1969 AMC SST 390–AMC Made A Monte Carlo First?

While not exactly the same as a Monte Carlo, you can see that AMC was trying for a very similar market segment with this Ambassador SST. Not only that, but this particular car was produced the year before the Monte Carlo was introduced–how about that! This nice looking semi-survivor is up for auction here on eBay, where the buy it now is a pricey $16,500 but bidding is well below that at the moment. The car can be picked up after the auction in Vancouver, Washington.

The Ambassador was restyled for 1969, with horizontal headlamps replacing the Pontiac-apeing vertical ones previously fitted. This particular example looks to be in nice, solid shape although there seems to be a dent behind the driver’s side front door if you look carefully at the first picture. The seller says zero rust-through; at least they define rust the same way I do.

The underside of the car looks every bit as nice as the top. Obviously the rear portion of the exhaust is new; I’m surprised AMC didn’t install some sort of dual system. I know I’d be tempted to–unless I decided to return the car to 100% stock. Which is why I haven’t mentioned the wheels yet. I know some of you will hate me for this, but I actually like them on this car. Horses for courses–and with a factory fitted 390 cubic inch four barrel V8, this has plenty of horses! 315 to be exact, with 425 ft-lbs of torque as well. That’s a Twin-track (limited slip) differential back there as well.

wasn’t expecting such a stylish interior, and the seller claims it is the original one. Not only that, but there’s air conditioning, cruise control, tilt steering wheel, power steering and brakes too! There is some minor cracking on the dash according to the seller, and I appreciate their honesty as it’s hard to see in the pictures.

While the underhood area deviates a bit from stock, it certainly looks nice. I really wouldn’t change a thing on this car–apart from making sure it had the optional front disc brakes–just drive it and enjoy it. There were only 8,998 produced in 1969; I’m sure there aren’t many left now, and very few that look this nice. With 109,390 miles showing, the car has obviously been babied a lot; just the kind of cruiser I’d like to have. Would you rather have this, or a similar condition Monte Carlo, Thunderbird or Mopar? I’ll take the SST!

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Comments

  1. Dan

    Nice car, I would prefer it over a monte carlo or any of the others…and I’m a Chevy guy…

    Like 1
  2. Rob Rose

    I love this car and wouldn’t change a thing except I would drop the wheelsize 1 or 2 smaller.

  3. paul

    under valued? anyone!

    Like 1
  4. Dave

    Nice car.
    My Gramps had a ’73 2dr ht ambassador with a 401 4 barrel.
    It had dual exhaust.
    After he died it was up to me to keep it running for my mother.
    I had to have a schematic for the color coded vacuum hoses to replace all of the cracked ones, one small leak and it ran like crap.
    Glad to see it go.

  5. Gearheaddropping

    That’s a great looking car. I think its underpriced. Finding non-drivetrain parts for it is going to be tough.

  6. elrod

    Get the original wheels and caps back on it. return the engine bay back to stock. Looks amateurish. I think current price at 10k is right on and great car for weekend cruise night. You will be the only guy there in this AMC style!

  7. Dan Farrell

    I drove an AMC Matador police car back in the 1970’s, lots of power and a tendency to oversteer, which was a dramatic contrast to the Chrysler products of the day.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      In the mid ’70’s, the old man bought a 1970 Ambassador that was an ex-forest ranger car. It was green, natch, and had the full police package.( spotlights and all) 390 AMX motor ( said so on the air cleaner) automatic, and posi. It was a bare bones car, as to be expected, rubber floor mat, bench seats, but boy howdy, that car went. We dubbed it the “burnout king”. You could lay 2 strips for a block. So much so, when the back tires were bald, we switched them to the front. When the old man questioned it, we said, “gee dad, not sure, must be an alignment issue”. Got in many a drag race with that car, and if we lost the race, we’d turn on the spotlights, and watch the opponent freak out. We had a lot of fun with that car.

  8. Rhett

    I’m holding out for a 71 Matador 401. Personal preference.

  9. Big Mike

    My High School Shop teacher drove one of these, except his was Black with Black interior, man was it a sharp car.

  10. Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

    Up to $10,500 this morning. I still think it’s a bargain.

    Like 1
    • Rick Gaskill

      That is above the NADA but I wouldn’t hesitate to pay the BIN.

