With the 1963-1964 AMC/Rambler Ambassador and Classic, American Motors reached the pinnacle of prosperity. In the early 1960s, they had invented something new and different in the stubby, slow, but well built and economical Rambler.
However, the handwriting was on the wall for AMC as early as 1960, when the larger manufacturers all fielded their own compacts. As the decade wore on, AMC corralled less and less of total industry sales.
In 1963, for example, they built as many cars as they had in 1960, but overall total car sales had increased so much that it gave AMC only sixth place in production; the same output in 1960 had put them third.
In early 1962, George Romney resigned as president and chairman of AMC to run for governor of Michigan. New president Roy Abernethy, whose background included Kaiser and Packard and who had built the great AMC sales effort under Romney, reacted to the mounting sales problem in a logical way: "Let's get rid of this Romney image."
But in across-the-board face-offs with the Big Three, AMC was at a disadvantage. It lacked the resources of GM, Ford, and Chrysler, and it hadn't the sales volume to spread out new model expenses and advertising over a million or so cars.
An ace in the hole was chief stylist Richard A. Teague, who proved adept at reskinning the dowdy products of his predecessors and inventing new and interesting models like the Marlin, Javelin, and AMX.
The top-of-the-line underwent repeated changes in this period, as management tried to slot it into an area where it would sell better and be a more intrinsic part of the AMC family.
In 1962, with a decent share of the compact market still intact, it emerged as a deluxe Rambler, sharing the latter's wheelbase and bodyshell.
Go on to the next page to learn about the successful restyling and sales of the 1963-1964 AMC/Rambler Ambassador and Classic.