Custom Wagon: 1960 Rambler American

Found on more top-ten-ugliest-cars lists than not, this 1960 Rambler American Custom Wagon looks like a nice survivor. I personally like this awkward, ungainly look, maybe because it reminds me of myself. This wagon can be found on Hemmings and it’s located in Eureka, Montana with a $5,000 asking price. It appears to be from the same seller as the orange Chevy Suburban ambulance from a few days ago.

Snow or not, this is one fun looking little car. For 1960 this was the top model for the Rambler American, being a Custom. That’s always nice to find. There aren’t many options on a car like this but I always like the top of the line model if I have a choice. I have to agree that the design of these Rambler Americans are a little less than svelte. The wheels are so far inward that it looks like it might tip over, and for a car named the “American” it sure looks like a Russian-designed car to me.

The body looks solid on this American wagon. The seller says that it has a very “nice body. Paint looks original and has wear, but it cleans up good and has a nice patina. No Body filler. One small spot of rust starting on one front fender.” I would have a hard time changing anything about the exterior of this car, other than to blast and paint the rims and get new tires. There are no engine photos, even with so many photos included in this listing. The only size available would have been a 195.6 cubic-inch inline-six with either 90 hp in the base engine, or in 1960, a 195.6 cu-in with 127 hp was an option.

With no engine photos we’ll have to concentrate on the interior. The repaired floors can be seen in a few of the photos. The seller says, “floorpans had rust and it was repaired and done well.” The rear seat looks original and they say “Rear seat would be ok to use too. Front seat needs recovered, there is no carpet, and it would need door and other interior panels re-upholstered.” There is, of course, lots of work to do if a person were interested in restoring this car. But, this isn’t a car that would typically get restored, and especially not with a $5,000 “firm” price. How would you finish this car: would you do a full restoration or would you just maintain it and maybe redo the interior and drive it?

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Comments

  1. Beatnik Bedouin

    Hmmmm, methinks there may be a bit more rust than meets the eye, judging by the photos in the Hemmings ad. Caveat emptor.

    Back in the ’70s, when these were giveaway cars like the recently posted Nissan people mover, I’d thought about turning one into a sedan delivery, i.e. build my own Rambler Deliveryman, complete with twin carb Edmunds head, etc… Never happened.

    • Pa Tina

      Eddie Edmunds was the man! One of my neighbor’s kids here in Rochester, NY tossed one his manifolds in the garbage while cleaning out the house after his dad passed. I’d wish I knew the story of how that manifold got here from L.A. And yes, I did grab the manifold from the pile.

    • tje

      My dad gave away a 59 2dr he bought for the kids to drive. Flat head kept blowing head gaskets till we had it milled. But when the auto tranny started slipping, that was it.

      Good looking car back then though, white over red.. Gave it to my auto shop teacher..

  2. ccrvtt

    Putting this car on the ugly cars list would be a travesty, especially with truly awful cars like the 1969 Corolla so close at hand.Then think Aztek, Juke, Cube, Toyota FJ, Citroen 2CV, Honda Element, Honda Crosstour, Chevy SSR, Chevy Citation – it’s almost too easy to find better candidates for that list.

    And this car has roots that go back to a Pinin Farina designed Rambler Cross Country wagon.

    Like 2
    • Jamie Shannon

      Your taste is all in your mouth.

      Like 1
      • ccrvtt

        Ooohh! Sorry to have offended all of you Juke drivers out there, and with 4 likes to my 2 there are definitely more of you than there are of me. I happen to like the cheerful styling of the ’50’s Ramblers and the fact that the Russians copied the general form is flattery, albeit of questionable value.

        But you Juke/Cube/Element aficionados will be truly hacked off when I tell you that I absolutely can’t stand your Prius either.

        However, this being America and Barn Finds, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion.

        No matter how wrong it is…

        Like 2
    • Dan in Texas

      Agreed! This car is sweet looking!

