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82k Mile Survivor: 1971 AMC Ambassador

The Ambassador was AMC’s top-line automobile from 1957-74. It would hold the honor of being the longest continuously used car nameplate at that time. The 1971 models were part of the car’s seventh generation and competed with the Chevy Caprice and Ford LTD. This ’71 Ambassador with Brougham trim runs and looks good – at 20 feet. The original paint job is showing its age, but there is no urgency to do anything about it. Located in Exira, Iowa, this cruiser is available here on eBay where the bidding has reached $6,589, but the seller’s reserve has yet to be triggered.

After a restyle in 1970, AMC’s big cars were little changed in 1971. The Brougham joined the line-up that year, positioned above the mid-line SST models, and would be offered as 2-door hardtops as well as 4-door sedans and station wagons. The seller’s car, with fastback-like styling, was the nicest auto that the AMC salesman could sell you. Out of total AMC production of 244,758 cars that year, 41,674 would be Ambassadors, and – of those – 4,579 would be Brougham hardtops. So, if you do the math as to how many of these may have survived after 50 years, the numbers may be in the hundreds.

From the photos, we see that the seller’s car has picked up a couple of awards over the years. While the paint is original and shines up from a distance, it contains scuffs, scratches, and dark spots, but no cracking or flaking. With no mention of rust and if you wanted to keep it original, this is something you could put on the back burner. The black vinyl top seems to have no issues and the interior looks mighty nice. We’re told the only things that need attention now are replacing the headliner, getting the factory air conditioning charged up, and installing a new radio antenna, which comes with the car.

The seller has had quite a few things done mechanically to the car in the last 100 miles, including:

  • Complete tune-up and 2-barrel carburetor rebuild
  • Belts, hoses, fuel pump, alternator, and brake master cylinder

At 82,000 miles, the 360 V8 with automatic transmission is said to perform well. Because it’s a Brougham, it has all sorts of goodies, such as tinted glass, power steering and brakes, and a rear window defroster. While in the seller’s possession, the Ambassador has been kept out of inclement weather, which we assume is inside the building that appears in the photos. The seller and his family are planning to travel extensively and – since the car can’t tag alone – it’s time for someone else to enjoy it.

NADA says that low-to-mid $20,000s is top dollar for one of these ‘70s automobiles. You can spend that much or more and have a nice Chevy, Ford, or Chrysler from that era, but you might have company. With an AMC product that wasn’t produced in droves, you might have the only one in your circle – unless you’re a member in an AMC club, that is.


  1. MitchRoss Member

    Just got back from the American motors Owners Association national meet in Colorado Springs. Lots of AMCs but only a couple of Ambassadors. This is the body style most desired and only a 401 would put it higher on the totem pole. I’d say it would be well bought for $10,000

    Like 15
  2. Big_Fun Member

    If I won the lottery, I would buy it for Howard A.
    If I only played…

    Like 15
    • HoA Howard A Member

      Why thank you! Just the fact you would say that, win or lose, tells me there’s hope. I don’t play either, I lose the dollar on the way to buying a ticket.

      Like 17
      • Raymond

        That’s called fuel usage Howard, it’s normal….

        Like 4
      • jeff Member

        AMC 6 cylinders had more mains then chevy or Ford. the 196,199,232,258 and later 4.0 terriffic motors.the 360 has the BIG VALVE HEADS time for a 4 barrel or 4 barrel fuel injection, beautiful body style, AMC v/8 run 100,000 of miles as long as you take care of them. 401 and 390 all had forged internals

        Like 4
  3. HoA Howard A Member

    Thanks for the kind words, Big_Fun, I swear, if I won the lottery( when pigs fly) I’d buy the car of everyone that asked dreams,,,with in reason of course. I figure, 50 people @ $20grand each would be well worth the million. Remember that movie “Crazy People” with Dudley Moore?
    These cars, I’m somewhat ashamed to say, were already showing signs of going down. Ramblers, they weren’t. While the show “Adam 12” helped some, AMC was already slipping, which, I think, made them come out with,,not so conventional cars( Pacer, Matador, Gremlin), because their passenger cars, like this, didn’t have a chance up agin the Big 3. I’ve told several times, the old man had the same vintage 4 door Ambassador that was an ex-forest ranger car, with all the police gee-gaws, 390 AMX motor, posi, can’t remember if it had rear door handles, but it was dubbed the “burnout king”, and would lay 2 stripes for a block. The car itself was a cheap, tinny thing, but dependable as a stove. This one shows how you could still “glitz” one up. As you can see by the numbers, very few outside of the midwest bought these, again, couldn’t compete, and that’s a shame, they were great cars. 7 bids kind of bolsters what I said, if I was the seller, I’d grab the offer. 7 interested folks is about all you’re going to get. Someone going to get a sweetheart of a car, and future generations will ask,,,”Grandpa,,what is it again”?

