The one segment that AMC/Rambler never could get a toe-hold on was the most lucrative: the full-sized one. Understandable, since that’s exactly the market George Romney’s downsized mid-fifties Ramblers deliberately walked away from. But the great compact revolution was short lived, and by the mid-sixties, AMC wanted back in, badly. Except that they weren’t really sincere about it, as the Pinocchio-nose on this 1969 Ambassador makes all too clear.
Yes, the Ambassador had been around for almost forever, struggling to create an upscale niche in the Rambler hierarchy. But since the Rambler Rebellion, it never, ever had its own full-sized body shell; it was always just a Rambler with a longer nose (1958 – 1962) and then it even lost then during 1963 – 1966. But with the new Rebel for 1967, the Ambassador got its nose-augmentation back again, for its finally run to the death.
Which means that the Ambassador was a mid-sized car from the cowl back, and a “full-sized” imposter from the cowl forward. Yes, it’s good to have extra space up there under the hood, where it really counts! Well, it was called American Motors, not Franco Motors or German Motors. Long hoods rule! Along with vinyl tops! Now where are the Brougham badges? “DPL” just ain’t going to cut it, guys.
About 75,000 Ambassadors were sold in 1969. And what percent of the full-sized market was that?
stembre posted this pristine Ambassador at the Cohort.
Gah! Why are the nice AMC survivors always that ghastly green color with matching green interior? Does the radioactivity repel moth and rust?
A friend of mine’s parents had a 70 Rebel until 5 yrs ago, same color scheme, same family since new. Would have been nice if grandfather had ordered a black two door hardtop with a red interior.
Were these a common government-issue sedan, given that AMC likely was trying to move them by any means necessary (including as Federal fleet cars)? And would that account for the prevalence of the “puke green” color?
Those door handles seem to have been on every AMC product for about 20 years.
I hated those door handles. They were (to me) the least ergonomically friendly door handle I have ever used. As a righty, I would always unlock the door with my right hand and open it with my left. This was very natural with almost every car ever. The AMC handle, though, required me to either use my left thumb to pull the handle, or twist my wrist 180 degrees to open the handle with fingers, or swap keys to my left hand just to open the door, then back to right to start the stupid car.
We hated these door handles as well… here in the Northeast they would freeze up every time it snowed. And if we got some freezing rain overnight… forget about going anywhere til you chisled your way into the car. At least the pull handles on GM cars would still work.
And for the earlier fleet comment: NY State used to have Ramblers and AMC’s in the motor pool, which is where my father founded his love affair with those cars. He drove a state issued ’63 Rambler wagon for a few years before buying a new ’66 Country Squire, which my mother hated because it *never* started when the motor was warm. That car was traded for a shiny new woodgrained & metallic orange ’72 Matador wagon, which my father states to this day that it’s the only car he would ever own again. Says the 360 was the best running motor he’s ever had in a vehicle. (The Matador was parked in the barn in 1981, in 2000 or thereabouts a collector spotted it and bought it)
“I hated those door handles. They were (to me) the least ergonomically friendly door handle I have ever used.”
That’s because you never tried using the 1962-style Rambler door handles. You had to SQUEEZE them…and they’d fight; and then open with a snap.
Seriously…American Motors seemed to view it their role, to wipe out the conventional push-button-handle door handles of the 1950s/60s. First came those squeeze handles…I don’t know when they appeared; but they were on my great-uncle’s 1961 and our 1962 Classics. I believe they stuck with the squeeze until 1967, when they came out with those “new” flush-mounted handles.
I had a 1972 Gremlin for about a year (1987) and I had no problem with the handles. Took some getting used to; and if you were used to a grab-handle door opener, you felt lost; but by the 1980s every car company had gone to those pull-up handles; and these were no worse and felt more substantial.
Just my reaction; it comes down to a matter of taste.
FWIW…those door handles were, with the 1964 six-cylinder engine, the longest-lived part of AMC. Long after the Eagle had flown the coop; long after the XJ Cherokee had become one with the Great Spirit…on the rear gate of the YJ and TJ Wranglers, was that very-same door handle. It was turned 90 degrees; and finished in black instead of brushed chrome; but it was the same device.
On the soft-top Wranglers, the steel half-doors also used that handle. There it was, made by DaimlerChrysler…long after anyone remembered why it was and what it was supposed to prove.
Probably the other longest lived door handle design was the Cadillac pushbutton unit. The door handles on my 1989 Brougham were the very same units as on my 1963 Fleetwood. I believe that Cadilllac was using these units well into the 1990s. It was a different design than the one that every other GM handle/pushbutton car used.
