1 of 50 4-Speeds: 1966 Rambler Rogue

If you don’t mind a little quirkiness—and maybe a little residual perceived dorkiness—there are a lot of great classic car bargains still to be found from American Motors. Case in point: this 1966 Rambler Rogue, said to be one of only fifty built that year rocking the desirable combo of a V8 and a four-speed manual, is listed here on eBay with an asking price of only $6,800. Imagine what you might pay for a comparable—and comparatively common—’66 Chevy II Super Sport, and you can see that reader Ikey H. has found us a solid value.

The Rogue was a mid-year addition for 1966, replacing the 440-H trim level as the top two-door hardtop in the Rambler American line. In its basic form, the Rogue was mostly just an appearance package, showing off a sort of mini-Marlin two-tone paint job and a few extra bits of tasteful chrome jewelry, but it could be optioned up with the also newly-introduced 290 cubic inch “Typhoon” V8 in two levels of tune. When seemingly every Chevy II left has magically become a 327 Super Sport, it can be hard to remember that it, too, was essentially just an appearance package, available with six or eight-cylinder power; the Rogue followed a popular formula for tarted-up compacts of the time. Despite the late introduction, 8,718 Rogues were built for the year.

One of the disadvantages for today’s AMC enthusiast is that historical data is relatively hard to find compared to more popular marques; I couldn’t find detailed production numbers showing the breakdown of how many Rogues were equipped with each engine and transmission, so the seller’s claim that just fifty cars combined a 290 and a four-speed will have to stand as just that for now, a claim. I was able to determine from the “C” engine code in the VIN that this car was equipped with the milder of the two available 290s, putting out 200 horsepower via a two-barrel carburetor; a higher-compression, four-barrel version good for 225 ponies was the hotter option. And, per the VIN, the four-speed is original to this car.

The good news is that this car has been mechanically sorted and is said to run “beautifully.” The bad news is that there’s some not-insignificant cosmetic work needed. The seller mentions paintwork needed in the trunk and engine compartment if you’re particular about that sort of thing, and there’s rust on the rear quarter (and based on the cracking paint, possibly some poor past bodywork as well) and in the floorpans.

The floorpans should be easy enough to inspect, as there’s no carpet in the interior. The headliner is said to need repair, too, although it’s not pictured; otherwise, the simple, understated interior seems to be in decent shape. Ever-practical AMC gave the Rogue semi-bucket front seats, with a fixed center squab and a fold-down armrest providing an occasional third spot, while the roomy rear bench belies the fact that the 181″-long American was the smallest domestically-produced car in 1966.

It’s got some needs, but $6,800 is also a pretty reasonable ask for a mechanically solid, desirably equipped, and rare mid-60s mini muscle car. Could you see bucking the Big Three and snagging a deal on this AMC?

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  1. Classic Steel

    Another cool bargain on barn finds .

    I miss American Motors and wish it could produce some Javelins and Marlins again!

  2. Gaspumpchas

    very cool. run the wheels off as is!!! good luck to the new owner!!!


    • al leonard

      Gotta love the Orphans!!!!

  3. Steve R

    No. It’s cool, but not particularly desirable or valuable. As mentioned it has previous sketchy rust repair which is now rusting again and floors with an unknown amount of rust. Since I’m a skeptic a can’t help but think leaving the floor mats in place for the interior shots was not an unintentional oversight but done to suggest less rust than is actually present.

    It’s restorable, but it seems too expensive for what it is in its present condition.

    Steve R

    • Eurocarman

      I would agree mostly, I felt the same on the floor mats. I also thinks it is a little high on price. The other item is the mileage, 5 digit odometer so is it 34k or has it been over? No mention of this in any of the info so I will assume it is 134k.

  4. Jeff

    LOVE it. I actually prefer the earlier Rogues with their circular headlight bezels, but this one has me tempted. The 290 is a sweet little engine, and is perfect for this car. If I could sell my current project quickly, I’d be all over this.

    • That AMC Guy

      You’re probably thinking of the ’64-’65 Rambler American with its tunneled circular headlight surrounds. Those were not produced in a Rogue version.

      A friend once had a 1966 American station wagon with the 290 V8 which was a nice match for the car. Not exactly a muscle car but definitely more zip than the six.

      Too bad that Nissan pilfered the Rogue name. :)

      • Jeff

        True, I forget that Rogue became a trim level for the American.


      What is your project Jeff ?

  5. Howard A

    Just for the record, I’ve owned Rambler American’s, and they aren’t much of a car. Oh sure, the V8 and 4 speed jazz it up quite a bit, but that’s about it. Touted as the gas mileage champ for years, this car really has no business being set up like this. We tend to forget what these cars actually drove like, it’s no Javelin. Funky heavy steering, so-so brakes, torque tube(? have fun with that), and with this setup, you will puke a clutch. I think it was a half-axxed attempt at a Rambler muscle car during those times. I like the Rouge part, but should have remained an economy car. And don’t give me the SC/Rambler thing, that was almost a totally different car.

  6. Wrong Way

    I love those Ramblers! Especially this one! I hope that whomever grabs this one up finishes it out stock! Yes, these are very rare cars!

    • PatrickM

      I like it. Don’t forget, this little lady is over 50 years old. Sure there are some issues. May be some more in-depth repairs are in order. But, mostly, for this daily driver, a little TLC will go a long way.

  7. stillrunners

    Cool it survived….but have we seen this one before ?

  8. chad

    nuttin wrong w/this vehicle (Y/M/M). Easy to up grade w/what U want (suspension, breaks, etc). Looks like the fl pan’s already done? Enjoyed the trouble free drivin in my ‘sq box-lookin’ ’62 American 400 ‘vert (w/3.2L six/auto). in ’70s.

