The 1958 model was a stylish-looking Rebel,
with a hip redesign and more color options.
Side trim was redesigned too, so despite the fact that the doors and basic bodyshells were carried over, the sheetmetal and trim changes made the Rambler appear to be an all-new car. Motor Life said the "front end revamping is very good; the new treatment is crisper and cleaner than before. In addition, a visual impression of greater width is created without any actual increase in dimensions."
AMC instituted a new paint system this year. All Rambler bodies were now dipped into a vat of rust-inhibiting primer before the color coat was applied. This revolutionary process, later copied by other companies, ensured Ramblers would have excellent rust protection (especially important in cars with unitized construction) and long-lasting good looks. Said company vice president Elmer Barnett, "We believe this process is one of the most important advances in automobile finishing processes since the early varnish days of the industry. ... We believe the new dip process will give us further superiority in the finishing area."
Motor Trend's test of the new Rambler led it to conclude "the V-8 powered Rebel is now able to reach a true 60-mph from a standstill in an estimated 12.0 seconds." That was significantly slower than the limited-production '57 Rebel, but faster than the first Rambler V-8 -- and it was pretty good for that era.
Rambler sales took off in recessionary 1958, but the Rebel ended up being very much an also-ran to the Rambler Six. Just 10,056 1958 Rebels were produced versus 15,942 V-8-powered 1957 Ramblers and Rebels. Of course, AMC introduced its new Ambassador line for 1958 -- stretched and retrimmed Ramblers with the 327 V-8 to replace the discontinued Nashes and Hudsons -- which undoubtedly drew away some sales that might have gone to Rebel.
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