False Idol: 1965 AMC Rambler Classic wagon

I have to admit that I really like this car. The more I look at it the more I like it.  I don’t normally like lowered cars nor do I like cars with custom graphics, but when was the last time you saw a Rambler wagon that looked this good?  The silver paint with white roof really compliments the style. Find it here on craigslist in Greenup, Kentucky for $7,500.

The custom interior is in good shape although I believe the upper half of the instrument panel is customized and the red steering wheel is… red.  This car has a rebuilt 232 inline 6 which would have had 145 horsepower and an automatic transmission.  The 660 is the mid-trim level and it would have been equipped with 4-wheel drum brakes (but with a dual master cylinder). I’ll bet some of you have stories about leisurely braking with 4-wheel drums!

Now onto the custom graphics. It isn’t my taste but the rest of the car is so good that it might be worth it.  Would you keep these graphics? The seller also says that the front end is tight, it has new shocks, wheels and tires.

The custom paint work continues under the hood where we find a bright red inline 6. We also see an aftermarket aluminum radiator. No evidence of air conditioning but we do find a radio antenna mounted under the hood and a very dirty firewall in the original color.  Overall I’m having a tough time with this one because I love the silver paint scheme but I’m not crazy about the custom graphics. If it isn’t a bondo buggy it might be worth it especially if you have a pre-1972 VW that the owner will take as trade.

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Comments

  1. Steve M

    Love the car, hate the graphics, and a 6 is cool but only with a 3 speed so it needs work there, but i dig this car.

  2. John Newell

    Goodby graphics. The drum brakes would likely be no big deal. I have an AMX with drums in all 4 corners. Not a problem. Lots of 50s Buick’s a 53 Ford, a 60 Pontiac and a 65 Ford with drums too. No issues ever. AC was no big deal either because we had vent windows we don’t have now. Another thing we don’t have now is a horn ring. MUCH NEEDED in this era of air bags often impairing horn use on the steering wheel hub.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      Great point about airbags and horns. I am shocked at the number of cars I’ve driven where the horn fails to sound when I’ve needed it.

      Everyone loves to complain about drum brakes but I think those are people who only had them on used beaters. Any drum system that I’ve had has been properly maintained and adjusted and I’ve never faulted them.

      Car looks great. Seems a good deal to me from what can be seen.

      Like 1
      • russell spreeman

        Drum brakes su ck. All you have to do is look inside the drum at that mess of cables and springs and clips and levers and retainers etc. etc. and the “we hope they automatically adjust” mechanism and it’s apparent they are not the greatest. I’ve never had a car with disks that pulled to one side when I stepped on the brakes because one of the front brakes was out of adjustment.

  3. Loco Mikado

    I had my Rambler with drum brakes fitted with semi metallic linings which cut down on fade back in the 60’s. The vent windows were nice if you knew how to use them right. Some of the Ramblers had front and rear vent windows which was better IMO than any later flow through ventilation system ever invented. A lot of times simpler is better. And I do not like low riders. My ’63 Rambler had the heaviest springs both and rear I could get along with air shocks in the rear. Does anyone know the the rear shocks off a tri five Chevy are the same ones for Ramblers? Five minutes with an interchange book told me this. Anyway the way I had mine set up it could beat the pants off of this one on twisty roads. One time I made it from Seaside to Portland Oregon in 55 mins. Look up the road and see how you would do.

    • russell spreeman

      Back in the 60’s Consumer Reports always complained that vent windows interfered with your vision. Then cars started coming with ‘flow through’ ventilation and no vent windows, they loved it. A few years later they were touting vent windows as superior on the few cars that had them anymore.

      • Bobsmyuncle

        And now we have 4″ wide A pillars.

  4. Jubjub

    THought it looked familiar. Been a few of these lurking on CL for a while. Lose the all the Munstermobile and Johnny Lightning bits and this could be a good and proper old fart wagon.

  5. Rube Goldberg Member

    Moon eyes on a Rambler? By gar, haven’t seen those in a while. Great car, I would lose the graphics ( except the moon eyes), I’m sure in this day and age, it would offend someone. Dash is different, looks a bit generic compared to the original. Funny today, how bamboozled the public is about drum brakes.While disc are clearly better, and much better suited for the 70 mph tailgaters, drum brakes worked just fine for 75 years. If you’re going to complain about anything on this car, it would be the vacuum wipers. Nice car here.

