In 1954, with the merger of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company, the American Motors Corporation (AMC) was formed. It was the largest corporate merger in the United States history to that time. The idea was to use the strengths of the two firms to battle the Big Three automakers, GM, Ford and Chrysler. Within three years the company focused on a new small car line; the Rambler and the original Nash and Hudson brands gone. Sales of the Rambler took off and were frequent winners in Mobile Economy Runs. It became America's third most popular car during the early 1960s.
The Marlin was created to compete with Ford's Mustang and Plymouth's Barracuda, but was built on the 112 inch wheelbase Rambler Classic chassis placing it in the midsize class. It was the first fastback in the segment and was offered with a variety of engines from a 232 cubic-inch 6-cylinder producing 155 horsepower to a 327 cubic-inch V8 producing 270 horsepower. Prices for the car started at $3,100 and although over 10,000 cars were sold in 1965, sales dropped to 4,457 in 1966.