CC For Sale: 1960 Rambler Deluxe–Creepy!

CC has previously featured two of these cars before, including one with the decidedly odd-looking single headlights like this.  However when I saw this eBay listing with its close-up shots of the equally odd details of the ’60 Rambler’s interior which haven’t been posted before, I thought this was worth writing up and sharing.

Just so you know, the Deluxe was the lowest-priced offering in the regular Rambler line, which consisted of three series in ascending order:  Deluxe, Super, and Custom.  (Do you love the fact that the cheapest, plainest model is called Deluxe?  So typically ’50s/early ’60s–each trim level is some sort of “fabulous”!)  Dual headlights were optional on the Deluxe;  standard on other series.

1958 Studebaker Champion for sale with 128 miles on the odometer.


Studebaker did a similar thing with its low-priced Champion models in 1958, the first year dual headlights were offered.  Pods designed for duals (optional on Champions) were filled by single lights with metal “spacers” around them if extra-cost duals were not specified.  The results were equally bizarre looking.

You’ve got to remember that the Studebaker and Rambler were economy cars, and any opportunity to keep the base price down was welcomed.  At $2098, this Rambler Deluxe was priced with the new Big Three compacts–only the Ford Falcon at $1974 significantly undercut it.

I have memories of two of these cars in this same color:  When I discovered this huge abandoned horde of junk cars in Rockaway, New Jersey, there was one of these black Rambler sedans parked among the ruins.  It had so much junk piled on top of it (plywood sheets, fence sections, overgrown branches) that the debris formed a kind of garage which protected the car from the elements.  Vandals couldn’t get to it, so the car was actually quite well preserved.  Of course no one cared, and when the junk cars were ultimately cleaned out after the property changed hands, the poor Rambler was crushed along with everything else!

My first time walking the dog, circa 1969.


There was also one of these cars at the house in Cedar Knolls where we got our first puppy, “Puzzi”.  (That’s an Italian word–I won’t tell you what it means.  My father named the dog–Dad can be kind of a wise-guy malandrine sometimes!)

I now want to get to the interior, because even though this is a bargain-basement type car, it has a lot of swoopy, avant-garde design aspects which add to the creepy-fascinating look:

The driver is confronted with a futuristic, outer space-looking elliptical speedometer which somewhat resembles a TV screen of the period.  There are a lot of leftover Nash features, including a WEATHER-EYE heater with its solid metal levers.

Also distinctively Nash are these strangely elongated single digits.  Hudson, which also makes up part of this car’s ancestry DNA had single speedometer digits too.  No one has ever explained why.

Another wacky futuristic feature is this push-button transmission control.  You don’t start this car with the key–you first turn the key to “ON” and then press “N-START”  to operate the starter.  There’s a separate chrome PARK lever below, similar in appearance to the one on the 1957 Mercury.  The transmission itself is a Borg-Warner unit like Ford used.  By pressing “D2” you start off in second gear, and then it automatically upshifts to third as speed increases.


The seats, with that “random-cubist” mid-century modern pattern–look durable and in fine shape for a car this old!  I like the door cards with that bold, thrusting triangle in highly contrasting black and white.

The Rambler six:  overhead valves, 195.6 cubic inches, 127 horsepower.  Look at all that pavement you see under the hood!  Like Studebaker, there’s that so-easy-to-get-at oil filter!  The fan blade looks blurred–I guess it’s running?

Here’s what Consumer Reports had to say about the 1960 Rambler six:

(This is a microfilm copy, but I think you can read it). Click image to enhance.


From the Tad Burness Auto Album.


This was Rambler’s typical sales schtick. Their satiric drawings making fun of the big Detroit “Bulgemobiles” were always hilarious!


Data plate.


Summing up, I really kind of like this 1960 Rambler.  It looks fleet, sharp, and rather dignified in its “tuxedo” black and white paint scheme.  It always amazes me that cars like this, originally intended to be “throw-aways”–use it up then scrap it–have somehow survived into the second decade of the twenty-first century.  And I’m glad that quite a few have somehow beaten the odds so that we can experience the special aura that these cars have.

Among the 1960 compacts, I think Comet is the best looking, probably the best riding, with a lot of finely-crafted detail;  Valiant gives the best handling and performance;  and this Rambler is somewhere in-between those two in terms of automotive goodness.  Corvair, Falcon, and Lark also have their special appeal.  This was when an “economy car” was still solidly built, with some nice styling touches, and drove well.  In the 1970s and ’80s, too many economy cars became plasticy, tinny, unreliable “penalty boxes” with almost no character.  Now that nearly all of those have been scrapped, virtually no one misses them.


But if I ever were to buy one of these, I think I want the dual headlight version.  Or is the “bug-eyed” look more fascinating?  After all, if nobody preserved these oddballs, they’d be extinct!