    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      @ccrvtt. Every time I see a Nissan Juke I read the chrome script at the rear as “JOKE”. Must be one of the ugliest vehicles ever made and very close to the old Nissan/Datsun EXA.

      Like 2
      • ccrvtt

        But apparently at least 66 people agree with Jamie Shannon about my list so I guess we’re in a very small minority.

      • Mike McCloud

        I see ‘Puke’ myself. All those types of ‘transportation’, look like window dressing on a donkey. How about that stunner; the Pontiac ‘Aztec’ ? A particulary obtusely ugly cretin-esque example. Erk! And yet; I always liked the Rambler station wagons, later on, the Hornets & American Nova-sized cars were really fun with good suspensions & more power. ‘Updates’ if ya will, & a helluva lot more fun!

        Like 1
      • r spreeman

        I’ll never buy car with a slippidy-doo-da CVT transmission.

        Like 1
  3. Pa Tina

    These should have been the official state cars of the Dakotas and Montana in the 1960’s. Awesome!

  4. eggsalad

    I don’t see anything horribly “ungainly” here, except that the track appears to be too narrow for the body.

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Have a look at early Nash Ramblers (1950-54), which the Americans were based on, and you’ll understand why it has that ‘narrow track’ look, eggsalad.

      Like 2
    • That AMC Guy

      The narrow track is a throwback to the original 1950 Nash Rambler which had enclosed front wheels. When AMC brought it back as the American in 1958 they opened up the front wheel wells but the narrow track remained. Even the squared off 1961-1963 Americans were still Nash Ramblers under the skin.

      • That AMC Guy

        Forgot to add a photo of the old Nash Rambler for comparison, here it is…

        Like 4
  5. angliagt angliagt Member

    The seller seems to have had a lot of cars/trucks for sale
    in the last few years.I used to check the Kalispell,MT craigslist from
    time to time,as my Mother & Sister live there.
    BTW – What’s up with that shifter?

    • Pa Tina

      I think it might be the owner’s bowling trophy.

    • jdjonesdr

      I was waiting for somebody to mention that.

    • Anthony in RI

      If you look close at the pictures on the listing you can tell it’s a Michelob beer tap handle!

      • Pa Tina

        That’s how the owner got the bowling trophy.

  6. Bob

    You forgot the Nash Metropolitan as one of the homeliest cars, in comparison, this one doesn’t look that bad to me.
    Someone mentioned the shifter, in my limited experience with them, they worked quite well.
    For styling, my old type III VW wagon didn’t look this good.

    Bob

  7. Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

    Nice car could pass for a 1950 car not. 1960. I think that’s what I like about it that retro look. When I was younger I wouldn’t have given this car a second look but with age it and cars like it have grown on me. One thing that it does have going for it is it has the right number of doors and it is as simple as garden tractor. If I didn’t already have a frumpy fat fendered car I would be interested and even at that price. $5k does not seem that out of line for a running car.

    Like 1
  8. Myron Hornschwage

    My late father always used to say that Ramblers reminded him of a little kid wearing his father’s overcoat.

  9. BSD

    so Real estate people figured out that creative “staging “ helps sell a house. The snow is not helping here

  10. Coventrycat

    Anything – or anybody – at 58 years should look in the mirror and honestly assess whether they’re a “nice survivor “ or “awkward and ungainly”. It’ll probably fall somewhere in the middle. Always liked those Ramblers.

  11. Buddy Ruff

    My grandfather bought one exactly like this in 1960. Except it was green. And a two-door. And had a three-speed manual. 6-year-old me loved that car. Or, at least, I loved Grandpa.

  12. Barn.G

    I drive a ’61 Dodge Lancer 770, which makes those lists. Along with the ’60-62 Plymouth Valiants, same steel body.

