Honest American: 1965 Rambler American 440

Brian BirknerBy Brian Birkner

It is always exciting to find affordable driving classics that have an honest and clean appearance. After 52 years of life, this Rambler has had 3 owners, and looks to have only crossed a little over 100,000 miles. With a rebuilt engine, and some other maintenance, this Rambler seems like a fair deal for the $4,200 price tag. Find it here on craigslist out of Dallas, Oregon.

Within this small two door coupe is an original interior that is not too shabby. For those of you not familiar with these Ramblers, this is a manual transmission car that has two sticks. Second and third gear can be changed between “high” and “low.” The 196 cubic inch inline 6 has recently been rebuilt, and has covered 300 miles.

Proudly wearing its original paint, this coupe has some charm. The remaining paint is still shiny, but there are some areas where surface rust is present. This surface rust is primarily on the roof, but there are a few other minor areas on the car. All of the trim and glass look good, leading into another neat feature of this American. There are no door pillars, so when the windows are down, you have that cool look, with plenty of air. After a fresh engine rebuild, with its original appearance, this 1965 Rambler American 440 looks like a reasonably priced driver. Would you pick up this honest American?

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Comments

  1. Rex Kahrs

    OK how exactly does that dual stick transmission work?

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    • Loco Mikado

      It is nothing more than the overdrive in /out control that was under the dash moved to the floor. You have to be going 28 mph or faster for it to have any effect. In the owners manual it says nothing about split shifting. Just a styling gimmick.

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      • Rex Kahrs

        AMC always seemed to have really interesting (if quirky) features on their cars. I recall the fold-flat seats from the ’60s, the way-out sheet metal of the 70s, and the always wacky but awesome interiors. Those Pacer interior fabrics were really cool.

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    • Michael

      Gives you effectively a 5 speed. Drove a friend’s ’63 440 Rambler American. Odd, like driving a lightweight truck, gears clunk as you shift. Not a performance [go fast] feature.

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  2. Mike

    1st to 2nd low to 2nd high to 3rd low to third high .

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    • Glen

      Almost sounds like a 5 speed, doesn’t it?

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      • leiniedude

        We have come a long way tranny wise since the 60″s. Ten speed automatics and worse yet, automatic’s in semi trucks.

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  3. Gunner

    Sweet AMC for a great price! I really dig those “lightning rods”! Too bad I am not in the market. I would be all over this. Top trim line to boot!

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    • Rich Truesdell

      Gunner, it’s not the top trim line, in 1965 AMC offered a 440H model for the hardtop (I owned one, it was my first car) and a convertible. Over the years I’ve owned a dozen 1964-1969 Rambler Americans and Rogues so I know a little bit about them. These are almost bulletproof cars, especially with the long-lived 232 six.

      Here’s one of my favorites, a 1964 Rambler American 440 convertible. I bought it sight unseen in Boston, flew in to pick it up, then drove it back to California. Except for an issue with the starter, which wouldn’t start when warm (problem solved by pouring water on it at fill ups), it was an uneventful 4,000-mile drive.

      I wrote about it in the premiere issue of Legendary American Motors Magazine.

      http://bit.ly/OrderLAMMonAmazon

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      • MrF

        Thanks for the referral to the magazine, which looks great!

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Gunner, to be clear, this was known as the “Twin Stick”, just an O/D, in 2nd and 3rd, making it a 5 speed. I believe, there was a “kick down” on the gas pedal too. The “Lightning Rods” were Oldsmobiles version with 3 sticks. http://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6028/5958950058_3686e00546_b.jpg

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  4. Woodie Man

    Oh man…….perfect size and a shift to boot………..like to see the undersides and the engine!

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  5. Howard A Member

    I had a car very similar to this, only an automatic. It was one of the MANY beaters I drove early on. You’d buy a $100 beater, drive it until it puked, and go get another one, didn’t matter the make. If I remember, the Milwaukee Journal had a column in the auto classified ( no internet, remember, that was the place to buy cheap cars, or the back row of a car lot) “$100 dollars or less”, and there were tons of cars like this.
    My American used a quart of oil a day, and when you floored it, just the engine got louder. It took a while to gain speed. It was pretty tired.
    The “Twin Stick” was a pretty rare option, and was seen on Marlin’s, not too many basic American’s had this. The 2nd stick really just took the place of the O/D handle that was under the dash on earlier O/D equipped cars, this just had more zing. With the rebuilt engine and O/D and 6, this would be a great vintage cruiser, and I bet you’d get 30 mpg. Great find.

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    • Mike H. Mike H Member

      “. . . and when you floored it, just the engine got louder.”

      Howard, it sounds to me like you could have also been describing a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Most people I know refer to the right hand grip as the “volume control”, as more throttle doesn’t necessarily mean more speed. Could it be a coincidence that both of these cars hailed from your home state of Wisconsin (Milwaukee and Kenosha)?

      I’m just kidding, of course, but let the flaming begin.

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      • Howard A Member

        Hi Mike, tis’ no coincidence. Wisconsin has long been the “butt” of all jokes, transportation wise. Historically speaking though, Wisconsin really was the king of manufacturing. Tractors, small engines, fire trucks, garden equipment, 4 wheel drives, cars and yes, HD. Sadly, not much remains in that regard, and I read HD is in a lot of trouble. Unless they come out with a new product, and soon, it may go the way of American Motors, Allis-Chalmers, and many others that bit the dust.