    Perfect size too!

  9. JagManBill

    just got passed on the street by one of these last week. Nice runner/looker. Course, anything out of the Rambler Ranch will be nice…

  10. Wayne

    I don’t remember the Americans having the torque tube like the larger cars?
    I still like the car despite it’s short comings. Many of these can be overcome these days.

    • Gaspumpchas

      Not sure if this still uses a torque tube, but I do remember A non unboltable exposed driveshaft. To get the tranny out, you had to take the rear end u bolts out and slide the rear to the back of the car on the leaf springs. Why they didn’t spend an extra dollar and put in a boltable rear ujoint in like everybody else….ahh there’s your trouble, had to be different.Hated working on AMC cars. Good luck to the new owner!


  11. dweezilaz

    Corvair was shorter @ 180″. Regardless, the perfect size for a compact car.

    Have to agree with Howard A. My Dad said the same thing when AMC put a V8 in the Gremlin as well as the “mission creep” of the first compacts.

    • Nathan Avots-Smith Member

      The ’65-69 Corvairs were 183″. Can’t make a second generation without making it bigger!

  12. RicK

    Pedal wear seems to support the 34K claim

  13. Del

    I like it.

    Its worth the money.

    Great talk piece at shows

  14. Joe Haska

    I want this car and I placed a bid, doubt I will get it. If I do, it will be lowered, air bagged. Then a cosmetic restoration with original interior and paint. Custom wheels ,!7’s & 20’s. Will add vintage air, I live in AZ. I am sure, I wont get it so all you purists can take a breath and no hate mail, OK.

  15. Michael Ridley

    I loved the front seats. Had a Camaro with the same option. fold the arm rest down and you had buckets. fold it up and your girl could sit real close. The headliner in my 65 ambassador was all new and had the upholstery material glued to a sort of Styrofoam board making it one of the first to do away with the cross rods that held up so many. That could be hard to duplicate or find

  16. Kent Morris

    Might be worth considering what you can do with an American when some passion and money are applied:

  17. charlie

    My mother had a ’68 Rogue with the 290 4 barrel, automatic transmission, bought it because she could see all of the fenders, and she liked the color, (red with black vinyl top), she had no idea about the power it had until she put her foot down one day. It was FAST, and actually, for the time, handled quite well, back seat had room for adults, and was basically trouble free. In New England, so it rusted.

  18. AMCFAN

    Before I start I will just say the seller is hopeful and dreaming. 1 of 50? Not hardly. There were 93,000 Rambler Americans made in total. It alludes me at the moment but the numbers if I remember correctly are more in the 2500 (in that range more or less) total for the V8 4 speed. (I will have to dig out my paperwork)

    The issue for me is those who have had them (must be so called experts) Myself have been lucky to have 5 and am no expert. I do know with a little tuning and bolt on parts were really all that.

    AMC had an identity crisis. How to go from economy to wow with absolutely 0 performance history and 0 aftermarket performance support? A brand new modern V8? It was a big step but something they had to do to survive.

    The 290 V8 was brand new for 66.The whole car was really in development throughout 66. It had it’s own service manual supplement.

    The few issues the 66 had were corrected with the 67. You could get the optional 343 and 4 speed which was 1967 only. With this car which put you into GTO performance out of the box. Very few were made and only a few were customer ordered cars. The factory built them for the dealers to promote performance.The 343 wasn’t offered in the American for 68 as some think it may have overshadowed the introduction of the AMX. The engineers that liked to go fast learned all they needed to know and then some for the 1969 SC/Rambler. History has been made and it started with the 1966 model.

    So in essence your first trip to the potty might not come out how you would like. In time it gets better. This is the case for the AMerican

    • Howard A

      You’re forgetting Rambler did indeed have a muscle car, the ’57 Rebel. I read, ’66 was the last year for the torque tube.

      • AMCFAN

        Very true. There was a 57 Rambler Rebel. It was on American Motors senior chassis not the smaller American. It was the old 50’s V8 technology.

        66 marked the first new V8 engine and is the same physical dimensions to the naked eye as the 304, 343, 360,390 and 401 They kept the new engine at a 4″ bore like the 50’s 60’s 287/327 V8’s so their old milling machines could still be used.

        Like the 67 343 4 speed Rambler American too few were made to jar the memory of the mainstream public. For instance one source claims 12 440 series 2 door hardtop 343 4 speeds were made others say 56

  19. Gavin Smith

    These little Ramblers were pocket rockets. I rode in one like this one back in the day. It was quick. I always wondered why these didn’t take off. I think that AMC didn’t promote that combination very well and the car was already viewed as quite sedate. Nice to see one still around.

  20. James Turner

    This car would have had a sportier look to the interior with a better designed steering wheel and a sport package of round fuel, Oil, Amp, and water temp. gauges instead of being stuffed in aside of the speedometer. Also, The floor shifter looks like an aftermarket rounded off J. C. Whitney item. It would look/ Be sturdier with a Mario Andretti Type T- handle and flat chromed shaft with reverse lockout.

  21. Patrick Shanahan

    One of 50? Good luck finding parts if /when you need them.

  22. charlie

    The same can be said of the Buick Grand Nationals (and the less known Chevy and Olds counterparts) of which thousands were made, or my Allante, of which 12,000 (4000 with the same drivetrain as mine) were made. We rely on used parts from wrecks for the parts which were not just contributed from the GM standard parts. And some of the parts which fail, failed on all of them, leading to my fix of enema tube and electrical tape for the connection to the throttle body. A 3D printer replacement is promised in the near future by one of the three suppliers of used parts, but the fix works in the meantime.

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