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AMC Rambler Aficionados



  • isellhondasisellhondas Member Posts: 20,342
    If I ever took an inventory of the cars I've owned in my lifetime, few would believe me...

    Back around 1973 (?) I was working for Sears. I had a 30 mile commute each way. The gas crisis hit big time...anybody remember? We had long lines and rationing. It was terrible. You could only buy gas on even days or odd days according to your license plate number.

    Anyway, a guy at work was selling his elderly mother's 1962 American convertable for 100.00. I decided to buy it just to have another car to keep gas in. Nobody knew if the crisis would worsen.

    This Rambler had NEVER had the top lowered. The top was intact but brittle so I never tried it either. I was warned that it burned a quart of oil every 300 miles. That's how far it would go on a tank of gas. The gas guage was broken. It had been using that much oil for years. It didn't smoke or leak it just used oil!

    It ran like a top and never caused me a bit of trouble for the year and probably 10,000 miles that I kept it. It even looked good. So Calif car, no rust, etc...

    I remember I sold it to a girl at work whose last name was Nash. She called it Nash's Rambler and commuted between San Diego where she went to school and L.A. often where her parents lived.

    I ran into her three years later...she still had it. It STILL used a quart of oil per tank and ran like a dream.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    selling Volvos. No obvious tie-in here unless you share Shiftright's belief that Volvo has replaced Rambler as the car of choice for people who don't like to drive.

    Yes, '73 was the year I learned how to siphon gas. Unfortunately this involved some trial and error.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,554
    He was a delivery driver for awhile. He drove a Ford Country Squire station wagon. When I'd see him in the parking lot, I'd say "Ain't that a disgrace...a Hudson driving a Ford!" and we'd get a laugh out of it. Stupid, I guess, but we thought it was kinda funny. I think he was surprised that a younger guy like me knew what a Hudson was!!

    Speaking of siphoning gas, sometimes I keep my Catalina 'vert at my grandmother's house, and sometimes my DeSoto. I have to be careful with the 'vert, though, because my uncle found it very easy to siphon gas out to use for the weed trimmer, tractor, lawn mower, etc.

  • badgerpaulbadgerpaul Member Posts: 219
    Nothing quite so tasty as a mouth full of gas. After 30 years, I can still taste it. I once worked with a guy who claimed that he and three friends made a trip to Florida from Wisconsin on $20 and a length of rubber hose. He did say that they had to borrow a tire from someone, but they did replace it with their bald, flat spare.
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    There was a guy on the news a while back who tried to syphon some gas from an RV but unfortunately chose the wrong tank.

    The cops took the guy to the hospital. The owner, between bouts of hysterical laughter, said he wouldn't press charges. He figured the guy'd been punished enough.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I'd say justice had already been done, wouldn't you?
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    At least. Betcha that guy's a changed man.

    And for some gratuitous Rambler references, how about those bizarro Hurst-Rambler whatchamacallits that were produced in very small numbers?

    There was also a few colors that American Motors tried out around '68 that were extremely unusual for the time. Some optical brighteners in there, I think; maybe even a little flourescent pigment. Not enough so that it was actually day-glo, but just really vivid.

    In one of my old Road & Tracks too there was a picture of an American that looked just like one of my beloved/hated old heaps, winning its class in the Baja 1000.

    I also recall an anecdote where a guy in the "hot" (a relative concept) Gremlin met a Ferrari at a light and challenged the guy to a race. When the light changed the Gremlin revved like crazy, lit up the tires and took a long time to turn all that sturm und drang into actual forward movement, while the Ferrari just drove away.

    That exhausts my entire repertoire of American Motors trivia.
  • wevkwevk Member Posts: 179
    In the 60s the Rambler would have been the result had Consumer Reports designed a car. (Actually I don't think even CR recommened it)
    Back the many of us championed the brand of car our fathers bought. Ford vs Chevy vs Chrysler
    One fellow of our aquaintence felt compeled to championhis fathers brand, Rambler. Poor guy!
  • C13C13 Member Posts: 390
    CU did like Ramblers. Actually, back then Consumer Reports thought the Checker was just wonderful. Its defiantly clumsy non-styled "styling" was taken by that ilk as a statement of the puritanical ideal, i.e., only neurotic and flawed personalities have a need to express themselves by surrounding themselves with objects of beauty. Secure people are above all that, doncha know.

