 1966 Rambler American. With a four-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust, the 343 V8 produced 280 hp (209 kW; 284 PS) at 4800 rpm and 365 pound force-feet (495 N·m) of torque at 3000 rpm. The new Rebels also eliminated the torque tube design used in the Rambler Classic in favor of an open drive shaft with a four-link, trailing-arm rear live axle rear suspension system to provide a more comfortable coil spring ride. The independent front suspension continued to use AMC’s unequal-length control armsand high-mount coil springs.

1967

1967_AMC_Rambler_Rebel_sedan_aqua

 1967 Rambler Rebel 770 sedan
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 1967 Rambler Rebel 770 safety-oriented instrument panel
1967_Rambler_Rebel_SST_hardtop_2014-AMO-NC-b

 1967 Rambler Rebel SST hardtop semi-fastback design

The 1967 Rambler Rebel by American Motors was completely new design from its predecessor, the Rambler Classic. Now a larger car riding on a two-inch (50 millimeter) longer 114-inch (2,896 mm) wheelbase, the width was also increased by nearly four inches (100 millimeters) to enlarge interior passenger space and cargo capacity. The Rebel had as much interior space as full-size cars from Ford and GM. The new body design was in sharp contrast to its predecessor’s “straight-edge” design. The Rebel featured a smooth rounded appearance with sweeping rooflines, a “Coke-bottle” body with a shorter rear deck, as well as greater glass area for increased visibility. However, the design “themes” such the “hop up” fenders became so pervasive across the industry that the all-new 1967 Rebel was criticized because “viewed from any angle, anyone other than an out-and-out car buff would have trouble distinguishing the Rebel from its GM, Ford, and Chrysler Corp. competition.” American Motors was staying abreast of the fashion and the Rebel was the first “family car with style that rivaled function.”

A new safety-oriented instrument panel featured a steering column designed to collapse under impact, and the gauges and controls were grouped in a hooded binnacle front of the driver with the dashboard pushed forward and away from the passengers.

The Rebel models were similar to the senior Ambassador in that they shared the same basic unit body (platform) aft of the cowl. However, the Rebel’s front end saw an entirely new concept with a “venturi” grille motif in die cast metal while its rear end featured a simple design with inward-curved taillights. Rebels came in the base 550 and deluxe 770 models, with a high-line SST available only as a two-door hardtop.

The base 550 two-door sedan featured the identical “semi-fastback” roofline as the more expensive pillar-less hardtops, but had slim B-pillars that gave them a more “sporty”coupe appearance. The convertible featured a new “split stack” folding mechanism design that allowed a full-width backseat with room for three passengers. The four-door sedans continued a traditional notchback form, albeit smoothed from the previously sharp angled roofline. The Cross Country station wagons featured a standard roof rack, all vinyl upholstery, and a drop down tailgate for carrying long loads. A third, rear-facing seat was optional with a side hinged tailgate for easier access. The Rebel 770 wagon was available after mid-year production with 3M‘s “Di-Noc” simulated wood-grain body side panels trimmed in a slim stainless steel frame.

Starting with the 1967 models, American Motors offered the industry’s most comprehensive warranty up to that time: two-years or 25,000 miles (40,000 km) on the entire automobile, as well as five-years or 50,000 miles (80,000 km) on the engine and power train. American Motors continued its industry exclusive ceramic-coated exhaust system as standard.

To further emphasize the durability and prove the reliability of the new Rebels, an absolute record of 30 hours flat was set in the long-distance Baja run down Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula in 1967. A hole in the transmission pan slowed them down, but the endurance racers were able to get the car to a town to get a new one.

Offering traditional Rambler economy with six-cylinder engines and overdrive transmissions, the Rebel could also be turned “into a decent budget-priced muscle car” with the 343 cu in (5.6 L), the largest available engine in 1967. A road test by Car Life magazine of a Rebel SST hardtop equipped with the 343 V8 and automatic transmission turned in a 0-60 mph (0 to 97 km/h) time of nine seconds, and reached a top speed of 110 miles per hour (177 km/h). A road test by Popular Science found similar performance times and noted that their Rebel SST was the quietest-riding of the tested cars, but with the drawback of wind noise. The magazine also praised Rebel’s reclining backrests for both front seats that reduce fatigue on long trips while a co-driver can stretch out and relax, as well as AMC’s self-tightening seat belts that aid in buckling and in comfort. A survey conducted by Popular Mechanics after owners had driven their cars 678,996 miles (1,092,738 km) concluded: “in all, the report indicates that most Rebel owners are delighted with their purchases.”  Journalist and automobile critic, Tom McCahill, summarized his Mechanix Illustrated road test, “there isn’t a better intermediate size car sold in the United States than the 1967 Rebel”.

