AMC Rambler American

AMC Marlin
AMC Marlin
Rambler Marlin
The AMC Marlin was a vehicle aimed at competing with a new breed of vehicles. Ford had their Mustang, Chrysler had the Barracuda, and General Motors had their pony cars such as the Camero and Firebird. AMC decided to enter this segment of the market with the Marlin, a vehicle that could best be classified as an intermediate sports sedan. Under the leadership and direction of Roy Abernethy, the AMC Marlin was introduced in early February of 1965 and offered at a base price of $3100. It was in dealer showrooms in March of 1965.

The vehicle was equipped with four-piston front disc brakes and non-servo-type rear drums. A three-speed gearbox came standard. Power windows, AM/FM radio, tilt steering, and air conditioning were offered as optional equipment. A wide range of interior and exterior colors allowed even further customization.

The Marlin was an immediate success for the company, helping to create a profit of over 5 million dollars. In its first year, 10,327 Marlins were sold.

The 1966 Marlin did not sell as well as the prior year. Sales plummeted by nearly half; only 4547 examples were sold.

In 1966, the Rambler logo was removed from the hood and rear of the vehicle. Minor styling and mechanical changes occurred in 1966, but for the most part, the vehicle remained the same. The base price was lowered to around $2600. A four-speed manual gearbox was not offered. The ability to customize the vehicle continued with the addition of two new engines, a 232 cubic-inch six, and a 327 cubic-inch V8. The 232 cubic-inch, inline-six-cylinder engine was capable of producing 155 horsepower, while the V8 produced 250 horsepower.

Drastic changes occurred for the Marlin in 1967. It began using the chassis used on the AMC Ambassador, which increased the size of the vehicle. The length grew by six and one-half inches, the wheelbase by six inches, and the width by four inches. This greatly increased the weight of the vehicle. That being the case, it also created more room for larger engines. A new 290 cubic-inch and 343 cubic-inch V8s were offered.

Sadly, even with all these changes, sales still were slow. In 1967, only 2545 units were sold.
By Daniel Vaughan | May 2008

AMC Rambler American
AMC Rambler American
AMC Rambler American

AMC Rambler Classic
Produced by American Motors Corporation, the Rambler Classic was one of the most attractive vehicles produced. Appealing, the Classic also featured some very interesting engineering features. An intermediate sized automobile build and sold by AMC from 1961 to 1966, the Rambler 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. The Classic was the high-volume seller for AMC throughout its enter life in the AMC model line-up.

Though AMC went through some difficult economical times, especially after its amalgamation of Nash and Hudson in 1954, AMC became the rare auto manufacturer that benefited from an economic recession. In 1958 it brought back the 100-in. wheelbase Rambler that had been discontinued in 1955. Being the exact automobile that was needed at the time, the Rambler American was a huge success that helped carry AMC to its first profitable year. The Rambler marque ranked in third place among domestic automobile sales in 1961. To create a stronger individual model identity, the larger-sized Rambler series was renamed as the Classic in ‘61.

In 1961 AMC redesigned the American and turned the mid-sized Rambler Rebel/Six into the Classic. The Classic gained a new stylist, Richard 'Dick' Teague. Teague was practical yet imaginative, and he had the amazing ability to produce fresh looking products that required low tooling costs that proved to be a godsend to AMC through its financially troubled time ahead. Teague earned the reputation as the ‘master of the cheap makeover'.

In 1963 Teague influenced AMC styling in the 1963 Rambler Classic and Ambassador. The first all-new cars from AMC since 1956, the Ambassador was basically a Classic with a 9 in. longer wheelbase than the Classic. The 1963 Classic was more compact in its other dimensions, in keeping with the now-departed Romney's philosophy. The Classic rode on the same 108 in. wheelbase as the 1962 model, but in spite of this, it lost none of its passenger or luggage capacity.

About the size of today's Toyota Camry, the new Classic was 1 inch shorter and narrower and 2.2 inches lower than the bulky design it replaced and had an over-all length of 188.8 inches. The new Classic also featured lovely fresh styling along with its more compact dimensions. All vestiges of the 1950s fins were gone, and the side glass was curved, one of the earliest popular-priced vehicles with this feature and the body sides were sculpted nicely.

Practical as well as being pretty, the Classic featured many interesting engineering features such as the combining of many separate parts in the unit construction body in single stampings, reducing the number of parts from 346 to 244. The component reduction included the ‘uniside' door surround which was stamped out of one piece of steel. Replacing 52 parts, this single stamping also provided much better fitting doors.

