1955 RamblerThe biggest news for the 1955 Rambler was the addition of a second line: the "new" Hudson Rambler series. With the cancellation of the ill-fated Jet, Hudson dealers needed a volume car to sell, and due to the 1954 merger of Nash and Hudson, the Rambler was it.
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Major styling changes on 1955 Ramblers included bigger front wheel openings and an eggcrate grille.
There wasn't anything about the Hudson Rambler that was different from Nash versions, other than wheel covers and grille badges. Records indicate that all models were shared between the two car divisions.
Styling came in for some big changes too. The floating-bar grille was replaced by an eggcrate type, with thick chrome bars filling up the opening, imparting a look of substance and quality.
Front wheel wells were opened up -- finally -- changing the overall appearance quite dramatically. The company seemed to be de-emphasizing Pinin Farina this year, for although his badge still appeared on cars, his name wasn't mentioned in some of the catalogs.
The model line was revised somewhat. Two-door Suburbans and club sedans were available in Deluxe or Super trim. Four-door sedans and wagons were available as Supers or Customs, and a Deluxe four-door sedan became a new offering.
The Country Club hardtop was back, though only in Custom trim, but the convertible was dropped.
As before, the Rambler line included a Deliveryman wagon that wasn't shown in the regular catalog. Only 35 were made under both Nash and Hudson nameplates, but another new model, a three-passenger business coupe (a two-door sedan with no rear seat), debuted with 77 produced.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Four-door Ramblers, including this Custom Cross Country, got a distinct paint option for spring 1955.
In the Mobilgas Economy Run that year, a Rambler four-door set an all-time record for cars with automatic transmissions: 27.47 mpg. Memories were still fresh of a stickshift Rambler with overdrive that set a record of 31.05 mpg in 1951, a record that was still in place in 1955.
American Motors's message this year was that Rambler was a bold new idea in automobiles. "IT HAD TO COME," shouted one line, "the time . . . for nimble, more agile cars . . . more versatile cars . . . stronger in construction, safer on curves . . . cars that can travel up to 600 miles on a tankful of gasoline."
May 1955 brought the debut of a special paint scheme, called Rambler Fashion Tone, which consisted of a main body color offset by a contrasting color applied to the rockers, roof, rear deck, and portions of the rear quarters and doors.
Production soared during the year, with Rambler finally able to build some volume. A total of 81,237 were built. The importance of the four-door models can't be over-emphasized; with 60,848 produced, they literally made the Rambler line viable.
Although the budget-priced two-door Deluxe boasted a low price tag, more than three times as many four-door Cross Country wagons -- the most expensive model -- were produced.
The value of having Hudson dealers on board can't be discounted either. Hudson versions accounted for 25,214 of the total Ramblers built.
By this time, George Romney had assumed the top post at American Motors, the new company that resulted from the Nash-Hudson merger. His predecessor, former Nash president George Mason, died suddenly in October 1954.
It has often been speculated that Romney rushed through the change to the open front wheels, dropping the enclosed fenders his boss had loved, but evidence discounts that idea. Mason's death came around the same time the new cars would have gone into production, so he must have seen and approved the new look.
Besides, Romney's hands were full enough. His company was enjoying a brief honeymoon this year but would be pushed to the wall in 1956. Tough times were on the way.
Check out numbers for weight, prices, and production of the 1953-1955 Nash and Hudson Rambler on the next page.
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