  11. Rabbit

    Wow, all those power toys on a great looking car. I think by 69, A/C was standard on Ambassador (I could have the year wrong…), but cruise & tilt were something special. My big issue with this vintage of AMC was the oddball pattern radio, preventing an aftermarket upgrade, but I guess from an originality standpoint, that’s a good thing.

    • Marc Montoni

      Blame Motorola for the radio package.

      That thing has always been one of my irritations when working on these things. However, it does present the possibility of leaving it stock in-dash and just hanging a pod underneath for a modern radio.

      I owned a 69 hardtop with factory 390 in the early 80’s, and that’s what I did. Mounted a big Jensen amp on the rear axle hump, cut out openings in the huge rear shelf, and put in 15″ woofers.

      That stereo *slammed*.

    • Tyler

      There is a company outside of Nashville that retrofits old radios. They restore the outside to look new, but install modern tuners inside the case. I’ve had a couple done for older C10 trucks. They come with 4 channel stereo, RCA preouts, iPod control, aux in, & even Bluetooth. They are a little pricey, but the quality is as good as you can get. Plus the new circuitry is made in the USA.

  12. Marc Montoni

    These are great-riding cars and very under-appreciated for their styling and function.

    Oddly, and sadly, AMC fans themselves have often been these cars’ worst enemies: Thousands of nice, complete, running, big-engined AMC’s have been ripped apart just for their drivetrains for AMX’s, Javelins, ad Jeeps. It’s a shortsighted habit that has decimated the stock of cars like the above.

    I have two of them; one was originally a 290 V8 “DPL” model (kind of the mid-grade trim level) and one is a 390 “SST” (the maxed-out trim level.

    There is support for them. Sign up with either one of the two national clubs for parts, literature, tech support, and other benefits:

    AMC Rambler Club — http://www.AMCRC.com

    American Motors Owners Association — http://www.AMONational.com

    • olddavid

      We have a 1967 SST hardtop with less than 10k miles my Father babied for years. My sisters look on it like a shrine, since it was the “special occasion” car of their childhood.They are very decent driving, and the 390 Javelin could be slightly tuned and do 140 on bias tires. I seem to recall trunnion suspension problems, but I’m not sure if this late of model still suffered. I spent many days watching these being built when we took customers to “dealer drive” where they watched them built and drove them home. American Motors really tried, they just didn’t have the wherewithal for support like our Chrysler franchise. I look back on our little store with its 60 annual planning volume and wonder what we were all thinking. Some of the best times of our lives with everyone all in to make it work.

  13. Pa Tina

    To this day I am amazed at the lack of respect ( and sales) AMC was given during the Pony and Muscle car eras.

    • Dennis M

      Not really dissing them, but part of the problem was our dealer network. They were just not up to promoting performance to a younger market. They did a lot better with Jeeps, but it was hard to push performance cars through that funnel!

  14. AMXSTEVE

    This one is really nice. All it needs is to lose that Y pipe and convert it to true dual exhaust. These are rare in 2-door form and no rust. 20k is a fair price and the ask is a bargain.

  15. Gunner

    Damn guys. Wasn’t 69 a great year for Detroit? Maybe the best. Another great looking AMC that I would love to own, and that is coming from a Mopar guy. Love the muscle of the road less traveled.

  16. Poncho pusher

    Theres always been something about AMC i liked….growin up in a strict GM family…..like when i bought my 64 Lincoln i was almost dis owened strict…..i really like this car…..iv always wanted a AMC marlin tho love the early “chargerey” look of em….

    • glen

      I saw a Marlin this morning, driving down the highway. I thought the same thing, it reminds me of an early Charger.

    • Ben

      Except the Rambler Marlin came before the fastback Charger.

      Like 1
  17. Joe Cat

    Like the style–much like a 68/69 Roadrunner or GTX blended with 67 Chevelle. Price is right as well.

  18. 68 custom

    Nice looking AMC, I would drive it straight to the muffler shop for a pair of flow masters, and keep the torque-thrust looking wheels on it!

  19. Michael Dawson

    Kinda pricey, but a danged good looking car! So refreshing to see rare cars like this. Love Camaros, Chevelles, and all the rest, but after you’ve seen 5,000 of them…..it’s great to see something different. Like this, or a 54 Kaiser Manhattan!

  20. jcny

    I’ve always loved this year Ambassador, but the taillights on the copes and sedans don;t do it. The wagon, now, ooohhh, I’ve been looking for a 69 Ambassador wagon for YEARS.

