CC Outtake: 1966 Rambler Classic 550 – Still Sensibly Spectacular After 49 Years


There are some times and places where seeing a nearly 50-year-old car isn’t so surprising, like on an uncrowded country road on a mild Sunday afternoon.  But on a hot summer Thursday in downtown Washington, D.C.?  Not quite the ideal environment for a curbside car show.  Yet, here is one example that defied the odds: a beautifully preserved Rambler Classic parked right on a busy commercial street.

The Classic was one of AMC’s compact offerings, aimed at value-conscious buyers, and this particular body style was only produced in 1965 and 1966.  This example is a 550 – the standard version, as opposed to the more upmarket 770.


When I was growing up, there were still a few Rambler drivers around, and I recall them as being proudly frugal people who considered it almost a badge of honor to drive a plain-looking, un-embellished car such as this one.


AMC knew its market, and at one point in the mid-1960s marketed its three Rambler models (the American, Classic and Ambassador) as the “Sensible Spectaculars.”  That phrase accurately sums up this particular Rambler’s appeal; these were spectacular cars for buyers looking for a no-nonsense sedan.


Like most cars, after 5 decades they have become quite rare, particularly for the more entry-level models such as this one.  Given that, this car is in remarkable condition, and its location on a busy downtown street indicates its owner is not afraid to drive it.  Furthermore, a child seat was positioned in the rear seat, so maybe someone’s lucky kid enjoys this Rambler as well.  Whatever this car’s story is, let’s hope it sensibly sticks around for many more years.


Photographed in Washington, DC in June 2015.