The Rebel name had been around since the late 1950s as a ‘special’ with a big engine and the American Motors Corporation’s mid-sized Rambler bore the name from 1967 until 1970. And that was the one-and-only year the extraordinary AMC Rebel Machine was offered to the performance fraternity. The great champion of economy cars for the masses had finally caught muscle-car fever after dipping a toe in the water with the 1969 SC/Rambler developed with Hurst Performance.
The first examples of the racy Rebel Machine coupe had a garishly patriotic red-white-and-blue paint job, though this mercifully vanished from later examples and became a $75 option. The sporty interior was black with bucket seats separated by an armrest upholstered in (wait for it) red, white and blue vinyl, which never did vanish.
Colour scheme apart, AMC did a pretty good job — the Rebel Machine was an impressive performer thanks to a ram-air 6.4 litre V8 tuned to produce 340 bhp, assisted by a huge air scoop on the bonnet that fed the greedy engine via a vacuum-controlled butterfly valve. The engine was AMC’s most powerful and came with modified heads, valve train, cam, intake and exhaust, plus a four-barrel carb. There was a four-speed manual gearbox with a floor shift from Hurst Performance, who had helped with the development programme.
The car had stiff suspension giving the Rebel Machine an elevated rear end and somewhat menacing raked look that more than hinted at its capabilities. It was street legal all right, though often used for drag racing. Around 2,300 were sold in 1970 and —whilst many were burnt out and bit the dust — there is still an enthusiastic band of supporters dedicated to restoring and preserving The Machine whilst revelling in its muscular All-American performance.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
6.5 I (390 cid) V8
Top speed of 125 mph (201 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 6.4 seconds
YOU SHOULD KNOW:
AMC really liked that colour scheme, and sold it hard just like this: ‘What makes The Machine so unique? Let’s start with the paint job. Red… white… and blue. Complete with stripes that glow in the dark, matching racing mirrors plus THE MACHINE decals inside, outside and on the back. Pretty wild.’