1968

1968_AMC_Rebel_SST_2door-hardtop-White

 1968 Rebel SST 2-door hardtop with aftermarket wheels
1968_AMC_Rebel_convertible_rear

 1968 Rebel SST convertible
1968_Rebel_770_Cross_Country_station_wagon_s-Cecil'10

 1968 Rebel 770 Cross Country wagon

The 1968 model year Rebels were introduced on 26 September 1967, and were no longer a Rambler in name. The mid-sized models were now the AMC Rebel, but little was changed except for the safety features and the availability of the 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS) 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 option. For ten years AMC “strictly observed the auto industry’s anti-racing resolution” but management changed and the AMC Rebel began to be campaigned on the dragstrips. The top-of-the-line model SST came standard with the 290 cu in (4.8 L) “Typhoon” V8, while all the other models were available with the 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 engine.

The 1968 models were treated to a modest restyle of the trim, grille, and taillamps. New mandates by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards for all passenger cars sold in America for 1968 were incorporated. Among the new safety equipment were a separate shoulder harness for the front seat belts, lighted side marker lights on the front quarter panels just above the wrap around bumper, along with new three-piece tail lights, front seat headrests, more interior padding, and elimination of bright interior trim. American Motors did not wait for the requirements to cars delivered to dealers after 31 December 1967, but incorporated the safety features starting with the early 1968 model year cars produced in late 1967. Other requirements caused increases to the price of all cars manufactured after 1 January 1968, including exhaust control systems to help reduce unburned hydrocarbon and carbon monoxideemissions.

A new AMC safety and styling feature was also introduced on the 1968 Rebels; the flush-mounted paddle-style door handles. These replaced the former push-button design and become an enduring AMC signature on its passenger vehicles through 1988.

Also new for 1968 was the Rebel 550 Convertible, the last AMC convertible, which replaced the American. The 550 was the base level convertible as the top trim version moved from 770 to the SST model joining the two-door hardtop. The two SST body styles featured more trim and features that included individually adjustable and reclining front seats, as well as simulated air-intakes ahead of the rear wheels. The interiors of AMC’s Rebel made extensive use of a new olefin fiber carpeting.

American Motors changed its advertising agency to Wells, Rich, and Greene, which was headed by Mary Wells Lawrence. The automaker wanted to attract the highly individualistic, “non-average buyer”. The new agency established innovative campaigns and promotions for AMC that emphasized value for the money in direct comparisons to the competition showing “elegantly coifed beauties swooping from swank settings into modest AMC Rebels just as contentedly as if the cars were Continentals. Meanwhile, an off-camera voice proclaims: ‘Either we’re charging too little for our cars or everyone else is charging too much.'” The advertising was highly controversial because it violated the accepted rule of not attacking the competition. This marketing was successful in bringing AMC back to the firm’s economy and practical-car roots in customers’ minds, which resulted in higher sales.

1969

1969_AMC_Rebel_Coupe_(Les_chauds_vendredis_'10)

 1969 AMC Rebel 2-door hardtop, with aftermarket wheels
1969_AMC_Rebel_Station_Wagon-White

 1969 AMC Rebel station wagon

The 1969 model year saw elimination of the 550 and 770 models, as well as the convertible body style. The four-door sedan, station wagon, and two-door hardtop were now available in base and SST trim. The automaker was moving the Rebel line to a more “family-oriented” direction and only the two-door SST model received new simulated “louver” trim ahead of the rear wheel openings.

Exterior changes included a new grille, wrap-around taillights, decklid, as well as trim and ornamentation. The front and rear track was increased from 59 in (1,499 mm) to 60 in (1,524 mm), but all other dimensions remained the same.

The interior received a new deeply hooded instrument panel with clustered instruments and controls in front of the driver. The 390 cu in (6.4 L) 315 hp (235 kW) V8 engine was optional on SST models. A comparison of all domestic station wagons by Popular Mechanics noted that the intermediate-size models will not carry 4×8 foot plywood panels flat on the load floor, but described the “cargo space in the Rebel wagons is impressive” featuring 91.12 cu ft (2,580 L) of space.