    Most of the Ramblers, to my eye, were at least decently-proportioned and pretty clean; just very conservative, at a time when most of the competition was into styling with a lot of pizzazz and gee-whiz about it.

    Stylistically I'd say the Ramblers were a lot more sophisticated than most of the junk from the big 3 until about 1970, when American Motors must have made a decision to modernize and pursue the american slob market; eventually even out-tackying the big boys.
  • wevkwevk Member Posts: 179
    There is little doubt that the Rambler would have been the car of choice by Mr. Spock. I had an uncle, a very logical kind of guy, who always drove them. A transportation device.
    Back the, my friends and I judged cars by how much rubber they could burn. Of course that was not Ramblers strong suit.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,554
    I used to love looking through the old Consumer Reports magazines at the library back in college. Their collection went back to around 1950 or so, I believe. I do remember that CR usually rated Ramblers fairly high earlier on in the 60's, but they became less enchanted with them as the year went by.

    Whenever they'd do a compact car roundup, whatever Mopar product they were testing (Dart or Valiant) usually took top honors, although they would get on Mopar for slipping in 13" tires and 170 CID slant sixes as standard equipment, which may have helped keep initial prices low, but who wants a Dart with a 170 and 13" rims?! I had one with a 225 and 14" wasn't bad, but I wouldn't want anything slower!

    I think the Ramblers usually came in second, although sometimes it was a tossup between the Rambler and the Ford Falcon. CR liked the Rambler because they changed them so little from year to year, except I remember one year, they made the backlight smaller, and of course CR griped about it. They usually rated the Chevy II dead last, although when it was redone for 1968, I think they started rating it better.

    I do remember that, performance-wise, as long as the Mopars had a 225 and not a 170, they were usually the quickest off the line...0-60 in about 14 seconds, although they tested a 1967 Valiant with a 225 and 2.94 gears at 0-60 in 13. I know these numbers sound lame by today's standards, but for comparison, they tested that most beloved family car of the 60's, an Impala with a 307, at 0-60 in 14-14.5 seconds. I think the Ramblers usually came in at 15-17 seconds, depending on the engine.

    One thing that was sad, as the 60's wore on into the 70's, all of a sudden we had V-8 Granadas, Novas, Hornets, and Volares doing 0-60 in 13-15 seconds, about what the better compact sixes of the 60's were doing! Ain't progress great ;-)

    Sometime I'd like to get back up to the library, look up those old articles again, and write the stats down just for reference. Might be fun, taking a nostalgia trip like that again!

  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    AMC did try to get with the program in the late '60s. Hurst Scramblers, the AMX, the Machine. I saw/heard a few sedate-looking intermediates that had the hot hydraulic cam dealer-installed in their 390, as well as the factory rear sway bar. Those were sleepers. Just saw one recently and that lumpy idle brought back memories. I wonder how many long-time Rambler buyers peeled out of the dealer's lot with that package.
  • ndancendance Member Posts: 323
    how many Randall Rambler cars (Mesa,AZ) are still around? I seem to remember 401 Gremlins and Pacers. Wouldn't suprise me if there were a few 401 SC360 Hornets in the mix out there somewhere
    (note: when did 401 production start? 1971 maybe?)
  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,445
    I have to disagree to some extent with the general consensus that all Ramblers were slow. My father had a '64 Classic (one step above the American), but he had the good taste to get a V-8, which was fairly unusual. This thing hardly separated your retinas when you punched it, but, largely because of the three speeds in the automatic, it could put the hurt on a 327 powerglide Impala at a light. I remember this as it was not only great fun in itself, but the Impala owner then had to go find a hole to crawl into. You get your fun where you can find it. Oh, on another subject, I also liked the reclining seats. I mean, I REALLY liked the reclining seats.

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,554
    Oh yeah, I forgot about those.

