Introduction to the 1965-1967 AMC Marlin

Marketing the AMC Marlin
The Black Marlin was the early show car, designed to attract attention to the new nameplate at the spring 1965 auto shows.
The Black Marlin was the early show car, designed to attract attention to the new nameplate at the spring 1965 auto shows.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

In marketing the AMC Marlin, American Motors took full advantage of the broader interest the car would gain because of its mid-year introduction, with less competition for attention.

An impressive advertising and merchandising program launched the new car in the spring of 1965. In addition to ads appearing in 2,400 newspapers on announcement day -- March 19 -- full-color spreads were published in Life, Saturday Evening Post, Look, and other major magazines. Marlin television commercials were seen on the CBS Danny Kaye Show, and 72 radio commercials were heard on the NBC Monitor programs. The Marlin appeared in color on the covers of several car-buff magazines, including Motor Trend.

Millions of Americans saw the Marlin for the first time on display in major U.S. airports. Arrangements to lease airport lobby space for the large turntables on which the Marlin rested were handled by E.B. (Barney) Brogan, Rambler advertising manager (who a few years later was to leave AMC for a similar position with Toyota).

The Black Marlin had a sleek and stylish interior.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Some AMC executives objected to the heavy concentration on the Marlin, pointing out that the public was virtually unaware that 1965 also saw the introduction of all-new Ambassador and Classic convertibles (a radical departure from the staid image the company had at the time), and on the upgraded Ambassador, which for the first time since 1960 rode a longer wheelbase than the Classic.

During this period, AMC stylists also came up with two glitzy show cars bearing the Rambler name. One was the Black Marlin. It toured the 1965 auto shows -- along with some very attractive young women, who were decked out in sailors' outfits. The car was, not surprisingly, painted shiny black, perhaps to remind onlookers of the real black marlin, one of the large, slender deep-sea fishes found in the Pacific.

The second model, the Tahiti, made its first outing at the Detroit Auto Show early in 1966. Its custom appointments included "bright South Seas floral upholstery," with matching throw pillows. It was finished in a brilliant fireflake blue.

The Marlin borrowed its dashboard from the Ambassador (above), with the badge and fish emblem prominently displayed.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Two somewhat minor promotions associated with the 1966 Marlin are of interest to today's literature collectors. One was a unique three-dimensional color postcard. When held to the light at a certain angle, the card (made with the Xograph process) shows a very lifelike white and blue Marlin parked next to a red Ambassador 990 convertible.

The other promotional piece was a 1966 Marlin plastic miniature model, which was available in a variety of single and two-tone color combinations. These models today command premium prices, not only because they are attractive but also because of their scarcity. This came about because, as the 1966 model year neared its end, hundreds of dozens of cases were given to children's hospitals, orphan's homes, etc., but because there just is no dealer interest, thousands were left.

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