American Motors produced an innovative advertising campaign for the 1969 AMC Rebel that became one of the best TV commercials in one of 15 categories as selected by a team of experts. Known as a builder of “Aunt Martha fuddy-duddy-type cars, but in the late 1960s, at the peak of America’s love affair with the auto, AMC wanted to be jazzy.” It had previously taken a “totally rational approach” – such as describing the benefits of factory rust-proofing and long warranty coverage. The goal of the new advertising was to highlight AMC’s differences and “make an impact” with the car line. Considered as “one of the funniest TV commercials of all time — not just for cars” is the 1969 AMC Rebel that is torture-tested by student drivers.

1970

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 1970 AMC Rebel station wagon
1970_AMC_The_Machine_2-door_muscle_car_in_RWB_trim_by_marina

 1970 AMC “The Machine”

In 1970, the sedan and coupe received a restyled rear-end, along with a new C-pillar shape and rear quarters, as well as a more massive rear end and bumper. The hardtop was changed to a more sloping roofline with upswept reverse-angle quarter windows, giving them “a somewhat huskier look for 1970”. The taillights were integrated into a new loop rear bumper with Rebel spelled out between them. The four-door sedans also had an altered roofline with a slimmer C-pillar and larger, squared-off rear door windows. Similarly as on the coupe, the belt line kicked up beneath the trailing edge of the rear door windows, and then tapered back to the same rear fascia as on the hardtop. The Rebel sedans and hardtop models two inches (51 mm) longer than previously. The Rebel station wagons saw no change to their rooflines, doors, and rear fascias.

The grille was again revised with a horizontal spit in the middle and the name, Rebel, was spelled out on the left lip of the hood. The exterior trim, colors, and model identification locations were also modified for 1970. Rebels were available in base or SST trim. The effect of the changes was summarized by the Auto Editor of Popular Mechanics, “the Rebel has a ‘no nonsense’ air about it I find appealing.

Safety changes included “clam shell” bucket seats with high backed integrated head restraints. The side structure of the 4-door sedans and 2-door hardtops was made stronger.[31] While the competition from the domestic “Big Three” automakers were increasing in size, the Rebel was smaller and lighter, with a six-cylinder manual 2-door hardtop weighing in at 3,110 lb (1,411 kg) and a V8 automatic station wagon at 3,310 lb (1,501 kg)

A major change was to the available V8 engines. The standard 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 was replaced for 1970 by a new 304 cu in (5.0 L) 210 hp (157 kW; 213 PS) while the 343 cu in (5.6 L) was also supplanted by a 360 cu in (5.9 L). The 360 V8 was available with a 2-barrel carburetor producing 245 hp (183 kW; 248 PS) or in a 4-barrel version producing 290 hp (216 kW; 294 PS). The “AMX” 390 cu in (6.4 L) engine now produced 325 hp (242 kW; 330 PS) and was optional on SST models, while a special high-performance 340 hp (254 kW; 345 PS) version was standard on The Machine. This was the most powerful engine AMC would ever offer in a regular production vehicle. The center console mounted floor-shift automatic transmission cars received a “pistol-handle” shaped grip.

A Popular Science road test comparing six-cylinder intermediate-sized 4-door sedans (Chevrolet Malibu, Ford Torino, and Plymouth Satellite) reported that the Rebel 770 was the quietest, offered the most interior space and trunk room, “yet burns less gas than the others.” A Popular Mechanics nation-wide survey based on 316,000 of owner-driven miles (508,553 km) found that style, handling, and comfort abound, but so do minor rattles. The 304 cu in (5.0 L) V8 engine was selected by almost 87% of owners for its combination of performance and durability. The AMC Rebels also excelled “in freedom from mechanical troubles and workmanship complaints” with the magazine noting that owners took “delivery of perfectly-put-together cars – quire a remarkable feat.”

The 1970 restyle lasted only one year before a further restyle and renaming the models as the AMC Matador. The four-door and wagon platform would remain unchanged until the retirement of the Matador line after the 1978 model year.

Regional models

Station wagons

1968_Rebel_770_Cross_Country_station_wagon_t-Cecil'10

 Cross Country station wagon
1967_AMC_Rambler_Rebel_station_wagon_Mariner_edition

 Rambler Rebel “Mariner” wagon

All regular Rebel station wagons were called Cross Country by AMC. During the 1967 model year, AMC issued a series of specialty Rebel station wagons with luxury equipment. Designed to spur interest in all of AMC’s products and to generate increased sales for the company, the special wagons were limited for sale to geographical areas. According to automotive historian James C. Mays, the regional wagon marketing program was a success and it contributed to increasing confidence among the public in the “feisty” automaker.

