It is interesting that they chose the Ambassador for Post Office duty and not the less expensive Rebel. As I recall, all of the Amby’s extra length was ahead of the firewall, so that would have been no help to the letter carrier. Or maybe AMC had a load of Ambassadors sitting around unsold. The market failure of these cars has always fascinated me – on paper, they were just what America was buying at that time.
If they were unsold, converting to right hand drive may have been somewhat costly.
My guess is that these ended up as rides for Postmasters, with the occasional mail delivery for appearance sake.
Possibly a consignment of cars built for export and never sent? Generally speaking RHD export cars, whether built or CKD, would’ve originated from the Canadian branch plants though, to take advantage of Commonwealth tariff practices, Japan and the Republic of Ireland being the largest non-British Commonwealth RHD markets and both tiny markets for imports of big American cars although Ireland took quite a few trucks in this era.
So the mailman is constantly reaching into the back seat? sounds incredibly inefficient.
Yep, it should be a swiveling bucket seat for the driver and some sort of organizing system beside him and in the back like we see on their purpose built vehicles. He’s be reaching over the back seat of that Ambassador so much that I foresee chiropractic bills in his future
Still kicking myself I didn’t buy that $800 ’68 4 door I saw on a country highway half a lifetime ago. One that got away.
Inefficient, yes, but it wouldn’t be any different than any number of rural letter carriers at the time who were using sedans. Those guys had to supply their own ride.
Here – just about 40 miles to the northwest of Boston – we had a rural mail carrier up until about 10 years ago. He ultimately managed to get a RHD Subaru Outback, but before that it was a regular LHD sedan with a bench seat that he drove from the passenger side. He was quite proficient reaching over to steer. I don’t know how he managed the gas and brake.
But whatever he was driving, he handled the mail the same way the current carrier does in an official USPS vehicle…that is he put the current portion of the route’s mail in a bin or box and had that on the left seat beside him (whether that was the driver or passenger seat). So, no reaching into the back seat for mail. Larger packages were put in the back seat and he’d stop to get out and extract those. Once he finished the mail in the bin, he’d pull over and get the next bin/next portion of the route’s mail from the back seat. The car was loaded that way and the bins were filled at the post office before the route began. Again, basically the same as it’s done now. Very efficient.
I still have rural mail carriers here. The bulk of them drive Honda CR-Vs so they can sit in the passenger’s seat and operate the LHD. I’ve seen a few RHD Subarus over the years, but I would imagine the CR-V is quite a bit less expensive since they are quite popular in my area.
A few years back someone was trying to sell two Ford Escapes that were used for mail delivery. One had 400,000 miles on it and the other had like 500,000 on it. The ad stated that they were completely worn out and not drivable.
Are there any still out there? That would be a fun and probably inexpensive find.
In Patrick Foster’s book, “American Motors:The Last Independent”, he says that the US Government bought 3,745 Ambassador sedans in 1967. Most were used for the US Postal Service. Patrick Foster theorizes that the cars were purchased by the US Government to give AMC a quick cash infusion. AMC was in dire financial straights in 1967.AMC tried to meet the “Big Three” automakers “head on” instead of focusing on smaller compacts. AMC lost $75,814,962 in 1967 which was its worst loss ever. So the red, white, and blue Ambassadors were the US Government helping out AMC to survive.
Eek, socialism!!1!11!! Quick, –run and hide– shoot it!
As far as I can tell, the Postal Service got 3,118 of these Ambassadors. About a quarter of the USPS Ambassadors were left-hand drive, so I suppose those were used for administrative purposes rather than mail delivery.
Surprisingly (in my opinion) these cars were slated for urban mail delivery, not rural delivery. This was an era when the postal service was ‘motorizing’ many of its urban delivery routes, and I suspect that not all of these routes ended up being fully motorized, but rather where the mail carrier would load his car with mail, drive to certain location, hand-deliver a few blocks worth of mail, and then drive to another point. But still, I’d think that a car of a smaller configuration would be better suited to such uses.
That’s how they do it around here, but now the vehicles are U-body minivans or Ram Promasters.
Wow, the numbers on the hood and license plate match that of the car in the ad! Same car, perhaps?
Probably used the ad as a reference for restoration.
The plate is a bad fake.
If we look at a DC plate, which used the same plate dies as they were made at the old Lorton prison just like DC plates, we can see that it is a fake.
Since, it was a US Government vehicle, it should have a US Government plate.
This is what a Post Office license plate looked like from the 1960s. It had U.S. GOVERNMENT embossed across the top, and the “P” prefix in the plate number denotes it belongs to the Post Office.
The museum car is a reproduction of this type of plate, but like Triborough noted, you can tell the numbers (font) aren’t quite right.
Never knew these existed. Thanks Paul for bringing these to our attention.
