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Sweet Survivor? 1971 AMC Ambassador

The Ambassador was a premium automobile built by American Motors from 1957 to 1974 over eight generations. Except for 1962-66, it was a full-sized car designed to compete with the top dogs at GM, Ford, and Chrysler. It began during the Nash era of auto-building and continued through Rambler and on to AMC. This 1971 edition is an Ambassador Brougham station wagon, on par with the Caprice or LTD Country Squire. Located in Orange, California, this survivor-quality car may only have 25,000 miles on the odometer and appears to have plenty of life left. It’s available here on craigslist for $18,000. Thanks for the tip, Rick Helmes!

Though a trim package for many years, the Ambassador nameplate was the longest, continuously used automobile title at the time. Following a redesign of the seventh generation, the Ambassador saw few physical changes in 1971. Like Avis comparing itself to Hertz, AMC always had to try harder, so the Ambassador’s goal was to outdo the competition that outsold it in multiples. For 1971, out of 245,000 total cars that American Motors assembled, just 5,479 Brougham station wagons rolled out the door (plus another 4,465 SSTs, the only other Ambassador wagon available).

This Ambassador, which looks to have been babied for more than 50 years, has the optional 360 cubic inch V8 under the hood, paired with BorgWarner’s “Shift-Command” automatic transmission. We’re told the car runs and drives well and that the only mechanical issue is the factory air conditioning that does not blow cold (low on freon?). With tires that have plenty of tread life left, this looks like it could be a great cruiser, though you’ll be stopping for gas more often than you would with one of today’s SUVs.

The body looks great and the green paint is nice and shiny. The woodgrain paneling seems no worse for the wear and the interior is more than presentable, although the dash pad may have an issue or two. As nice as these vehicles are, it’s hard to imagine that the lower-level Ambassador DPL models were often pressed into fleet service by the police and taxicab operators. Such was the need for AMC to sell every car it could.


  1. Cattoo Cattoo Member

    That’s a mighty fine looking automobile right there. Very clean engine bay too. Be the only one at most auto events I’d bet.

    Like 53
  2. Rick

    I am in love… (H)

    Like 25

      Growing up we had a ’67 & a ’70 Rebel Cross Country wagon; both were white with the luggage rack on the roof. Those were very cool, simply styled, excellent running vehicles. One had a 232 I6 with ‘ 3 on the tree’ & the 2nd one had the 304 v8 ( very cool engine) and the Borg-Warner 3 speed automatic; which was a great tranny which could start out in 2nd gear if desired or needed.

      Like 6
  3. That AMC Guy

    I have the same car with nearly the same equipment, even the same color interior, but mine has about 100K miles more on the clock, and is not in as nice condition with paint and rust problems. (Only paid $500 for it ages ago!) The master cylinder on this one looks like it’s for a drum brake system, mine has front discs. Also mine has the 3rd seat in back.

    It’s a comfortable cruiser for sure. The air conditioning system is very basic and shouldn’t be tough to get working. The HVAC controls are confusing with 4 levers and a knob to manipulate like on the old Ramblers. (1972 would bring more rational controls.)

    Automatic transmission for 1971 was the old Borg-Warner 3-speed unit and electric windshield wipers were optional.

    Like 24
  4. joenywf64

    Of course it is green, as is the zr2 ’71 vette also for sale on barnfinds.

    Like 1
  5. mike

    very sweet..back in the days when we had actual station wagons.

    Like 16
  6. 1959Buickman

    Wow! Looks amazing in that shade if green!

    Like 10
  7. Scotty Gilbertson Staff

    That’s a beauty, Russ and Rick!

    Like 12
  8. Ike Onick

    That car should have been featured in every episode of Adam-12, Emergency, CHPs, and Dragnet. It is total LA!

    Dixie and Dr.Joe Early had some great rides in this one.

    Like 9
    • Steve Clinton

      Do I remember the lieutenant on Adam 12 driving a Rambler Classic wagon, or was it only a Plymouth Belvedere?

      • Ike Onick

        Don’t know about that but I remember hearing that Dixie sometimes referred to the Doc as “Early Joe”.

