Road Trip Classic: 1962 Rambler Classic – What Have You Done To My Patina?

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Bellingham is a small city of about 80,000 people, located in the northwest corner of Washington State. On a recent trip there to visit an old friend, I experienced something that might be termed Curbside Classic Overload.
Old, patina-kissed cars and trucks graced nearly every side street, and if it wasn’t for the Washington license plates, I would have sworn I was in Havana or perhaps even Eugene, Oregon.

Bellingham has the same mild climate as Eugene, and the same laid-back small town atmosphere. The second-largest employer is Western Washington University, and the college town vibe follows you wherever you go. Bicycles almost seen to outnumber cars at times, and I got the distinct impression that it was still 1968 or 1969 in many parts of the city.

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The most intriguing car of all was this 1962 Rambler Classic. After taking a wrong turn on my way to my friend Tom’s house, I saw the Rambler’s rear out of the corner of my eye, and decided that my long-anticipated bike ride with Tom would just have to wait a bit longer.

Sadly, the original paint and most of the exterior chrome are gone, but this is still one well-preserved Kenosha Kadillac.

Note the trailer hitch. Yes, Virginia, you can tow a trailer behind a unit-body car, even if it only has a straight-six motor. People used to do it all the time!

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Though the car currently sports a vintage Washington State plate, a sticker on the windshield reveals a much different history for this car. That’s a city of New Orleans inspection sticker dating to 2004, a year before Hurricane Katrina. It looks like this car got out of town right in the nick of time.

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In contrast to the Rat Rambler exterior, the inside of the car has a much more original look to it.

The seats are by no means perfect, but they are in very good shape when you consider that the upholstery is over 50 years old. I think it’s safe to assume that these seats spent several years encased in those horrible transparent plastic seat covers that were so common in the 1960’s. They stuck to your skin on summer days, they looked hideous and the only real purpose that they seemed to serve was to ensure that the guy who ran the local junkyard would have a car with perfect seats when it finally passed into his grubby hands!

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The grill and front bumper are also in great shape, though I doubt they were ever encased in plastic.

The Rambler’s current aerodynamic wheel covers and lack of exterior chrome made me think of some of the Salt Flats oddities that Kevin Martin has shared with us from time to time. Perhaps the current owner dreams of conquering Bonneville.

If the owner of this Classic wants to be competitive on the flats, he might consider a powerplant upgrade. When he drove past us later in the day, I heard what could only be a Rambler six. Personally, I hope the six stays under the hood.

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I would have stayed and looked it a bit longer, but I had people waiting for me, and I got the distinct impression that my little blue Geo was starting to get jealous.