AMC managed to keep updating the styling of its 1955 108″ wb cars all the way through 1962, but by then they were musty old things. So there was a lot riding on the new 112″ wheelbase 1963 Classic and Ambassador, as in stemming AMC’s market share decline, which had set in in 1961, after AMC’s glorious peak of 7% in 1960. That year would be a massive turning point for AMC, as its image of David slaying The Big Three Goliath was now over; Goliath launched a barrage of new compacts in 1960 followed by new mid-sized cars starting in 1962 that overwhelmed poor little David’s rapidly-aging Ramblers.
Nothing less than AMC’s future was riding on these and the American, which would share some of this same body in 1964. The results were not encouraging: AMC’s market share continued to wither away, despite rather attractive qualities of the new Classic.
The ’63s were the last cars styled by long-time AMC chief stylist, Ed Anderson, who resigned in a huff when AMC turned down his well-deserved request to be a VP, as were the other styling honchos at the Big Three. The front end rear ends are a bit quirky, which his replacement Dick Teague sanitized for 1964. But the parts in between are clean, modern, and well-done, resulting in a relatively space-efficient “six seater” on a fairly compact 112″ wheelbase. The curved side glass was well ahead of the competition; a bold move that made the Classic look a year or two ahead of its time.
That’s a lot more than what can be said of the 1962 Fairlane, which mostly looked like a slightly wider 1960 Comet with silly little fins. Who was putting fins on a newly-designed car in 1962?
Nevertheless, the Fairlane handily outsold the Classic, 297k to 262k in 1962, and more painfully, 345k to 279k in 1963. The new ’63 Classic only barely outsold its aged predecessor, but that was very short-lived. The 1964 Classic’s sales plunged by a massive 48%, to 147k. That improved some in 1965, but that was just a temporary blip too, and overall, AMC’s market share continued their steady decline, interrupted only in 1974 when the energy crisis gave them a healthy boost.