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Cross Country Project: 1965 Rambler Ambassador

Beginning in the late 1950s, the Ambassador was resurrected as American Motors’ top-of-the-line automobile. At times, it was a mid-size with fancy trim, while at others it strived to compete as a full-size product. This 1965 Ambassador is the 990 Cross Country station wagon, and likely the most expensive Rambler you could buy that year. It’s been sitting for some time awaiting restoration, but that’s not in the cards with the seller, so it’s time for the machine to move on. This AMC can be found in Polo, Illinois, and is available here on eBay for $8,500 (Buy It Now) or you can make an offer.

When AMC redesigned its cars for 1963 (winning Motor Trend’s Car of the Year Award in the process), the Classic and Ambassador shared the same platform, body panels, and wheelbase. Though separate models, one could think of the Ambassador as a gussied-up Classic. This was part of AMC’s strategy to stay focused on building smaller automobiles. With a change in management, the focus also changed come 1965. The Ambassador rode on a stretched version of the Classic platform and had its own front sheet metal with stacked versus horizontal headlights. So, it was easy to distinguish an Ambassador from a Classic for 1965-66.

This ploy worked as Ambassador sales more than doubled in 1965. The car was in a better position to compete with the Chevy Caprice or a Ford LTD, although still not quite as large in size. It would not be until 1967 that the Ambassador would become a true full-size automobile. There were two trim levels of the 1965 Ambassador, the 880 and 990 and in station wagon garb the 990 outsold the 880 by a margin of nearly 2 to 1 (8,852 units versus 4,791). The seller’s transport is the fancier 990, with a 327 cubic inch V8 and factory air conditioning.

As the story goes, the seller bought this wagon a couple of years ago to fix up and drive. After fooling around with it some, his/her time was needed elsewhere and not much else was done. Or likely will be done, so someone new will have the opportunity to restore this vintage Rambler. After tuning it up some time ago, we get the impression it won’t run until more work is done, such as flushing out the fuel system since the wagon has been sitting for some time. And at least one tire looks to be flat.

The body is not without its problem and grey primer can be seen in places where rust may have been. The lower rear quarter panel on the passenger side looks suspicious though not primed. The interior is said to be original, but the upholstery on the front seat does not match that of the back so something has been changed. There is a lot of stuff laying around inside the wagon, so it’s hard to determine how far your work will have to go in there.

But if you can get the old Rambler running again and put on new brakes, this Ambassador might pass as a driver while you toy with the rest. Most everything is said to work, including the power rear window in the tailgate. The car will go to its next home with some extra parts and a clear title. BTW, if you wonder what the “Tri-Poised Power” verbiage on the air cleaner means, we understand that it refers to how the engine and transmission are mounted. Two motor mounts and one for the tranny form something of a tripod. Kind of an odd thing to promote, but that was AMC!


  1. Rex Kahrs Rex Kahrs Member

    I really like this car, too. It’s not one you see ever at any cruise-in or car show. I’d love to re-commission it.

    I’d guess that there are a lot of hoses, wires, brake lines, pumps, etc etc that will need sorting to make this a safe, reliable cruiser. For that reason I’d think it’s priced 2-2.5K too high.

    Like 10
  2. CCFisher

    “TRI-POISED POWER” sounds like AMC was last in line the day they handed out engine slogans.

    Like 9
  3. Howard A Member

    Nah, again, they have to be nicer, MUCH nicer, as anyone with any connection to this car has, um, moved on. I know, it may not look like much, but in my usual support for my local hometown brand, this was the nicest “Rambler”( even though it was “AMC”, we still called them Ramblers) and consequently, the most expensive. Convertibles and wagons are usually the most expensive, and this car sold for just under $3 grand, comparable to a Ford or Chevy. Ambassador wagons weren’t very popular, champagne taste on mainly beer budgets, and most went for the lowly “Classic”. Ambassador wagons like this went to Phoenix, and such. Great cars, dreaming on the price, as usual, I see little, if any future for these types of cars today.

