The 1965-1966 Rambler AmbassadorAMC's decision to upgrade the Ambassador and make it larger for 1965 paid off -- output more than tripled from a meager 18,647 units in 1964 to 64,145 in 1965. It certainly seemed that president Abernethy's strategy was right on target, so the Ambassador cruised into 1966 offering more of the same.
Two trim levels were offered. The Ambassador 990, priced head-to-head with the Chevrolet Bel Air, proved to be the more popular, outselling the less expensive 880 series three-to-one. The 990 was offered in four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, Cross Country station wagon, and convertible body styles -- plus an additional upscale hardtop, the 990-H, which featured bucket seats and special interior appointments. The 880, priced about $90 lower, came in two- or four-door sedan and station wagon guises.
The 990 four-door sedan continued as the best seller in the Ambassador lineup in 1966
American Motors billed its entire 1965 Rambler line the "Sensible Spectaculars," with the Ambassador being hyped as "the longest, the most luxurious, the top performer of the three great new Ramblers." Motor Trend, which road-tested a Twin-Stick overdrive-equipped Ambassador convertible, found it sensible enough, but not particularly spectacular. To Technical Editor Bob McVay, the car was commendably economical, averaging 16.4 miles per gallon over a 1000-mile test run. "Traveling comfort was the Ambassador's biggest selling point, along with its exceptionally powerful Bendix duo-servo drum brakes," he wrote. "With the thin bucket seats that recline, driver and passengers can enjoy a high degree of riding comfort. . . . Ride and handling cater to comfort rather than control. . . . Many passers-by commented on the car's good looks," McVay recalled, adding: "Our summary: a nice, comfortable, quiet, well built family automobile that rather neglects the performance market."
There wasn't a lot of visible change in the 1966 models, although the grille texture was modified slightly and the leading edge of the front fenders and the taillights adopted "egg slicer" trim pieces. Engine choices remained the same, except for the addition of a two-barrel-carb, 250-horsepower version of the 327 V-8. Also, a new luxury hardtop known as the DPL (as in Diplomat) replaced the 990-H. In any case, John, road-testing a 1966 Flash-O-Matic-equipped DPL for Motor Trend, did find some significant differences. "From driving previous cars of this make," he wrote, "we'd developed a habit of ringing down to the engine room for plenty of steam just to get under way in a normal manner. This time there was healthy wheelspin from both rear wheels [because of the Twin-Grip limited slip differential]. Although AMC publishes the same power and torque figures for their "327' as last year, the 1966 engine definitely has snap we hadn't felt before."
The 990 wagon outsold the 880 two-to-one: 8852 units versus 4791.
Ethridge continued: "Subtle changes in this year's suspension, which include longer shocks and different springs, have a pronounced effect on the way the car feels and handles. Most welcome is the improved steering response. The car has a new feet-on-the-ground feeling, and body lean seems to have been reduced. The ride remains very good.
"As before, the interior's the outstanding feature of the Ambassador. Its quality is such that other luxury cars, even higher priced ones, could well imitate it. . . ."
For more information on the 1965-1966 Rambler Ambassador's performance statistics, continue on to the next page.
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