AMC should have kept the Nash brand for ‘family cars’, but hindsight is 20-20
I’ll bet any money the owner of that car has Avocado-colored appliances in their kitchen.
I have been wondering lately why I have so little love for AMC. I am a great fan of the independents generally, in a “root for the underdog” kind of way. Give me about any Studebaker, Hudson, Packard, even Mopars during their down and out years. But AMC (and even Nash) – meh.
That said, if there was an AMC car for me to love, it would be a late 60s-early 70s Ambassador. My law school roommate’s dad was a steelworker from northwest Indiana and one of these (I think a ’70) was their family’s “good car” into the 1980s. And yes, it was about this color.
My next door neighbor growing up had a Grandpa Bob. Grandpa Bob had one of these in robins egg blue with a white vinyl roof. My neighbor got it after Grandpa got a new car and he beat the living snot out of it. Very soon, there was a matching blue cloud that followed behind it everywhere it went.
But why would they call it a DPL? Following the LTD and VIP leaders? Still, not a good choice.
Daft Play at Luxury
Dull, Plain, Lifeless
Dreary Pungent Leftovers
And for JPC:
Door Pull Limbo
Excellent suggestions all!
We had better keep this “DPL” discussion quiet, or someone at Lincoln is liable to pick it up and add it as future model.
Des Plains Limousine
Whenever I hear that, now, that Inner Voice whispers…
Dumb Polack Luxury
Sorry for any offense. But in my part of Cleveland, those cars seemed most popular with Eastern European displacement immigrants…
I don’t know what it stood for. But I believe in Occam’s Razor…perhaps AMC knew its customer base?
An ambassador is a diplomat. Diplomatic license plates usually have a DPL prefix. Well, that’s my guess anyway.
Yes “DPL” was supposed to be “Diplomat” = Ambassador. The top line Ambassador was the SST . . . .
Unlike JPC, I am an AMC fan, and would love to have an Ambassador. Others have proclaimed their love for big cars, this is as big a car as I generally like. IIRC, it’s not a whole lot smaller than a GM B-body, which is plenty of car for me.
One thing I know I would appreciate is the added length to the engine bay area. A HS friend of mine had a 4 door Matador with the 360 and the engine bay was TIGHT! We had to R&R the cooling fan and clutch on that car, and there was absolutely no space between the bolts and the radiator. We removed the bolts with a box wrench and much skin missing from our knuckles.
I remembered thinking the space in my 390 Torino engine bay was tight, but wow! Of course nothing had as much room as the GM intermediates from the same time period and their ‘doghouse’ fan shrouds. You could hide from people in those things!
If it’s like the Imp, the added length is not behind the radiator – which would help with access but reduce parts commonality – but rather in front of it.
I can tote at least four suitcase-packs of all-American tasteless canned beer behind my grille. 🙂
You wouldn’t be the first one….
Long live the late 60’s – 70’s green. My 68 Fury was a shade lighter than the Ambassador, and Dad’s 72 Polara was darker. Nothing says that era like a metallic avocado car.
Give me the green appliances, too. I’m going to look about the house for some avocado coffee mugs. I may have a couple left from my aunt’s stuff.
The Brady Bunch lives on. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.
My Dad’s ’69 Dodge Monaco was a darker shade of this green, with black vinyl roof and green cloth interior. This car was really a splurge for Dad; the ’64 Mercury was his first car with automatic transmission, and this one had not only that but a/c, power windows, and a reclining passenger seat. Memorable mostly because Mom and Dad let me do the majority of the driving on our vacation in ’71 – my first road trip as a driver! Dad actually was a good passenger; he would only warn me about keeping my speed down when I got close to 80. Other than that he’d just nap in the passenger seat. And yes, the Monaco was a Brougham…
Back kind of on topic to the Ambassador, I remember when we were shopping for cars in ’69 he shopped a Chrysler Newport, but when we popped the hood we realized the Chrysler was just the Dodge with another four or so inches ahead of the radiator. It was just one of those things Detroit did in the 60’s – add a few inches inexpensively where it didn’t do any good at all, and add a few hundred bucks in price.
GM, Ford, Chrysler and AMC in the late 60’s – early 70’s all had that “pea colored” metallic green paint. I don’t mind it – probably because it was so prevailant in that time frame. My Dad looked at a 1970 Buick Estate Wagon (slightly used in 1971) which was that same color and a matching cooked-pea-green vinyl interior. It seemed to me that I remember mostly Mopars and Olds/Buicks of that ’68-’73 period as common in that color . . . . even in Northern California . . . .