The company also claimed that it had reduced the weight by 200 lbs while increasing the structural rigidity of the body. Motor Trend magazine awarded the Classic its Car-of-the Year- award for this type of imaginative engineering.

Powered by AMC's 3.2 liter long-stroke, overhead valve, inline six cylinder engine, which developed 127 horsepower in standard form or 138 when with a two-barrel carb, the Classic could be had with an aluminum block. AMC claimed that this block was ‘America's First Die-Cast Aluminum Six.' Midway through the year an engine option would be the corporate 5.4 liter overhead valve V-8 with 250 horsepower in normal form, or 270 with a two-barrel carburetor.

AMC had the industry's widest range of offerings in the transmission department. The Classic featured a regular three-speed manual with optional overdrive, a three speed automatic; an 'E-stick' semi-automatic transmission in which there was no clutch pedal; and 'Twin-Stick' overdrive that was engaged by a separate console-mounted lever.

1963 was AMC's best year ever, and the 1963 Rambler Classic is responsible for helping lift AMC's total sales to 428,346 units.

Halfway through the 1964 model year, a special Typhoon was available utilizing the Classic 2-door hardtop body. Introducing AMC's brand new 232 in³ 'Typhoon' modern era inline-6 in this special commemorative model, production was limited to 2,500 units. The Typhoon was only available in a two-tone Solar Yellow body with a Classic Black roof. Rather than the usual 'Classic' name insignia, instead the car featured a distinctive 'Typhoon' script, along with a unique grille with black out accents.

A major redesign was undergone in 1965 of the new platform that had been introduced in 1962. The Classic was now shorter along with being as visually distinctive from the Ambassador line, though is still shared the basic body structure from the windshield back. A convertible model was available in the 770 trim version for the first time. Introduced as the 'Sensible Spectaculars', the 1965 Classic models focused emphasis on their new styling, powerful engines, as well as their expanded comfort and sports-type options in contrast to the earlier 'economy car' image.

For 1966 the Rebel name was revived once more for a uniquely trimmed two-door hardtop Classic with a newly revised roofline. A four-speed manual transmission was offered along with a dash mounted tachometer. In 1967 AMC's completely redesigned large line of vehicles replaced the Classic with the Rambler Rebel name. The following year the Rebel was rechristened the AMC Rebel as AMC began the process of phasing out the Rambler marque.

Forever remembered, the sensible Classic was an honest, economical and practical family car with attractive styling.

By Jessica Donaldson

AMC Rambler American
AMC Rambler American

Rambler American
AMC Rambler Six

Nash Rambler

Hudson Rambler

Nash Rambler Series 10
Nash Rambler Series 10
Nash Rambler

Nash Rambler
Nash Rambler
Nash Rambler

Model Production *

* Please note, dates are approximate

Related Articles and History

Introduced in 1950, the Nash Rambler was designed to be much smaller than other contemporary vehicles, while still able to accommodate five passengers easily and comfortably. Produced by the Nash Motors division of Nash-Kelvinator Corporation for six years only, the Rambler was responsible for establishing a new segment in the automotive market. Widely considered to be the original modern American compact vehicle, the Nash Rambler was originally going to be called the Nash Diplomat. Dodge had already reserved the Diplomat name for a two-door hardtop body style, so the Rambler name was resurrected instead.

Introduced during the 1950 model year, the Nash Rambler was the entry model for the low-price segment that had been dominated by models from Ford, Chevrolet, and Plymouth. Riding on a 100' wheelbase, the new model was designed to be smaller in dimension, and lighter in weight than the other popular cars of the time. Nash was able to save on materials in its productions and owners would have better fuel economy by keeping the vehicle smaller. Producing 82 hp, the Rambler's power came from a 173 in³ L-head 6-cylinder engine.

The 'landau' was the designation for the up-market two-door convertible new Rambler. The Rambler was attempting to gain a positive public image, rather than being seen as an inexpensive little vehicle. The Nash Rambler was equipped with various features that included wheel covers, an electric clock, a pushbutton radio, and whitewall tires.

The Rambler was compact, and the design had a rounded form with an enveloping body that enclosed the front wheels. Fortunately, the design did not impair the vehicle's cornering abilities. The Nash Rambler kept the fixed roof structure above the vehicle's doors and rear side window frames unlike the traditional convertible of that time period that used frame-free windows. The retractable canvas top used this metal structure as the side rails or guides. The body of the vehicle was considered to be rigid for an open-top vehicle, though this design did allow Nash to use its monocoque unibody construction on its new compact.

The Rambler line was enhanced to include the Country Club in 1951, a two-door station wagon and a two-door hardtop. It wasn't until 1953 that the Nash Rambler received it's first significant restyling which included an all-new 'Airflyte' styling that the 'senior' Nash models had received the previous year. Also in this year, a new two-door sedan was added to the lineup.

In 1954 the Cross Country was added to the line-up, which included a four-door station wagon and four-door sedan. The Cross Country rode on a 108' wheelbase, and during the following year, the traditional front wheel wells were open and exposed.

The Hudson Motor Car Company merged with Nash in 1954, with the successor being the American Motors Corporation. Soon after the merge, Ramblers were badged as Hudson brand cars. Nash Ramblers and Hudson Ramblers were virtually identical, except for the brand name and some minor brand badging.

An all-new Rambler was introduced in 1956 by American Motors which featured an increase in the overall length of the vehicle, though still riding on the same 108' (2743mm) wheelbase. Ramblers now only were sold as four-door models, alongside four-door sedans, station wagon, and a new four-door hardtop sedan. A new four-door hardtop station wagon was featured in 1956, an industry first.

The Rambler was no longer branded as either a Nash or Hudson in 1957, but simply as a Rambler in it's own right. A 250-CID V8 engine was finally made available in Ramblers for the first time in 1957. Also, new for this year only was a unique high-performance four-door hardtop sedan model that was named the Rambler Rebel. The Rebel was fitted with AMC's new 327-CID V8 engine which was also used in the larger Nash Ambassador and the Hudson Hornet earlier that year.

By Jessica Donaldson

Receiving quite an elite status, the Rambler nameplate is responsible for leading the North American auto industry into smaller, more economical vehicle, which eventually received the identity of ‘compacts'. Various companies attempted to build smaller vehicles following the war, with little success. The Nash Kelvinator Corp. of Kenosha, Wisconsin was the one to introduce the first ever compact, the stylish 1950 Rambler.

Introduced at first as a convertible only, the Rambler was an instantaneous hit and the line quickly expanded to include sedans and station wagons. Basically remaining the same, the Rambler only received mild restyling in 1953.

Nash and Hudson merged in 1954 to form American Motors Corporation. As vehicles were getting larger and larger, the compact 100 in. wheelbase Rambler was limited. In 1955 the Rambler was discontinued while the company focused on the larger 108 inch wheelbase Rambler.

President George Romney took a chance in 1958 and decided to resurrect the smaller Rambler, based on the success of the larger Rambler. He discontinued the large Hudsons and Nashes and chose to concentrate on the smaller models instead. Disgusted and appalled by the size of American cars; which he called ‘gas guzzling dinosaurs', Romney is responsible for coining the word ‘compact'.

In 1958 the all new Rambler was reborn, the Rambler American. Sporting a flashy new mesh grille, and the wheel arches opened up. As the North American economy was fighting a recession, the new Rambler couldn't arrived at a more ideal time as consumers were searching for something smaller and more economical. The Rambler was known as a fuel miser and had won the Mobile Economy Run various times. The Rambler American found a very willing market.

Even though the design of the compact vehicle was old fashioned, 30,640 units of the 1958 model were sold. At a top speed of 86.5 mph, Road & Track magazine reported that the 90-horsepower six-cylinder engine could achieve zero to 60 mph in merely 16 seconds. Faster by 5 seconds than the Studebaker Lark, the 1959 American was a carryover of the 1958. In 1959 AMC added a station wagon that only increased its popularity and the 91,491 units were sold.

Very similar to the 1958 and 1958 Rambler, the 1960 American featured minimal trim changes and the addition of a four-door sedan. 1960 was also the year in which the Big Three, Ford, GM and Chrysler finally responded to the import-car challenge. The Chevy Corvair, the Ford Falcon and the Chrysler Valiant were released, but despite this new competition, AMC managed to sell 120,600 of its Rambler American.

Continuing to be popular, unfortunately the Rambler American lost all of its visual connection with the original 1950 Rambler with the addition of all-new styling, this time square rather than round, though the 100 inch wheelbase was retained.

With unit construction bodies that were susceptible to rust, those early Ramblers are now almost all gone. Though remembered, as the Rambler proved to be reliable, economical and sturdy. The Rambler also performed the very rare feat of having two distinct and successful model runs. A feat that is mostly unheard of in the automobile industry.

By Jessica Donaldson