canadiancatgreen caught a couple of AMC fastbacks in Port Coquitlam, B.C. They make a nice combo, showing off the evolution of AMC’s recurring fastback fascination, which resulted in some stinker as well as winners.
That all started with the rather unfortunate 1965-1966 Marlin, which really didn’t wear its grafted on fastback very well at all, to put it mildly. The 1967 Marlin, like the one here on the right, was a bit sleeker but failed even worse in the marketplace, with only 2545 sold. But things took a decided turn for the better with the Javelin and its even fastback-er offshoot, the AMX. What a difference just a year makes, as the AMX arrived in 1968 (this one appears to be a 1970). Of course, there were more to come, again some better (Hornet) than others (Matador). Dick Teague just couldn’t stop trying to find the right fastback formula. The results may be uneven, but highly memorable.
CC: 1965-1966 Rambler Marlin – The Rambler Classic Dons A Bad Wig
CC: 1967 AMC Marlin – The Humpback Whale
Excellent pairing. It was as though they took the lessons learned from the Marlin and did a much better job with the AMX.
Although there are very few 60s cars I could do without, the Marlin is one of them. I guess that one bright note out of Studebaker’s demise is that they did not live long enough for someone to try a Lark fastback.
While Nash built cars with an uninterrupted sweep from the roof down to the rear bumper until 1951, no Studebakers were seen with that feature at all, that I can recall. Therefore I suspect that it simply wouldn’t have occurred to anyone at Studebaker to build a fastback car.
I like the Marlin,I also like the Edsel & 70 Coronet/Superbee which seem to be unpopular American cars.I used to see a lot of American cars from the USAF base near my Grandparents as a kid in the 60s & 70s and when we went on holiday but I can’t ever remember seeing a Marlin until the late 70s when a rugby mate of my brother had one
The ’67 was sleeker looking because the fastback-roof-graft was a better fit for the Ambassador body than it was for the Classic body (’65-’66). All of this began with the Rambler Tarpon show car (based on the American) in 1964, which to me really looks awkward.
The AMX is a winner IMO. The Marlin simply suffers from poor proportion. The Dodge Charger from the same period seemed to have that problem too.
To push this discussion a little farther, I think the ’64-’66, and especially the ’67-’68 Mustangs look great whether in fastback, notchback, or convertible form. That said, and again my opinion, the first Barracuda fastbacks are not as pleasing to my eye as the coupes.
Looking at the rear 3/4 view of the Marlin in this article it is easy for me to see the car “growing” a pointed tail and becoming a 1971 Riviera. 🙂
It’s really strange how the lesser of Detroit’s auto manufacturers just couldn’t seem to get big fastback styling right, while Ford and Chevy didn’t have any problem. The ’65-’68 Impala fastback is one of the best of the type, and Ford’s fastbacks were nearly as good looking across a much wider array of models.
But Chrysler was about a 50/50, hit/miss proposition when it came to fastbacks, and the AMC odds were even less. As someone else mentioned, it’s hard to envision what kind of goofy monstrosity Studebaker would have came up with had they survived further into the sixties. I would imagine they’d have just grafted the Avanti’s roofline onto the Lark.
I got to ride in an AMC Marlin, and I loved it. Why it didn’t sell is beyond my comprehension. It was sporty, it was roomy, it rode comfortably. I know someone who has two of them. If he had a Javelin or an AMX, I would’ve rode in it as well. 🙂
I have a ’65 Marlin. Yeah, they’re ungainly looking from most angles but very comfortable cruisers and decent power with the optional 327 V8. The 1965 model was unusual for its time in that power front disc brakes were standard. (Electric windshield wipers, on the other hand, were optional!)
The Marlin didn’t sell for two big reasons.
They looked awkward from certain angles, and that is a fatal flaw in a car whose main draw is supposed to be its sporty, attractive styling. A conventional 1965-66 Rambler Classic or Ambassador hardtop coupe is a much better-looking car.
They were also sold by Rambler dealers, and in 1965, the last place people looking for a sporty car would visit was a Rambler dealer. AMC needed something as handsome and well-conceived as the Javelin or AMX to get people to even look at a sporty car with a “Rambler” or “AMC” badge.
When we were young, me and the boys always put down AMC products until the AMX came on the market. It was and still is, stunning in its design both inside and out.
After reading Patrick Foster’s new book American Motors Corporation…The Rise and Fall of America’s Last Independent Automaker…I take back those negative comments from my youth about AMC. Talented people did what they could with the resources available. The Marlin was a good attempt but certainly not the car it could have been.
+1 on that Garry. Ed Anderson did remarkably well for AMC with the resources available.
I love them all. The Marlin was one of my favorite cars of that period as a 14-year-old whose eyes recently opened to the wonderful world of cars when I came home from school one day in May, 1965 and a beautiful 1960 Chevy Impala sports sedan dad just bought was sitting in front of the house! Everything else was gravy.
The pairing of severely rectilinear lines and fastbacks is rarely a happy one, witness the 1965-66 Marlins. The 1967 Ambassador’s softer lines and greater length bring it off much better but by then, it was damaged goods almost no one would touch. One wonders how they managed to even sell 2545 units….generous trade-in allowances…..rebates….begging?
Ed Anderson, Dick Teague and company did about as well as could be expected with minimal budgets and meddling management with questionable taste….!