Standard equipment on all regional wagons included 290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 engine (the 343 cu in (5.6 L) was optional), automatic transmission, power steering, power drum brakes, as well as special duty springs and shock absorbers. Each featured a distinctive interior and exterior trim:

  • The Mariner (600 units) in Barbados Blue paint with body side panels and rear tailgate trimmed in simulated bleached teak wood planking accented by narrow black horizontal stripes and a “nautical anchor” medallion. The interior featured anchors and stars decorating dark blue suede bolster panels of the seats, which also had white piping and broad horizontal pleated inserts of medium blue antelope grain vinyl. The Mariner was sold along the coastal regions of the United States.
  • The Briarcliff (400 units) in Matador Red paint with simulated black camera grain body side panels and “regal” medallions, as well as its own black “antelope grain” vinyl interior. The Briarwood was marketed in major markets in the east and south.
  • The Westerner (500 units) in Frost White paint with wood plank trim side inserts for the body side and tailgate, as well as a “Pony Express” medallion. The interior featured stallion brown vinyl that simulated “richly tooled” leather on the seats and door panels in combination with white antelope grained vinyl. The Westerner was available west of the Mississippi River.

Each version included the color-coordinated upholstery and door panels, individually adjustable reclining seats, sports steering wheel, as well as the 91 cubic feet (2.6 m3) of carpeted cargo room, a locking hidden compartment, and a roof rack. Special regional nameplates were on the rear fender in addition to the unique medallions on the C-pillar.

Raider

In 1969, a Rebel Raider two-door hardtop was sold only in New York and New Jersey. The marketing of these cars was timed to coincide with the New York City Auto Show. Three hundred Raiders were built and many were part of a “driveaway” by area dealers on the eve of the Auto Show. All Raiders came with a V8 engine with automatic transmission, as well as “blow-your mind colors to choose from: electric green, tangerine, and blue-you’ve never seen.” This was a test market of the “Big Bad” colors by AMC through a regional dealer-lead promotional campaign. The bright hues were later introduced at mid-year on the Javelin and AMX models. Other standard features on the Raider included black upholstery and carpeting, black front grille, black vinyl roof, a sports-type steering wheel, AM radio, power steering, and power brakes. The total price of the special Raider models was advertised at US$ 2,699.

Rebel funny cars

1967 AMC Rebel1967Adv

 1967 AMC ad for the Rebel shows how AMC marketing attempted to produce ads designed to change the perception that AMC only made economy cars

Under the leadership of Roy Abernethy, AMC observed both the letter and spirit of the resolution prohibiting automakers from sponsorship in automobile racing. It was instituted by the Automobile Manufacturers Association(AMA) in 1957. As Rambler’s sales reached third place in the domestic marketplace, AMC continued to advertise the only race the company was interested in was the human race. However, with AMC’s precarious financial condition in 1966 following the race to match its “Big Three” domestic competitors under Roy Abernethy, the new management reversed AMC’s anti-racing strategy and decided to enter motorsports as a method to gain exposure, publicity, and a performance image.

American Motors’ Performance Activities Director Carl Chamakian was charged to get AMC automobiles in racing, which would help to attract a younger customer base. In a “quest for quarter-mile glory,” AMC reached a $1 million (US$ 7,072,854 in 2015 dollars) agreement in 1967 with Grant Industries in Los Angeles, California (a manufacturer of piston rings, ignition systems, and steering wheels), to build the Grant Rambler Rebel, a “Funny Car” racer to compete in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) X/S (Experimental Stock) and Super Experimental Stock classes.

When asked why the company decided to work with AMC, Grant’s President, Grant McCoon responded, “Rambler is a good automobile, and it’s time somebody proved what it can do.” The relationship provided both companies with national exposure and publicity. The car had an altered wheelbase 122-inch (3,099 mm) RCS (chrome moly steel) tube chassis with a 343 cu in (5.6 L) AMC V8 engine that was bored and stroked to 438 cu in (7.2 L) tuned by Amos Saterlee. With its GMC 6-71 blower and Enderle fuel injection, the motor produced 1,200 hp (895 kW; 1,217 PS) winding up to 9000 rpm on a mixture of alcohol and nitromethane. Starting in June 1967, the car was driven by “Banzai” Bill Hayes and painted red featuring a blue racing stripe with white stars. Soon, Hayden Proffitt took over the Grant funny car program and ran the Rebel on the quarter-mile (402 m) from a standing start in 8.11 seconds at 180.85 mph (291.0 km/h).