    • DweezilAZ

      Same here JCNY. The 67’s were nigh on perfect.

      Rather than the Monte Carlo, the SST was meant to compete with the LTD, VIP and Caprice.

      And 1968 was the first year for standard AC in the Ambassador.

      Like 1
  21. Srt8

    BIN is now $14500 and really a bargain. Try buying anything sold by the big 3 from that era in this shape for that money……….

  22. Tommy D

    Looks like it has reclining seats too? Always loved that feature on my ’68 sst

  23. Hide Behind

    Oh I like this auto, wife had one and it drove well and AMC 390 was darn fine motor.
    Ambassador was their top line auto and competitor to other brands full size, not Chevelle or Fairlane, that was left to the Rogue.
    Like car but hated getting in or out as seat height was plush and I think to this
    day I have bumps on head from entry and exit , roofline low.
    The serious attempt by AMC to compete with Chevele was The Machine, complete with 401 4 sp., duals and darn near any ratio posi you wanted.
    Surprising but AMC factory had a heck of a selection of dealer installed hi-pro aftermarket list.

    • DweezilAZ

      The Rebel/Matador was slated for the Chevelle and Fairlane, Hide. The Rogue was targeted at the Dart/Valiant/Falcon Futura/Nova segment

  24. Thomas

    If you want to get technical, theTorino came before the SST. And I’m sure there’s more before the Torino.

  25. Hide Behind

    P.S.: Best buy at even a tad higher in price I have seen upon this site.
    IMNSHO

  26. On and On On and On Member

    That’s a lot of car for low teens. AMC tried hard in those years. Google Rebel SST’s. I think these are smart investment and drive now for fun cars.

  27. Rustytech Member

    Gorgeous car! I never understood why AMC didn’t sell more cars, they were a much better value than any of the big three.

    Like 1
    • Tommy D

      I would agree, they were a great value as they were priced below the big three…they were however a little behind the other three as one would expect without the resources the others had for design and development…but the hobby prizes the underdog often when they didn’t get recognition in the day. I’m happy to see these cars getting recognized for their unique contribution to auto history.

  28. Mike Heath

    I’m not an AMC fan but this I love .this is super cool.i would drive as is but being old school would do a duel exhaust and drive and enjoy.nice find.

  29. Jeremy Holmes

    Love this car if I had garage space I would buy this one.

  30. That AMC Guy

    Very nice! It even has the optional electric windshield wipers. An option that many buyers didn’t check – by 1969 most people would not have expected a new car to come standard with vacuum wipers.

    Some things to keep in mind with these – in 1969 the AMC front suspension still used upper trunnions. More involved to repair than ball joints and not a whole lot of people know how at this point. Factory disc brakes for this year would be the old 4-piston Bendix type. If this car has drums and you want to upgrade, something like a Scarebird kit would probably be the ticket for a more modern disc setup. Automatic transmission is a Borg-Warner 3-speed, an M11 or M12 I think. Parts and service are getting scarce for these but it is very similar to the Ford FMX.

    • W9BAG

      Yeah, wasn’t that crazy ? Optional electric wipers. Go figure. Vacuum wipers are so quixotic.

  31. 88V8

    I have a 63 Ambassador with 327. Great quality, distinctive interior, good to drive, and mid-size which for the UK is a bonus.

    It has vac wipers. They are great. Most people only know them from worn-out wrecks.

    The drum brakes are pretty good too. For normal driving, they are plenty powerful. Bizarrely, they self-adjust but only in reverse.

    • John H

      88V8: Drum brakes were designed to self-adjust in reverse. They were supposed to do it at “normal” backup speeds but when the adjusters started to get a little gritty, you took it out to the middle of a parking lot, put it in reverse, floored it and hit the brakes. Pull forward, repeat as needed. Adjusted many a drum-braked car that way!

  32. olddavid

    The way we fixed vacuum wipers was to squirt penetrating oil into the line, making the seal flexible allowing better speed. Worked for a while.

