32K Miles: 1961 Rambler American Convertible

The Rambler American was the last car in the US and Canada to be sold under the Rambler name, all the way up to 1969. This is a 1961 Rambler American Custom trim level convertible and it can be found here on craigslist in Gibbstown, New Jersey. The seller is asking $7,500. Thanks to FordGuy 1972 for sending in this tip!

That’s one of the most unusual profiles in all of car’dom, at least since the first-generation Rambler American. The second-generation Rambler American was made for model years 1961-1963 and, odd wheelbase aside, they’re my personal favorite generation of Rambler American. A convertible model was added in 1961 for the first time in seven years.

The seller says that the power top on this car is original and it looks brand new. Someone must have stored this car in their bedroom for a few decades. Unfortunately, they also say that the power top doesn’t seem to be working, “Power top is disconnected and I have not had a chance to check it out. Just got it running good and am putting it on.” I’m not sure what that last part meant, they’re putting the convertible top on? They also say that this car has 32,000 original miles and is all original right down to the paint. The best part? They say that there is no rust on this car and the trunk is perfect, but they don’t include a photo of it. Sigh.

Are the seats original? They say that the car is original but something looks a little off to me. Either the door cards or seat pattern or something doesn’t quite match up with what I would have thought it would look like inside an original Rambler American Custom. 1961 would be the last year for the fancy “Custom” model name – their top trim level – as in 1962 it would be known as the 400.  It looks like the driver’s side armrest needs help, hopefully it just needs a new fastener. I’m guessing that the seats have been reupholstered, I don’t remember seeing a Rambler, or really many cars of this era, with contrasting piping like that. This car also has an automatic, it seems like most of them have a three-speed manual column-shifter.

Thankfully, the seller has provided an engine photo. Unfortunately, this is it. I’m not sure if they’re highlighting the fancy twin-note horn or why it’s just showing one side, but beggars can’t be choosers. At least it’s showing us that this is an overhead-valve 195.6 cubic-inch inline-six with 125 hp. It appears that the original air cleaner is missing, or at least not shown in the photo? The hoses definitely aren’t original, but they say that they’ve had the belts (belt?) changed and the hoses and had the carb rebuilt and the gas tank cleaned and sealed and added new plugs, points, wires, and rotor. Any thoughts on this Rambler American? Does anyone else like them as much as I do?

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Comments

  1. Howard A Member

    Hollywood picks certain cars for their shows because the quirkiness of the car fits show. 3rd Rock From The Sun, which I thought was one of the funniest shows ever, used a Rambler American convertible, only red, because they look almost alien. They were ok cars, for the lower end of the auto spectrum, they were adequate. The OHV was a slight improvement, new for ’61, even though the flathead was still available, but still pretty weak. Looks like a fun car, and would be the talk of any show. Pray you don’t get caught in the rain,,vacuum wipers, you know.

    Like 5
  2. art

    You are correct, that is not factory seat upholstery. My uncle had one of these and his interior upholstery was not in this pattern. These also look like they were “stuck” on top of the originals. I see over spray under left front wheel well.
    Car looks fairly decent but it would be nice to see papers and receipts to back mileage claim and maybe source a screw to reattach the drivers arm rest.
    I like the rarity of this, especially being a convertible.

    Like 3
  3. Little_Cars

    You’d think they’d find a long coarse thread screw to fix that sagging armrest on the driver’s door.

    Scotty, the side profile might be unusual but can be improved with different profile tires with the correct wheel offset along with a darker exterior color. I think this car looks cute as a button and with the ragtop it compensates for the plumb flat roof of the closed cars. Cool grille, an OHV engine, and I believe by 61 they did away with the front suspension trunions, kingpins and springpans of the Nashes that came before. I would surmise $7500 is all the money for this car, maybe offer $5k to see if the owner really wants the car gone.

    Like 3
  4. Bob C.

    Good to see the OHV. A lot of these still had that wheezy old flathead.

    Like 2
  5. Ben T Spanner

    My future MIL had a 1961, white over red, with a flathead and automatic. We drove it 2 plus hours in a snow storm. Passing slower traffic with no power and vacuum wipers was an adventure. Flooring produced a downshift, noise and a little acceleration. The wipers would also slow to a stop.

    Like 3
  6. Bob McK Member

    Kind of rough for 32K miles. I might believe 132,000 with an engine that looks like that and worn upholstery that is not original. But overall it is a nice Rambler.

    Like 1
  7. chrlsful

    “…Any thoughts on this Rambler American? Does anyone else like them as much as I do?…” had 1 & yes
    Mine same, but a white body (& ’63 in 1969?). Vert was very nice to have for a kid. Plenty roomy (for an econobox). So quiet when I’d pull up to the only traffic lght in town folks would laugh as they thought I’d stalled. Balance a nickel on the hood, & that’s sompin w/a l o n g crank i6 !

    Like 2
  8. Bob

    Last Nash designed car from AMC/ Rambler. New non-Nash designed Rambler American came out in 1964 with mods until last ones in 1969 then replaced by the AMC Hornet with a name change to AMC Concord a few years later. These early Rambler Americans through 1963 were the old Nash bathtub cars with a new square skin on the Nash frame.

    • Bob C.

      Haha, and another thing, did you ever notice that the rear wheels were out of line with the wheels? This was the last year for that.

    • nlpnt

      And as wide as the shoulders are of that square skin, it was a full 3″ narrower than the ’50-55 Nash Rambler/58-60 American over an unchanged track and passenger cabin because it no longer had the extra width needed for the ’50-54 skirted front wheels to have room to turn.

  9. That AMC guy

    I’ve owned a couple of these in the past, a ’61 4-door sedan and ’62 2-door. Both of mine had the flathead engine and manual shift. The OHV engine, while still no speed demon, is a welcome upgrade especially with automatic transmission.

    Front suspension is via upper and lower trunnions, not a ball joint in sight. The factory called for lubrication of the trunnions every 1000 miles. Keep ’em properly greased and they’ll last forever. Ignore them at your peril. Brakes are not very good on these cars, and ’61 still had a single-circuit master. (Dual-circuit brakes came in for 1962.)

    Get behind the wheel and there’s no question you’re driving a car designed in the 1940s. “Handling” doesn’t really exist in the usual sense of the word here but the car will nominally go where it is pointed. Rambler Americans of this vintage are at their best driven on local roads. The interstate highway system did not exist and there were few high-speed turnpikes around when the Nash Rambler these are based on was designed.

    It’s amazing that so many were sold in the face of competition from Big 3 compacts, but at the time middle-aged adults were accustomed to 1940s and early 1950s vehicles. The “breadbox” Rambler Americans were quite popular by AMC standards.

  10. lc

    This link shows a ’61 with a like styled interior….the yellow may have been redone, but if so, kept the origial theme. Either way a sweet lil package for the asking and offering.

    https://www.hemmings.com/blog/2012/06/10/hemmings-find-of-the-day-1961-rambler-american/

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