Ramblin’ Wagon: 1965 Rambler Ambassador 880

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

I’m a huge fan of the stacked-headlight fifth-generation Ramblers and this 1965 Rambler Ambassador 880 Wagon looks like a winner. It even has a manual transmission! I know, a manual in a wagon may not be ideal for most people but it makes this one stand out even more. This beauty is listed on eBay in Santa Monica, California with the bids reaching over $2,600, but the reserve isn’t met.

I don’t know if I’d change anything about this car, it really looks like a winner to me. It’s a one-owner, southern California car that was always garaged. It’s hard to beat that trio. This is all original paint on this car and it has 169,278 miles on it. That’s pretty amazing that so much of this car is original after being in the hot California sun for 52 years.

Other than maybe a couple of small dings, I don’t really see a flaw in the body of this car. It’s hard to believe that 1965 was the last year for the Rambler Ambassador name. The AMC Ambassador would be the next year’s offering and 1966 was the last year for this stacked-headlight design, my personal favorite for the brand.

Bucket seats in a wagon?! I did not expect to see those in this base model 880 wagon. Almost everything from stem to stern looks as close to perfect inside this car as any that I’ve ever seen. The back seat doesn’t look like it’s ever had anyone back there. About the only wear on the interior looks like it’s on the steering wheel and in the rear section, but the hidden third seat looks great. This car also has AC but there’s no word on if it works or not. There are no engine photos but according to the seller this is AMC’s 232 cubic-inch inline-six and they say that it “runs excellent”. I haven’t seen too many wagons from the 1965-1966 model years from Rambler/AMC. Have any of you owned one?

 

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Comments

  1. Wrecka
    • GP Member

      This video has what to do with the Rambler?




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  2. Racingpro56 Member

    What does that video have to do with this Rambler?




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  3. Dan

    When I was a youngster, cars with stacked headlights were called “wino-mobiles” by my friends, as they were old enough that they were way down on the socio-economic scale. Still rings in my head when I see them now. And Ambassadors had stacked headlights through 1968.




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    • Scotty Gilbertson Scotty Staff

      You are correct, Dan, but the 1965 and 1966 Ambassadors were different than the ’67 and ’68 models were. I could have worded it more precisely but I assumed that everyone would know what I meant.




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    • Miguel

      What did your friends call the cars with diagonal headlights like the ’62 Chrysler?




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      • Tim Rusling

        We just called them the slanted-light cars. Couldn’t think of anything more creative.




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  4. Loco Mikado

    ’66 was the last year for Rambler Ambassador nameplate, ’67 on was just Ambassador. Wish I had the money to buy it, nice looking car.




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    • Brad Busque

      1965 was the last year for the “Rambler” Ambassador. 1966 was almost identical, but Rambler was gone from the car. Marlin suffered the same fate in 66.




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  5. Wrecka

    Stop your whinning, im trying to share a link to a good show on Barn finds you nobbs




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    • Woodie Man

      Most car guys know of Tom Cotter so don’t break your neck falling off your high horse. Besides which, around here, we don’t use the anonymity of the internet to insult other car guys, you nob. The question remains : what does this have to do with the Rambler wagon, you nob?




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    • Steve

      “Knob”?




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  6. Adrian C

    That wagon is so sweet! And when I see the 3rd seat in it I’m hooked.




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    • That AMC Guy

      One thing to be aware of on these 3-seat Rambler wagons is that they did not come with a spare tire. (No place to put one due to the 3rd seat.) From the factory these cars came with “Captive-Air” run-flat tires.

      When the larger Rebel and Ambassador debuted in 1967 there was finally room for a spare in AMC 3-seat wagons.




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  7. Howard A Member

    Hooray, there IS an honest person selling a vintage car in California. ( just kidding, California is an awesome place) Now, this person could have easily said this car has 69K miles. Not one of my favorite Ramblers, but still, the fanciest car Kenosha put out. Rambler never intended to compete with Cadillac. I believe all Ramblers had, so called, “bucket seats”, although, more accurately, it was more of a split bench seat, for the separate reclining backs. The 3 speed/six, may be a little “hill shy”, especially with 8-9 people with the a/c on, but an unbeatable combination. Great find of a very rare car, not because they didn’t make many, it’s just nobody hung on to old Ramblers, if there was anything left to hang on to, that is.




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  8. Steve

    Not bucket seats. 50/50 split bench.




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    • Scotty G

      Hi Steve, I’m sticking with my bucket seat statement. You can see that the seat bottoms are in different positions, a bench seat wouldn’t do that.




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      • Loco Mikado

        Actually they were technically called individual reclining bench seats. Yes they had individual tracks and controls but were fundamentally a bench seat. I had a 65′ Ambassador at one point with the real Rambler bucket seats and they were a lot different. True buckets were a rare bird In Ramblers. I wish I had kept them, probably worth big bucks today as I remember seller a pair of ’65 Mustang seats for $300.00 in 1984, hate to see what they sell for today.




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      • Brad Busque

        Steve is correct. The 880 you have written about is equipped with the 50/50 split bench. I have attached a picture of a 65 Rambler Ambassador Wagon owned by Suzanne Edmonds of AZ, with the bucket seats.




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      • Loco Mikado

        Except for the color exactly the ones I had.




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  9. BillB

    Reserve met. $5K.




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  10. memikeyounot

    My worked for a couple who owned a dry cleaners in the late 50’s until at least 1966. They didn’t have kids so they bought dogs and cars. She had this Rambler wagon, and called the color “titty pink” to embarrass my mom, I think. (she apparently hit the curbs with her whitewalls)
    She also had a Karmann Ghia convertible and by the time I was in high school, she had a 1965 Olds 442, and she let me take it to a prom.
    Don’t want to be a nob but I love this picture. My mom is the redhead.