  33. Eddie Stakes

    His Excellency: The Ambassador! AMC crowed in 1969. This was American Motors top of the line offering. I remember my dad driving one from Corpus Christi to Waco from AM Dealership to Dealership. This is a exceptional car, there was only 1839 1969 Ambassador SSTs made with a 390V8, and only 19 (yes NINETEEN) base Ambassadors produced with same 390V8. Ambassador was FIRST American car with factory air conditioning as standard feature. Few produced in Frost White, my guess is this is one of less than 10 left in existence. You could get the Ambassador with thrifty economical 232-6 cylinder in 1969, the peppy 290V8, the 343 Typhoon or the big 390V8. All are good. I may add a lot of “military” Ambassadors had the 6 cylinders.
    http://www.planethoustonamx.com/amc-police/amc-ambassador-68-military-police.JPG
    Most if not all of the Ambo police cars had V8s though
    http://www.planethoustonamx.com/amc-police/amc-73-ambassador-police-denver-co.JPG

    Whole AMC POLICE file off my site with Ambassadors, Rebels, Matadors, Eagle,s even Hurst SC/Rambler & AMX ‘fleet cars’
    http://www.planethoustonamx.com/amc-police/amc-rambler-police.htm

    Vacuum wipers? AMC was last major automaker to use them, finally getting rid of them for good in 1971 models. This one for sale is exceptionally loaded with options and accessories. I am a big fan of the Ambassador line and drive daily in Houston a 72 SST wagon.
    http://www.planethoustonamx.com/photo-gallery-stakes-amcs-2/72ambassador.JPG

    There is nothing Monte Carlo about these. Not even a comparison. These (and the Rebel) intermediates sold well in the 4 door and wagon range, overall for 1969 75741 Ambassadors (2dr, 4dr, wagons, base, DPL & SST versions) made for 1969, quite respectable! The Ambassador, Rebel & Matador (also Gremlin & Hornet) is the ‘bread and butter cars’ that kept American Motors in business year after year, you can find their production figures on my site.

    Few 1969 Ambassadors in any configuration survive after almost 50 years, that can be said about a lot of AMC models from that era. The first thing I would do if this was my car would put dual exhausts on it to open up the 390V8. That is NOT a Ford 390 either for you wonks. Secondly would detail engine and get correct AMX 390 air cleaner, any vehicle except Hurst SC/Rambler that got a 390V8 got the ‘package’ with chrome oil cap, brake cap, valve covers (ok, those were satin not chrome) and the “AMX 390” emblazoned on the large air cleaner.

    Note one year only under dash ignition switch. Interior does appear original and fantastic shape, factory Adjust O Tilt, Light & Visibility Groups, split buckets with center arm rest is extremely rare in a Ambassador (more common in Rebel) has Cruise Command, factory air condition, power steering, power brakes, Solex tinted glass including windshield (you would be surprised how many AMCs I have owned 392 personally owned so far, 11 currently, but how many have owned with factory air and non tinted glass, what was they thinking!) and the Twin Grip rear end to name a few things noted. I would bet this loaded version was in the $4000-$4500 range when new that is expensive in 1968/69 dollars.

    If you have ever had the pleasure to drive a 390 powered Ambassador or Rebel, they will surprise you, this car is probably 3900 pounds but will MOVE. My 68 Rebel with 401 Police Interceptor will turn 14s in 1/4 mile and is 3900 lbs
    http://www.planethoustonamx.com/photo-gallery-stakes-amcs-1/amc-collection-stakes-4.jpg

    It is a ‘luxury car’ in a era when muscle ruled, but can easily hold its own with that 390V8 under hood. And you can do like I do with my 68 Rebel convertible ‘Machine’ that has a 401V8…get on a back road do 80mph & put on the cruise control and enjoy the ride. Hope this one finds a good home, a few tiny minor tweaks and you will be loading that back seat with trophies no matter where you go. Eddie Stakes’ Planet Houston AMX http://www.planethoustonamx.com

    Like 1
    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Eddie, thanks for all the information! I wasn’t trying to offend with the Monte Carlo comparison, just showing how the car compared with a car more of our readers are familiar with. If you’ve seen my AMC posts before, I have fond memories of my grandfather’s Ambassador and would LOVE to have this car!

    • Jim O Member

      Eddie – Great info!! I just bought the car. Cant wait for it to arrive sometime next week!!

  34. DweezilAZ

    My parents had a 72 Ambassador Brougham. 304 V8 and new for 72 Chrysler built automatic transmission.

    Perfect size, balance and economy. Years before GM downsized the full sized Chevrolet.

    Build quality was awful though. Unfortunate, as it was a beautiful car.

