1959 Rambler Ambassador Custom Cross Country

Rambler made both a post and a hardtop version of the 1959 Rambler Ambassador Custom Cross Country wagon and you can see that this isn’t the hardtop version. That’s a bummer but this is still a very cool car and it can be found listed here on eBay in beautiful Scottsdale, Arizona, and the seller has a $9,000 buy-it-now price listed. Thanks to Larry D. for sending in this tip!

I’ll let one of you say it, I promise not to mention the word that’s normally used to describe the faded paint on this car. The seller says that this one has no rust but there is a lot of surface rust and at least one rust hole which the seller mentions as being the only rust on the car. This would be a massive restoration project if a person were interested in having this car look like new again.

Or another option is, as always, to just get everything working and drive it as it looks now. The seller provides a lot of great photos, dozens of them, so please scroll through the listing to see them all. There are a lot of underside photos and it does look pretty solid but with a lot of heavy surface rust which is scary for a unit-body car. The back window was broken out years ago but a replacement comes with the sale along with a ton of other parts.

The interior is reportedly complete but in fairly rough shape, at least as far as fabrics and door panels go. There is heavy surface rust on the floors that will need to be taken care of before any fancy finishes can be replaced. The original seats will be nice to have as far as matching fabrics and patterns go and this car has factory air-conditioning! You’re in luck, SMS Auto Fabrics has at least some NOS replacements for this car, thankfully. The transmission should be a Borg-Warner three-speed pushbutton automatic.

The engine is AMC’s 327 cubic-inch V8 which had 270 horsepower and it runs on a portable gas can. This car hasn’t been used in years but the seller got it running with some tinkering and it sure would be fantastic in fully operating condition – even better totally restored. How would you bring back this Ambassador Cross Country?

Comments

  1. Sam Shive

    Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed,

  2. Cadmanls Member

    Wow beautiful ugly, it’s so complete so I find it had to fathom it was in a wrecking yard. Big V8 auto and A/C top shelf Rambler in 1959.

    Like 14
  3. angliagt angliagt Member

    ’59 Nissan Armada?

    Like 8
  4. Ronald Falite

    I have a 1960 Ambassador Sedan with the same motor and factory A/C, and 13000 original miles on it. The car also came from Colorado, great cars, I have taken all makes and models from the 50’s and 60’s apart and back together, Rambler made a solid car and drivetrain. You will find a lot of their cars came with factory A/C. The asking price is a little high considering the amount of work needed to bring it back. I think the car has had at least one repaint, you can see they painted over the door strikers on both sides.

    Like 1
  5. Robert

    There really is only one option here…. restore it back to showroom floor condition. As the description states…. there is enough of the original parts/finishes to warrant spending the bucks. Having Factory A/C on top of it all only further justifies bringing this baby back to it’s glory days of being the best looking family car on the block….. at least for it’s first few years “back in the day”!

  6. nlpnt

    The regular Rambler was better-proportioned with its’ shorter hood and wheelbase.

    Like 2
  7. Howard A Member

    The author knows full well, ANY Rambler/AMC is going to hit a nerve with me. Brings back so many childhood memories before the weight of the world crushed my spirit. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this was the best car to come out of Milwaukenosha. That A/C unit could cool an office building. Sadly, I feel this car is too far gone for any restoration. It’s uniqueness is attractive, but nobody is going to spend the fortune needed to save this. If it had the plastic on the seats, different story, there just wasn’t/isn’t enough interest in this car in the 1st place. Surprisingly, with as much rust as there is, the trunnions are solid ( one pictured by the ID plate in picture #1,615, I think) a malady that doomed many a Rambler. So with the A/C, which was NEVER in a northern car, and the lack of suspension rust, tells me this was a southern car all it’s life. Shame to think at one time, like in 1959, someone liked Ramblers enough to buy the top of the line, at almost $3 grand, pert near $1,000 bucks more, a lot of money in ’59, than the cheapest “Classic” and I bet they loved it. They didn’t call them “Cross Countrys” for nothing and many did just that. They were great cars.

    Like 14
    • Arfeeto

      Ah, yes, the famous Rambler trunnions. I had clean forgotten about them until I read your comment.

      Back when the best minds still believed earth to be flat, I grew up on a series of used car dealerships owned by an uncle. In those days, horror stories involving Ramblers collapsing when their wheels fell off were rife in automobile circles. As it turned out, the problem lay largely with car owners who weren’t scrupulous about having these joints greased regularly.

      Like 6
      • Candace

        Can you tell me more about the Rambler trunnions? I bought a car like this about a year ago. Appreciate any info. about issues to watch for…

        Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        Hi Candace, without getting too technical, the trunnion is the coupling on the upper A arm the king pin is connected to, and required constant grease. Since many went ungreased, they would seize, and would rip out the place the A arm was connected to the unibody in rusted vehicles. It’s what doomed my grandfathers ’61 Classic( that was pristine with 41K otherwise) You’ll know if you have a seized trunnion, it will handle funky and probably make noise. If there’s grease on it, probably okay.

