Open-Air Summer Fun! 1961 Rambler American

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The Rambler American, built by American Motors, was one of the first compact cars marketed by a U.S. automaker. With roots in its Nash heritage, the American debuted in 1958, was quickly joined by the Studebaker Lark in 1959, and the rest of “Detroit” in the early 1960s. At 62,000 miles, this ’61 American convertible is either an older restoration or a very clean original. Either way, it looks like a great little drop-top to tool around in the Summertime. Located in Washburn, Wisconsin, this little Rambler is available here on craigslist for the nice round sum of $10,000. When it comes to great tips like this, it’s hard to beat Barn Finder Pat L.!

AMC was no stranger to compact cars. Predecessor company Nash Motors introduced the Rambler brand in 1950 and both Nash and Hudson carried the car forward after the merger that formed American Motors. There were three generations of the American (1958-60, 1961-63, and 1964-69). When the end finally came for the American at the end of the Sixties, it was the last AMC automobile to wear the Rambler name. The American was consistently a top finisher in the annual Mobilgas Economy Run.

The 1961 American convertible came in two trim levels and – when combined – resulted in nearly 13,000 copies. The seller has owned this Rambler for six years and has enjoyed riding around in the Summer with the top-down. We’re told there is no rust besides the surface variety on the undercarriage and the yellow paint is nice with the occasional scratch or ding (we don’t know if it has been repainted). The interior has been redone using NOS materials and period-correct carpeting. The pop-up top has also been replaced.

Under the hood resides the American’s original 196 cubic inch inline-6 which is said to run well. The automatic transmission has been rebuilt and the car has power steering, likely a rare option for an American. The car starts easier thanks to the addition of a PerTronix ignition kit. The tires are good and the only mentioned misses are a non-working radio and a lazy turn signal indicator. For more seller pics and a video, check things out here.

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  1. RayT

    I LIKE this, Russ! Not only do I find the dumpy appearance smile-worthy, but someone in its past has obviously put a lot of money, effort or both into getting it into shape for some summer motoring.

    The OHV engine was a big improvement over the flattie (which I believe was available in lesser Americans) and powerful enough to cope with the Flash-O-Matic. Gotta love the names the Ad People appended to mundane ol’ self-shifters….

    If I had the funds, I’d be tempted. I hope someone buys it and enjoys the daylights out of it.

    Like 16
    • Greg in Texas

      This is a really tasteful and more beautiful each time you look over at her in her pretty dress. Looking under her hood and seeing that alluring power oozing with juicy clean parts and the correct proportions. No cosmetic surgery necessary on this ol gal. She sure knew how to take care of herself over the years. I’d have a really hard time if she left me. If she was mine. I’d be in her pretty yellow dress checking her instruments regularly!!

      Like 10
  2. Mike

    I never realized it until now. These early ramblers remind me of Pugs. Cute and squatty.

    Like 7
  3. That AMC Guy

    Looking at the underhood photos, this car has been upgraded to dual-circuit brakes. This wasn’t done by the factory until the next year (1962), and the master cylinder looks like a more modern type than what was originally used in these cars.

    Like 7
    • Yblocker

      Dual master cylinders came out in 67

      Like 3
      • Nelson C

        The 1962 brochure sites the introduction of dual unit master cylinder being exclusive along with Cadillac. Other mfgs would follow as well as dual diagonal systems which were a further advancement.

        Like 4
      • Vince H

        Sudeebaker started using them in 65.

        Like 1
    • JustPassinThru

      That engine appears to be aluminum, and an OHV.

      The flathead Nash engine was standard on those; the OHV engine an option; but the aluminum engine was new and supposed to be premium – reserved for the Classic line.

      The broiler-foil engine turned out to be a troublesome dud; so I can’t imagine it being transplanted in there. Was there any kind of special-order structure, the way Ford and Chevrolet had it in that era, that would allow dealers to order any package or engine, or a wider variety than advertised?

      Like 3
  4. 370zpp 370zppMember

    Like many of us, I grew up around Ramblers as one of the many brands available long ago.
    But I do not ever recall seeing a convertible, like this. Nice.

    Like 5
  5. Nelson C

    Sure was a time when I’d have walked around this one. Today it looks like the perfect slow car to ply down the 2-lane road on my way to nowhere.

    Like 15
    • little_shoesMember

      I really like this car and am tempted……
      My dad had a Rambler but not this nice!

      Like 3
  6. Joseph MecciaMember

    Its a cutie! I always liked the style of the American. Not too many convertibles survived like this one. This car will get more looks than the $100k restores. It just brings you back to simpler days, not better but simpler! Ahhhh…. a convertible without head restraints!!!

    Like 6
  7. nlpnt

    It’s interesting that AMC felt the need to develop a full convertible for the stopgap ’61-63 American reskin rather than putting the old one that was what Germans call a cabriolimousine back into production in updated form.

    Like 1
  8. Joe M.

    This would be fun and cheap (fuel wise) for family cruise nights.

    Wishing I had the room for it, not my choice of color but I really like the car.

    Like 2
  9. Michelle RandStaff

    Wow! Really reasonable price for a great car – you don’t see that every day! I love these darling dumplings – reminds me of the Lark, but it’s even cuter.

    Like 7
  10. Chris Cornetto

    What a nice looking little fun car. Love the color.

    Like 2
  11. Yblocker

    I noticed this car has a small light mounted in the center of the grille, I remember seeing those as a kid in the 60s. Anybody else here remember those? And what the purpose was?

    Like 3
    • eric22t

      though i don’t remember, in the cl pics it is on with the motor running. maybe it runs so smooth and quiet that it’s there to show you its running. lol

      had a 68 not convertible. was a great ride. drove the wheels off of it till it got totaled.

      this one is gorgeous

      Like 2
    • Dennis6605

      @Yblocker…. I remember the “Running Lights”. They were basically a fad that would get the on coming traffic to notice you. It lasted 2-5 years as I remember. It was not a dealer option, just something you would buy from your local jobber and install yourself.

      Like 1
  12. GH

    Great price for what appears to be solid car, Dad always had Ramblers good memories.

    Like 1
  13. Anthony D

    I showed this to my 19 yr old granddaughter…and she loved it! That’s a good sign!

    Like 4
    • eric22t

      can you say graduation present? lol

      Like 3
  14. TomD

    No explanation for the item on the toeboard, to the left of the steering column. Looks like a foot-operated windshield washer pump and must be missing a small pedal pad.

    Like 0
    • eric22t

      yep manual washer pump my rambler didn’t have the “pedal” just the round black squish bulb. i wonder if the pedal is a homemade improvement.

      where’s howard a. when we need him?

      Like 0
  15. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    Cuter than a bug in a rug, was an old saying we had for things like this car.

    God Bless America

    Like 0
  16. Daniel John Bayne

    Love this model. I would be too tempted to $25,000 customize sleeper.
    Definitly would be one of a kind!

    Like 0
  17. Mark Jackson

    My father had a similar car in 1968. He owned several other Ramblers, all station wagons. He never bought a new car, so his was maybe a 63 or 62. His was white with a red interior and white softtop. I would buy that configuration! As a 16 year old I joked that the “accelerator” peddle was misnamed because when you pushed it the car went forward but it did not accelerate!

    Like 1

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