    I remember an episode of "Happy Days", where Ritchie bought an old late 40's/early 50's Chevy 'vert. It had reclining seats in it. I remember Joannie taking one look at it and saying "Those are Nash seats...they're great for necking!"

    Most kids nowadays probably wouldn't get the reference, as just about all car seats recline nowadays!

    As for the slow stereotype, sorry if I helped perpettuate it by quoting Consumer Reports tests. Usually, they tested the cheapest, most basic cars they could, but every once in awhile, they'd test some small Rambler with a V-8 in it, and it wouldn't disappoint...although then they'd gripe about it being overpowered!!

  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,554
    I've been seeing an old Ambassador driving around here at work lately, and have to admit that it's a pretty nice looking car.

    I'm not sure what year it was, but it was a hardtop coupe, with quad headlights, a formal grille that kind of thrusted forward a bit at the top. The hardtop roofline reminded me a lot of the 1967 Newport 2-door I had, or the '67-69 Barracuda fastback. I'm guessing it was around a '70-73.

    My co-worker and I were walking out to lunch one day, and saw it drive by. I said "ooh, it's got a 360 in it." He was amazed that I could tell just by the engine sound. Then I admitted that I just read the badge on the side! Shoulda kept my mouth shut!

  • bhill2bhill2 Member Posts: 2,445
    Yes, if it was a 360, it was early '70s. You're right, those were nice looking. I also understand that if you got the 401, they went like stink. You could also get that engine in the mid-size, I think it was a Rebel at that point, and those cars made the police really happy to have (no, I'm not thinking of Adam-12, although one was used on the show.)

    2009 BMW 335i, 2003 Corvette cnv. (RIP 2001 Jaguar XK8 cnv and 1985 MB 380SE [the best of the lot])

  • al57al57 Member Posts: 67
    my father, now a retired transmission mechanic was always able to take cars in need of repairs for us to learn to drive on. As i remember he had a 1967 2 door 3 on the column cheap model, dont even know a 110 maybe? then graduated and got my older sister a 74 gremlin with levis interior and my younger sister a 1980 concord..all pretty good cars for a mechanic ,didnt require much but being the only boy in the family an AMC just wouldnt do so my first car was 67 GTO -helluva car..forgot about the 68 ambassador 4 door ,sorry....
  • rayt2rayt2 Member Posts: 1,208
    was introduced in 1971 as you thought, basically a bored out 390.

    Speed... those parts you were describing were the "Group 19" performance mods option package. I am getting my 69 AMX into the shop tomorrow for a long awaited paint job, got everything stripped out of the interior except the dash board. Never seen that car look so naked. What I would'nt give to get hold of those group 19 mods now, but anyone holding onto them is doing just that or is so out of touch with what they want that it's not worth the investment to me.

    Remember the Trans Am racing days when that was the "in" thing in late 60's early 70's?? the Sunoco Javelin, Camaro, Boss Mustang's ??
    Well in upstate NY at Watkins Glen Interational Race Track on September 7,8 & 9th the old vintage racers come back to life and I'll be there to enjoy, that should be a great time.

    Ray T.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Member Posts: 1,598
    Just today I saw a pumpkin orange '73 Javelin, not your everyday sight even back in '73. Had a half-vinyl roof that had been peeled off but probably had been black like the interior. Automatic with stirrup shifter and either the six or 304 since there were no engine badges. The styling still looks pretty sharp so I guess Dick Teague was still working his miracles, although some '70s AMCs look a little bizarre.

    I thought I remembered Roger Penske and Mark Donahue winning a Trans Am championship in a Javelin so I looked in "The Encyclopedia of American Supercars", one of the best books I've run across on American high performance. They won in 1971.

    The book also mentions the Group 19 parts. Hot cam with 302 degrees duration, hi rise 2x4v manifold, wide or close ratio four speeds, gears up to 4.44s.

