All Original: 1960 Rambler American Deluxe

I would have guessed that this 1960 Rambler American Deluxe had been repainted but the seller says that it’s an all original car. It sure looks good, at least from a few feet away. It can be found here on eBay in Cambridge, Minnesota and the current bid price is just $1,125 and there is no reserve! I’m a staunch second-generation Rambler American fan, but these first-gen cars are pretty unique, let’s check it out.

In the late-1950s, as American cars were getting to be almost cartoonishly-huge and overly-ornamented with giant fins and adding size and weight seemingly out of a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses exercise, a lot of buyers were starting to enjoy the thought of smaller vehicles. AMC had such a beast with the Metropolitan but as a two-seater, it was too small. They toyed, no pun intended, with the idea of a bigger Met but then they had an idea…

They already had the Nash Rambler bones to work with and the 100″ wheelbase was a perfect middle step from the smaller Met to their full-sized cars. A little tweaking and modernizing and badda-bing, the 1958 – 1960 Rambler American was born. This particular car looks great but they do mention that it has some rust issues and thankfully they provided photos of the areas.

The interior is in rough shape as far as the front seat goes but having found a great upholstery shop a year ago, I rarely let anything like fixing a seat or headliner worry me anymore. This one has a 3-on-the-tree manual and other than that front seat, things look pretty good inside. In a head-spinning move that still, well, causes my head to spin, the Deluxe was actually Rambler’s base model.

This is the original flathead-six with 195.6 cubic-inches and 90 hp. You can hardly even hear it running it’s so quiet and the current owner would jump in this car and drive it anywhere. This could be a very inexpensive entry into the old car hobby for someone. Have any of you owned a first-generation Rambler American?

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Comments

  1. mark

    Looks like a great economical daily driver!

    Like 3
  2. That AMC Guy

    Very little modernizing was involved – it’s basically a 1950 Nash Rambler. The flathead six dates to the ’41 Nash 600. Neat little car but obsolete even by 1960 standards with a 1930s-design engine and 1940s-design chassis (albeit unibody).

    In the past I’ve owned ’61 and ’62 Amercans. Same car with squared-off body panels and an updated interior with suspended pedals. This car lacks the optional oil filter, a partial-flow spin-on type mounted on a steel plate on top of the engine with external oil lines. Rust on the front fenders ahead of the doors is typical due to drainage problems that were never corrected even for the ’61 restyle.

    Check carefully underneath – these cars are prone to severe structural rust and there are no photos provided. If you’ve not driven 1940s-vintage cars (which is what this really is) it’ll take some adjustment. Definitely not a freeway cruiser without overdrive. Once you get accustomed though these are a pleasant enough ride and wherever you go it’s likely you won’t see another!

    Like 8
    • James Schwartz

      And as you probably know. The Flathead (or “L-head” as they called it) continued on Ramblers until 1965, being the standard engine in the Gen 3 Rambler Americans.

      Like 1
      • JP

        And these engines were crazy underpowered and prone to overheating under the slightest load. Modern radiator and electric fans are a must, or, better yet, dump the thing and restomod to something more practical.

      • That AMC Guy

        Yes, as far as I know the ’65 American was the last car sold in the U.S. with a side-valve engine. It sounds kind of crazy now but at the time the bulk of the buying public would have seen that as a normal and familiar engine type if they thought about it at all.

        Like 1
  3. Scott Marquis

    My folks had two of these, sedan and wagon, both in red. Always fun to watch the road go by through the Swiss cheese floorboards.

    Like 2
  4. Patrick Kelly

    My Mom had a red American with the same engine and an automatic when I was young. The automatic shifter didn’t align with guide, she drove it in second for months until my Dad showed her. Basic transportation. The radio was a riot, two knobs, no dia, no light. Tuning in the dark was a pain.

    Like 2
  5. Rube Goldberg Member

    My friend across the alley as a kid, his older brother had a car like this, only a Super. It had an automatic, and I remember it being the slowest car I ever rode in. The gas pedal was bent in a U shape from being floored all the time. Had a good heater, tho. If it was mine, I’d stuff the biggest fire breathing motor that would fit in there, “Beep, beep, my butt!

