The 1959 Rambler Six Custom Sedan was the brain child of American Motors President George Romney. By 1959, Romney appeared to be that rarest of men: a prophet with honor in his own country.
Soon after assuming the AMC presidency in October 1954, Romney began thumping the tub in favor of smaller cars more rationally designed than those made by his rivals, which he dismissed as "dinosaurs."
Romney's company had introduced the well-received compact Nash Rambler in 1950, then added longer-wheelbase four-door versions in 1954. Meanwhile, in the face of declining sales for the large Nash Ambassador and Statesman (and, from 1954, the Hudson), Romney decided to pin AMC's hopes to the Rambler.
The 1956-57 Ramblers were drastically redesigned for 1958. Wheelbase stayed at 108 inches, but the "upside-down bathtub" look was replaced by quad headlights positioned over a broad grille in front and flaring fins in back. Four-door sedans, hardtops, and station wagons were available as a Rambler Six and V-8-powered Rebel.
The Rambler's acceptance rose slowly until a recession gripped the U.S. economy in 1958. The Rambler, which accounted for a production run of about 91/500 cars in 1957, tallied nearly 117,000 units in 1958.
The following year, just shy of 259,000 Sixes and Rebels came off the line. Rambler passed a sagging Buick for sixth in production in 1959 and AMC turned a $60 million profit. (Things would only get better in 1960.)
The car featured here is typical of the vehicles that drew those who agreed with Romney to Rambler showrooms in 1959. The 1958 design was carried over mostly intact with obligatory changes to the grille pattern and side trim. The most ambitious change came where the fins met the beltline. Instead of blending into the roof C-pillar, as in 1958, they now flowed more gently into the body.
Decked out in top-line Custom trim, Len Antrim's Six four-door sedan is powered by an economical 195.6-cid ohv six. Custom sedan prices started at $2,327, but didn't include some of the items seen on the featured car. The Alamo Beige and Bronze Copper example sports a push-button Flash-0-Matic automatic transmission, power brakes, tinted glass, radio, and backup lights.
Built in Kenosha, Wisconsin, this Rambler never wandered far from home. According to Antrim, of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, it was purchased in Milwaukee in 1959 and saw daily service until 1983, when he bought it and restored it to its present prize-winning condition. It's a fine reminder of the honor and profit that sprang from George Romney's vision.
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