    • leiniedude leiniedude Member

      I agree on both of the comments about the drum brakes and vacuum wipers Rube. I have both on my old Willys, brakes are great but the vacuum wipers, well you know, take care, Mike.

  6. Fred w.

    Never had a problem with drums except in the rain, and that isn’t much of a problem for classics driven to an occasional show and shine. If it’s as good as it looks in the photos, someone should snap this up. Graphics look painted rather than removable, but a tailgate is easy enough to paint.

  7. Warren

    Have done many cars with drum brakes and if set up correctly, are no issue in my experience.

  8. charlie Member

    ’68 Chevelle wagon, one of best cars I ever owned, EXCEPT the drum brakes would, if you tried a stop from over 55 mph, fade out of existence before you stopped. Front discs came in ’69 standard, had them fitted to my ’68. They might have been an option in ’68 but who knew, drums had been just fine on all the cars I had driven up to then.

  9. Troy s

    Car would fit right in out here in so cal. Like the lowered stance and color too, rims are cool. Only thing I’d want would be a nice rumble of a mildly tuned V-8. But I’m more than sure plenty of people would be happy with the six. Nothing wrong with drum brakes either if you do the maintenance.

  10. SC/RAMBLER

    TRY stopping a 67 Chevelle SS 396 from 100 mph plus with drum brakes. Good thing it was a 4 speed. Ah the good old days. Now I realize how stupid that was.

    • Troy s

      Used to run my ’68 Malibu at the track every now and again. It was a 327 car originally, when I bought it it had a 396 that was built and a turbo 400 but it was an incomplete project with the 10 bolt rear, small drum brakes, washed out front end and it still had the 327 badges. Yeah, not real quick, but at 98 miles an hour it was a bit scary getting it to stop, that brake pedal would go WAY down there! Stupid? You bet, fond memories though.

  11. Tony

    My Grandfather would buy nothing but Rambler..I remember riding in a wagon just like this one when I was 11 years old..40 years ago..The good old days…

  12. John Member

    Had a 63 660 back in 64, great car but the 3 speed didn’t work well, engine ran too fast @ 60 so put in a OD unit, then was great,, drove it all over the east.
    Traded it and seen it in 1975 loaded W/bondo but still was running.
    Great vehicles, comfortable, accomadated 4 W/4 kids, did have a roof box for it.

  13. Pa Tina

    AMC marketing and advertising must be a case study on how NOT to sell cars. They somehow managed to get people to hate totally cool cars.

  14. John Newell

    That’s not what happened. Rambler/AMC first and foremost was victim of a smear campaign funded and executed by GM, Chrysler and Ford through the performance magazines. Slurs and aspersion were cast against the smallest manufacture in a form of bullying that is now being visited on all three companies in favour of foreign imports. Now its domestic manufacturers that are the butt of performance, fit and finish jokes. Only this time the jokes are or were richly deserved. The shoe is now on the other foot. Too late for AMC though who did not deserve the reputation it received.

    The mistake Rambler/AMC made was in not reading the almost complete lack of understanding the general public had with respect for economy and safety in a world where gas was dirt cheap and almost no one maintained their cars. Cars were disposable commodities until about 1978. Then car values more than doubled almost overnight.

    Only older people realized that AMC did indeed have a point and old men became AMCs best customers because they saw value.

    It wasn’t until AMC built the Rambler SC/Rambler that AMC began to be taken seriously. But to do that corporate AMC had to do an about face and eat serious crow.

    The hate put on AMC was completely undeserved but since AMC wasn’t tapped in to the youth market they weren’t on the same page as the market they needed. It was the generation gap on the sales sheet. You either deliver what the customer wants or you pay a price.

    The other reason they had such shallow market penetration was due to the out of step styling they managed to come up with time after time.

    In the early 50s they commissioned internationally famed Pina Farina to design a car for them. He came up with a design that except for the bumpers looked remarkably similar to a 90s Jaguar. Rambler took that design and transformed it into the famous upside down bathtub. A truly ungainly piece of automotive architecture that more than anything put a bullet hole in the Nash/Kelvinator/Rambler/AMC’s reputation. Having a kitchen appliance manufacturer as part of the company mix was another thing that made people laugh. Fridges and stoves had no automotive schtick and nothing could fix that undeniable reality.

    • Pa Tina

      Battista “Pinin” Farina had about 40 designers work for him over the years.

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