Comment Classic: The Soul-Crushing 1959 Rambler American

(Every so often, a comment left at CC deserves the spotlight and a wider audience. In this case, it was Rob’s comment regarding his family’s 1959 Rambler American, and which so perfectly encapsulates the image these had among teens and young people back then)

Sherman, set the wayback machine for 1968. Place – a small farming town in Wisconsin where a young high schooler with ink still wet in his driver license is about to summon the courage to ask a popular girl to accompany him to the game. He has been given the keys to the family Rambler for the first time on a Friday night and has permission to drive the 22 miles to an away game in a neighboring town.

Oh look, she’s turned him down flat. She tells him she’s already going with another boy – and he has the keys to his parents’ far cooler 1966 Chevy wagon.

Crushed, the boy decides to ask a few friends to ride along. The Rambler is a better ride than the high school bus right? What! His friends decline one-by-one in favor of the bus. The boy decides what the heck, I’ll drive the Rambler alone. Arriving at the parking lot, he expects snarky comment from the popular kids with better cars. What really cuts though is that even geeky underclassmen who had to ride the bus are making fun of the Rambler as they gather in the parking lot for a smoke during half time.

After the game, the boy is angry and takes his frustration out on the Rambler. He wonders if he can kill it. Alas, the rugged little car takes every bit of abuse a teenage boy can give it.

There you have my time capsule memory of that Rambler. It may have been a good car. Ours certainly was well built. I owned and drove far worse cars once I left home at 18, but I don’t think I’ve ever known a car with a more negative image among driving age teens than this generation of Rambler American.

The car probably deserved better, but good grief. Cruising the high school hangouts in our blue 1959 American was a soul crushing experience.