Twin Stick Hardtop: 1963 Rambler American 440

Scotty GilbertsonBy Scotty Gilbertson

I know the feeling, sometimes something happens with, or to, a vehicle and an owner just plain loses interest in it. It sounds like that’s what happened with this 1963 Rambler American 440 hardtop – the driver’s door got dented and it was parked and hasn’t been started since, and that was years ago. This one is listed on eBay with an unmet opening bid of $1,500. It’s located in Springdale, Arkansas.

1963 was the last year of the second-generation Rambler American and AMC really modernized them for the 1964 model year. This car is the 440 hardtop, both of which were new in 1963.

You can see that even though there may not be visible rust, there will be a lot of bodywork to do on this car. Parts of it look like a piece of aluminum foil that has been crumpled and then somewhat straightened out again. The next owner will have to be a master bodywork artist to get laser-straight lines on this one.

The next owner will be in for maybe several times the NADA $10,200 high-retail value that this car is worth if they do a nut-and-bolt restoration, which it really needs. Absolutely everything on this car “needs restored”, as they say. At least it’s a mostly-complete car and it even has factory AC, or most likely a dealer-installed AC system. Of course, there are no engine photos to see what it looks like.

Probably the most unique feature of this car is the famous Twin-Stick transmission. For a somewhat simple definition of how it worked, this is from the AMC Mega Site: “Twin-Stick” T-96 three speed manual with overdrive. Transmission used different internal gear ratios than the normal T-96/OD. Shift mechanism was wired to provide five forward gears (along with different ratios) — 1st, 2nd, 2nd+OD, 3rd, 3rd+OD.” Make sense? So, it’s somewhat like a 5-speed with 2nd and 3rd having overdrive instead. The only engine available was the 195.6 cubic-inch inline-six and it hasn’t “been ran in years. I was told it was driven daily until the driver door was damaged and wouldn’t shut. Was parked and never started after that.” This car has a lot going for it, being a twin-stick with supposedly no rust and the last year of this body style. Is it worth saving?

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Comments

  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    What a cool find, Scotty! I sure hope one of our readers picks it up and puts it back on the road!

    5+
  2. Jeffro

    What a neat ride. Love the twin sticks. Never heard/seen of that before. Hope it finds a nice home.

    8+
  3. Racer417

    I agree about the restoration. Hopefully some AMC/Rambler enthusiast will pick this one up. My dad was a Rambler dealer in the early 60s, so I know how rare these are.

    6+
    • Linn Barton

      Racer417, Where was your Dad’s dealership ?

      0
  4. David Wilk Staff

    Great find Scotty, it would be great if this “needs restored” beauty could find a new owner with the means to do it.

    5+
  5. Howard A Member

    Little rough, but certainly should be saved. The “twin-stick” was nothing more than a fancy toggle switch, O/D in/O/D out. I believe there was a “cut-out” governor and a “free-wheeling” device, as well, and took some finesse to get it right. But it did provide 5 evenly spaced gears. With only about 100hp on tap, you’ll be rowing your way through the gears, like an old semi on the hills. It was never meant to be a tire scorcher, and fuel economy was Ramblers trademark. Kenosha was riding high in ’63, it was the car of the year. I’m not sure how many people coughed up another $59.50 for the twin stick “system”. People didn’t buy this car for it’s sportiness. Cool find, for sure.

    2+
  6. terry

    Car is on Craigslist for $2100. Been there for some time.

    1+
  7. The Walrus

    Old Cars Price Guide lists 2 1963 American 440 Models. This may be the ‘440-T’ because of the Twin Stick, but I’m not certain. Either follows a similar path to little top end value. Restoring this would have to be a labor of love, because there is no way around restoring this and increasing the value of the dollars spent.

    That said, the $1500 asking is pretty much spot on. However, in the words of ‘Darnell’, the pick a part owner in the movie Christine ‘you can’t polish a turd.’ Remember, per the OCPG rating structure a #1 car is basically perfect. Most ‘really nice’ cars at a local car show would be a 3 or 2. You would generally only see #1’s in museums or at shows like Pebble Beach.

    1963 American

    2D 440 HT – 6: $330; 5: $1000; 4: $1660; 3: $3740; 2: $5810; 1: $8300

    2D 440-T HT – 6: $400; 5: $1200; 4: $2000; 3: $4500; 2: $7000; 1: $10000

    2+
  8. Jack NW PA

    Reminds me of a Lotas Cortina, as an AMC liker I really like this.

    3+
  9. tompdx

    Cool car. Looks like a slightly overweight Lotus Cortina – its even the right colors (in reverse).

    2+
  10. F.G. Kaye

    I had one, I learned to drive a stick on the ” twin stick “. A BLAST TO DRIVE.

    Don’t forget that the little 3 Main Bearing 196 cu in. engine used a 2 barrel

    Carter carburetor, from the factory. When I put a Judson Electronic Magneto

    on it, it increased the MPG & the power. BUT, it made it hard to cold start.

    The most useful gear was 2+OD. We were NEVER told about this from the

    dealer, since my dad bought it & used it first, he was never told about this,

    so imagine his surprise when I showed it to him.

    At one point there was an issue of not having an external resistor, ( when we

    had to change the coil ) because the resistor, was built-in to the coil,

    or so I was told. Maybe this is why the Judson had problems ?

    The car can never handle well, too much body lean, maybe Koni’s might help.

    And thin 14” wheels. There are other cars that would handle better !

    1+
  11. John

    I know better. I’ve driven some in one like this and I know there’s nothing rewarding about driving one. I know what the interior repair would cost. I know how much time and effort would be required to cure the cosmetic issues.
    I know a parts car when I see one.

    2+
  12. Ed P

    It is a shame the twin stick did not catch on in some fashion. When I had my ’68 Valiant I always wished for something between 2nd and 3rd.

    1+
  13. Loco Mikado

    Would like to know which of the 3 available 195.6 cu in sixes this has in it. There was the flathead version, the cast iron block OHV version and the cast aluminum block OHV version. 90hp for the flathead, 125-135hp depending on version from both OHV engines. The OHV engines are basically the flathead engine converted to OHV, hence the same cu in displacement and the sidecovers. The flathead was the base engine, the cast iron OHV engine was an option but I am not sure about the aluminum block OHV engine. An aluminum engine at 1\2 the weight and 33% more HP would have really perked up performance in this car with the Twin Stick.

    1+
    • Gary

      Loco, you are correct about the 3 engine choices of 6’s, however, I had a 61 Classic with the all new aluminum block engine. Tried to keep it going as an everyday driver, but the supply of head gaskets for that particular engine are as scarce as hens teeth. And I had to source 3 of them in the 4-5 years of use before I just had to bail. It was definitely an interesting concept. http://www.oocities.org/dr_rambler/history.html

      2+
      • John

        I thought I was a dedicated Rambler fan. This link was news to me. Thanks.

        1+
  14. Russell

    It was mentioned earlier, but when I first glanced at this I said “Lotus Cortina”. I’d love to have this car and make into an all AMC Hotrod and add some serious handling to it and maybe use the LoCort color scheme.

    0
  15. Tom S.

    You restore a car such as this for for love, not money.

    1+
    • John

      The bright side would be that nobody would want to steal it when you’re done.

      2+

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