55k Genuine Miles: 1962 Rambler American

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The Rambler American is a funky little car, and while it was a marketing success, allowing American Motors to sell more cars than at any time in its history up to that point, it couldn’t stop the company from sliding down the manufacturer sales rankings. The distinctive styling is something that people either love or hate, but it is now most definitely an American classic. Our ever vigilant Barn Finder Pat L spotted this American for us, so thank you for that Pat. Located in West Baden, Indiana, you will find the American listed for sale here on Craigslist. It seems that the owner may have had the American on the market for a little while, as he is advertising that he has dropped the price to $6,500.

There is no doubt that as a company, American Motors was certainly capable of producing distinctive looking cars. The beauty (or otherwise) of these is always the subject of personal taste. The 1962 American is not the most strikingly attractive car, but I think that’s why I like it. It really is an ugly duckling, but it just ingratiates itself to you. This one is in really nice condition, as it has covered a genuine and documented 55,000 miles during its 57-year lifetime. The paint looks to be a little bit tired in some spots, but there certainly doesn’t appear to be any signs of rust. It has also recently been fitted with new wheels and tires, but I’m not sold on the color of the wheels, and I would probably review that.

Under the hood is the venerable 195.6ci flathead 6-cylinder engine, which is backed by an automatic transmission. With only 90hp at its disposal, performance was adequate, but not exciting. What was exciting from an engineering perspective was the brake master cylinder. In 1962, it became standard for all Ramblers, including the American, to be fitted with dual-circuit brake master cylinders. This was a giant step forward in vehicle safety and yet another example of American Motors leading the way in innovation. The car is said to run and drive well. The owner also says that while it has also been fitted with new brakes, there is still an issue with them which he believes could be addressed with proper adjustment. If you take a long look in the engine bay, you may spot a feature which is exceptionally rare for an American, and it makes this car stand out. This is one of the very few 1962 Americans that was fitted with factory air conditioning. The owner doesn’t indicate whether this is operational, but it does rate as a rare treat.

Overall, the interior of the American looks quite nice. There are a few issues, but these are of a relatively minor nature, and it doesn’t look like it will require wholesale restoration. The worst issue is the fact that the cards for the door trims appear to be warped. This can happen over time, but it is possible to used steam and pressure to return them to their original state. There is also wear on the wheel rim, and the top of the driver’s door where an elbow has been resting, but the little American could be used exactly as it is with no problems.

I so want this car. It’s an ugly duckling, but I can’t help but love it. It seems that I’m not the only one who feels this way. For years the values of these remained pretty flat, but over the last 5-years, values have increased dramatically. In that period of time, American prices have increased by, on average, 50%. Today it is possible to find a reasonable car for around $8,000, while an immaculate example will set you back closer to $13,000. This one is a low mileage survivor that is in nice condition, and the optional air conditioning is a huge bonus when it comes to value. That makes the $6,500 asking price seem like a bit of a bargain.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Ben T. Spanner

    When I was first dating my wife in 1965 her Mother had a 1962 Rambler American convertible in white with a red interior. I recall a two speed auto. It looked like a cake of Ivory soap. We drove it 120 plus miles in a Winter storm to attend a party. Passing another car was exciting; the transmission would downshift, making more noise but little acceleration, and the vacuum wipers would slow or stop.
    I like one now in red with a modern V6 and auto transmission please.

    Like 6
    • dweezilaz

      AMC used Borg Warner 3 speed automatics at the time, Ben. Until 72 when they went with Chrysler’s Torqueflite.

      Something was wrong with that tranny perhaps.

      Like 1
  2. 8banger Dave MikaMember

    Bungee cords are cool!

    Like 1
  3. blyndgesser

    I was wondering about swapping in a modern engine, but that engine bay is so tiny I don’t think anything with an overhead cam would fit–and so narrow you’d never get even a 60-degree V6 in there without major surgery.

    Hmm. What about a 13B rotary?

