1968 AMC Ambassador

AMC chairman Roy D. Chapin had talked about ingenuity, and for 1968, AMC showed it in abundance, especially with its new Javelin and AMX. Although the 1968 AMC Ambassador received no substantial changes, there were many enhancements.

The model lineup was revamped. Replacing the 880 at the low end was a base Ambassador series consisting of a four-door sedan and a two-door hardtop, the latter in place of the pillared coupe. DPL now became Ambassador's midrange series and included a four-door sedan, two-door hardtop, and four-door station wagon.

1968 AMC Ambassador
The 1968 AMC Ambassador got a mild facelift and
standard air conditioning. This two-door hardtop
shows off the revised taillamp design.

A new series, dubbed the Ambassador SST, was now the top-line offering. It could be had in either four-door sedan or two-door hardtop styles. Sadly, Ambassador no longer offered a convertible. The Marlin didn't return either.

But the big news for Ambassador this year was that it now came with air conditioning as standard equipment on all models. While that doesn't sound like much in today's context, it was a startling thing back then. Chevy, Ford, and Plymouth certainly didn't have it as standard equipment. Heck, A/C still cost extra on six-passenger Cadillac, Lincoln, and Imperial models. Rolls-Royce and a few other big-bucks European cars were about the only others to include air conditioning in the base price.

The buzz created by AMC's audacious act was worth more than gold; it marked the company as a gutsy competitor. (AMC hedged its bet a little by making sure to offer a delete option so fleet buyers and cheapskates could save a few bucks by buying an Ambassador without A/C.)

The engine roster was mostly the same. All Ambassadors except SSTs came with the 145-horse 232 six as standard equipment, with the 155-bhp version available. Standard on SST and optional on the others was the 290 V-8, still rated at 200 bhp. The two 343 V-8s were also available for all models. Then, in the spring, SSTs could be ordered with the 315-bhp, 390-cid V-8 developed for the AMX.

The Flash-O-Matic transmission was dropped, but Shift-Command was now available with any engine. It could be ordered only with a column shift on sixes, but could be had with column or console-mounted floor shift with V-8s.

Styling refinements on the 1968 Ambassadors included new recessed door handles, side trim, and grille with a thick horizontal center bar. SSTs incorporated grille-mounted rally lights. Headlamp surrounds jutted out a bit further than before. Taillamps on hardtops and sedans now were vertically stacked squares. It all added up to produce a richer-looking car.

Ambassador SST was especially appealing, with expensive upholstery, individual reclining front seats, wood-look interior trim, electric clock, headlights-on buzzer, fancy wheel covers, and more. With the aforementioned 290 V-8 and A/C also standard, it made for a very luxurious package.

After hitting its low point in 1967, AMC began to climb out of the cellar. Retail sales during fiscal-year 1968 were up 13 percent -- still not great but an improvement at least.

However, Ambassador sales continued to fall, slipping by about 8200 cars. Perhaps it was because the company had poured so much of its marketing dollars into the new Javelin/AMX duo. Or perhaps it was simply that competition in the big-car field was just too intense. Whatever the real reason, AMC decided that when the 1969 models were unveiled, people would see another new Ambassador, one that was larger still.

In the next section, get a list of specifications for the 1967-1968 AMC Ambassador models, including pricing and production numbers.

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