    Like 5
  4. Maggy

    I’d say about a 2500 car imo.Needs a lot of work that adds up the $ real quick.Cool car though.glwts.

    Like 5
  5. Robert Levins

    You really have to love these cars to consider restoring them. I think that if this Rambler were in “Mint” condition you might be able to get $8k-$10k. This one is a $2,000.00 car. The problem now, with a lot of older classics, is that younger generations just aren’t interested. Good luck,nice article!

    Like 5
  6. DON

    The front seats look to have the same cheapo seat covers as my 73 Hornet had. It may have the original upholstery underneath it , but who knows what that may look like !

    Like 2
  7. Art Vamdelay

    Loving this site. Such a blast from the past seeing these

    Like 1
  8. Walt from Vermont

    I ‘re read many a post on barnfinds, and I find that many comments are by well intentioned but naive people. I own a 1965 Rambler 990 Cross Country Wagon (along with 12 other AMC cars). It is in very good condition, and it’s value is around $22000. The NADA book value is out of sight on this particular model. (Look it up).It has the 287 engine. So, the 990 pictured here, with the AMC built 327 engine, when fixed, will be worth well around that. The buy it now price is not an unreasonable price. If it wasn’t half way across country (no pun intended ), I would buy it. Show me where you can buy a car like this for $2000 and I will buy them all day. I own a total of 32 registered, insured, and inspected automobiles.I know the value of vintage cars. The classic car market at the moment is hot for any and all station wagons. Also, AMC used the name Rambler on all their cars up to 1965. After that, all AMC cars went by AMC, except the American, which used Rambler until its phase out in 1969, to be replaced by the AMC Hornet in 1970.

    Like 10
  9. Sixone

    My parents had a 1965 Rambler something station wagon. I was really young , but I do remember freezing in the a/c and the big, circular vents on the dash. Yeah, I was young. It was brown! I remember that as well… Ohh, the front end was crumpled and both fenders stuck out like wings. They didn’t fix it and drove it that way for the rest of its short life. Something to do with the fact my teen sister caused the damage by rear-ending a car in front of her. They traded it in for a Chrysler Newport. The end 🤣

    Like 3
  10. Rick

    This car probably has the 287 V8 ’cause a 327 would have red valve covers and a red air cleaner.

    Like 1
    • Lee

      I see red valve covers …

      Like 0
      • Rick

        They look more like rust than anything else.

        Like 0
  11. IronBuddha

    The BEST $400 I ever spent in my life was a used 1966 AMC Ambassador 880! I could write a book about this car, and it probably would be a best seller. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this for sale. “Walt from Vermont” has got the right take on this old beauty. To me its about the closest I’ve seen to my old Ambassador. I’m thinking about making the seller an offer; but I’m out of the country at this time. All I will say about my old car was that it was basically a “warm climate” machine. The Chicago winters finally were a bit too much for her. I was overseas when my old Dad prompted me, and I agree (reluctantly) to let him junk her. She PROUDLY drove under her own power to her final resting place. Feel pretty depressed now…

    Like 2
  12. 64 Bonneville

    I like the styling on the 65-66 Ambassadors, just a sucker for stacked headlight I guess. $3500 would be my to offer for this. I believe that it was still a kingpin front end, rather than ball joints, and they are a bear to work on if you are not familiar with the set up. Non running vehicles, I tend to shy away from, as I have bought some and ended up having to rebuild the motor to get them to run.

    Like 2
    • Rick

      This car has ball joints and trunnions, but it’s the latter that can sometimes make working on the front end tricky.

      Like 1
  13. Pete.k

    I had a 66′ in the mid-70s. It was Green with wood grain on the sides, green interior. It had all the bells and whistles ! A/C, P/S, P/B. Roof rack, full carpeting. Bucket seats, 4-speed ( it had the ears on the top you pulled up to put it into reverse ) and console. Bought it from an older woman, it only had about 30,000 miles on it. Had to sell it because I lost garage space. Really liked that car, very unique !

    Like 0

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