$4,500 or Offer: 1961 Rambler Classic Custom

This 1961 Rambler Classic Custom was already a half-dozen years old in its design but Rambler gave it a new grille and this looks like a nice example. It can be found here on Craigslist in West Hartford, Connecticut with an asking price of $4,500 or best offer. Thanks to Fordguy 1972 for sending in the tip on this great looking Rambler!

This car looks like it just rolled off the showroom floor, at least in the first two photos. The paint is maybe in need of a buff but I don’t see one single flaw in this car at all so far. And, that Aqua Mist Metallic paint is perfect for this era. The seller says that this car has only 48,309 miles on it so maybe that’s why it looks so good. This is the top of the line Custom model, too. The Deluxe and Super would have been the base and mid-level trim models under the Custom. The Custom added full wheel covers, rear vent windows, carpet, two-tone steering wheel, a glove box light, and a clock.

Here’s that new grille treatment. By 1961, the Rambler Classic, no matter what grille they put on it, was looking more than a little dated. It was basically a 1950s car in the jet age and in 1963 the company dramatically upgraded and redesigned the Rambler Classic. But, there’s something about these first-generation 1961 and 1962 cars for me. I looked at a 1960 Rambler Classic Six a couple of years ago and although it looks fantastic, it was an absolute bear to drive, and that from a guy who didn’t have power steering or power brakes for many years after getting my first car. It smelled of gas and oil and was just not a fun experience really at all, other than to look at it. That was disappointing.

The interior on this Classic Custom is very fancy for the time and other than the front seats needing to be reupholstered it looks good. The back seat looks great. These seats have full coil-spring construction under the perforated vinyl, a more expensive quality seat than the cheaper zig-zag spring construction. You can see some surface rust on the bottom edge of the windshield frame, is that from the door being out of alignment and hitting that corner? It sure looks laser-straight in the exterior photos. This car also has an optional Borg-Warner Flash-o-Matic three-speed automatic transmission, controlled by push buttons to the left of the steering wheel.

This clean machine sports AMC’s 195.6 cubic-inch inline-six with 127 hp. A 200 or 215-hp, 250 cubic-inch V8 was an option on the Rambler Classic Custom but this car has the proven six. Unfortunately, there will be some work to do to get this car into running condition. This Rambler “has new mechanical pump, new starter, fuel pump, rebuilt carburetor, new wheel cylinders and a new gas tank. Due to the prior gas tank having a hole, the lines that run through for the gas are possibly clogged or something. In other words that’s why the car is not running at the moment.” Bummer of bummers. Hopefully that’s an easy fix because otherwise this great looking Rambler looks like a very good buy.

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Comments

  1. Howard A

    Another blast, this was my grandfathers 2nd last car, only cream color. Being from Milwaukee, he loved Ramblers. This was the car that had like 35,000 miles, the body and inside were perfect, but the front trunnions had rusted, making the car unsafe. Nobody would fix it, and HE JUNKED IT!!! I remember, you could barely hear the engine run. Like the author states with his experience with vintage Ramblers, ( or any vintage car, for that matter) we tend to forget what driving was like in 1961. Let’s say, we’ve come a long ways in automobiles.

    4
  2. DrewP

    Hmmm, red wire for “ground” to the block…..and black for…..
    It won’t start why?!

    HA!

    3
  3. JerryDeeWrench Member

    Polarity is color blind.

    6
  4. stillrunners

    Nice……..

    2
  5. That AMC Guy

    Yeah, driving these is a very different experience from driving more modern cars, even those from the 1970s. Even by the standards of the 1950s and early 1960s a lot of the engineering was antiquated.

    I’m pretty sure that the ’61 Classic still used lower trunnions in the front end, the move to ball joints coming in 1962. Trunnions on these early Classics required greasing at 1,000 mile intervals. (Upper trunnions were retained in AMC cars until 1969, though later models didn’t require as much maintenance.) This car also has a single-circuit master cylinder since Ramblers didn’t come with a dual master until ’62.

