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Compact Tank: 1962 Rambler American

1962 Rambler American

Modern compacts aren’t always known for their durability, but there is one compact that we know of that can best be described as a tank. Sure there are other durable compacts built during the ‘50s and ‘60s, but few proved to be as efficient and durable as the Rambler American. Not only was it a cheap and efficient car to own, it was actually relatively fun to drive for a compact. It was such a good little car that it won a number of awards and AMC kept it around for over a decade. The problem with most early Ramblers today is that it’s hard to find one that hasn’t been driven to death. The seller of this 1962 Rambler American claims it has seen just 12k miles. We have our doubts about the mileage, but anything is possible. It’s definitely worth taking a look at it here on craigslist. Thanks to bizfinguy for the tip!

Low Mile Rambler American

The seller claims to be the original owner and that they have had it in storage for the past 20 years. They state that the gas tank will need to be flushed before it will run, but they don’t state whether it turns over or not. They also claim it is solid with minimal rust, but we would want to check for ourselves. We think this would make for a good little project and we could certainly have some fun with it. If it were yours, would you leave it original or would you do a few upgrades?

Oh one other thing, when bizfinguy sent this in he asked that we use his handle “bizfinguy” and that got us thinking about a recent situation that has come to our attention. There are lots of you with similar names so if you have a handle or nickname you’d prefer us to use, please just let us know!


  1. Wiley Robinson

    Those were some hard miles, looks like it was driven up and down the beach for 12,000 miles.

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  2. Rick

    There was nothing fun to drive about these old Ramblers. Pretty sure they still had the underpowered flathead in ’62. I remember seeing large numbers of these in the junkyard in the early 70s.

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  3. St. Ramone de V8

    My first car was one of these. A convertible. 196 OHV with three on the tree. Some were flatheads, too. No power steering or brakes, so not so much fun to drive. Had a lot of fun with it, though. Lots of miles on it, and reliable till I destroyed it. Ah, youth….

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  4. jim s

    upgrade to dual master cylinder, seat belts and electric wiper motor. make sure the rest of the car is safe and just daily drive it. make the seller an offer after a PI and have fun. nice find

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  5. Mark E

    Hey, don’t be so hard on it! It’s a black coupe, right? So adjust the stance and voilà! You have an instant rat rod!!

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  6. That Guy

    I’ve always been struck by the styling similarities between these cars and the Mk I Ford Cortina:



    The Rambler hit the market one year before the Cortina, so it seems that Ford cribbed the Rambler’s styling cues. But maybe someone at AMC got a sneak peek at the Cortina during development and rushed their version to market? I don’t know, but the many detail similarities seem too much to be coincidence.

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    • Dolphin Member

      You sure have an interesting point, Guy. But unless designers step up and say how things came to be—if they are still alive—it will be guesswork.

      And I imagine there’s some reluctance for the copying designer to step up and say “Yep, that’s the car I copied when I was designing this other car”.

      But the general similarity of designs within time periods does say that there was some cross-pollination in the process. Wikipedia says that the Cortina’s designer was Roy Brown Jr, who designed the Edsel and was ‘banished’ to Ford-Europe after that episode in Ford’s history. So he might have got wind of an AMC design while in the US and been inspired. But who knows?

      Fortunately some designers have stepped up and talked about how some designs that they were involved with came to be, but that’s pretty rare. One of them is Pete Brock and there are a few others, but nothing I know of sheds any light on the similarity of the Rambler and Cortina.

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    • paul

      I think when it comes to designing cars the designers take cues from each other & run with it. Chris Bangle brought us the “Bangle Butt ” on the rear of BMW’s a few years back, a variation on that design has appeared on quite a few cars since, the original was horrible in my view but some of the iterations have been pulled off well.

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  7. Stoney

    I had a 62 Rambler American as my second car after my 56 BelAir was totaled. Paid $800.00 for it in 1969 and drove it as is except for a new set of tires and a valve job. Oh and a heater core, car sold new in Florida with aout a heater. Needed this in Oklahoma. Flat head 6 with 3 on the tree and it would go anywhere I took it. I can of like the little car, now! Not so much as a 17 year old.

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  8. C Bryant

    Had one of these 40 some years ago up in the mountains of Colorado. Blew a seal going over Monarch Pass and killed every mesquito for 50 miles around. Couldn’t see 10 feet behind the car but it got us to the dog races in Colorado Springs. Had a better night there and killed all the bugs on the way home that survived the first foggin’.

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  9. paul

    Well I hate to admit this one, but learned to drive on a wretched 59 American, very briefly, loved the vacuum operated wipers, floor the thing & the wipers stopped moving. Go to your dictionary & look up the word junk, this car is pictured next to the description.