        Like 1
    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Howard,

      I agree with your comment about northern cars not having factory A/C, especially those cheaper cars like Rambler.

      My best friend from Germany and I were doing a huge 38 state tour when, as we were heading to the Devil’s Tower national park, we saw a HUGE junkyard adjacent to the interstate. Well we both had to stop and investigate further.

      This place was a treasure trove of unpitted trim parts and plenty of rare old cars. But the real bargain was the guy’s prices: 25 cents for a piece of trim, $1 for any hood ornament [any year], $1 for ivory plastic steering wheels, I even bought a complete top assembly for a Mercury Sun Valley for $10 [but $2 extra for the sun visors!]

      On leaving that evening, I tallied up the haul and found I had bought 16 pairs of Rambler A/C ID plates that were on the front doors of all factory A/C Ramblers. Yes, there were 16 Ramblers with A/C in that junkyard alone. At a quarter each, I had to buy them! Back in the humid east coast, we never saw Ramblers with A/C! It took me years of selling parts at Carlisle and Hershey to sell them all. Never did figure out why a junkyard in Rapid City South Dakota would have so many A/C equipped Ramblers!

      And yes, we schlepped probably a half-ton of rare and hard to find parts all the way to California, and back to Maryland Via Texas, etc. My Dodge van had a large roof rack that we filled with boxes, then covered with the Mercury’s entire roof assembly, tied in place with ropes. I actually turned down a complete Chrysler 300 set of cross-ram intake manifolds, carbs & air cleaners, not because the $20 he was asking, was too much money, but because we were running out of space to carry them! But I did bring back several MoPaR Highway Hi-Fi record players [with records], at $5 each.

      Like 3
      • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

        Forgot to mention one important thing about the above trip: It was in 1978.

        Like 1
  8. alphasud Member

    When I first saw one in the flesh I did a double take. Tree things going for it. It’s funky, it’s cool, and it’s a wagon. The chrome looks good and with some rust repair in the floor and that passenger inside rocker and a paint and and interior redo you would have a classy car again. I would keep the same colors and interior patterns because it works so well on this car. I don’t know who they used for their A/C because I have never seen that style compressor. Someone needs to save this car.

    Like 6
  9. Howard A Member

    Does anyone else remember the “5 door” Cross Country that came out in ’61, I think. While it only operated as a 5th door, I always thought Ford ripped them off with their “Dual Tailgate”.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/autohistorian/38520190886

    Like 5
    • Chuck Dickinson

      Their 3-seat wagons had the rear ‘door’ for access to the rearward facing 3rd seat, the 2-seaters had a tailgate. I also seem to recall that the 3-seaters had no room for a spare tire, so they got the Goodyear captive-air tires (Double Eagles, maybe??–it’s been a loooong time!).

      Like 3
  10. Rex Kahrs Member

    So much for the plummeting prices theory.

    Like 4
  11. JimZ Member

    Once again, BF shows a car I’ve had much history with. This was my first attempt at restoring what I thought was a pretty unique vehicle. Multiple thousands of dollars later, I realized it still was never going to approach museum quality. Sigh……

    Like 11
  12. Bob McK Member

    If someone spent 100K, it will be a really cool rare car, but only worth a fraction of the restoration costs. Hopefully someone that can do all of the work themselves will buy and restore it.

    Like 3
  13. Wayne

    I have seen that compressor on some Mopar products many, many years ago. Tecumseh? York pretty much put Tecumseh out of A/C compressor business, but the York compressor was still better than the Harrison/Delco R6 compressor as far as reliability. However, A/C “coldness” is more of a control issue than a compressor issue. (Expansion valve, orifice tube condition, vaporator, air flow, etc.) I had a 1979 Mustang 4 cyl. with York compressor. In the summer Nevada heat I would start the car crank up the A/C to max and see how long it would take before it got so cold I had to turn it down. Never got past 10 minutes! The added benefit to turning the A/C down was that it greatly increased acceleration with the compressor off!!(lol)

    Like 5
  14. Mark Mitchell Member

    This is a very cool car. When I first saw this listing, I immediately thought it would be the perfect cruiser to leave at our Palm Springs getaway house. Unfortunately after reading the description it became clear that this car needs EVERYTHING, and the new owner will be “upside down” in a heartbeat! It will cost a fortune to repaint, chrome, upholster, redo the brakes, cooling system, tires, repair the rust, and sort out the mechanics. Not nice enough to fix and drive as-is. Has to be a labor of love-

    Like 4
  15. Arfeeto

    Candace asked for information about trunnion suspension. An online search yielded a good source: “The AMCForum.com.”

    https://theamcforum.com/forum/very-important-tip-for-trunion-equipped-cars_topic34415.html

    Like 5
  16. Queequeg

    Is that CeCe’s old car?