I quite like the ’67 Marlin, pity it didn’t sell better. A little ungainly from certain angles, maybe, but quite sleek-looking from just as many if not more. It does make a nice pair with the AMX!
The uh “unique” and unfortunate concession styling of my 65 Marlin is exactly it’s appeal to me today. My current Marlin is off the road for an engine rebuild but my old Marlin (now parts car) got more attention than my 69 or 70 AMXs do. The AMXs just seem to blend in more. I suppose this is a testament to their superior styling over the Marlin.
I have never seen a 67 Marlin in the wild or in person at all for that matter.
I agree the Marlins were a pleasant enough car, but they just didn’t stand out, nor have the ad muscle the larger companies had.
Quit making fun of the Matador!
Seriously, am I the only one that really likes the last generation Matador coupe‽
I think that the Ambassador-based Marlin was a heck of a looker, too!
Here’s some eye candy.
Very 70’s weird, but I like it!
It’s not that bad compared to what Ford and Mopar were making at the same time
I remember disliking the last generation Matador back when it was new. I remember officer Reed bought one on Adam-12. Things change with time. Now it looks almost exotic. I haven’t seen a real one in decades. Just like Pintos, most of them were probably crushed. It is definitely a car I would drive today. And it certainly has style. Lots of it. So much that is was kind of polarizing. You either loved it or hated it.
If only they came out with the 1967 version of the Marlin in the first place!
I don’t really care for the Marlin. As has been said many times, it just doesn’t look right. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t rather drive one than any new car. Everything is relative. I liked many AMC cars, the AMX, Javelin, Gremlin, Pacer, and even the ’80s Spirit, in 2WD. The 4WD models always looked like something some redneck put together in their backyard.
The gen 1 AMX always seemed a bit unbalanced to me. The front was cleaner than the Javelin.
But the longer, cleaner rear quarter and thinner C pillar of the Javelin flowed better.
+1 the first Javelin was gorgeous.The 71 and later models lacked the earlier cars good looks.I had a dark green 69 6 cylinder which was ultra reliable and I later sold to my brother for his first American car and he sold it to my sister for her first American car
While I do like the first generation Javelin better, I like them both. The almost Corvette looking front fenders on the second generation looked a bit weird, since it was not a flowing design that went from one end of the fender to the other, but just popped up right over the tires. But again, I’m in the position of having to judge vintage cars against newer cars, and when you look at it that way, it is just really hard to find a bad looking vintage car, especially a 2 door.
I’ve since grown to like the 71 and later Javelin a lot more than when they were new.I was shocked when I saw the 71 for the first time
Fastbacks breed hatchbacks, and AMC thought about some nice ones, like this mashup of a Gremlin with a Sportabout hatch
Then there was the mashup their Mexican plant did with a Spirit hatch on a Concord body
Four doors, no waiting.
They made every other permutation of the Hornet/Concord body, I’m surprised this one didn’t see the light of day!
I’m surprised this one didn’t see the light of day!
It did, in Mexico. By 81, Kenosha was switching over to the Alliance but VAM used what it already had. I watched an old episode of McCloud the other day, where Sam follows a suspect to Mexico City. Saw lots of AMCs in the street scenes: Javelins, Hornets and Sportabouts.
Here’s the Wiki entry on the VAM Lerma.
The VAM Lerma is an automobile that was designed and manufactured by Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos from 1981 to 1983. The Lerma shared parts with other vehicles by VAM’s license partner American Motors (AMC) to cut down manufacturing costs. It was VAM’s top-of-the-line flagship model, which the company did not have since the discontinuation of the Classic (Matador) line in 1976. The VAM Lerma was unusual in offering a hatchback design focused at the top end luxury market.
pic from the net
Wow that’s a long window on the 2-door, even broken up by the trim/pillar. Sort of reminds me of a Marina coupe.
That wide trim piece probably covers a gap, which allowed the same second window glass as a two door Hornet and the same third window as the four door Lerma.
Another great story by Paul.
Back in 2002 I was fortunate enough to have attended the 100th Anniversary of Rambler in Kenosha where I had an opportunity to photograph most of the significant cars of AMC all-to-short history from 1954 to 1987. If you’re a fan of AMC cars, you might enjoy taking a look at the album of my photos from Kenosha 2002 here.
My favorite AMC fastbacks were the 1973-1977 Hornet Hatchbacks. For a mainstream car, they were exceptionally well-styled and balanced. And of course one, a 1974 model, was used for the stunt in the Bond film, Man With the Golden Gun.
I talked my mom into buying a 65 Marlin, back in 1989. It was mint, Red/black, 75k original. $3k at the time. Learned to drive in it. DMV test even! It was between that and a $4k Citroen DS. Yes, I am a Car Guy.
Dodge showed how to do it when they put a fastback roof on the Coronet and called it a Charger. The Charger didn’t have a dedicated body until the next generation. The original Charger looked pretty cool. AMC copied the idea with the Marlin. It wasn’t awkward from some angles. It was awkward from all angles.
Besides being too rounded in profile (I guess they wanted to preserve rear seat headroom in the worst way, and they found it) the Marlin roof narrowed toward the back. The Charger had defining edges and stayed full width. The Charger side windows also were squared at the rear and went back farther, so less blank sail panel.