Parked Since ’87: 1959 Rambler Custom Six

1959 AMC Rambler Custom Six

I’m sure this car must have a tremendous back-story, like some of the other low-mileage AMC cars being found lately. I’m guessing this was someone’s “baby”, cossetted and hardly driven. There are now less than 11,000 miles on the odometer and the car is ready for some more! Uncovered in 2014 and now located in Hackensack, New Jersey, the Rambler is for sale here on eBay at no reserve and a very low opening bid.

1959 AMC Rambler Ad

The big sales pitch around the Rambler, arguably one of America’s first successful “economy” cars, was that you weren’t giving up any of the conveniences of larger cars but could spend less cash for both purchase and upkeep. The average gas price in the US for 1959 was 25 cents per gallon; of course the average yearly income at the time was only just over $5,000 a year. The 4-door Rambler’s list price was actually $2,383; it’s the smaller Rambler American’s price that is at the bottom of the ad. For comparison purposes, a 1959 Chevrolet Impala’s list price was $2,710, so you weren’t saving that much money at the front end.

1959 AMC Rambler Interior

From the looks of the pictures in the ad and the online album, the story of the original seats being covered since new is accurate. What looks like a tear in this picture on the base cushion is merely the sunshine peeking through between the front seat backs. The upholstery is in exquisite condition and a window through time into late 1950’s tastes.

1959 AMC Rambler Rear

Those tastes are also evident in the sweeping tailfins and “floating” taillights. It’s pretty obvious that Edmund Anderson’s (head of AMC Styling) designers wanted everyone to know it was a Rambler they were following, that “RAMBLER” across the back is pretty big! It’s interesting to me that this was thought of as a compact car when to my eyes now it’s big, bold and brash!

1959 AMC Rambler Straight Six Engine

While the underhood appearance could still stand to be cleaned up a little, the outstanding originality of this car is obvious. This 195 cubic inch inline six is connected to a push-button shift automatic transmission; both are said to operate well.

1959 AMC Rambler Survivor

I believe this picture to be of the Rambler as it was found in storage. The seller states that new tires, a fuel tank cleaning and renewed brakes were all that was necessary to have it rambling once more. With the paint, chrome and interior being all original, this is one of those rare cases where you can go back in time to see exactly how driving was over fifty years ago. I’d love to make room for this time capsule in my garage!


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  1. jim s

    this sure cleaned up nice and looks great in all the photos. would need photos of the underside to make sure it is ok also. if it is as good as the rest this would make a fun driver. great find

  2. JW454

    In 1971 my father found one of these in similar condition for $100.00. It was to be my older brother’s first car. He refused it. What sixteen year old boy would want to show up in the high school parking lot in this thing at the height of the muscle car era? I would have passed too. This one is a nice one though.

    • geomechs geomechs Member

      I was just getting out of high school in ’71, and I wouldn’t have been too fussy about a Rambler of that vintage either. Of course the general opinion in our community was: a choice of (3) makes; Chrysler, Ford or General Motors. Everything else was scrap. Even when AMC came out with its ‘Machine’ and the AMX Javelin, the buzz around the local coffee shop was: ‘Just another damned Rambler.’ Strange that when I get older my opinion of AMC has changed dramatically. I even let enthusiasts park them on my driveway whenever they stop by for a chat.

      • JW454

        Yes, back then I felt the entire automotive industry should be focused on building 1965~1970 Pontiac GTO’s and 1957 Chevrolet Belair’s. The rest of their effort was a waste. Then, …. we grow up.

    • Paul Sager

      Ditto, but my dad bought ours for $150 in ’70. It had 88k miles. Sure, I wanted my first car to be a muscle car, but I grew to love this tank of a car. During my high school years, I put it through a lot, and it just ran and ran.

  3. Vince Habel

    Someone is going to get a good start in the hobby. I would rather have a V8 but could live with this.

  4. Rick

    There were a bunch of these around the working class neighborhood I grew up in during the early/mid 60s. Fast fwd to ’72 when I got my drivers license and began my lifelong habit of prowling around junkyards and I would see row upon of these just a bit worse for wear than the feature car except for some major mechanical flaw, broken front suspension seemed to be pretty common. Back then you could find a decent driver for $50, I remember at least one that we all pitched in to buy and then took it brushrunning out in the woods. Took a lot to kill it, really showed its durability.

  5. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    One thing to keep in mind if you own one of these is the unusual frequency of cylinder head retorquing. I found a reference to this while I was doing research; the original requirement was every 4,000 miles (!), which according to an article I found can be a little longer now with improved modern head gasket materials.
    @JW454 — I understand your older brother’s feelings…but I sure feel differently now. :-)

  6. tom999p

    There’s a dark gray one in my area in real nice condition left in a field, for sale by the new homeowners, with no title. It’s totally complete and original except it’s missing one hubcap and the rear emblem :(

  7. Tedd

    When I was a young boy I recall seeing one of these up on the street across from where we used live who ever had it Id see it go in and out. And if my memory is correct? Didn’t some of these models have a spare tire on the back? .

    • Rob

      You’re thinking of this cute lil’ 2-seater, the Metropolitan..

      • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

        Actually, Tedd, there were some with the spare tire on the back. It was an option on some models as shown here.

  8. charlie Member

    Ball joints were a weak link in the front suspension. But they appeared to split open only when turning the wheel all the way to one side or another at a slow speed. If there had been recalls then, they would have been recalled.
    And the automatic transmission could be burned out in reverse by trying to back up a steep embankment that would not have bothered another car.
    But otherwise they were solid and reliable, and with the 289 V8, peppy.

  9. Rex Kahrs Member

    My Mom got one of these in probably 1969, so it was only 10 years old. It was in excellent shape, black with b/w interior, which was really cool. It seemed like a classic car to me even then…I guess the difference between ’59 and ’69 was quite pronounced. Yet, the interior was really nice and I recall that I dug the whole vibe of the car, even at the young age of 11. But thinking about a ’59 Impala being just a few hundred dollars more, the Impala would have been my choice back then.

    Mom piled all 5 of us in that Rambler for trips into town to go to the pool, grocery store, wherever. No seat belts of course.

  10. Jon

    Something looks fishy, Take a look at the eBay pictures. There are two different views of the back seat. One near the beginning of the pictures and one further down. The first picture is showing the back seat a bit thread worn with pillows on the seat, You also see the pillows through the windshield from the front view picture, and the second picture ( scroll down a bit ) is showing a perfect seat. Also take a look at the statutes on the dash. I’m thinking maybe the first set could be of a different car? Tell me if I am wrong.

  11. JimmyinTEXAS

    Even the bed making probably wouldn’t have helped him if he had been driving one of these….lol

  12. Jerry

    My great uncle was a rural mail man in the 1950s and 1960s. He purchased a new Ramble 550, cheapest full size model every year. Used it a year and traded it in on another for $500 each year. Those were the dustiest cars that I ever rode in. Very dependable cars.

  13. Rex Kahrs Member

    Very funny Jerry. I grew up on one of those dusty country roads in the late 60s, and during the summers a County truck would come by and squirt oil on the road for a hundred yards in front of our house to keep the dust down. God only knows what was in that oil or where it came from, but it did reduce the dust.

  14. christopher

    My parents wedding…similar car. Cottillion Mauve. My parent’s had a white roof and white side trim.

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