  17. CJM

    You’ve got it backwards between post and pillar, as many do: The hardtop wagon HAS a post- it’s what the rear door hinges hang on. The “sedan” wagon that we have here (for lack of a better term) does NOT have a post, it has a center PILLAR. A pillar is a vertical structural member that supports what is above it. (In this case, the roof). A post is a free standing member that, in general, things hang off of. The only cars that actually HAVE posts are hardtops, and the cars that everyone calls “posts” actually have “pillars”. Get it? So in this case, what should be said is Rambler made a hardtop wagon and a pillared wagon.

    Like 3
    • Chuck Dickinson

      While CJM is technically correct about pillar vs. post, his version will never be the accepted one. Why? Because EVERYONE has always referred to the “pillar” between the doors on a sedan as a center “post”. It’s probably been that way for a hundred years, so I can’t imagine it changing now.

      Like 3
      • Psychofish2

        “Post” is a recent thing.

        Sedan was the term. Or coupe. Hardtop is the exception.

        No one ever sold or marketed a “post” sedan. Or a four door “post”. This is just recent slang especially prevalent in the last 20 years with people trying to sound more informed than they actually are.

        “Post” is a redundant or filler word, like changing, switching, swapping “out”.

        The old thing being changed is going out.

        A “pillared hardtop” was just marketing BS.

        A sedan is a sedan, not a post anything. A coupe is a coupe, a hardtop coupe has no B pillar.

        “Pillar” is what designers have designated those things at the A, B and C locations. Automotive writers call them A, B or C pillars.

        It is the common terminology for decades, not “post”.

        Like 1
  18. Wayne

    CJM, Officially!
    With a pillar it’s a sedan
    Without a pillar it’s a hard top.
    Just semantics, but correct terminology needed at times.
    However! Calling a wagon a sedan just seems wrong! So I suggest just a wagon, except if it is a hardtop version. Since most wagons are “sedans”. Only the really cool ones are hardtops!
    Now to really get nuts, soft top wagon? (versus a hard top wagon) Anyone ever heard of one before? (not me)
    Ok, I will go away now.

    Like 2
    • Psychofish2

      True. The “hardtop” is the exception.
      Additionally: a “pillared hardtop” is a sedan or coupe.

      Ford Tried to call it’s full sized sedans “pillared hardtops” and the Mustang II notch a hardtop. They were not hardtops nor is the MINI a hardtop.
      Frameless door glass with a pillar does not = “hardtop”.

  19. DON

    I agree that its going to cost more than it is likely worth, but most do it for the love of the car and/or hobby ! You see a lot of heavily rusted out common Mustangs and Camaros getting redone, and most are done for the owner, not a quick flip. Really, this Rambler isnt bad, look how straight and rust free it is ! As for the engine, I’d pill it out for a rebuild, and if its shot, finding another 327 isnt impossible . Id have the interior redone, go through the drivetrain and leave the body as is, until the next guy gets it during my estate sale !

    Like 1
  20. Candace

    Thanks so much to everyone who responded to my trunnion comment!

    Like 1
  21. Psychofish2

    My Grandmother bought a brand new 1960 Ambassador in the same color scheme.
    I was four years old and pitched a fit that her 50 Pontiac was gone until she showed me the rear facing seat.

    That thing really did have impressive power. It would knock your head back when floored.

    Lots of “Little Old Lady From Pasadena” jokes and “Go, Granny Go” comments.

    She hit the gas a little too hard backing out and left stripes in the driveway. I thought that was so cool.

    That Ambassador was her signature for many years. Then the ’70 Maverick Grabber she bought.

    Like 1
  22. Healeymonster

    This wagon, like for the other “posters” brought back some vague memories for me as well. During the 56’revolution in Hungary where the Russians came in with tanks killing anything that looked human, our family and so many others escaped and made it to the US with help from sponsors to get us situated in a new land. We ended up in Cleveland Ohio. Our sponsor got my dad a job in a butcher shop and after a few years helped him buy a used Rambler cross country for the family. While it was wonderful for us, the cold Ohio winter was not kind to it. Evidently the previous used car dealer used strait water in the cooling system and the block cracked during a evening freeze. After several years of being carless again, my dad came home with a brand new Pontiac Tempest Wagon. Now that was a great car!

  23. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one sold but we don’t know the final price.

  24. Gary J Lehman

    Dad had lots of Cross Countrys. The seats, of course reclined and you could have the seats flat from the dash to the tailgate. My folks let me “camp out” in those Rambler wagons a lot of nights with my buddies. In the driveway of course.

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