    Like 12
    • Big_Fun Member

      Howard – you’re welcome! I really would buy this for you – your contributions to this site, and others, are always welcome. You lived it, we just read about it.
      Keep your squarebidy pickup, and keep on truckin’!

      Like 0
  4. Gary

    After 50 thousand miles The majority if These cars were oil burners and poorly built. I’m glad to see this example as a Survivor.

    Like 2
    • Gary James Lehman

      After 50,000 miles they were poorly built. How well were they built before 50,000 miles?
      The rubber valve seals would crack and a decent mechanic could replace the valve seals in 2 hours or less.
      These AMC’s ran forever.

      Like 19
  5. That AMC guy

    I have a ’71 Ambassador but unfortunately not the cool hardtop body style, plus it has double the miles and some rust. It’s still going down the road though and I only paid $500 for it back in the 1990s, so no complaints. These cars weren’t very popular when new and most people have no idea what they are at this point.

    Being a ’71 model this will have the ancient Borg-Warner automatic transmission. Vacuum windshield wipers were still standard but this one has the optional electrics (mine does as well). HVAC controls are confusing, with 4 levers and a knob to manipulate. (This all changed the next year with the ’72 models that looked the same but had some significant improvements.)

    These are nice enough cars but Howard is correct, they do not at all impart the same feel of quality that the Rambler-era Ambassadors had.

    Like 9
    • thomas f

      My 68 Ambo is the only car I have ever had that I had to break out the owners manual to figure out how to use the heat and a/c! 4 levers, a twist knob and you forgot the under dash lever for defrosters!

      Like 5
      • That AMC Guy

        Yeah, it’s crazy! Forget trying to change any of the settings while driving unless you want to veer off the road and wind up in a ditch! For 1972 though AMC finally went to a much simpler and more modern two-lever HVAC control setup. That, plus standard electric wipers and the far superior Chrysler Torqueflite automatic transmission make the ’72 model more desirable. (Not that I’d toss this ’71 hardtop out of my garage, it looks great!)

        Like 5
  6. TimS

    I love the green over green and nobody’s going to have your exact same car at a show.

    Like 7
    • jerry z

      That’s one color I’m tired of seeing back then. Like the car itself, just wish it had buckets/console.

      Like 0
  7. Sam Shive

    Grew up with Ramblers and AMC’s, Beautiful Car.

    Like 8
  8. JoeNYWF64

    Odd it still has front vent windows in ’71 , while the javelin was ventless back in ’68! I don’t get it – did AMC not look at the ’68 caprice coupe?
    & even odder that that, this luxury car has a REAR swaybar!
    Perhaps not a good idea exporting a 4 door AMERICAN motors AMBASSADOR to “certain countries” & being driving around in it all dressed up in the back seat, or even worse if it was a …

    I don’t think the avail strait 6 amc motors were oil burners.

    Like 3
    • Bob19006

      AMC introduced a brand new mid/full sized car in 1967. Up through 1966 the mid/full sized Rambler Classic and Ambassador had the old Nash designed torque rear tube suspension. That platform was used through the last Matadors (excluding the coupe model) and Ambassadors in the 1980s before Chrysler bought AMC-Jeep in 1988, That is why all 1967 and newer Rebels, Ambassadors, Marlins and Matadors had front vent windows.

      Like 1
  9. Terrry

    So many of these were the boxy 4-door sedan. It’s extremely unusual to find an Ambassador 2-door hardtop. Too bad too, because these are quite attractive.

    Like 6
  10. Dave Peterson

    In the early to mid ’60’s, most used trades were consigned to the “pure sale” auction lane by 80,000 miles. It was just too risky if you had any limited warranty and/or a reputation to protect. Many times an inspected and even compression tested car would self destruct within weeks of sale. It’s really been a long road to 100k of dependability.

    Like 2
    • Bob C.

      In those days, the rule of thumb was, “It has 100,000 miles, time to get rid of it.” These days, many people keep them past 200,000. The average car on the road today is usually around 11 or 12 years old.

      Like 4
  11. Jay McCarthy

    The AMC 360 was a decent V8 but strangling it with that pitiful 2bbl carb was just wrong IMHO

    Like 3
    • Mikefromthehammer

      Nothing stopping the new owner from swapping it for a 4bbl carburettor.

      Like 4
    • That AMC Guy

      For years I’ve been thinking of doing that with my ’71 Ambo’s 360, particularly since it has dual exhaust, but I just never got around to it. I’m sure a 4-barrel carb would really wake it up.

      Like 4
  12. JOEY V

    The Ambassador was AMC’s top-line automobile from 1957-74. It would hold the honor of being the longest continuously used car nameplate at that time” Did you forget, the Corvette came out in ’53, and ran past ’74 without a break…. would’ve been the longest running name, if not for the skip in ’83 production.

    Like 0
    • tom hofstad

      The Ambassador model was made from1927 until 1957
      as a Nash and under the merged Nash/Hudson American Motors until 1974 so it was the nameplate king!

      Like 6
  13. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $8,000.

    Like 0

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