For the 1968 season, a new car was built and renamed the Grant Rebel SST and painted in the new hash red, white, and blue AMC corporate racing colors. With Hayden piloting, the car consistently ran the dragstrip in the mid-eight second range at speeds around 180 miles per hour (290 km/h). By the end of 1968, AMC dropped out of funny car racing to concentrate on its new Javelin pony car in SCCA Trans Am road racing, while Proffitt retired from racing for a few years.

In 1968, Ron Rosenberry drove the King Rebel of Ted McOsker using a blown fuel Chrysler Hemi engine and had a known best of 9.58 seconds at 148.02 mph (238.2 km/h) in the quarter mile dragstrip.

The Machine

1970_AMC_Rebel_The_Machine_log-Cecil'10

 The Machine front fender emblem
1970_AMC_The_Machine_2-door_muscle_car_in_RWB_trim_by_lake

 In white with red, white, and blue stripes
1970_AMC_Rebel_Machine_Green_Muscle_Car

 The Machine with standard paint scheme
1970_AMC_Rebel_The_Machine_ind-Cecil'10

The Machine standard interior

The most recognizable muscle car version of the AMC Rebel was named The Machine and available for the 1970 model year, following the success of the 1969 SC/Rambler. In its most patriotic or flamboyant factory trim The Machine was painted white featured bold red, white, and blue reflective stripes (made by 3M) on the bodysides that wrapped over the trunk lid.

Concept muscle models

First proposed in June 1968, the car was to have been a 1969 Rebel coupe finished in black with authoritative black wheels and fat tires, without any stripes, scoops, or spoilers, but with an aggressive, street-fighting stance. The proposed model included “The Machine” decal on the rear (that made it into production), as well as a “fab gear” logo on the front fender.

However, an even earlier attempt at a Rebel-based muscle car was produced by the AMC’s engineering team: a 1967 two-door built as a development “project” car for carburetion-testing purposes, as well as with “Group 19” high-performance options and the car was re-equipped with a modified 390 cu in (6.4 L) engine with an estimated 500 hp (373 kW; 507 PS) “capable of running in the 11-second bracket.” The car was considered a legal drag racing car, according to National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) and American Hot Rod Association (AHRA) rules and regulations in effect during those years. The Machine was finished in AMC’s trademark red, white and blue color scheme, although the color breaks were not the same as on other AMC-backed or -developed race cars.

Performance features

American Motors’ high performance “halo” vehicle made its official debut 25 October 1969, in Dallas, Texas; the site of the National Hot Rod Association‘s World Championship Drag Race Finals. The Rebel Machine was factory rated at 10.7 pounds per horsepower, positioning the car for the NHRA F-stock class. The introductory marketing campaign consisted of ten vehicles (five with automatics and five with four-speed manuals) that were driven from the factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin to Dallas, Texas and raced in the condition they arrived in. There were four cars on the track “in bone-stock trim” that ran solid mid-14s during the press day at the now-defunct Dallas International Motor Speedway. All these cars were subsequently campaigned at numerous other drag strips, and subsequently sold as used vehicles according to AMC corporate policy. The automaker’s marketing objective was for each AMC dealer to have one colorful Rebel Machine on display in their showrooms to lure non-AMC potential customers so they could be introduced to the other models. The most successful dealers actually raced the cars at local drag strips.

The Machine was developed from a collaboration between Hurst Performance and AMC, but unlike the compact SC/Rambler, there was no official connection between the two parties once production commenced. The standard engine in The Machine was AMC’s 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 engine with 340 hp (254 kW; 345 PS) and 430 lb·ft (583 N·m) of torque @ 3600 rpm. It came with special heads, valve train, cam, as well as a redesigned intake and exhaust. This was the most powerful in any AMC vehicle while retaining features required for normal street operations, as well as components to assure outstanding performance characteristics without incurring high-unit cost penalties. The engine is fed by a 690-cfm Motorcraft 4-barrel carburetor, and pumped up a 10.0:1 compression requiring high-octane gasoline.