    • Tort Member

      They were different but I liked the style of the early Valiants and Lancers along with the larger Savoys of that era. My girlfriend, later my wife cruised around in a light blue slant six three speed Valiant and I dropped a 273 in a Lancer with a push button Torqueflite fifty some years ago.

  13. Steve R

    I love the look of these cars. I’d take one in a heartbeat if I was in the market for something.

    Steve R

  14. Rube Goldberg Member

    Ugly is such a harsh word. Even though ccrvtt got lambasted for their comment, I tend to agree, there are far worse styled cars. This is exactly what Rambler buyers wanted, and it served them well. I had a buddy in high school with a 2 door like this. It was an automatic( you pulled the shifter towards you to start) and remains the slowest car I ever rode in. The gas pedal was bent in a “U” shape from being floored all the time. When floored, it just got louder, but little increase in speed. But even in 1960, the winds of change were beginning to blow, and economy was gaining steam, and this car was one of the best. It got 34 mpg in the 1960 Mobil economy run, when most other cars were getting low teens, and Rambler sold a lot of these because of that. Great find, but better update to stay out of peoples way. Wouldn’t it be fun to blow the doors off a new Mustang with this? Beep-beep, beep-beep,,,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L7hch0wQD1w

    • On and On On and On Member

      Thanks Rube, now how do I get that song out of my head? LOL

    • Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

      Thanks for the laughs cute video

    • Loco Mikado

      A friend of mine in high school had one also. Your description of the car’s speed capabilty is right on the money. Another friend had a VW and it was faster than the Rambler.

  15. Danno

    The wagon my mom had when we were all little

  16. KSwheatfarmer

    Save all the two door wagons of this era,ugly or not says me who owns a 61 Ford Ranch Wagon which could possibly make some folks ugly list. This Rambler is not ugly, its unique.

  17. Ben T. Spanner

    When I met my future wife, her Mother had a 1961 Rambler American convertible in refrigerator white. It looked like a cake of Ivory soap. I like both the 1960 and the 1961 styling, but many people put both on the ugliest list.

    My Father had a new 1960 Dodge Dart convertible with a 318 four bbl. Someone stated that his Sister had a 1960 Dart with a 225 six. She was getting 18 MPG overall, and the Brother warned her not to let anybody adjust anything, as the milage was so good. Times have changed.

  18. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Just to clarify, as if I need to after all this time, but I wasn’t saying that I personally thought this was an ugly car. Quite the opposite, but you guys should know that by now.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      No worries, my friend. Being the undisputed king of oddballs, how could you ever call any car ugly, keep ’em comin’!!!

  19. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    OK, I see the tuner for the radio in the center of the dash, does the round device to the left of the tuner and below the tap handle operate the on off and volume? Anybody know whats going on there? Thanks, Mike.

    • Rube Goldberg Member

      Yep, round knob to the left is on-off/volume-tone. Just like grandma’s Motorola. Probably tubes, as well.

      • leiniedude leiniedude Member

        Thanks Rube, forgot about the tubes also, cool setup. Cool car.

      • That AMC guy

        Most definitely tubes. I don’t think Rambler car radios were transistorized until the 1963 Classic and Ambassador. (I have an AM/FM radio from a ’64 Ambassador laying around. It’s all-transistor and as I recall was made by Motorola.)

  20. ccrvtt

    The whole Barn Finds staff do a fantastic job judging from the loyalty of your followers.

    And a little controversy sure helps build traffic to the site ;)

  21. duaney Member

    In the hobby very many years, this is the first time I’ve heard ugly list applied to the cute little Rambler.

  22. chad

    I call all the cars of the (USA) 50s Bulgemobiles. Over weight looking (compared to the european/continental voluptuous, styling). I don’t know bout Russian – this 1 looks like the near same era volvo wagon/sedan (122? amazon?).
    I’d take 1 as I’m lookin 4 a down sized waggy right now.