  35. jim

    I just want to say “thanks” to Jamie for featuring another fine AMC. It’s nice to see cars from America’s 4th automaker.

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      Happy to please, Jim!

  36. Hide Behind

    You are a kindred soul when it comes to liking MAC products.
    In early years of internet I had site that had every stat on all domestic and export info.
    I drag, gymkana,drove friends SCCA, and circle track races and had respect but no fear of other marks products, AMC held their own.
    I an currently dickering over original signs, miscellaneous parts and dealre manuals that have been in storage since rural dealership shut down in mid 70’s.
    Know be
    I WILL most assuredly visit site.
    “You have a good life; For a day is too darn short.

  37. Jeff DeWitt

    My Dad had a 70 and the a 74 Ambassador. The 74 was nice enough but that 70 was a great car, and I think it was our family’s first car with AC. We also had a 67 American wagon and my Grandfather had a beautiful little 64 American hardtop that was loaded, even had AC and the Twin Stick. If I wasn’t into Studebakers I’d be an AMC guy.

  38. Noel

    Of course, I would love to have it, but there’s no room at the Inn.

  39. Hide Behind

    What and who shot down AMC?
    Plain and simple mismanagement by stick in mud Corporate and dealers.
    Remember big three dealerships fighting each other and as in Yenko even upping performance by own means to draw in youthful thinking people.
    Meanwhile AMC was still selling to a dwindling WII era mindset demographics.
    And yes the Jeeps, until after Chrysler ownership,were living off of WWII
    Reputation as utility vehicles.
    In other words the AMC org. from top to bottom self destructed.

  40. Jim O Member

    Well I looked at all your comments and the car is mine!! It’ll be picked up in WA tomorrow and hopefully is here in about a week.

    • Dave W

      You have a beautiful car.
      Congratulations..

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      CONGRATULATIONS, Jim! That’s terrific! Be sure and take some pictures for us once you get it!

    • Hide Behind

      CONGRATS!
      Did you buy sight unseen?
      Not just being nosey.
      Heck I go stir crazy not being able to afford or do work on autos. As the auto was not too far away I would of VOLUNTEERED to look and take pics for ya.
      I am not a great appraiser, (prof- not) but I know all nooks and trannys to check for good or bad signs.
      Anyways congrats again.
      Enjoy it and life.

  41. Gil

    Owned one of these from 1974 to 1976. SST with a 390, chrome valve and air cleaner covers, rear spring air bags, and dual exhaust. I talked to the original owner and he said it was ordered that way, but some of it could have been dealer installed. My SST was rated at 345 horsepower instead of the stock 315. A couple of things that was interesting in this car was the vertical radio and a single cruise control button on the dash. No obvious functions, but there was a slight detent as you pressed it and the same one when you released it. Hold it at the indent and I can’t remember exactly what it did, but it was my first car with a cruise control and ice cold air conditioning. My original set of rear tires didn’t last that long because I loved hearing the screech of burning rubber. After that, I learned that tires were expensive, I stopped wasting them. But at 21, in retrospect, I had fairly poor judgement. Should have kept my 68 Plymouth Sport Fury, too. Yep. In retrospect.

  42. Gil

    Owned one of these from 1974 to 1976. 1969 metallic green SST, with a 390, chrome valve and air cleaner covers, oil cap, and brake reservoir, rear spring air bags, locking differential, and dual exhaust. I talked to the original owner and he said it was ordered that way, but some of it could have been dealer installed. My SST was rated at 345 horsepower instead of the stock 315. A couple of things that was interesting in this car was the vertical radio and a single cruise control button on the dash. No obvious functions, but there was a slight detent as you pressed it and the same one when you released it. Hold it at the indent and I can’t remember exactly what it did, but it was my first car with a cruise control and ice cold air conditioning. My original set of rear tires didn’t last that long because I loved hearing the screech of burning rubber. After that, I learned that tires were expensive, I stopped wasting them. But at 21, in retrospect, I had fairly poor judgement. Should have kept my 68 Plymouth Sport Fury, too. Yep. In retrospect.

    Like 1
  43. Ray tooley

    I just bought this car from Ct. got it home and 1st thing I did was dual exhaust. I love this car. It is indeed a very rare car with around 10 left in existence equipped like this one. Happy camper here

  44. RC Paulsen

    Dual exhaust was a factory option.

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