Parked 50 Years: 1965 Rambler Ambassador 990 Wagon

How many of you have owned a Rambler? This 1965 Rambler Ambassador 990 Cross Country wagon has to have one of the longest names in the history of car naming conventions. No, it’s not an AMC Ambassador, those would appear a year later. The seller has this solid-looking example listed here on eBay in Great Bend, Kansas, there is no reserve, and the current bid price is just over $3,000.

1966 is my personal favorite year for the Ambassador and that’s the year when the company dropped the Rambler name for them. From that point on they were known as AMC Ambassadors. The fifth-generation cars made in both 1965 and 1966 were just fantastic designs, in my opinion. Some folks don’t care for stacked headlights but I like them here. You can see a bent bumper in the photo above so start searching junkyards and online now if you’re a bidder. The 990 was the top model for the Ambassador this year, a trim level higher than the base 880 models. There was a 990-H which came as a two-door hardtop.

The driver’s side has an off-color driver’s door and/or rear passenger door but otherwise, it looks like an original car. The seller tells us a pretty incredible story about this one. Apparently, the previous owner used this Ambassador Cross Country wagon for daily duty until they got called up for the Vietnam war, so it was parked in 1972. Thankfully, the owner made it back but the car sat after he bought a new car upon his return from overseas. It lingered in the barn until the seller bought it, about five decades later.

It looks mostly solid other than some heavy surface rust on the floors and around some edges. The carpet was taken out, probably due to mice making themselves at home – they mention mice in the listing – but the seats look great other than a couple of split seams. They have new carpet on order and it should be arriving any day. There are things to deal with such as the crusty bits on the interior, the dash in particular, and some scary carpet in the cargo area. The seller shows us under that cargo area carpet which looks new in spots and a little rusty on the edges. This car was optioned with power windows but we don’t see a photo of them at all or any underside photos.

The seller doesn’t provide a VIN but they do show a “Car Building Order” tag and it shows an H which means this one has a 327 V8 which would have had 270 horsepower. This one also has the Flash-O-Matic automatic transmission. The seller says that it runs smoothly and quietly but has a bit of a miss and they suspect a stuck piston ring. They mention a possible “LS swap” in the listing and I cringed when I read that. Hopefully, the next owner keeps this rare and highly-optioned car original spec and enjoys it.


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  1. Howard A Member

    A great find, but I think the story holds as much water as those floors. 1st, I believe US involvement in Vietnam was over by ’72, fact is, they stopped the draft in ’73 when I turned 18,( even though I had to register) and 2nd, I think it was driven for more than 7 years. I think it’s a great find, like all Ramblers, especially wagons, and a plausible price. A stuck ring would foul a plug, it’s probably a valve. After sitting, valves are most prone to stick, and should be rebuilt anyway. I get a lot of “looks” in my old pickup, just because in a sea of jellybeans and 4 door pickups, it looks so out of place, can you imagine what people would think with this?

    Like 18
    • mick

      Actually the draft (or lottery as it was called during Vietnam) ended on March 12, 1975. I’ve included a link to the Selective Service site for anyone interested.

      Like 2
      • Howard A Member

        Thanks, mick, all I know, is I graduated in ’72 @ 17.5, and that Jan. ( 1973) when I turned 18, I was told to register, but my number was never called.

  2. Larry D

    I agree with you, Scotty. I would plead with the next owner to not do an LS swap. I am about tired of those anyway but it would be an outright crime to do that to this car. It’s funny how you just know which ones it is OK to do that to and which ones aren’t.

    Like 9
  3. ramblergarage

    I think the 1951 Nash Rambler Custom Convertible Landau tops the list for longest names of any car. LOL

    Like 1
  4. ramblergarage

    Oh and I forgot Airflyte!

    Like 1
  5. Steven Hughes

    I have a 65 Rambler 220 wagon, great car that gets lots of attention!

    Like 3
  6. Jasper

    Neat wagon. A lot nicer looking than the more common Classic. These have an almost European look about them.
    Imagine getting into a Rambler in 1965 with power windows! Hope it doesn’t end up with an LS, a set of Riddlers, a Boyd Coddington stance and an enhanced patina.

    Like 4
  7. Terry J

    My Dad was a well respected local mechanic and all he would buy were Ramblers. Through the years we had a number of them bought new. The local (big) junk yard was a place to hang, and the owner told me he would buy any used engine except a Rambler. No market for them since they never wore out. :-) Terry J

    Like 5
  8. Wayne

    Reminds me of the car I took to prom. ALL the seats folded down into a very large bed! But when arriving to pick up my girlfriend. Her father (once he saw what I was driving) tossed me the keys to his 1967 427 Chevelle. (427, 4 speed, 4.10 gears and Hone-O-Drive over-drive unit) And it had a birth control box/center console! (No fun in the Rambler that night! But fun at the traffic lights was a blast!)

    Like 2
    • Sam Shive

      There never was an “official” factory-built 1967 SS 427 Chevelle. Jeffery Steffes’ book Chevelle SS 1964-1972 says, “It the 427 was always installed by the dealer or under a Central Office Production Order (COPO). Chevelles with factory-installed 427s displayed no Super Sport identification.” And you say her dad gave you the keys…..And you were between 16 AND 18. Hell you should’ve took her dad to the prom.

      Like 3
  9. Steve M.

    Thanks for the Rambler stories! I purchased a 1964 Rambler American 440 in 1982 and still drive it to work a day or two a week! A transmission overhaul and conversion to hard valve seats years ago has been the only maintenance required other than routine tuneups and a new carburetor. I think this sturdy little compact had the competition beat by a long shot in its day…tough,100% reliable little car!

    Like 3
  10. Bob19006

    All AMC mid sized cars (Classic, Ambassador, Marlin) had a torque tube rear suspension through 1966. An LS swap would require a regular open driveshaft and thus a new rear suspension would have to be fabricated.

    Like 2
  11. Tyronne Schulace

    Growing up we had a 64 Classic Wagon. My first car was a 68 Ambassador 2 door, then I had a 67 Ambassador 4 door. I would just love to have this wagon. Factory like carpet, a fresh paint job, original color. (Patina just looks ratty, neglected, on a car like this) She deserves to be loved & look loved. Maybe some Cragars or American Racing wheels, 60 series radials . Dual 2.5 ” exhaust to the back. Drive it & enjoy it. Unfortunately I have a rule of accompanying my money when I buy horses and 270 of them is no exception. Dang, COVID.

    Like 2
  12. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    Auction update: this one sold for a painful $3,553! Missed opportunity.

  13. Wayne

    Sam Shive, I never said it was factory. He did the modification(s) himself.(including the overdrive unit) He had an all aluminum 494 on the engine stand on deck ready to install at a later date. His in-laws (her grandparents) had a cottage on Lake Geneva. So when going up for the weekend, him and I would go to the drags one evening and then I would spend the rest of the weekend with her. But I still would NOT have taken him to the prom!

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