    Normally the oil filter on a cast-iron 195.6 engine is a partial-flow type mounted on a steel plate bolted to the top of the engine with external lines running to it – the oil filter was optional! The exception is the engine’s last year in the 1965 American where a full-flow filter was employed. (Also the aluminum 195.6 introduced for ’61 had a full-flow filter, but the engine in this car looks like the more common cast-iron mill.) The following video of a similar ’62 Rambler Classic shows the stock oil filter location:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_bxvgqg8ec

    More than you ever wanted to know about the 195.6 engine can be found here:

    http://195.6ohv.com/

    4
    • dweezilaz

      Seconded or thirded.

      It takes actual effort and deliberate attention to the car’s limitations and surroundings to drive cars of this era.

      It really is a “different experience”.

  6. Roger

    Too much.

    1
  7. Kenneth Carney

    Hi Scotty, my wife and I had a ’62 Classic
    Custom 2-door sedan as our first car as
    man and wife. Very much like this car
    except for the fins ’round back. Man, I
    loved that car! Simple and easy to service, it was the perfect car for a newly
    wed couple without much cash. I did
    most all the repairs that were needed and
    saved a pile of cash along the way. That
    little joker got 33MPG on the highway and
    28 to 30 in town. The only things I did after getting it were tuning up the engine,
    changing the oil, buffing out the paint,
    and adding a Kraco AM/FM stereo casette
    radio and antenna. It gave us good service until
    something broke in the driveshaft 3 years after we
    got it. Had to sell it when I had my first heart attack
    in early 1984. Both my wife and the car
    are gone now, but the memories will
    last me a lifetime.

    5
  8. Fordguy1972

    I really like this car. No apparent rust, simple and doesn’t seem to need much. I’m sure it probably wouldn’t need a whole lot to get it going. Nice color with a very attractive seat pattern. I don’t think the price is unreasonable for what it is and who knows? Maybe you could get it for less. I live not far from this car, I actually winter store my ’72 Galaxie in the same neighborhood so if any Barn Finders are interested in it, I could check it out for them. Drop me an email. If I wasn’t $4,450.00 short, I’d own it.

    1
  9. Nessy

    Great trouble free simple to work on cars. 30mpg on the highway. Just watch out for underbody rust. The “Classic Custom” model was the top of the Classic line so the roof and the side inserts should have been either black, white or gray on this Aqua example. Notice how the interior is two tone Aqua/gray. Here is my factory red over black 61 Classic Custom.

    11
  10. Jay

    I remember a black one like that my dads friend had the undercarriage rusted and the car sagged pulling the driveshaft splines apart and no-go it got scrapped and still looked like a good car. The car did not have a unibody just a body no frame

  11. ramblergarage

    1961 Rambler Custom models had the aluminum engine as standard equipment. The cast iron was a no cost option. The placement of the oil filter indicates this is the aluminum engine. Hope its a good one.

    2
    • That AMC Guy

      I don’t think that’s an aluminum engine. For one thing, the orientation of the oil filter is all wrong, it should be pointing towards the front of the car. Also the thermostat housing looks different on the aluminum job. It would help identification if we could see a photo of the side of the engine with the oil filter. (To see a Rambler with a good view of the aluminum six, check out the post from today entitled “Solid Wagon Survivor: 1961 Rambler Cross Country”.)

      Most of the Rambler aluminum sixes were replaced in short order with the cast iron version, many under warranty. They are quite rare today.

  12. jmolsn Member

    Well it’s mine! Just picked it up. Amazingly rust free frame and underside. Trunk looks brand new. Shouldn’t take much to get it running

    10
    • Howard A

      Congrats, I’m green with Rambler envy. I always thought these steering wheels were too big, but with no PS, you might need that big wheel. I remember, Ramblers had pretty good heaters. Have fun.

      5
      • Johanna gierhart-straub

        Ha!! This wild that I came across this. I think I own this rambler now and I love it! It is an amazing ride. Yes it needs some work here and there. But I’m totally up for the task. Thanks for the info.

        1

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