Single Year Model: 1965 Rambler Marlin

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It is widely acknowledged that Ford created the Personal Luxury Car segment with its Thunderbird, and by the 1960s, other manufacturers realized that it could be a tidy little money earner. AMC joined the party in 1965 with its Marlin, but that was the only year the car ever wore the Rambler badge. Our feature car is from that first production year, and its overall condition is tidy. It has a few shortcomings that could challenge the buyer, but most enthusiasts don’t mind tackling such issues. It is listed for sale here on eBay in Cypress, Texas. Bidding sits beyond the reserve at $12,900, meaning a new home is only days away for this classic.

AMC developed the Marlin as a sporty fastback Personal Luxury Car, handing the design brief to the legendary Dick Teague. Many hail the car as his most successful, with swooping lines and an appearance that literally defined the C-pillar. This car presents exceptionally well in Rampart Red with Frost White stripes and Rally wheels. This combination is striking and would undoubtedly attract attention wherever the car goes. The panels are straight, the paint is excellent, and there is no evidence of rust. The gaps are tight and consistent, while the tinted glass is flawless. With the chrome and trim glistening under the sun, there’s little to criticize about this Marlin’s external condition and appearance.

Although buyers could order a Marlin with a respectable six under the hood, AMC knew that perception and acceptance would hinge on buyers having a V8 at their disposal. This belief proved correct, with less than 20% of buyers choosing the 232ci six in 1965. This car features the 327ci V8 that sends 270hp and an impressive 380 ft/lbs of torque to the road via a three-speed automatic transmission. The original owner accentuated the effortless driving experience by selecting power assistance for the steering and brakes. The Marlin is a genuine surprise package, especially compared to cars like the Ford Thunderbird and entry-level Buick Riviera. The Marlin needed a mere 15.7 seconds to cover the ¼-mile. The same journey took 15.9 seconds in the Riviera, while the Thunderbird languished on 16.7 seconds. So, as a performance/luxury combination, AMC should have been on a winner with this classic. It is unclear whether our feature car is numbers-matching, but the seller assures us it is in excellent mechanical health. It starts easily, running and driving perfectly. It appears it is a turnkey proposition for its new owner.

I’m disappointed with the Marlin’s interior condition because it lags behind the exterior. The driver’s seat has a visible hole, while the back seat base is pretty shredded. Locating replacement covers could be challenging, but several companies produce the correct material on the roll. The winning bidder could purchase the required amount and hand everything to an upholsterer. They could use the existing covers as templates to create replacements. The remaining upholstered surfaces are acceptable for a survivor, as are the dash and pad. Someone added a few gauges under the dash, but I can’t spot any other aftermarket items. The seller indicates the air conditioning requires conversion to freon. However, there are no further identified faults.

Public perception can mean the difference between success and failure in the car industry. AMC released the 1965 Marlin wearing the Rambler badge. However, those in the company’s upper echelon worried about how the buying public would receive such a vehicle wearing a badge that had become a byword for basic and affordable motoring. Therefore, AMC removed the badge, and 1965 was the only year the car was known as the Rambler Marlin. Sadly, the strategy failed, with Marlin sales falling from 10,327 in 1965 to 4,547 in 1966. The slide continued in 1967 to 2,545, and AMC canceled production of another model that showed enormous promise but failed to deliver in the showroom. How many survive today is unclear, but like many American Motors products, they are an almost hidden secret within the classic world. Values haven’t climbed significantly recently, and the bidding on this one probably won’t exceed $15,000. That makes it relatively affordable, but is it enough to tempt you to pursue it further?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Nevada1/2rack NevadahalfrackMember

    Wow-reel nice catch!
    IMO it’s a good looking car for its era, and this one seems to be very clean. That AMC 327 was not the powerhouse mouse that the GM motor became but it was still a fair runner-until the oil pump INEVITABLY ate itself..
    If the motors not original and you want to drive it a bunch, I’d say keep it in the family and use a newer model Jeep motor (crate HEMI, anyone?) and put that 327 aside on a stand in the garage for posterity!

    Like 11
    • Rick

      The first generation AMC V8s were some of the smoothest, quietest engines ever produced. The sad thing is many of them died when the plastic toothed camshaft sprocket wore down to the point where the timing chain jumped time, allowing the pistons to collide with the valves.

      Like 3
  2. That AMC Guy

    Power front disk brakes were standard on the 1965 Marlin, not a buyer-selected option. (Discs became optional for 1966.) The problem today is that parts for the funky non-servo rear brakes used with that setup are unobtainium. Also there is no such thing as “numbers matching” with Rambler/AMC cars. The factory did not record that kind of information.

    Like 9
  3. Michelle RandStaff

    At the Portland Swap Meet a few weeks ago there was a very nice Marlin in white. It almost followed me home. I like this one better. I don’t view the upholstery as a big problem. As That AMC Guy notes, parts can be tricky for a variety of AMCs these days. I used Galvin’s AMC Acres, looks like he has sold out. Hopefully the new owners will be as knowledgable. Galvin was an encyclopedia.

    Like 4
  4. Stan

    Nice tq produced by that 327ci.

    Like 3
  5. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I’ve always loved the Rambler/AMC Marlin. My favourite have the horizontally placed headlamps.

    Like 2
    • Steve

      That was the 1967 Marlin, based on the Ambassador and a much nicer design, IMHO.

      Like 1
      • Rick

        The ’67 Ambassador and Marlin had vertically stacked headlamps.

        Like 0
  6. Steve

    I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up selling for over $20,000.
    (Have I already said I miss AMC?)

    Like 3
  7. Yblocker

    And yet another Marlin, at least this one has a V8, now if it only had a 4spd, but a nice car, I like it.
    In reference to the 1/4 mile comparisons, the Thunderbird, and probably the Riviera too, were a helluva lot heavier than a Marlin. Totally different cars really, I think the Marlin was more in response to the up and coming sporty fastback scene, than personal luxury. The Marlin wasn’t a luxury car.

    Like 1
  8. John Santiago

    My grandfather had a 65 Marlin in red with black top surfaces where this one is frost white. I was approximately 7 years old, and I remember that car vividly. My recollection of wheel choices is a bit cloudy, however. I honestly have never seen this particular wheel before. All the 65 models I have encountered had the almost flat style hub caps. This is by far one of the best Marlins I’ve seen in a while. Whoever gets it will be in for some head turning interesting conversations.

    Like 0
    • scottymac

      These wheels are likely from a Chrysler product. Back then, most large Ford, Chrysler, and AMC cars shared the same bolt pattern for their wheels. A version of the Magnum 500s were popular with most automakers.

      Like 0
  9. scottymac

    These wheels are likely from a Chrysler product. Back then, most large Ford, Chrysler, and AMC cars shared the same bolt pattern for their wheels. A version of the Magnum 500s were popular with most automakers.

    Like 0
  10. douglas hunt

    My moms dad, Pawpaw to us three kids, had a tan/white Marlin with a 3speed on the column but I couldn’t say what powered it. We spent summers on their farm, and he would drive us to the little nearby stores in the Marlin.

    Like 1
  11. chrlsful

    love the grill, paint scheme, rear deck/FB, and side view of rear.
    Wanna affordable AMX to bring back

    Like 0
  12. John Spottswood

    What a fantastic automobile! I have always been a Mustang, Camero, Trans Am guy , but, these Ramblers are the hot set up!
    Anyone can buy the pony cars from the big 3 but these have a style of their own. Give me a Mark Donahou special, and any of the SST Ramblers or AMC / AMX

    Like 0

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