CC Capsule: 1967 Rambler Rebel SST Convertible – Rambler Tries Flexing Its Muscles Again, Belatedly

I have been driving past this car for the last two months or so, and finally brought my camera. It’s for sale on a used car lot off the highway in Albany Oregon. Looks like it’s selling about as briskly as when it was new (all of 1686 of these were sold in 1967).  A once and future Classic?

Some might say that Rambler actually invented the muscle car in 1957 with the introduction of the mid-sized Rebel with a V8 engine.  But in retrospect it really looks more like a happy accident than an intentional market shift. Somewhere along the line between the somewhat revolutionary ’57 Rebel and the  muscle car boom, Rambler missed the memo. However in 1966 they seemed to wake up to the trend which they had arguably started.

And for 1967 Rambler offered just about every configuration possible with the Rebel, including a wagon. But the big deal for ’67 was the available 343 ci V8. And of course the SST package which was merely a fast sounding moniker for a trim level, being that all the good parts could be optioned in any Rebel. It was AMC’s belated response to what Chevy had been offering on their Malibu SS since 1964.  As well as everyone else, except Rambler.

Late to its own party; and almost nobody noticed when it finally showed up. SST = Super Sport Tardy. Maybe they should have named it Stealth.

Unfortunately this one was optioned with the 290 V8 and not the 343.  AMC’s new V8 family was desperately needed to replace the old heavyweight 327. And they were mostly a pretty capable bunch, with a few rebellious exceptions.

The ’67 Rebel even had four link rear suspension, replacing the old torque tube suspension of ’66. Like what GM had been using for some time. At least it sounded pretty advanced compared to some of the competition’s buggy spring and U bolt fixings.

So what happened to AMC/Rambler’s muscle car? Two things really, the Javelin (AMC’s pony car) and the Matador. Most of AMC’s meager development funds went into the Javelin/AMX  as their poster car. The quite clean and handsome Rebel was replaced by the less-so Matador. Same basic car, new name, and uglier. Lot of good that did.

If there was ever the possibility of a bull market for AMC cars, the Matador certainly slayed it.  And as you may know, it was a painfully slow death for AMC through the 70′s and 80′s. That reputation is reflected in the price tag which has dropped another thousand dollars in the two months I have been driving by it.  If this was GTX or a Malibu, I dare say the asking price would probably be quite a bit higher. However, if you want to have fun in the sun in what was once called a Classic and may some day be again, this might be a cheap rebel’s way to go. And you’re not too likely to see yourself coming down the road.