Cheap Low Mile American: 1959 Rambler

With great styling, low miles and a cheap price, this ’59 American seems like a great opportunity. Having covered just “34,700” miles, this Rambler is virtually “new” and relatively solid after many years of rest. Needing to be revived, this sleek two door could likely be knocked out with parts, and a few weekends worth of elbow grease. Priced for just $2,500, this little American has got to be someone’s cheap dream project. Check it out here on craigslist out of Chico, California.

Rather dirty and dingy, the engine bay would benefit greatly from a wash. There is no battery, and thankfully the tray isn’t eaten up either. One important thing that I notice is that the spark plugs have been removed, as well as all of the spark plug wires. There is no indicator as to when this flat head inline 6 last ran, but there is no word on the engine condition and if it can be turned over. Perhaps someone already started the process of reviving and added penetrating oil to the cylinders? Beyond the missing plugs and wires the engine bay appears complete, and looks as if it would clean up nicely.

Inside the simplistic interior is a joy with its minimalist styling, and great coloring. Overall the interior is in fair shape, but there are a few issues to point out. The carpet and padding is beat, and the steering wheel is missing its horn button, while also sporting a few cracks. From what can be seen of the upholstery, what remains isn’t too shabby, but a better picture of the front bench would have been appreciated.

Slightly faded and sun-burnt, the paint is still all in place with no evidence of rust. The only stand out damage is a dent on passenger side door, dent in the center of the rear bumper, and some interesting holes along the bottom edge of the driver side door. Those unusual holes I would guess came from someone pulling a dent, as I am rather at a loss for guesses as to why anyone would do such a thing. Another small issue is that the driver side tail light has been fractured one way or another. These concerns aren’t the end of the world, and really this $2,500 American could be a grand project to take on and enjoy on the cheap. Could you say no to this cheap and stylish American?

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  1. Alexander

    Find it comical that the person posting this car says the tires are in great condition. The front passenger tire is/has been running low and the close up photo of another looks like it is pretty checked. A friend restored a car just like this in his basement. Super easy to get back up to driver standard, lots of off the shelf parts available at any parts store.

    • D Legeai

      I own a 1955 4 door and I can tell you parts are not easy to find, some impossible. Are they easier for the 1959? I doubt it.

  2. AF many of you would want to either drive or be seen in this slug? Would you rather drive this or the ratty looking 1990 Bonnevile SSE that was posted earlier?

    • Ikey Heyman

      I’d much rather have this, for me it has a nice funky, small-car appeal. It doesn’t seem like it would take an arm and a leg to get it running.

    • GP Member

      I wouldn’t have any problem driving this SLUG around. This is Barn Finds, Not new car/truck finds. There on every lot in every town and city around. They look just like the one everybody else has.

    • Old Car Guy

      As much as I am a fan of late 50’s to ’66 Ramblers having owned 5 over the years this is one I don’t feel any love for. Probably because at age 16 in 1967 a good friend of mine drove one almost exactly like this one. Spent a lot of time riding in it. To say it was a slug is an understatement. Another friend at the same time drove a ’64 VW and it was actually faster in a race with the Rambler. I would much rather have a Metropolitan than this. Sorry.

  3. Ken Carney

    My MIL’s first var! Her fad bought it for
    her when she got her driver’s license in
    ‘-61. Mom said she never got the hang
    of driving a stick, so she let my future
    FIL drive it when they went out on a date.
    Think she said they traded it for a ”56 Ford Sunliner convertible after they got
    married. If the car was closer to me.
    (We live in Florida) I’d build this one for
    Mom just for laughs. If the engine is
    seized, I would slip in a later model AMC
    6 cylinder (232, 258) mated to an auto
    tranny. Add a set of disc brakes up front
    for safe stopping, power steering to improve driveability, and some vintage air to keep her cool in the summer. Wrap
    it all iup with a champagne gold metallic
    paint with a brick red interior, and Mom would have one cool grocery getter! And
    yes Ikey, it could be done with parts available at NAPA, Auto Zone. or ROC auto at a very reasonable price.

    • That AMC Guy

      Unfortunately the later AMC sixes won’t fit the engine compartment, they’re too long to just drop in. You can’t fit much of anything else in there either without major modifications. (Take a look at how little room there really is in that engine compartment!)

      • DweezilAZ

        Wasn’t an OHV version also offered on the American, T.A.G ? The one that powered the standard Rambler ?

  4. Brakeservo

    Only 34,700 miles. Oh yeah, but how many times now had it had that “only 34,700 miles” turn over and over again. I always wonder about the intelligence of sellers who try to pull of completely obvious lies – how stupid do they think we are??

    • DweezilAZ

      My 63 Valiant had just 12,000 miles on it when I bought it in 1980. LOL. Of course, no one believed that. More likely 112,ooo or 212,ooo given the condition under the hood, quickie seat re-cover and new paint.

      I’ve still got it and while a Signet with buckets, it’s still as base level as this American: 3 speed manual, radio and heater [possibly whitewalls] and nothing else. I’d grab this in a heartbeat if I didn’t already have three.

      These base line cars are great. I have to admire the mindset of the buyer who first purchased these cars: no nonsense, financially prudent, function over luxury, practicality over emotion.

      Not everyone’s cup of tea, but does deserve some measure of respect for what it is and represents.

  5. Howard A Member

    This (type of) car was a friend of mine’s 1st car. We called it the “Super”, because, well, it said “Super” on the trunk. Same deal, flathead 6, automatic. I remember the gas pedal was bent in U shape, from it being on the floor. When floored, it just made a little more noise, but no gain in speed. You pulled the gear shift lever towards you to start it. Had a radio and a heater, and got you around, that was it. I think the front suspension rotted off of that car too.

  6. gaspumpchas.

    Straight axle gasser…that would open up the lack of real estate under the hood….leave the faded paint as is and leave interior as unmolested as possible. The Kelvinator co should have stuck with making refrigerators!

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