    Like 4
  6. ccrvtt

    When George Romney ascended to the leadership of American Motors in 1954 upon George Mason’s demise, he envisioned the Rambler as a constant, unchanging economy car to rival and ultimately supplant the emerging Volkswagen. The body style made it to 1961.

    My Dad worked for AM until 1955 and of course those were the cars we had. My mother had a 1951 Rambler 2-door painted battleship gray, bare-bones, 3 on the tree. For some reason they had it painted black at one point. They kept that car for 10 years in an era when a 3-year-old car was considered old (and likely heavily rusted out in Michigan). They replaced it with a 1961 Falcon 4-door which was a much better car. But I digress.

    If the bones are good and the body is solid these are prime candidates for BBC transplants. In fact, I haven’t seen one that hasn’t been tubbed and stuffed with a monster motor for years. It seems that a lot of the styling cues from the Rambler made their way to the Eastern European & Russian brands, a sincere if questionable form of flattery.

    Like 2
  7. Ben T. Spanner

    My mother in law had a 1961 Convertible with flat head and auto. Slow slow slow, plus slow steering. Heater knobs looked like they came from a Kelvinator refrigerator, also owned by AMC. I loved it, but it was a 1940’s design, and felt like it.

    Like 2
  8. Will Fox

    These little Americans are a great way for someone to enter the old-car hobby. You can still find them in fairly decent shape, and somewhat rust free. The engines are a cinch to work on; interiors not real expensive to reupholster in vinyl; and if you can find the 2dr. wagon this model offered, they’re a great conversation starter at shows. I doubt the paint is original on this, but at least it’s not faded down to the primer. Cheap in comparison to other collector cars to buy, and still have fun with. I like it.

    Like 3
  9. Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

    The 61 redesign to me took all the “cute” out of the Rambler. If I recall correctly the roof on the restyled car was practically flat and the grille was worthy of a Peterbuilt truck…oversized for a small car. Someone in my neighborhood had a pink coupe. One of my ex-laws restored a black one just like this in his basement. Never noticed the un-suspended pedals but admired the “off the hardware store shelf” nature of all the fixtures, lamps, brackets, knobs. Someone has taken some time to rub out the original finish on this Barn Find, if this is to be believed one should still inspect closely for unit body rust in the cowl, battery tray, around window ledges and roof gutters.

    Like 1
  10. TimM

    Car looks well taken care of!! Super clean!!

    Like 2
  11. Ben

    Am I seeing things, or is the right side headlight aiming down towards the road a lot more than it should be ? Compare the slant to the left side headlight. They don’t look like they are nearly the same to me. I wonder if the car took a good hit below the right headlight area at some time ?

    Like 1
  12. V8roller

    Now you mention it, yes, that right-hand wing is well distorted. Look at the reflection compared to the left side.
    Not too hard to fix, hopefully.

  13. Little_Cars

    If you pull up the eBay listing, and read the seller’s description, evidently the damage to the passenger side was from an incident with a dog. The seller is sneaky in speaking to the area between the grille and headlight. A futher look at the photos magnified confirms the distortion/deception. The fender is preventing the passenger door from opening without bending the rearward edge of the front fender.

    Like 2
  14. V8roller

    Mmm, some dog. I wonder if it walked away.

    Like 1
  15. Bob C.

    I personally like this generation better than the 1961 to 63s. For those of you who notice the offset rear wheels with the fender thing, it seems more noticeable in the 61 vintage, making it look more awkward.

    Like 2
  16. Joe

    I used to own a 1967 Rambler American 440 with an engine swapped from a 1965 Rambler American 220. The car had an automatic transmission. I only kept it for a couple of months because it was becoming a money pit. I did enjoy driving it while I had it, which wasn’t enough to keep me interested in it.

  17. don

    My mother only owned two cars in her life, the first was a ’58 American , baby blue with a dark blue roof automatic . I remember lying on the rear package tray while she drove to the grocery store ( try doing that today with your kids ! ) In 68 it started having an overheating problem, so my dad sold it to the neighbors 16 year old kid for $25.00 who then put racing stripes on it ; my mother got her second car , a red ’67 American 220 2 door . which she had until 2001 when she wasn’t able to drive anymore .

    Like 3

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