  9. S

    This is really nice! The wheels appear to be off a mid 1970s Chrysler. Those aren’t what this car came with. Other than that – fantastic!

    Like 3
    • That AMC Guy

      Mine also has Chrysler wheels in order to run 15″ tires. The originals were H78-14 which these days only seem to be available at very high prices from Coker. Having 15″ wheels opened up the choice of affordable tires considerably. (That detracts from originality of course but my ’71 Ambo wagon is definitely not a show car!)

      Like 4
  10. Cam W.

    To make their cars appealing, AMC equipped all Ambassadors with air-conditioning (at no extra cost), while it was a relatively expensive option on the Big 3 competitor’s similar models.
    Interestingly, when some police departments bought Ambassador patrol cars, they actually had the air-conditioning compressors removed , “So the officers wouldn’t get used to it”!

    Like 6
    • Philip Sarris

      Eliminating the AC for cops driving in a hot car, sweating like pigs (no pun intended, Officer) sounds like a bad idea, esp.50 years ago!

      Like 5
      • Ike Onick

        It was cooler 50 years ago!

        Like 3
      • Bill

        Nobody had A/C when and where I grew up in rural Ky. The stores that had it would have it advertised on their front windows. I had a Kool cigarette cardboard ad that had a penguin smoking a cigarette with icicles hanging that said “come in it’s Kool inside” A/C was a big deal. And rare. Not so much by 71.

        Like 8
  11. wcshook

    I actually like the dash layout! Everything is at the drivers easy control. It is less distracting than other dash layouts. Just my opinion.

    Like 4
  12. Philip

    Great looking car but why do they call it a Brougham? That typically means many options. I want elect. windows and not having the 3rd row seating just kills the wagon’s seating option, so it’s just a 5 seater.

  13. Clarke

    That is a real beauty, as clean as I have seen. Outside of the air conditioning, which shouldn’t take much to fix, I am wondering how much trouble it would be to add power windows.

    Like 3
    • Chuck Dickinson

      First off, you would have to find a donor Ambassador from which to get the parts. That’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Very few would’ve had them when new.

      Like 2
  14. Steve Clinton

    Seeing this beauty, you wonder why (and how) American Motors disappeared.

    Like 2
  15. Bob C.

    I had a 1973 back in high school, it used to be my dads. He worked at a bank and it was a repo. He got it for a steal at $1900 in 1975, book value $3700 at the time. The faux wood was below the molding, opposed to this one. The 360 was quite torquey, and it loved gas.

    Like 2
  16. Glenn Schwass Member

    We had AMC’s growing up and I had my Grandparent’s Matador in these colors. This one is really nice. Brings back memories.

    Like 1
  17. Bill

    Ambassador was not the longest running automobile name in 71. Suburban was. Started in 49 and has run non stop they 22 and counting.

    • Bill

      Should be thru not they

    • tom hofstad

      1932 to 1974 first as Nash, then Rambler and lastly AMC. Always their top of the line model.

      Like 1
    • onree Member

      In ’71 AMC Ambo had at least ten years over Suburban trucks.
      Nash/AMC Ambo started in 1927 – ran thru 1974.
      The name “Suburban” was somewhat generic back in the day, and used at various times by Chevy, and GMC, for truck-based ‘Carryall’ type vehicles and by Plymouth and DeSoto for station wagons. Post WW2 DeSoto Suburbans (’46-’54) were long wheelbase sedans with a pass thru from the trunk to the passenger compartment. I had one back in the’70s. Quite a handful to handle and a real slug with its 6-cyl flathead engine.

      Like 2
    • Psychofish2

      From the article: ‘Though a trim package for many years, the Ambassador nameplate was the longest, continuously used automobile title at the time’.

      “At the time [1971 when this was built].

      Nash built Ambassadors in the 30s. Well before 1949 and the first Suburban.

      Like 1
  18. Psychofish2

    Great find. My parents had a 72 Brougham sedan, same seat design but in a brocade.

    There was a gimmick with that “wood” paneling that allowed the body color underneath to glow when light hit it.

    Still a beautiful car, all these years later.

    Like 1
    • Michael Berkemeier

      I have never heard that before. If this is true, thanks for teaching me something new (and here I thought I knew everything, lol)!!!

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