I’ve been commenting here as “res,” but I guess it makes more sense to harmonize my handles across Flickr and CC, so stembre it will be from now on…
The car in the photos is for sale, and I’d be happy to pass on the phone number if anyone is interested. What caught my eye and made me stop was not the AMC, but rather the ’48 Nash parked nearby (also for sale). The owner was about and I enjoyed a brief conversation with him. He had a delicious ’40s Packard for sale last year which was very tempting, but alas, no budget… Not to mention I would have been sleeping in it.
It didn’t hit me until later that the two cars were related by merger. Photos of the Nash are at the CCC in the same group with the AMC.
In my early morning rush, I always forget who’s who at the CC, but I should know by now. This will make it easier, stembre!
Where is it and how much? Green paint and all cars like this call to me, hopefully it’s far far away….
Doug – It’s in Mossville, IL, about 20 miles north of Peoria. Price looks like $4399.00, maybe. If you’re seriously interested, I’ll stop and get all the details.
600 miles. Whew, that’s far enough away. I’m safe for now, I can only imagine the reaction if I came home with this. Probably as volcanic as the time my Dad came home with an MGB. Go Dad!
Although I gotta say there seems to be a lot of ’60s 4 door sedans in good shape for pocket change these days.
A friend has a SST 67 from memory also somewhere on the cohort rare cars here Rebel were more common and NZ assembled at Thames back in the day rarely seen in running order now.
Cool old car from an independent maker.
Kenosha Kadillac at it’s finest…
LTD and VIP conjure up classy images. What does DPL suggest? Duplex? Dimple? A new toothpaste additive?
AMC might have had “diplomat” in mind, but you can’t very well name a car “Ambassador Diplomat”.
It’s nowhere near brougham-y enough to qualify as a brougham. The closest AMC ever came to that was the Matador Barcelona and the Concord Limited.
I like “Ambassador Diplomat.” It’s redundant, and also uses two words that mean the same thing.
[ducks flying vegetables]
Hmmmmmmmmm… Ambassador Diplomat, just as logical as anything else. Still better than Studebaker Dictator… 🙂
ANYTHING was better than Studebaker Dictator.
Except, perhaps, the stillborn DeSoto Despot.
I always liked Gilbern Invader…
Everyone picks on “green”………haters!
There were some great shades like my 71 Mark III “Ivy Moon Dust”, “Dark Jade” as seen on many BOSS 429s. How about JJZ 109? And everyone seemed to have a “Go” at their “Twist” “Grabber” of Lime Green.
The Greens and Golds of the 60s/70s were the Coral/Turquoise of the 50s. If you like the era learn to appreciate the colors too. They too reflect the time they came from.
In fact, now that I scroll down I do remember Ford having that cooked pea green color too. My auto shop teacher had a ’68 LTD hardtop sedan in that color (black vinyl top) as did a high school buddy’s parents’ car (’70 Galaxie 500 four door hardtop). High School auto shop teacher in the 60s’ and 70’s at San Rafael High School was the legendary “Blame Burnt” Mr. Moore.
Analogous to the burgundy red interiors common in cars of the ’80s.
I designed recreational products for John Deere in the early ’70s. I frequently flew into Milwaukee, rent a car, and drive to Horicon, WI, where the JD factory was. At the rental desk I would be offered all sorts of cool stuff-Mustangs, Camaros, cars like that. But I would ask, do you have any Javelins? The response was generally uncomprehending looks, even in the big M. And I found out why. The driver ergonomics were horrible. Pedals placed in uncomfortable relationship to each other, bus like steering wheel. Crappy interior detailing with equally crappy materials. AMC deserved the oblivion it eventually gained.
I’ve got to say the extensions are no worse than some of the big 3 efforts. The front end nearly looks like the trick to make annual re-styles easier, but I gather the extension is nearly that. What car was this based on? I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one of these, AMC products were reasonably popular out here but mostly the midsize stuff, ending with the coffin-nose (?) Matador that shares door handles with this car.
Also, AMC fans should check out Jim Richards’ Touring Car Masters Javelin (even if it has a Dodge engine)
Paul, The Ambassador actually regained its longer wheelbase in ’65. The shared body/longer front end theme actually dates to the Nash Ambassador days, starting around 1935, I believe.