    The AMX was a great image car for AMC when it first came out, much like the Road Runner or GTO. The car guys I knew in high school were in awe of it.
  • rayt2rayt2 Member Posts: 1,208
    Yep that was it. I used to watch them race in Limerock Connecticut throughout the 70's until AMC dropped out and the muscle car phase went into limbo for a while and the Porsche's took over.
    My brother just bought a basket case 70 Donahue Javelin that he is restoring, I've never seen so much surface rust! This thing has a factory replacement engine (360)in it since the original owner blew up the first one, it's tagged as such also by the factory. It will be worth some money to a collector for sure when he gets done with it because he is a perfectionist on this stuff.

    Ray T.
  • announcerannouncer Member Posts: 2
    I just bought a '74 Matador Coupe with full vinyl roof and opera window, and the old 360, same as in my '87 Grand Wagoneer. It's been in a barn for a year, but took us only fifteen minutes to get it started and running smooth. Interior is a little rough, and there's a little patch of rocker panel gone underneath, but otherwise in good shape. Wish I trusted it enough to take to my 25th high schol reunion next weekend - though my disco clothes no longer fit!
  • ghuletghulet Member Posts: 2,564
    A friend of mine in high school (~15 years ago) had a Matador X (I think) coupe, it was the 'sporty' (inasmuch as that big wide thing could be) model. Black with white side stripes and I think a plaid interior, with those oval slotted mag wheels. You definitely have yourself a period piece.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 25,554
    Hey, one thing I've always wondered...did the Matador coupes with the opera windows in the back still have roll-down rear windows? I know I've seen the cheaper coupes with the big rear windows, and they were still roll-down.

    My uncle used to have a '76 Jeep pickup with that same 360. Very torquey engine!
  • opera_house_wkopera_house_wk Member Posts: 326
    My brother went to school at Babson outside of Boston. My brother bought one of the first AMX show cars from the son (who was also going to school there) of the president of AMC. This car was supposed to have gone around as a demonstrator to dealers. It had extras on it like Indy gas caps where the AMX symbol was on the back roof and a plate on the dashboard that said car number 200 something. I just remember it was in the low 200's. He had the warrantee plastic card with the president's name and address on it. By the time my brother got it it was less than pristine. Even the number plate on the dash had some corrosion on it. Must have been beer. Well, you know rich college kids. At the time I didn't think it was that neat, just better than I was driving. He blew up the engine two years later in Florida and bought a GTO. Has anyone heard of these original cars that were numbered? A guy I knew had a body shop and saw this red car with the white stripe at a dealer when it was in for service. He didn't know it was my brother's He commented how all the body panels matched perfectly and he had never seen that before. We all forget how the quality was at that time.
  • ambullambull Member Posts: 255
    My parents had a '64 Classic 660? with a small V8 (273?) that was a pretty good car. I've been thinking about getting a newer model like the Rebel, Hornet or Matador (don't like the Marlin's styling), with a V8.
    Anyone out there with experience with these have any comments as to which is better and why?
  • barresa62barresa62 Member Posts: 1,379
    a 1970 AMC Rebel SST 4dr w/38,000 orig miles
    PS, PB, Auto, and 360 V8 for $1500? I'm thinking of something not too big as a 2nd car for limited towing of a seadoo or something similiar. My WRX wagon really isn't rated to tow.

    Side story to a Rebel: When I was a kid in 1970 living in Germany when my dad was stationed at the American Embassy we went to p/u a Boxer/Shepard mix puppy. We had the Embassy driver take us. He drove us in an all black, base 70'AMC Rebel. On the way home w/the puppy who was being pretty out of control, my dad asked what I should name him. The only thing that came to mind was the name of the car...Rebel. So, that became the dog's name. It might be kind of cool to have a Rebel again...the 4 wheel variety as opposed to 4-legged. :-)

  • ambullambull Member Posts: 255
    So how does the Rebel drive- plenty of power and reasonable handling? I'm thinking about the same thing as you: these cars are cheap and reasonably good performers, right? Anybody know what one weighs?

    Also, did anyone see the movie "Just Visiting", with Christina Applegate? It had a funky-painted Matador that just looked too retro-cool!
  • barresa62barresa62 Member Posts: 1,379
    Thanks for replying! I don't know how the Rebel drives (this particular one or any). I'm going to drive down near Portland, OR to go take a look today.

This discussion has been closed.