    • Canadian Mark S. Eh! Member

      Chad they’re over weight looking but not always over weight. My 1951 dodge Mayfair hardtop similar to your cornet is 500 lbs lighter than a 2002 dodge caravan yet it looks like it weighs much more. They’re real big fat tin cans nothing to them. These older 50’s cars are no contest against the new stuff they would lose in a crash every time.

  23. Ken Carney

    I could use this on my SIL’s paper route! Could see myself sitting in back,
    flipping papers off the tailgate. But first though, I’d check the tailgate and
    hinges for any serious rust issues! I really like this car! It’s an honest,
    simple car that can be fixed with just about anything you had lying around
    in your parts drawer with anything you have in your toolbox. The 195 CID
    6-cylinder was a great engine that sipped very little gas. My ’62 Classic got
    33.5 MPG equipped with this unit. Had to sell mine to pay medical bills
    after a heart attack in ’83. Would buy this car if I had the cash!

  24. Mark Radtke

    I would do just what you said redo the wheels and redo the seats and get carpets,as well.These sort of remind me of Volvo Amazons a little bit.I will say the shifter looks a little strange though.But in general I really dig it.

  25. Will Owen Member

    The most surprising thing to me about these is that even though the body is wider than the wheel track, the steering wheel is close enough to the inner door panel that you can just about bark your knuckles on it. The Metropolitans were even worse in that department.

    Most of my Rambler driving, though, was in the much roomier and better-driving next generation. My first USAF assignment was at a radar site outside of Bartlesville, OK, as their Base Draftsman. With very little serious work to do at a site about to be shut down, I had plenty of work doing activity posters and fancy desk signs for the officers, which meant many trips to the art supply store in town in one of our two Rambler Town & Country wagons, both a kind of pinkish beige in color. Six cylinder, three-on-the-tree, and the linkage for that got itself tangled up frequently enough for me to get pretty good at jiggling it straight again. But heck, I was just 19 at the time and kind of a latecomer to driving, so anything I didn’t have to pedal was just fine.

    Yes, Pininfarina’s shop did do some work on these, just not really their best.

  26. Tim Deal

    cool

  27. Tim Deal

    they can be cool

    • Pa Tina

      They are cool. This is cooler.

  28. Rustytech Member

    I’ve seen several of these done as restomod, and they were cool! The last one I saw was painted in pink, the first thing that came my mind was “pig”, but then the guy opened the hood. Somehow he had shoehorned a big block ( i.e. 454ci ) Chevy in it. That was cool!

  29. PeterK

    Hot rod it into a cool sleeper and paint it HOT NEON PINK….

  30. aminfla

    Love the 58-60 Rambler Americans

    Like 1
  31. John Holt

    update the drivetrain with a gm LS, 5.2L V8 and auto trans, 4L60E, get a new driveshaft made, tidy up the interior and give it a cool paint job

  32. Bullethead

    Surprised no one has mentioned the Ferrambo… won the Ridler a decade ago… yes, they can be very cool indeed. Many others appreciate the Italian-influenced shape and have done equally good things with them, sheet metal on ’50s/early ’60s cars is pretty stout working stock. Swap in something modern and thrifty with decent performance, like a 4AGE or something more exotic if you like, clean up the interior and drive. I like this wagon a lot.

  33. roundhouse

    I love these rounded Ramblers. My dad had a 61 4 door sedan he let me drive. I took it to shop class and painted it “plum crazy” purple. He gave it to me after seeing it. :})

  34. dweezilaz

    The 127 HP engine was OHV and only available on “Customs” in 60.

    The standard 90 HP “Super Flying Scot” 6 was a flat head and was sold through 1964 IIRC.

    Love this car. And wouldn’t change a thing except adding carpet [standard on Customs] and replace the door panels and upholstery.

    Great find, Scotty.

    • r spreeman

      Wow, hard to believe that you could still buy a new car with a flat head engine in 1964.

  35. Bruce Fischer

    People, people, people, but its a STATION WAGON! LOL.Bruce.

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