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The Carchive: 1966 American Motors Rambler Classic

Chris Haining July 21, 2017 Cars You Should Know, The Carchive 16 Comments

We’ve been living in the past this last couple of fridays, and I reckon we ought to stay there for a little while. A fortnight back we were in 1966 to see what Buick was up to, last week we were giving Dodge a chance to impress us with the ’62 Dart. This week, it’s back to ’66 for a visit to Kenosha, WI, to hang out with AMC.

This brochure is for the last year of the Rambler Classic, which had been in production from ’61. Let’s see if it can be as exciting as the front cover promises. Welcome back to The Carchive.

All images can be expanded for legibility through a simple point and click operation

“Just look”.

Indeed. I have to say, among all the brochures in The Carchive, this is one of the most design-led, a fact that rather endears it to me. It’s astonishingly stylish throughout, with the look of a far more recent publication. The photography is rich and lavish – and the very fact that it actually uses photography puts it ahead of so many from the 70s that used airbrushed renderings.

Fashion is a fickle thing.

“Notice the name “Rambler” big and bold on the hood. We’ve made some changes. And we’d like to make sure people know what car they’re all excited about”

I wasn’t alive during the sixties, so the list of features and benefits AMC offered in the Rambler Classic seems rather more exotic to me than it might to seasoned veterans of the peak muscle car era.

There are some pretty cool names going on, too, with one particular C-word getting a fair bit of attention – you could have both a ‘Torque Command Six’ and ‘ Cruise-Command’ speed control.

“…we call it Rebel. Seems to fit”

Things get a bit warmer on this double spread, when a 327 V8 comes into play. With a four-barrel carb, it was quoted at 270hp (presumably gross), which was probably enough to be reasonably nippy.

There was a bunch of comfort available, too – you got an electric clock! Reclining bucket seats! And an interior trimmed in “Hialeah Plaid” upholstery, which I’m pretty sure I want a suit made from.

“The 770 Cross Country Wagon across the way gives you a good look at our new roof design. We think it’s a beauty”

You know, sometimes model numbers in ’60s US cars could be misleading. I once thought a Ford Galaxie 500 would be one with an 8.2-litre engine. And, by that logic, a 770 Wagon would have been about 12.6 litres big.  Yup, that would do me.

770, it seems, referred to the luxury model, with its carpeted load bay and rear-facing third seating row. I like that underfloor storage compartment, too.

“Want a very luxurious Classic? Shop our 770’s. But if you’re shopping on a budget, the 550 makes a beautiful buy”

We must be careful not to understate just how lavish the 770s were. The seat fabrics, for example, were “almost 50% nylon“. There’s another cool name, too, in the shape of a “Weather-Eye heater”.

Not only that, but you could specify either “Duo-coustic” or “Vibra-tone” rear speakers to connect to your AM or AM/FM radio. And, of course, there were power windows on all doors, including the wagon tailgate. But best of all, who wouldn’t want a “Flash-o-Matic” floor-shift gearbox?

But more impressive than anything else, and a fact that the brochure gushes over, is that the ashtrays roll out on ball-bearings.

“And guess what? Not even Cadillac goes that far.”

(All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. The history of AMC got really twisty turny during the 80s, but I’m guessing copyright remains property of FCA, via Chrysler. What a time to be alive.)

  • mrh1965

    Hialeah Plaid with two matching pillows, if I’m reading that correctly. Damn.

    • Chris must make sure that he chooses a different but matching hue for his suit, or the pillows might appear to be a bulbous part of him.

      • Vairship

        But will his suit come with ashtrays on ball-bearings?

        • I’m not a smoker, but appreciate sound engineering. So I hope so.

        • Rover 1

          A tangent of technological history ending up with the VW Phaeton disappointing owners.

          • Neither plaid nor pillows. What a pathetic attempt.

        • outback_ute

          I remember something about Lancia ashtrays and engineering overkill (as an example of why the brand went under & was taken over by Fiat), but I can’t think of what it was.

        • dukeisduke

          I remember the ball bearing ashtray in our ’66 American 440. Of course neither of my parents smoked, so it didn’t get much of a workout.

          Less impressive were the vacuum operated wipers, or the washers that operated via a little foot pedal.

  • Luxury Lexus Land-yacht

    In 1986-1987, I owned a ’66 Rambler 660 wagon.

    The experience was forgettable…save for the brake failure.

  • Van_Sarockin

    My mom had a ’63 Rambler American. The heater was the only option on it. It was decent, compact transportation. She drove it for about eight years. Not so many places you could get it repaired in America, though.

    • Victor

      Rambler had a basic 6 cyl. inline engine that any corner shop should have been able to repair.

      • Van_Sarockin

        All I know is that it took a week for a replacement water pump to find its way to Valdosta, Georgia in 1969.

      • dukeisduke

        And most the accessory stuff was from Ford or GM. Except for the Motorola alternators and voltage regulators.

  • wunno sev

    the ashtray ball bearings actually gets me pretty excited. kinda want to find one of these now, just to try that out.

  • tonyola

    Nice, artful brochure for a dull car. The only things that are interesting are the throw pillows and the hardtop roofline. Here’s a picture of the 1966 Ambassador’s pillow in a rather loud hounds-tooth check.

    • P161911

      I would guess most of those pillows ended up on Grandma’s couch or the couch in the basement after Grandma traded in the 770 for a new Datsun.