    Like 2
    • Andy

      I’ve never given it much thought, but with their super low compression, I bet a flathead would love some turbocharging. And I suspect the cramped quarters under the hood are something of an optical illusion. Otherwise, yes, a 13B could be a lot of fun in this car. My old RX-4 was rated at 110 hp from the factory, and that was in the ’70s–that’s an instant 20 hp gain, though probably a pretty big loss in low end torque; once you start tuning, who knows what you’d get? And then start massaging the suspension to deal with the big change in weight distribution…

      Like 2
    • Brent in Winnipeg

      I would be tempted to drop a current Chrysler 3.6L V6 in it. 300 hp in something that light should be fun to drive.

      Like 0
  4. Little_Cars Little Cars

    So ugly it’s cute! That factory air, working or not, doesn’t look even close to adequate for this high ceiling hotbox with metal everywhere to radiate heat. I can’t make out if the thing under the dash can adjust airflow or if there are multiple fan speeds. The wheels need to be the same turquoise as the car.

    Like 1
  5. Ken

    Funky is right. I’d leave it as-is and have fun with it. I don’t get the “let’s pull the six and cram in something bigger” crowd. This car wasn’t meant to go fast, and if speed is important to you, find something else to tinker with. This car is an original survivor, and it should stay that way.

    Like 11
  6. 71FXSuperGlide

    That underdash A/C unit kinda looks like one of the period Drive-In speakers from the era. :D

    What a nice little car. It appears to have a dual bail master cylinder well before the federal mandate, was that standard on these?

    Like 5
    • Jim OlsonMember

      AMC was the first to go dual circuit in about 62 before the feds mandated it in 67 I think

      Like 2
  7. Beatnik Bedouin

    As a lot of you know, I used to own a ’62 Rambler Deluxe wagon a half century ago. I can’t say that the memories of it are pleasant – LOL.

    AMC only used a single strap to hold the fuel tank on this model and mine split after filling the tank. My girlfriend of the time was most unimpressed, but the AAA tow truck driver thought it was funny.

    These cars were considered to be super uncool in high schools across SoCal back then.

    Like 4
  8. jmolsnMember

    Just purchased the little gem! I’ll now have 3 Ramblers, 61 Custom Classic, 62 Ambassador station wagon and now the 62 American

    Like 14
    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      Congrats! Cool rig!

      Like 3
    • That AMC guy

      Very cool indeed! (Literally – with air conditioning!) I remember when these cars were common as dirt, you’d see them all over. They were very popular despite somewhat bizarre styling and mostly outdated tech.

      Like 1
  9. Ruth Lowell

    I had a 62 Rambler when I graduated HS. I remember it have what they called an E Stick? You had to shift gears but it didn’t have a clutch pedal! You just took your foot off the gas and shifted. I loved that car and had it for a couple of years until I was hit from behind! But it was a good little car.

    Like 1
  10. PatrickM

    Well, shucks! Ad deleted by author. Either it sold or something went awry in the family. Heck… I was gonna seriously look at this one. It is barking right up my tree. Got any more? This would fit right into my scheme of things, today. I have a full sized 4WD, crew cab. Lousy gas mileage, but, paid for. Why get rid of it when I might need it for something and I could still have this little Rambler for buzzin’ around town. Seriously, got any more?

    Like 0
    • Brent in Winnipeg

      See jmolsn’s comment above. He’s a Ramblin’ Man.

      Like 0
  11. snerd

    Had same once,fun little car,great mileage (Volvo-ist) , …liked to blow out head gaskets on a regular basis.

    Like 0
  12. James Miller

    Cute now, but a truly horrible car. I had my first accident in one just like that, except 4 door. For all the talk of ‘duel brake lines….’ forget it, those lines went to brakes that were stout enough for a lawn mower. From 60 mph in a hard stop, they were faded long before you reached 20 mph. In the one my family owned the top speed was same in 2nd as 3rd gear of the automatic trans. The engine could rev in 2nd, didn’t have power to go faster in 3rd. Top speed was between 72 and 75 mph. Fast enough, considering the stopping ability.

    Like 0
  13. V8roller

    Dual masters, yes, in 62 when only Cadillac offered that feature.
    But only on AMC’s US-market cars.
    My 63 Canadian built Ambassador has single-circuit brakes, and I know they were still selling them that way in Australia in 64.

    Hope the buyer enjoys this little car. No rust, I can well believe, was in the driver’s door of my 63 last week, not a speck of rust. They built a good car.

    Like 0

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