The Machine features a large ram-air intake hood scoop that was painted Electric Blue (code B6) with a large tachometer visible to the driver integrated into a raised fairing at the rear of the scoop. This hood-mounted tach came from the same vendor as used on competing makes with only different dial faces. Early production hood scoops were fiberglass layups, while those installed on Machines after 1 January 1970 were injection molded and of higher quality. The heavy-duty suspension was augmented by station wagon springs in the rear (with higher load rating) giving the car a raked look. Standard were a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst floor shifter backed by either 3.54:1 or 3.91:1 rear axle gear ratios in the “Twin-Grip” differential, as well as power disc brakes, wide E60x15 Goodyear Polyglas white letter tires mounted on “Machine” mag-styled steel 15-inch (381 mm) x 7-inch (178 mm) wheels, and a black interior with bucket seats and a center armrest upholstered in red, white, and blue vinyl.

Machine wheels

1970_AMX_BBO_C-stripe_um-whl

 The Machine wheel, optional on 1970 AMX

Among its standard performance features, all The Machine models included a special set of wheels with the appearance of a cast alloy wheel. Painted silver metal-flake with a rough texture, they have a mag-style appearance. AMC described them as “15-inch styled road wheels” in brochures and catalogs. Enthusiasts call them “Machine wheels” and the wheel’s came with a chrome center cap adorned with a blue trim disc featuring a gear icon in the center and the words American Motors around it. The 15-inch (381 mm) x 7-inch (178 mm) wheels made by Kelsey-Hayes. They have five narrow cooling slots positioned atop risers stamped around the center of the wheel. The trim ring is unusual because it does not overlap the rim (to allow for attaching wheel balancing weights) and it is permanently press-fit.

The “Machine” wheels were also optional on the 1970 AMX and Javelin models through the 1972 model year, as well as part of the “Go-Package” on 1971 and 1972 Javelin AMXs, after which a more conventional 15×7-inch slotted steel rally wheel replaced it.

Marketing

Advertisements in magazines such as Hot Rod teased that The Machine is not as fast as a 427 cu in (7.0 L) Chevrolet Corvette or a Chrysler Hemi engine, but it will beat a “Volkswagen, a slow freight train, or your old man’s Cadillac. Numerous upgrades were standard to make each Machine a potent turnkey drag racer. In contrast to the lack of options on the SC/Rambler, Machine buyers could order numerous extras from the factory. These included substituting the manual for a center console mounted “pistol grip” automatic transmission for $188, adding cruise control cost $60, a adjustable tilting steering wheel cost $45, and even air conditioning was available for an additional $380. Furthermore, American Motors dealers sold numerous performance parts over the counter, such as an incredibly steep 5.00:1 gearing “for hardcore drag-racer types.” An optional “service kit” for $ 500.00 increased horsepower to well over 400 hp (298 kW; 406 PS) and lowered its quarter mile drag strip times from 14.4 with the factory Autolite carburetor (and standard rear wheel hop behavior at maximum acceleration from standing) to 12.72 seconds.

American Motors Vice-President for Sales, Bill Pickett described that the Rebel Machine was “another youth-oriented car.” The company described, “the supercar buyer is usually young, relatively affluent and has a “critical awareness” of exterior styling. At the same time he wants to be treated as an individual and stand out from the crowd. The Rebel Machine’s distinctive paint job, rakish nose-down attitude and obvious performance characteristics lets the supercar buyer express his identity, or, in the words of today, ‘Do your own thing’. Being different from the crowd today does not necessarily mean being against something, but rather in reinforcing certain specific ideas. We anticipate that the Machine will identify with this new brand of rebel, who demonstrates for something.” The automaker claimed in its marketing promotion that “The Machine is not that fast,” but that the car was capable to “give many muscle cars from the big three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) a run for their money”. According to a retrospective Motor Trend article, The Machine is the most strip-ready car of the group they tested. The Machine could spring from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 6.4 seconds, a creditable showing even today. The Machine’s top speed was 127 mph (204 km/h).

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) price was $3,475 (US$ 21,103 in 2015 dollars). After the initial run of 1,000 units with its distinctive and easily recognizable identity, The Machine was available without the stripes in other colors with a blacked out hood. A unique paint schemes for the Machine is Frost White with a flat-black hood (paint codes: 72A-8A), with only three made. Another exclusive version came in “Big Bad Green” with only one known factory documented original car remaining. The original trim scheme became a $75 option. There were a total of 2,326 Rebel Machines built in 1970. With the Machine “AMC had acquired a reputation for the ability to create eye-catching, high performance machines at a knock-down price.”

According to the former editor of Motor Trend magazine, before BMW took “The Ultimate Driving Machine” moniker for itself, American Motors dubbed its high-performance model that could hold its head high in fast company simply “The Machine” and it deserves to be considered among the Greatest Cars of All Time.

