Rambler Measures Up

Motor Trend magazine tested an array of offerings from American companies that year and came up with the following performance numbers showing how the Rambler measures up to the competition:

Car
0-60 mph, sec.
Rambler Rebel (w/manual transmission)
7.5
Chrysler 300-C (w/manual transmission)
7.6
Plymouth Fury(w/manual transmission)
8.0
Ford Thunderbird (supercharged w/man. transmission)
8.0
Studebaker Golden Hawk (w/manual transmission)
8.7
Dodge D-500 (w/manual transmission)
8.8
Chevrolet (fuel injected)
9.0 (approx.)

According to Motor Trend's test numbers, the Rambler Rebel was the fastest stock American sedan for 1957. Only a fuel-injected Chevrolet CorĀ­vette sports car was faster overall at seven seconds flat to 60.

Originally, the Rebel was supposed to offer an optional electronic fuel-injection (EFI) system, which would boost output to an incredible 288 horsepower. Produced by Bendix, it would have been the first production car with EFI. The heart of the system, according to AMC, was an electronic brain. Transistors could sense fuel requirements and then actuate the injectors accordingly. Unfortunately, it never became available.

1957 Rambler Rebel
The Rebel was the fastest sedan in the land in 1957.

Initial press information about the Bendix system in December 1956 was followed in March 1957 by a price bulletin that pegged the option at $395. AMC officials stated that due to supplier difficulties, fuel-injected Rebels wouldn't be available until after June 15. But it wasn't to be.

Apparently, Bendix hadn't worked out all the bugs from its EFI system, which was a far more-advanced setup than the mechanical types then appearing on the market. According to stories we've heard, the EFI engines ran fine in warm weather, but suffered hard starting in cooler temperatures. According to AMC, none of the 1,500 Rebels produced for 1957 came with the fuel-injection engine. For what it's worth, MT estimated that a fuelie Rebel would have easily vanquished even the mighty Corvette.

Rebels had two transmission choices. Technically, standard equipment was a three-speed manual with a column-mounted shifter. However, overdrive (priced at $108.50) was installed on all manual-transmission cars built. Optional was General Motors's excellent Hydra-Matic transmission. The standard rear-axle ratio with the stick was 4.10:1; the autobox came with 3.15:1 gears. A 4.44:1 gearset was optional for cars equipped with the manual transmission.

Presented only as four-door hardtop, the Rebel was instantly identifiable by its special silver paint and unique gold-anodized side spear. Custom interior trim was included, and every Rebel came with a long list of standard equipment. This included wheel discs, wide whitewall tires, reclining seats with foam cushions, electric clock, radio with decklid antenna (rather than front-fender antenna found on other Ramblers), Weather-Eye heater, back-up lights, adjustable shock absorbers, stabilizer bar, dual exhausts, and more. With a base price of $2,786, it was a very impressive package.

Although the 1957 Rebel was destined to be a limited-production high-performance model offered that one year only, the Rebel name returned for 1958 in a somewhat different form. The new model year saw all of the former Rambler V-8 line wearing the Rebel badge. Actually, the 1958 Rebel was something of a cross between the prior Rambler V-8 and Rebel models: It offered more power than the original Rambler V-8, but less than the 1957 Rambler Rebel.

Standard this year was a four-barrel version of the 250-cubic-inch V-8 rated at 215 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Compression ratio was boosted to 8.7:1 and, as before, dual exhausts were standard equipment. Likewise, a three-speed manual transmission was standard equipment, with overdrive or automatic transmission available at extra cost.

The automatic transmission was a Borg-Warner unit, which AMC dubbed "Flash-O-Matic." Phased in from mid 1957, it replaced the GM-produced "Flashaway" Hydra-Matic units used previously. New this year was "Telovac" pushbutton gear selection for the autobox, with buttons mounted on the far left side of the instrument panel.

The 1958 Rambler Rebel lineup encompassed six models. There were four-door sedans and Cross Country station wagons available in Super and Custom trim, plus a base Deluxe four-door sedan reserved for fleet sales. A four-door hardtop in Custom trim was now Rebel's sole pillarless model.

For more picture-packed articles about great cars, see: