In the late 1950s American Motors revived a name from the recent past, recycling the Rambler name from the Nash and Hudson compacts of the mid-1950s. The resulting Rambler American would last for 10 years. This workaday line had three distinct lives.
The first generation was rather old-fashioned and consisted of a two-door coupe, two-door station wagon and four-door sedan. The dated look was hardly surprising — AMC had reused tooling dating back to the early 1950s. The second generation looked sharper. Although American didn’t retool, there was major restyling of the old bodies. In 1961 the three existing models were joined by a four-door station wagon and a very pleasing convertible. An attractive pillarless hardtop coupe was added in 1963, along with a 440-H sports special with bucket seats and tuned engine.
Of the six body styles, there can be no doubt which one best captures and holds the modern eye. The second generation Rambler American Convertible is considered to be something of a minor design classic, in that a new skin brilliantly disguised elderly mechanics and the clean, simple lines entirely escaped from the rounded ‘bath-tub’ look of previous cars, also eschewing the flashy fins popular at the time. With around 17,500 built, the Rambler American Convertible has a loyal modern following of weekend owner-drivers.
From 1964 to 1969, third generation Rambler Americans were very different after being completely redesigned. The range was trimmed to five body styles as out went the two-door station wagon and in came a wide range of engine options. The third generation ultimately saw eight different power plants ranging from the old 3.2 litre straight six up to a meaty 6.8 litre V8. There was, of course, a new convertible — which is also quite well regarded as a collectable (and affordable) 1960s ragtop.
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
1961 (until 1963)
3.2 I (196 cid) Straight Six.
Top speed of 90 mph (145 km/h); 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in 12.9 secs
YOU SHOULD KNOW: The Rambler American was the last series to bear the Rambler brand name in North American markets – though the marque lived on into the 1980s in far-flung countries like South Africa, Iran, Mexico and Argentina.