1965 Rambler Classic 770 convertible
|Manufacturer||American Motors Corporation (AMC)|
|Also called||Rambler-Renault Classic (RIB)|
|Assembly||Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States
Brampton, Ontario, Canada
Córdoba Province, Argentina (IKA)
Port Melbourne, Australia (AMI)
Thames, New Zealand
Haren, Belgium (Renault)
Mexico City, Mexico (VAM)
|Predecessor||Rambler Six and V8|
The Rambler Classic was an intermediate sized automobile that was built and sold by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from model year 1961 to 1966. 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.
The Rambler Rebel name replaced Classic on AMC's completely redesigned large-line of cars in 1967, and for 1968 the Rebel was rechristened 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 
1961 Rambler Classic 4-door sedan
|Body style||2-door sedan
4-door station wagon
|Engine||195.5 cu in (3.2 L) I6
250 cu in (4.1 L) V8 (1961)
3-speed with overdrive
|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
|Designer(s)||Edmund E. Anderson|
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."
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".
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 freestanding 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 pushbuttons 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 likable, easy handling, providing stability and comfortable, roomy ride with low-cost operation. Flaws included inadequate power and poor workmanship.
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 
1963 Rambler Classic 660 wagon
|Also called||Rambler Deluxe V8 (Australia) 
Rambler Luxury V8 (Australia) 
Rambler Cross Country V8 (Australia) 
|Body style||2-door sedan
2-door hardtop (1964)
4-door station wagon
|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
3-speed with overdrive
"Twin-Stick" on console
3-speed “Shift-Command” on center console (1964)
|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|
|Designer(s)||Edmund E. Anderson
Richard A. Teague
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 Trend magazine'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.
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.
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 went from 550, 660, to 770 trims (replacing the Deluxe, Custom, and 400 versions).
As in 1962, the 1963 Classics were initially all 6-cylinder 195.5 cu in (3.2 L) models, while the Ambassadors featured the 327 cu in (5.4 L) V8 engine.
In mid-1963, a new 287 cu in (4.7 L) V8 option was announced for the Classic models. The 198 hp (148 kW) 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, as well as reduce weight and assembly costs; but it also increased structural rigidity and provided for better fitment for the doors.
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 taillamps 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 hardtop model joined the line in 770 as well as a sporty 770-H version that featured individually adjustable reclining bucket seats.
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) 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.
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 taillights.
Third generation 
1965 Rambler Classic 770 convertible
|Body style||2-door sedan
4-door station wagon
|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
3-speed with overdrive
"Twin-Stick" on console (1965)
4-speed manual (1966)
3-speed “Shift-Command” on center console
|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.
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 an economical 128 hp (95 kW) 199 cu in (3.3 L) six-cylinder that was a destroked 232 engine. The 660 and 770 series received the 145 hp (108 kW) 232 cu in (3.8 L), while a 155 hp (116 kW) six and the 198 hp (148 kW) 287 cu in (4.7 L) or 270 hp (201 kW) 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.
At mid-model year, AMC introduced the 1965 Marlin, a halo car for the company. It was a mid-sized fastback using the Rambler Classic platform. Marketed as a personal luxury car, the Marlin had unique styling and featured an exceptional array of standard equipment.
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 
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.
Other markets 
Noteworthy were AMC's overseas business ventures involving the production of Ramblers. Classics were assembled in Renault's factory in Haren, Belgium and sold through Renault dealers in Algeria, Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. French automaker did not have large cars in its model line and the Rambler Classic was sold as an "executive car" in Renault's markets.
Other agreements to assemble Rambler Classics from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits included Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA), Australian Motor Industries (AMI), Campbell Industries in Thames, New Zealand and in Mexico by Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos (VAM).
Vehículos Automotores Mexicanos, still in its last months as Willys Mexicana S.A., introduced the Rambler Classic to the Mexican market in 1963 coinciding with the new second generation of the model, becoming the second American Motors product made by the company. It was focused to become the luxury counterpart ot the Rambler American compact and the flagship of the company. VAM made a strong marketing campaign promoting the model using Motor Trend's Car of the Year award as an asset. The car was an inmediate success among the public and the press alike; obtaining frequent praise regarding of its roominess, comfort, beauty of styling, advanced engineering plus its true economy and value.
The 1963 Rambler Classics were available only in two and four door sedan forms, both called Rambler Classic 660. No other trim levels or versions were available; other than their respective number of doors, both body styles were exactly the same and carried the same equipment. The only engine and transmission combination available was the OHV 195.6 cubic inches six cylinder engine with single barrel carburetor, 127 horsepower at 4200 revolutions per minute and 8.7:1 compression ratio coupled to a three speed manual transmission with column-mounted shifter. Standard equipment of the model 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 fixed bench seats consisting of foam rubber and coil springs, side marker lights, hazard 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 monoaral radio, rearview mirror, front and rear side armrests, dual rear ashtrays, dual coat hooks, round dome light, padded sunvisors, driver's side remote mirror, antenna, bright molding package, high trim hubcaps and backup lights. Optional equipment included power brakes, power steering, front seatbelts, heater, passenger's side remote mirror, bumper guards, bumper tubes, wheel covers among a few others. Virtually, the 138 hp two-barrel version of the 195.6 six cylinder could be ordered optionally.
For 1964, the VAM Rambler Classic was mostly the same as the year before, incorporating the new styling touches from its American Motors counterpart. The biggest change of the model this year was the presence of the two-barrel 138 hp version of the 195.6 six as standard equipment. Models for 1965 saw the first profound styling changes, their top upgrade compared to their immediate predecessors was once again under the hood. The 1965 Rambler Classics included AMC's new seven-main-bearing 232 six cylinder engine in 145 hp as standard equipment (155 hp optional), which was now made in VAM's own engine plant inaugurated just the year before at the municipality of Lerma, Estado de México, replacing the imported L-head and OHV 195.6 engines. The model 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. This year also witnessed the first aspect that would set both body styles apart with the two-door Rambler Classic 770 incorporating individual front seats in a clear focus towards sportiness.
The VAM Rambler Classic was never available in Mexico as a two-door hardtop, two-door convertible or four-door station wagon. Special editions created by AMC such as the Rambler Typhoon or the Rambler Classic Rebel were also not available. VAM did not suffer the fall of image that AMC went through under the years of Roy Abernethy. The Rambler Classic model always kept a high popularity and positive image among the Mexican public. For this reason in 1967, at the imminent arrival of AMC's new Rebel line to occupy the mid-size segment, VAM decided to keep the Rambler Classic name for the new line, which in the end turned out to be a correct decision.
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".
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rambler Classic|
- The American Motors Owners Association
- The AMC Rambler Car Club
- The Renault Rambler Car Club
- The Nash Car Club
- Ramblers History on amcrc.com
- AMCyclopedia AMC/Rambler History/Documentation Site
- Rambler Classic at the Internet Movie Cars Database
|American Motors (AMC) road car timeline, United States market, 1954–1988|
|Mid-size||Rambler Six and V8||Classic||Rebel||Matador|
|Rebel V8||Marlin||Matador Coupe|
|SUV||see early timeline of Jeep models||see late timeline of Jeep models|
|Military vehicles||Mighty Mite||AM General trucks, Jeeps, and the Humvee|