The 1967-1969 AMC Ambassador proved the late Richard A. Teague could do more with less than most any other car designer around -- usually because he had to. He'd honed this skill in the mid-1950s during Packard's "last days in the bunker," but would employ it best during the 25-year career he began in 1959 with small but scrappy American Motors.
Teague served 21 of those years as AMC design vice president, a title he credited to his 1964 American, the pretty compact carved from predecessor Ed Anderson's "Uniside" 1963-1964 Classic/Ambassador.
For 1965, Teague got a substantial budget -- at least by AMC standards -- to reskin the larger Ramblers, and he came through handsomely with crisp, angular lines. Equally notable, Ambassador again rode its own long wheelbase to become a true full-size car for the first time since 1961. The result of all this was record Ambassador sales of over 64,000.
Expansionist AMC president Roy Abernethy targeted 1967 for even greater change, in line with his longtime aim of matching Big Three models on most every front. This meant a sporty Javelin "ponycar" in the image of Ford's Mustang, plus an all-new Classic and Ambassador. The last emerged as one of the decade's unsung good-lookers.
Some key technical changes helped. Wheelbase, for example, was again pulled out, this time to 118 inches -- only one shy of the biggest Chevrolets, Fords, and Plymouths -- which improved ride as much as looks.
Overall length rose 2.5 inches to 202.5, and width swelled 3.9 inches to the benefit of interior and trunk space. All-coil suspension was an AMC given since Nash days, but the old torque-tube drive was finally abandoned for a lighter "Hotchkiss" open driveshaft and new one-piece rear axle with four-link trailing-arm location.
Most running gear was new, too, headlined by a pair of optional V-8s replacing the 287 and 327 engines of mid-1950s vintage. Boasting the latest in "thinwall" block castings, the first was a 200-horsepower 290; the second a bored-out 343 in 235-bhp and high-compression 280-bhp tune -- the most horses Ambassador had ever offered.
Base power remained the equally modern 232-cubic-inch six introduced for 1964, still packing 145 standard bhp or 155 optional. Transmission choices included three-speed manual, the same with optional overdrive, extra-cost four-on-the-floor manual, and two three-speed automatic options: Borg-Warner "Flash-O-Matic" and Chrysler Torque Flite marketed as "Shift Command."
Optional power front-disc brakes returned from 1966. Other technical changes, mostly at Washington's insistence, included a brake-system warning light, four-way hazard flashers, lane-change turn signals, collapsible steering column, and non-injury dash and door surfaces.
Go on to the next page to learn about Richard Teague's smart restyling of the 1967-1969 AMC Ambassador.