The ‘Machine’ option was offered again as a package for the 1971 re-styled Rebel named Matador, as noted in 1971 AMC Technical Service Manual.

Convertibles

1968_AMC_Rebel_convertible

 1968 Rebel SST convertible

During the 1967 model year, American Motors produced a total of 1,686 Rambler Rebel convertibles; all in the top-trim SST model. Automatic power operation of top was standard. The new convertible top design featured a “streamlined” look blending smoothly with the lower body with the top up. Its new “split stack” folding mechanism also allowed a lower stack height with the top folded down, as well as for a full-width backseat with room for three passengers.

For 1968, the Rambler name was dropped and two convertible versions were offered in the Rebel line. A total of 1,200 were produced (823 in the SST version and 377 units in the base 550 model). Since convertibles in the Rambler American and Ambassador series were dropped after 1967, the 1968 Rebels were the only open models built by AMC. This was also the last year for AMC convertibles until this body style was added to the compact Renault Alliance in 1985.

Other markets

The AMC Rebel was produced under a number of business ventures in foreign markets. In these markets, “the Rebel was still the epitome of the modern mass-produced US sedan.”

Australia and New Zealand

1968 Rambler_Rebel_Australia(15100182108)

 1968 Rambler Rebel assembled in Australia with right-hand drive.

4-door sedan and station wagon Rebels from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits were assembled by Australian Motor Industries (AMI) in Port Melbourne, Victoria, as well as by Campbell Industries in Thames, New Zealand. Australian and NZ models were made with the two-dial (Ambassador) instrument pack rather than the North American rectangular speedo. The cars were built with right-hand drive and the body had the engine, transmission, front suspension, rear axle, and doors installed in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Other parts were boxed and shipped inside the car for final assembly in Australia or New Zealand. Australian models had to have aftermarket amber rear indicator lights fitted in the boot (trunk) lid to 1969 and amber lenses fitted behind the clear reverse lenses on 1970 models, as flashing red indicators (allowed in New Zealand) were barred in Australia. Also in Australia, numerous other parts and components such as brakes, seats, carpet, lights, heaters, etc. were sourced locally to gain tariff concessions. After the Rebel was discontinued by AMC after 1970 Australia and New Zealand continued to assemble the replacement AMC Matador sedan, still sold as a Rambler, until production end in 1978. No 2-door Rebel coupes were ever exported to Australia or New Zealand.

Europe

Under a partnership agreement that was developed in 1961 with the French automaker Renault, the Rebel’s two-door hardtop was added for the first time to the traditional 4-door sedan body style of the Renault Rambler. The new for 1967 designs were assembled in Haren, Belgium and sold by Renault dealers in Algeria, Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The Rambler served as the executive car in Renault’s model line, but the entirely new design was larger car with more power than the previous Rambler Classic and no longer suitable for European automobile tax regimes or road conditions. The 1967 models were priced 20 to 25% more than the previous year’s, so production ended in the summer of 1967.

Mexico

American Motors had partial ownership of Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos (VAM) and the Mexican operation produced equivalent AMC Rebel models. Mexican regulations required VAM vehicles had to have at least 60% locally sourced parts. The large-sized VAM cars in only two body styles, a two-door hardtop called the Rambler Classic SST, and a four-door sedan called the Rambler Classic 770 under license from 1967 through 1970, no other trim levels or designations were available. The car was VAM’s entry in the luxury segment of the Mexican auto market in contrast with its other lines that focused on economy. The VAM Classic represented the company’s flagship model, a treatment that in the United States was given to the AMC Ambassador models.

In addition to different model names and marketing concept, the Mexican versions also adapted AMC I6 engines to local conditions. They also came with more upscale interiors compared their counterpart models sold in the United States and Canada. The standard engine was the 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 with two-barrel carburetor from 1967 through 1969, even though the Rambler Classic SST had the option of VAM’s own 252 cu in (4.1 L) I6 early in 1969, which became standard equipment several months late in the year. Since 1970, both versions were equipped with VAM’s 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS) 252 cu in (4.1 L) I6 with two-barrel Carter carburetor and 266 camshaft from the factory. The cars were restricted to a three-speed manual transmission in 1967 and 1968, but were available with an optional column mounted three-speed automatic starting in 1969. Rear gear ratios included a 3.73:1 for 1967 and a 3.54:1 for the remainder of the run. External cosmetic changes over the years in VAM Rambler Classics were mostly the same as in the U.S. and Canadian market Rebels.