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    • Jett

      So why would you bother wasting your time commenting on a car you feel is “junk”? Some of us like these oddball little cars. Pick a car you like and move on.

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  10. Cameron Bater UK

    Looking at the condition with the miles, I wouldn’t call it a Tank persay, personally if you want a near indestructable classic car go for the Morris/Austin Mini (1000), its only crumple zones may be you but the suspension and running gear are near indestructible and if you want you could always have a roll cage fitted, rally style.

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    • Jim-Bob

      Well…except for the gearbox that shared the engine’s sump. Sorry, but an engine’s oil requirements are much different from that of a gearbox. It was in production for 40 years, but the originals had a lot of teething problems due to Issigonnis’ lack of love for prototypes and extensive pre production testing. For reliability, I would choose the Rambler as the car most likely to hit 200k miles on it’s original drivetrain (my litmus test of reliability) versus a Mini. Yet, for all it’s flaws I still want a BMC Mini more than any Rambler, Ferrari, Porsche or big V8 Musclecar. There’s just something about the Mini that makes me look past the flaws and lust for it irrationally.

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      • Alan (Michigan)

        Looking at this car, I’d say it was already more than halfway to the 200. Betting the 5-digit flipped, probably 112, not 12.

        Wow. Two photos, with talk of a rusted floorboard, and a “new rear window”, which is needed? …. Why? $800 should do it. This proves to me that every old car is not necessarily an interesting car.

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  11. rancho bella

    I like these a bunch. Simple, easy to work on. I grew up in San Diego surfing my moronic brains out in the sixties and early seventies. My life was a pure surfing dream…..and the car?
    You guessed it, Rambler American with a flat head. Never left us stranded, but I will admit with all dummy sticks being smoked, we at times had misplaced the poor dear.

    I always like the reclining seats in case one needed to pull over and rest the eyes after some heavy beach blanket bingo……………

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  12. Brian

    I like these cars, but I’d hold out for a convertible, painted in bright colors! I think the “deluxe” models had an OHV six, while the “standard” models had a flat head six. Just think if they’d offered it with a V8, 4bbl, and a 4 speed! Bet ya they wouldn’t be calling that boring!

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  13. Paul B

    These were bad-handling, wallowy cars with poor steering, lousy braking and depressing styling and interiors. They were a hasty low-cost remake of the original Rambler, with the original somewhat attractive body shell pulled and tugged into a truly appliance-worthy pudgy yet sharp-edged ’60s form. Yuk. The wheezy six was no gem either. The engines, brakes and suspensions in these things would not last nearly as long as those in a Valiant, Lark or even an early Falcon. Americans of this generation also were surprisingly rust-prone — worse than a Valiant or Falcon, though somewhat better (anything was better in this department) than the Lark. Yeah, they looked similar to the Cortina — but the Cortina stylists actually got it right and their car looked pretty and fun, and it drove to match. The 1964 restyling was lovely, though the underpinnings remained much the same. This car should be saved for historical reasons, as so few remain. But, IMHO, who could ever enjoy driving it?

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    • Brian

      Look, just because a few…hundred…thousand… people had problems with the wheels falling off doesn’t mean it was a bad car!

      Seriously though, these were really never meant to be more than a cheap little commuter car, usually purchasedby little old ladies who didn’t need to travel very far, very often by a company that was doing its best just to hang on during a quickly changing time (the early 60s) in the American auto business. Many would say, if this was the best they could do, then they deserved to fail, which is debatable. The Valiants, Darts, Larks, and Novas were probably better cars in the own right when new, but each also had there issues. Rust issues aside, I’m guessing that, in their original form, all of these cars would give you about the same level of comfort and assurances out on the highway today, that is to say, not much. Drum brakes and small underpowered six of 50 plus years ago can’t compete with today’s cars in modern traffic, so all would have to be restored and driven for pleasure on a limited basis or heavily customized to have the power, preformance, and safety to be driven on today’s roads daily with any confidence.

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    • Jett

      I strongly considered buying a ‘62(?) a few years ago, but unfortunately, at 6’4, 270 pounds, I found it exceedingly difficult to drive…

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  14. Charlie Member

    I bought a used ’68 red American hardtop “Rogue”, with black vinyl roof, and 289 V8, power everything but windows, for my mother in 1970 for $1350. It was an excellent car, plenty of power, handled well, took minor fender dents in stride, she drove it without any significant issues until she gave up driving in 1985 with about 150,000 miles on it, and sold it to a guy who had stopped by to try to buy it for a half dozen years before she was done. Got $500 for it.

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    • Jett

      The Rambler/AMC lineup never had a 289–there was a 287 and a 290, but Ford and Studebaker were the only companies I know of that produced a 289 v-8…

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