Rambler Classic

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1961 Rambler Classic sedan

The Rambler Classic was an intermediate sized automobile that was built and sold by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 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.

Throughout its life in the AMC model line-up, the Classic was the high-volume seller for the independent automaker.


The Rambler Classic helped AMC in the early part of the decade to achieve sales and coprorate profit successes. In 1961, the Rambler marque ranked in third place among domestic automobile sales. The larger-sized Rambler series was renamed as the Classic in 1961 to help create a stronger individual model identity. In 1961, the Classic was available in both 6 (196 CID) and V8 (250 CID) engine versions. An aluminum block version of the OHV 195.6 in³ (3.2 L) engine was also offered as an option on Deluxe and Super models. In 1962, the Ambassador models were shortened to the same 108 inch wheelbase as the Classic, and the Classic V8 was dropped leaving the Ambassador models as the only V8's in the AMC lineup. Also in 1962, Ramblers featured twin-circuit brakes, a safety design offered by only a few cars at that time.

Noteworthy were AMC's overseas business ventures starting in 1961 that included agreements to assemble Rambler Classics from CKD (Completely Knocked Down) kits with Renault at a facility in Belgium, as well as with Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA) and with Australian Motor Industries (AMI).


1963 Rambler Classic 770 sedan

For 1963, the Rambler Classic line was completely redesigned with subtle body sculpturing. These were the first AMC models that were influenced by Richard A. Teague, the company's new principal designer. They 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. 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. As in 1962, the 1963 Classics were initially all 6-cylinder (196 CID) models while the Ambassadors were V8's (327 CID). In mid-1963, a new V8 (287 CID) option was announced for the Classic models.

The new AMC cars incorporated numerous interesting 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.

American Motors' imaginative engineering prompted Motor Trend magazine to give the Classic - and the similar Ambassador models - the prestigious Car-of-the-Year award for 1963.


1964 Rambler Typhoon two-door hardtop

Starting in the middle of the 1964 model year a special Typhoon was available using the Classic 2-door hardtop body. This new model introduced AMC's completely new 232 in³ (3.8 L) "Typhoon" modern era inline-6. Production of this commemorative model was limited to 2,500 units and it was only available in a two-tone Solar Yellow body with a Classic Black roof. 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.


1965 Rambler Classic 770 convertible
1965 sales brochure for the Renault Rambler assembled in Europe
1966 Rambler Classic 770 Sedan

The 1965 models underwent a major redesign of the new platform that was introduced in 1963. 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 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.

In 1966, the Rebel name was revived for a specially trimmed two-door hardtop Classic with a revised roofline. Available for the first time were a four-speed manual transmission and a dash mounted tachometer.

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.


  • Gunnell, John, Editor (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946-1975. Kraus Publications. ISBN 0-87341-096-3. 

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