Both VAM Rebel-based Rambler Classics included almost the same equipment between the two body styles with only a few exceptions. The largest difference was in the front seats. The Classic 770 came with full-width bench seat while the Classic SST had individually adjustable units, even though some of the hardtops came with a front bench. The standard features included flow-through ventilation, front door flip-open air vents, four-wheel drum brakes, rigid four-bladed cooling fan, day-night rearview mirror, two-speed electric wipers, electric washers, luxury steering wheel, electric clock, 200 km/h speedometer, cigarette lighter, front ashtray, AM Motorola radio with antenna, locking glove box, courtesy lights, dual rear ashtrays, four side armrests, front two-point seatbelts, dual coat hooks, dual dome lights on C-pillars (except 1969-1970 sedan), single dome light on headliner (1969-1970 sedan only), fold-down armrest integrated to the rear seat back, bright molding package, luxury wheel covers, back-up lights, turn lights, and driver’s side remote mirror. Optional equipment for both models included power drum brakes (standard with automatic transmission), power steering, automatic transmission (not available in 1967 and 1968), remote controlled driver and passenger outside mirrors, rubber-faced bumper guards, and a locking gas cap, among others. Sales the two-door hardtop body style declined in 1970.

Name change

After evaluating the situation of social unrest within the U.S. and the model name’s associated connotations of rebellion, “American Motors officials decided that it was no time to be selling a car called Rebel.” The automaker’s marketing department conducted consumer research and determined a name change for the 1971 model year to Matador as marketing studies found it “meant virility and excitement to consumers.”

Collectibility

1970_AMC_Rebel_The_Machine_erl-Cecil'10

 The Machine at a car show

According to automotive historian James C. Mays, the 1967 limited edition regional Rambler Rebel station wagons became a collectible before their time.

Among the 1968 to 1970 models, the 1968 Rebel convertible should gain in importance as the last of AMC’s ragtops, and although station wagons and sedans later joined the SST hardtop, only the two-door models have collector appeal. The Rebel’s “clean but mundane styling” is a minus for collector appeal, but Carl Cameron, an automobile designer at Chrysler and developer of the original Dodge Charger fastback, mentioned that the best competitors during the late 1960s were the AMCs with new engines and the Rambler Rebels were “really nice, very hot cars”, but the company just did not have much of a presence in the marketplace.

Today, surviving models of the Rebel Machine are bold reminders that tiny AMC once took on the big boys on the streets and strips of America – and won. According to Motor Trend magazine, “The Machine is the collectible muscle car for people who laugh at collectible muscle cars.” The radical Rebel Machine with its hood scoop “larger than the corner mailbox” places it among the most controversially styled cars of that era, and the cars have a strong following today with their owners being rewarded with climbing prices.

That was part II There is much more info than I first thougt.

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Author: Jeroen

In Dutch, my homelanguage: Ik ben Jeroen, tot januari 2015 was ik al dik 26 jaar werkzaam in een psychiatrisch ziekenhuis in een stad vlakbij Werelds grootste havenstad Rotterdam. Eerst als verpleegkundige/begeleider op high care, later op afdeling dubbeldiagnose (verslavingen) en ook nog een tijdje als administratief medewerker. Ik heb een spierziekte "Poli Myositis" (alle spieren zijn ontstoken) daardoor weinig energie. Sinds augustus 2015 is daarbij de diagnose Kanker gesteld, en ben ik helemaal arbeidsongeschikt geworden en zit middenin de behandelfase. Gelukkig ben ik daarnaast getrouwd, vader, en opa, en heb de nodige hobby's. Een daarvan is transportmiddelen verzamelen en daarmee een blog schrijven. Dit blog begon met bussen, maar nu komen ook sleepboten, auto's trucks en dergelijke aan bod. Kijk en geniet met me mee, reageer, en vul gerust aan. Fouten zal ik ook graag verbeteren. In English: I'm Jeroen, till januari 2015 I was already 26 years working as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, near Rotterdam, Worlds biggest harbour with more than 98 nationalities living within it's borders. First I worked on closed high care ward and the last years on a ward with mainly addicted people. I liked my work very much. In 2007 I got ill. I got the diagnose Poli Myositis, a musscle dissease. Al my mussles are inflamed. And last august I got another diagnose. Cancer. It's plaveicelcel carcinoma and treated with Chemo and radioation. So I've even less energy than the last years. Still I try to make something of my life and the blog is helping with surviving with some pleasure.

2 thoughts on “RAMBLER automobile Kenosha Wisconsin USA Part II”

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