How Rambler Cars Work

1963, 1964 Rambler Cars

1964 Rambler Classic Typhoon was a limited-edition sporty hardtop.

Richard A. Teague had joined the AMC styling staff by this time and would soon succeed Ed Anderson. But it was Anderson who shaped the Classic that was named Motor Trend magazine's 1963 "Car of the Year."

Featured was a wholly new 112-inch-wheelbase unibody platform -- the first since '56 -- with a lower silhouette, smoothly rounded flanks, and curved door glass. One-piece "Uniside" door-frame structures were a Detroit first that saved weight, increased rigidity, and reduced squeaks and rattles.Though styling remained a bit chunky, these Ramblers had never looked better.

They also went better thanks to a new 287-cid version of the familiar 327-cid V-8. Rated at 198 bhp, the 287 would remain through 1966. V-8 Classics combined good go with good mileage; even with "Flash-O-Matic" they could run 0-60 mph in about 10 seconds and return 16-20 mpg. Of course, the V-8s weighed more than six-cylinder Ramblers, so understeer was ­pronounced.

Teague refined the '63 Classic once Anderson left, giving '64 models stainless steel rocker moldings and a flat grille that replaced the concave design. Hardtops returned, but were now two-doors. Two- and four-door sedans and pillared four-door wagons returned in 550, 660, and 770 trim (replacing Deluxe, Custom, and 400).

Hardtops comprised the bench-seat 770 and bucket-seat Typhoon. The latter introduced a new short-stroke 232-cid "Typhoon" six (later "Torque Command") that began replacing the old 195.6-cid unit throughout the AMC line. Arriving with 145 bhp, the 232 spawned a destroked 128-bhp 199-cid version for '65-model 550s. The Typhoon itself was a year-only limited edition (2520 built) offering a black vinyl roof, Solar Yellow paint, and a sporty all-vinyl interior for $2509.

A new Classic implied a new Ambassador, but the '63 again shared Classic's wheelbase and styling (save the usual extra chrome bits). Series were retitled 800, 880, and 990, each with the previous three body styles. 800s were a tough sell and vanished for '64. So did 880s, leaving just 990s in four-door sedan and wagon body styles, plus a new hardtop coupe with altered styling a la Classic. Also listed was a sporty bucket-seat 990H hardtop with a standard 270-bhp 327 V-8.

Teague succeeded Anderson as AMC design chief on the strength of his pretty 1964 American. Ironically, this was a clever adaptation of Anderson's Classic, with Unisides shortened ahead of the cowl to give a 106-inch wheelbase. But that was still half a foot longer than American's previous span, and Teague used it to produce a well-proportioned compact with only modest brightwork. This styling was good enough to continue with only minor yearly changes through 1969 and the end of the Rambler marque.

The '64 American line repeated 1963's, then thinned for '66, when the bucket-seat 440H became a Rogue. A convertible Rogue was added for '67, only to vanish for '68, when the roster showed just a Rogue, two base-trim sedans, and the 440 as a four-door sedan and a wagon. Sixes continued to dominate American sales, with new-generation 199- and 232-cid engines delivering 128/145 bhp for 1967. But that same year brought American's first V-8 options: a new 290-cid small-block, derived from the 287, in 200- and 225-bhp tune. V-8s continued through Rambler's last stand, when American prices still began just shy of the magic $2000 mark.

For more on defunct American cars, see: