Not many months after the 1967 AMC Ambassador debuted, there was a major change in management. With sales continuing to drop, AMC's board of directors decided that Roy Abernethy had to go. His replacement as president was a crusty but capable former Ford man named Bill Luneburg.
More importantly, at the same time, AMC Chairman Robert B. Evans was replaced by the dynamic and intelligent Roy D. Chapin, Jr., son of one of the founders of the Hudson Motor Car Company. A veteran auto executive, Chapin realized he was taking over at a crucial time -- AMC lost an astounding $75.8 million for 1967 and the Wall Street Journal described it as "a dying company." "We're going to have to show ingenuity," Chapin said.
When the sales numbers for 1967 were toted up, it was obvious the new Ambassadors hadn't sold especially well, even though Uncle Sam helped a bit when it purchased 3745 Ambassador sedans for use by the U.S. Postal Service.
Quality issues and management decisions
may be to blame for the 1967 AMC Ambassador's
disappointing sales figures.
Ambassador model-year production came to 62,839 (plus another 2545 Marlins), compared to 71,692 of the 1966 models. AMC's total fiscal-year sales sank to just 291,090 cars worldwide, a hefty drop from the 345,886 sold in fiscal 1966.
Part of the problem may have been quality issues resulting from the rush to market. Roy Chapin's son, Bill, was a car salesman in Greenwich, Connecticut, at the time, and he remembers "being very excited about the new styling, especially for the Ambassador. But the first cars we got weren't much to be excited about. Trim and equipment didn't match what we ordered, fit and finish was really poor, and one loaded Ambassador convertible we ordered had an inoperative top." Chapin believes other AMC dealers had similar problems.
In addition, a major consumer magazine gave Ambassador a poor rating because the cars they tested spilled gasoline from their tanks during brake testing. Although AMC soon corrected the fault in production, the bad report certainly didn't help its image.
Or AMC's problem might have been that Abernethy's move to bigger cars was a mistake, for although Ambassador no longer competed in the compact segment, where AMC had made its reputation, in the full-size category it was smaller than its competitors. The senior Chevy, Plymouth, and Ford offerings were all about a foot longer overall, and back then, people liked their big cars big.
AMC responded with a revised 1968 AMC Ambassador. Continue reading to learn more about the 1968 model year.
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