Some felt that the 1967-1968 AMC Ambassador was a case of too little, too late. With Roy Abernethy at its helm in the 1960s, American Motors set out to compete directly with its Big Three rivals by entering as many of the same market areas as possible.
AMC also tried to keep pace by updating some of its cars on shorter cycles. That's why a bigger, bolder full-size Ambassador was issued for 1967, just two years after the launch of its predecessor.
The 1967 AMC Ambassador was AMC's answer to
the big family car offerings of Chevrolet, Ford,
and Plymouth. See more classic car pictures.
At the debut of the new 1967 models, it was plain to everyone that AMC's new Ambassador was bigger and better in just about every possible way. It seemed remarkable to see an all-new Ambassador so soon; after all, the previous design had been in showrooms for only two years. So if anyone wanted to say the Ambassador was rushed to market, that's forgivable. It was.
The decline that American Motors suffered in the 1964-1966 period was a lot more severe than most people realize. After struggling through much of the 1950s, the company's Rambler line finally began to catch on as a volume seller in mid 1957. From that low point, AMC's sales climbed rapidly, setting a new record for independents in 1959 and peaking in fiscal year 1963, when the company produced more than half a million Ramblers.
Unfortunately, that proved to be the high-water mark for Rambler. During most of that period, the company had been led by the charismatic George W. Romney, who railed against the traditional American cars he characterized as "gas-guzzling dinosaurs." But after Romney left the firm in 1962 to run for governor of Michigan, AMC's reins were handed over to big Roy Abernethy, the company's vice president of sales.
Romney had espoused a "compact-car" philosophy, wherein AMC vehicles were smaller on the outside than traditional Big Three cars, yet still offering American-size interior room and comforts. Under Romney, AMC stressed its unique product features: unitized construction, dual-circuit brake system, and superior quality.
Abernethy had a different view of how to compete with the Big Three. He hungered to take them on directly, car for car, hopefully winning a bigger share of high-profit, top-of-the-line big cars.
The first new models developed under Abernethy's rule were the 1965 Rambler Ambassador and Classic. They looked bigger than previous Ramblers, and although Classic sales were relatively flat, Ambassador sales climbed. The blame for Classic's poor showing was placed on intense competition from the Big Three's new intermediates.
In 1966, AMC decided to separate Ambassador from the Rambler line. Find out whether this move was successful in the next section.
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