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  11. levis gasser

    Din’t young joe dirt ride in rambler wagon😂




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  12. Bruce Fischer

    I had a 68 A.M.C. station wagon Bought it off e bay in the next town over. After I replaced a bent tire rod and repainting it white and changing the trans fluid she ran a scaled dog.Bruce.




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  13. Pappy2d

    Dogs have scales?




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  14. Ken Carney

    My grandmother had one of these! Hers
    was light blue with a white top. Grandma
    owned her own bakery business and used her wagon to deliver baked goods to
    local grocers with whom she had contracts. I remember my cousin and I
    helping her unload the wagon at each stop. Looking at the car, I remember
    Grandma’s car had a piece of chrome
    trim that ran down the car from nose to
    tail. The word Ambassador and the
    880 number were also there in the form of a chrome emblem that was placed
    between the rear edge of the front tire
    And the leading edge of the front doors.
    There was also a piece of chrome rocker
    panel trim that ran the length of the rocker panel between the front and rear
    tired. The car also had the full wire wheel
    covers and a luggage rack too. Power came from a 232 straight sic mated to
    an auto tranny. Grandma drove that car
    until her mechanic told her it was unsafe
    to drive due to extensive rust out of the
    body and frame. My parents then sold
    her Mom’s ‘ 72 Hornet wagon which she
    would drive until she passed away at age
    90. Sure wish I had the cash to buy this
    one.




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  15. Gay Car Nut

    I’ve always loved these vertically stacked headlamp Ramblers. I’d buy a 65 Ambassador station wagon if I had someone to share the experience with.




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  16. Allen

    ‘ Had a ’66. Memory has it as a model 660. Could that be right? Nine years old, and it cost me $75. Worth every nickel of it too! Also a 232 with three on the tree. Speedo wasn’t working when I bought it. ‘ Crawled under and found the cable with nothing at the end except the inner cable hang out. I stuffed it back in the hole in the gearbox and it worked fine for the rest of the time I owned it. Everybody who saw it raved about the quality of those cars and that engine. I was not a wrench back in those days; the car had major front suspension problems and I couldn’t talk my mechanic into fixing it – he thought it was junk. Clutch went out finally (cable snapped) and I traded it for a ’66 Dodge Coronet 318 – also 3 on tree – with overdrive. ‘ Think it was close to 200,000 miles and burned more oil than gas. I’d take it up to 60 in 2nd, let off on the gas and it would kill every mosquito in the county. Even so, it was totally reliable and comfortable. All I had to do was clean/replace plugs – quite often!

    But I’ve drifted OT. Would love to have another Rambler of that era. I really liked that car. My brother-in-law’s mother had a Volvo 145 – much newer, but B-I-L liked my old Rambler much better!




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  17. Paul B

    Lots of wagons had manual shifts back then, though they were indeed fading fast by 1965 on larger cars. It’s amazing to me how quickly Americans embraced automatics. I’ve never liked them until some of the most recent ones that actually work pretty well.




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  18. Gay Car Nut

    I’ve never driven a car with a column-mounted manual shifter. All my cars had either 5 spd. on the floor, or automatic on the floor.




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    • Vintage Car Loner

      Then you need to if you are a car guy. I was raised on them so to me they are like old friends.




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      • Gay Car Nut

        I agree. I like the idea of a column mounted gearshift lever over that of a floor mounted lever. And since most people today don’t know how to drive a manual shifting gearbox, using the clutch, I would think it’d make an awesome theft deterrent.




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  19. Rustytech

    I seriously doubt this car has spent all these years out in the Cal. sun. I think more than a few were spent in a nice garage. Beautiful wagon!




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    • Gay Car Nut

      It might have been. If it had spent most of its time out in the elements, I doubt that it would’ve looked as nice as it does. Its seats would’ve been cracked, its paint oxidised, etc. I believe this car was parked in a garage.




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  20. Allen

    I also had a ’64 Chev wagon with 283 and 3-on-tree with overdrive. ‘ Loved that one too. But there was nothing like 3-on-tree mechanisms to drive folks away from manual transmissions. I grew up in the 3-on-tree era; these mechanisms were always terrible. My ’51 Chev, my dad’s ’51 Mercury, his ’66 Falcon, my ’66 Dodge, my ’66 Rambler, and how many others? Every single one of them had the habit of not shifting out of first. Lever would move to neutral position and stick. Car would still be in first. Only solution: reach down under the hood and pull selector lever up to neutral – then start all over again and hope… Even when these linkages did work, there was never anything remotely resembling “fun” in using them. I’m thinking they were retained only to encourage purchase of the optional automatic transmissions! In that regard, they worked! It was not entirely out of laziness that Americans went to automatics. They were sick of manual linkages that were clunky and awkward at best! Don’t believe it? MG offered automatics on the MGB. How many were sold in this country? I’ve been collecting MGBs for 33 years and I’ve never seen a B automatic! Why – because the alternative manual “4 on the floor” was so positive, so easy, so pleasant. Who could possibly want an automatic? Hmmm…




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  21. Bradley Clark

    What a great car. SUPER bonus if the A/C was serviceable. I also notice that this has the quintessential AMC mechanical clock. Mom’s folks had Rambler/AMC’s until they passed. And even though most of them were the most basic models, they ALL had reclining seats, and I swear that they all had a clock.




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  22. Miguel

    There is one of these for sale where I am but I am not sure if I want it. I don’t know much about the Ramblers.

    Also if this was an original California car, why does it have 1984 license plates on it?




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  23. Jubjub

    Sweet wagon. Blasphemous, but a 4.0 Jeep/ 5 speed swap would make this so righteous.

    Here’s our Ambassador after one of Dad’s spirited drives!




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