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      • Mike H. Mike H Member

        Howard, living next door to you in Minnesota I’ve heard a long list of Wisconsin and Iowa bashing jokes, none of which are genuinely funny. You make a great point that at one time Wisconsin WAS the King of Manufacturing, but sadly for all of us domestic manufacturing has gone the way of the dodo, for the most part. My old man was an Employee of AMC from the very late 50’s until about 1976 and I grew up living and breathing these cars.

        Not really on point anymore, but I’ve often wondered why H-D hasn’t diversified their product line prior to now. At one time (and I believe it was likely to do with their acquisition by AMF) it appeared as though they were trying to add a little diversity to the line, at least in the form of small bikes, mini-bikes, and whatnot, but that poor quality throughout pretty much nixed that for them completely.

        It will be sad if the H-D goes away completely. Brands like the Harley powered Buell, the failed Excelsior-Henderson of the early 2000’s, and the now almost defunct Victory are going to show that we can’t build commercially competitive motorcycles any longer.

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  6. JW

    Amazing how much I learn here, even growing up during the 90’s never heard of the twin stick or lightening rods. But at that time my dad never bought anything fancy, it was bare bones useful for his family of 6 except he never bought a wagon which he should have, was tough us all crammed in to the 64 Tempest convertible on long trips.

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    • Loco Mikado

      Wait until you come across an E stick, another AMC oddity.

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  7. Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Staff

    Hi, all. I was almost positive that I was going to snag this great looking car so I asked the seller for more photos, and it’s pretty rusty, unfortunately. The firewall is like swiss cheese and the trunk bottom is fairly thin and rusty, and the RF fender, etc.. The interior needs a lot of work and I was disappointed to see that the engine didn’t appear to be painted when it was rebuilt. Just for the info in case anyone was interested in it. It is a great looking rare car, though.

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    • House of Hotrods

      Scotty, I was keeping quiet here, but I was headed there this morning, until I got those same pictures. The car is in my wheelhouse and about 20 miles away. Very nice man, the seller, and he says flexible but way to much rust for me, and in really bad places. My guess is that the first 25 years were outdoors, and maybe sat under a tree with pine needles and or leaves on the cowl for some time. My first car was a ’64 Typhoon auto – had always wished it’d been a twin stick!

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      • Loco Mikado

        Typhoons were nice cars.They had the new 232 I6 engine and in the light ’64-64 Classic body had decent performance. I just wish they had upgraded the I6’s 9″ brakes to the superior 10″ Delco Remy brakes and the front sway bar that the V8’s had which improved handling a lot. With semi metallic linings the 19″ Delco Remy brakes could really stop in comparison to other drum brakes of the period.

        Sorry to hear it has so much rust as Ramblers had the entire unibody dipped in a galvanized rust proofing bath in the factory from ’63 on. They also had the exhaust system ceramic coated and had a lifetime guarantee for the original owner. My last Rambler I owned(had 3 ’63’s & 1 ’65)in ’85(a ’63)had no rust whatsoever except where the paint was missing. This one must have been stored under terrible conditions, I looked at a ’63 in ’91-2 around the block from me at an estate sale and it had zero rust. I thought they wanted way too much money for a non running car but it sold for $2,500.00 in 1991-2. I guess I had become too used to buying $400 to $800 newer good running cars with less than 100,000 miles at the time.

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      • Loco Mikado

        Opps, 10″ not 19″ brakes.

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  8. Sam

    Cool! Paint the roof dark silver/gray, red steel wheels and some mexican blankets for the front seats.

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  9. DENIS

    Twin-stick..wow! Hard to find…actually 3 spd w/overdrive. I owned a 64 Classic 2 dr ht…287/twin-stick…black w/red buckets

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    • Loco Mikado

      Yours sounds like my grail car.

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  10. Bob C.

    That twin stick would probably drive me crazy driving. 1965 was the last year for the flathead six as the base engine. I’m going to assume this one has the 125 horsepower ohv unit since it’s a 440 model.

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    • Howard A Member

      Hi Bob, funny you should say that. I met a guy at a car show with a Cutlass and the “Lightning Rods”, and he admitted, it got old, and just left in drive. I’ve shifted “Twin Stick” trucks, like a billion times, so I would have no use for this.

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  11. Chris In Australia

    The ‘second’ grill, under the main one looks like an afterthought. I have to wonder, did the prototypes run hot, and the ‘second grill’ was the solution?

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  12. Bob C.

    Hi Howard, I need to do some research on those Lightning Rods. I’m 55 and I never even heard of that feature for Oldsmobile.

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  13. Bob C.

    Oh jeez, another failed gimmick from the early 80s. Never mind.

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  14. Mike McCloud

    Always liked this type car. AMC, Rambler both have been ignored by & large, & it is no legitimate argument against them. This car ranks with Chevy Nova, Dodge types, etc, in weight/performance. Not enough specialty performance cars were made & they’re hard to find now, but actually did very well. Their V8’s were seemingly indestructable, even way back when. Their fold-down/recliner seats were great for snoozes, ( or the drive-in movies! ). The station wagons were sturdy & to me, seemed the american equivalent of Volvo wagons! Anyways, lots to be said for the cars & I wish they were still making them. It would mean, after all; a car with ‘American’ in the name, &, more jobs! Thanks for the pix!

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