The ’67-’74 Ambassador might not have been a true full-size, but the “full-size” designation in those days had more to do with wheelbase and marketing than actual interior room, so the ’69+ Ambassador’s 122″ wheelbase certainly qualified. As I recall, less roughly six inches separated an early ’70s Satellite and Fury. The big AMC body shell lay somewhere between intermediate and full-size, so while an Ambassador might have lacked the interior room of a Ford LTD, the Matador completely embarrassed the cramped Torino.
Right you are; I rushed that.
Yes, wheelbase was the old standard from the twenties through forties, but by the sixties, the Big three differentiated their main platforms by more than just grafting on a longer front end. Whatever; makes for something to write about 🙂
I had a 73 Matador Wagon with the 360 engine and have to say it was one of the most pleasant cars I have owned and I also wouldn’t mind owning another like it. It was the same color of metallic green as the 07 Volvo V70 I currently drive (pictured by my name). My Matador did have a matching though slightly darker green vinyl interior that I always found soothing. Just as happy though that my Volvo interior is beige leather. Certainly the Volvo is superior in every respect except acceleration. The Matador was faster than anything else I have owned in 48 years of auto ownership. I do not have nor did I ever own any green kitchen appliances though we did do a kitchen backsplash with green metal bricks from Sears in 1971. Liked it too and it was very practical.
DPL meant Diplomat, and AMC used it into the 70’s, shortened it to D/L. Eagle brand used D/L for base level Summit and Talon, too.
This AMC stuff is the only brand of the era I have never driven. I am not sure why but they were sure rare as hen’s teeth in Canada. The Pacer did fairly well until they all self destructed in a few years (since it is AMC) and I had a weird cousin with a Gremlin, in that same, horrid, green. I have never been close to an Ambassador but when I was a kid the old guy on the corner had one (also green) and we all thought he was weird and his car was weird. This was a Chevy neighourhood. A few of the high falootin’ social climbers had (Canadian, and therefore smaller) Pontiacs.
Liked this generation better with vertical headlamps. When they moved to the horizontal ones shown on this example, it really didn’t look much different from a Matador.
There’s an additional wrinkle to the Ambassador. Through the late-50s and early-60s the mid-sized Classic was AMC’s bread and butter. At its peak that nameplate was as big selling as today’s Camry.
However, between 1965 and 1969 AMC management wanted to shift sales to the Ambassador. This was partly because they were more profitable. So much more attention went into a series of Ambassador restylings. The Classic — which was renamed Rebel in 1967 — was ignored to such a degree that its sales dropped precipitously. So in 1971 the nameplate was changed to the Matador. Which didn’t sell much better.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador never caught on for a pretty simple reason: If you’re going to pay a big car price, why get a sort-of-big car?
Ironically, AMC might have done much better if it had kept the Ambassador as a luxury mid-sized car. That genre really took off in the early-70s . . . but AMC didn’t have a viable entry. In 1974 AMC introduced a Brougham version of the Matador but the fastback coupe was a bust.
I recall in the early 1970s, AMC ran a TV ad campaign where a guy in a thick New York accent kept repeating “What’s a Matador?”. The company seemed to have picked up on the fact that they sold so poorly that after the re-naming, nobody knew what the thing even was. I actually liked the 2 door hardtop version of both the Ambassador and Matador in the early 1970s, before the big stupid blunt hood protrusion appeared in ’74.
AMC did try product placement of Matador cop cars on TV, but also undercut Gov’t fleet contracts to get more Matadors on streets.
Being close to Kenosha, AMC had a following in Chicagoland. Early Gremlins, Hornets, and Pacers were commonly seen. But after 76, AMC tanked. Only for a short time when the Alliance was new did they seem to comeback, but then after Renaults fell apart, only saw Jeeps on dealer lots.
An older uncle of mine used to tell me that the Ambassador was a “poor man’s Cadillac”, though I doubt that the public viewed it that way, never mind the ads featuring a chauffeur and offering to pick people up for a test drive. I guess what it lacked in prestige, AMC tried to make up for with standard equipment (I believe that it was the first American car with standard air conditioning).
I vaguely recall a late 1960s road test where an Ambassador was tested against cars like an LTD, VIP and Caprice. I recall that the testers liked the Ambassador’s seats the best for long drives. I couldnt find it, but found a January 1968 Popular Science test of 68 Ford/Chev/Ply/Ambassador. The Ambassador was found to have more interior room than any of the other three.
How ironic! Oh well; so much for my giving the poor Amby a bad rap. AMC cars were pretty boxy and people-friendly, at least the sedans.