Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1966 Rambler American – The Good Child

posted at the Cohort by nifticus

I love me some Rambler American. Why wouldn’t I? I’m an all(naturalized)-American, and as such, I love all things American. That’s Rambler American. Yes, I love all things non-Rambler American too, in the same way a papa loves his kids, no matter what they say, think or do. It comes with the job; right? And do they ever say, think or do things…

Kids, that it is. The Rambler American, as a compact car, is something of a kid too, but it’s the good one; the one that stays on the straight and narrow, as a compact car should. No wild excesses (except one very brief wild binge), no complicated ideas, no trendy duds, no fast moves, no deception, no sleight-of-hand, no grandiosity, no B.S., no status seeking, no misrepresentation. It was exactly as it looked. But it appears that’s not really what most folks wanted in a car. Too boring and dull; we crave stimulation, no matter what kind or the price. Not so much so in our kids.

I guess buyers were really craving stimulation in 1966 because they really shunned the American that exciting year. Sales were headed down; 94k in ’66, and down to a mere 63k in ’67, which is less that in its very first year, when it arrived as something rather different: an upscale, well-trimmed alternative to big American cars for discriminating buyers, well-educated and upscale women, in particular. I’m guessing not one of those were still in the market for an American in 1967. They were driving BMWs, Volvos, Saabs, or Mercedes by then.

So who bought this brown American in 1967? It might have been a thrifty older couple. Or it might have been a…nerdy engineer type who used strictly objective parameters in choosing a new car. And on a spreadsheet, the American still had a few good things going for it. A simple, unadorned, un-trendy body with pretty good accommodations as well as good of a six cylinder engine under the hood as it got (232). And a three speed automatic, when Chevy was still pushing two-speed Powerglides. In other words, Valiant or Dart made by American Motors.  Except that the AMC six was even better than the slant six. One could do worse.


Especially on the inside, where Rambler’s legendary fold-down seats were still unique in the field at the time. You see, even the very good American could let its hair down under the right circumstances. And not just fold down; these seats were better constructed than what the barely-padded park bench seats the Big Three bolted into their compact sedans.

And there’s that unparalleled visibility. Try looking out the back window of your semi-fastback Nova.  From this angle, the American reminds me of a better 1960 Falcon. Which I guess it was, given how it came out four years after it. By which time the compact sedan market was being utterly annihilated by the Mustang.

The irony is that the American doesn’t even look very American, at least by 1967. It looks like a Japanese or European sedan trying so hard to be an American sedan. The Toyota American Crown. The Fiat Grande Americano. The Humber Super American. The BMW Neuer Amerikaner.

Being the good child has its downsides. No drama; no fun; no excitement; no stubbing your toes (or worse) on life’s inevitable stumbling blocks, placed so inconveniently in the way of those that tend to stray. Why can’t being bad be…good?