As a retired Rural Carrier (for 18 years) I used a variety of vehicles besides the ’98 Subaru RHD wagon I owned. It was the easiest vehicle ever to deliver from on the route, but during routine servicing or in very deep snow, I had an AMC Eagle (actually 2) that I also put into service. They were not rhd and quite an effort to drive from that right side. The inline 6 was a torquey critter and got me thru the worst of snow bound roads. NEVER got stuck once I couldn’t free myself from as clearance was exceptional for a car.
I wonder how well these Ambassadors worked out, as I am sure they were all 6 cylinder cars with automatics. (we were prohibited from using a manual trans. car for safety reasons.) By far, the least mechanically weak of any I owned and used, was an ’88 Buick LeSabre with wide bench seat, flat floor, and dynamic 3800 – V6 engine. Perfect for a carrier using both sides of the car for delivery or other transport. I got 300,000 miles of service from it and the engine was never apart. The AMC Eagles each had around 250, and the Legacy had around 280 on it when I retired 10 years ago. It was the only car I bought new; the others all had around 100,000 when I got them and put them to work. It is also the only car out of the group I parked in the garage and kept as part of my small collection
So mrgreenjeans (love the user name!!), enlighten us on how you handled the brake and gas from the right seat in your Eagles?
Sitting fully upright in the right seat, left leg straddling the high center hump, leg carefully wrapped around the center console/automatic shift lever, and left foot alternating and actuating the required peddle. It took a bit of practice but it was not impossible. Shift on the fly 4 wheel drive was a very cool thing on the later builds. (The LeSabre required little to no athletics to get it right.) I am a 6’1″ person with a 230 lb. build; not flabby but not ultra fit neither and got it done, but others would find it awkward. We were told we had to wear seatbelts to and from the first and last delivery point on a LHD car and drive from the left until the first box, then back to the P.O. In my RHD Subaru seat belt usage was required at all times and I happily obliged. ( I also grew up around sportscars, the track, and performance driving myself, so belt usage was always a strong requirement I adhered to.)
I packed the customers mail in a 2 foot long tray and it sat in order of delivery behind the steering wheel where a driver would normally sit. Packages were stacked in the back of all 3 wagons and in the trunk of the LeSabre, as we had to normally dismount at the door on rural delivery for parcels.
We were paid a per diem for mileage, had to buy our own cars, fuel, and maint. We had to treat our route as a ‘business’ and were paid every two weeks based on a yearly mail count, but filling out a Federal Govt. 4240 form daily to register accountability on time and miles.
What amazes me yet to this day, is how many so called ‘postal mgrs.’ tried to subvert the system and actually try to persuade via demand (never written) the carrier to alter time and mileage. Flat tires, snow, detours and other things which would cause a route deviation were always discouraged to be recorded !!??!! I responded the same way and NEVER falsified any document at their request. A simple “Would you care to place that request in writing and in triplicate ?” would usually suffice in the vermin turning it’s back and strutting away…….. wth ?? If you did something that stupid, termination was the next step that would be taken.
people……how do some live with themselves ??
It was a GREAT job, great pay, tremendous customers, but piss-poor management you had to always second guess on their motivations. None of those motivations seemed altruistic, usually were condescending, and emanated from a puppet who had their strings pulled by some ‘wizard behind the curtain’
I noticed the wipers position is for the LHD. That means the driver would have to lean his head to the left to see the cleared portion.
Some Australian states require the wipers position to be swapped or the right-side wiper to have longer blade as to clear bit more windscreen.
A friend of mine has a 67 SST in RHD he told me it was done new and arrived here RHD so as a special order it must have used postal parts the window master control switch was still on the left door hes had it moved across since I first saw his car so an incomplete conversion but now I know how it was possible for the factory to do it so easily there are two such cars in the country both came here new.
I recently saw a Mercedes-Benz Metris in USPS livery. I wasn’t sure what it was at first, as there was a USPS logo in the center of the grill instead of a 3-pointed star.
A little web research tells me USPS bought a bunch of RHD Metrises to tide them over as the LLVs die off and Oshkosh ramps up whatever the heck it is they’re going to end up building.
While it may still possible to do a fleet order, the latest Wrangler did away with the RHD option. I’m going to guess it was the last RHD domestic vehicle that could be civilian ordered.
No, Jeep has introduced the 2021 Wrangler RHD. It’s found in the FCA fleet vehicles website.
Scroll down to CHOOSE YOUR VEHICLE then click the right arrow until you see the RHD.
AMC had a vital relationship with the Federal government since buying Kaiser Jeep. As a supplier of Vietnam-era Jeeps, it was a natural fit for the Feds to bail out AMC when Abernathy blew it up in the mid-1960s. Rambler would not have survived without the Federal purchase of its car fleets and the Post Office was the recipient of these vehicles.
Growing up in a blue-collar bedroom community housing subdivision, our postal carrier walked. They got to the neighborhood via a US Post Office vehicle, and over the years, it had been a Jeep, a Pinto, and a Chevette. All cars were models that had worn out their welcome in the auto market and the Feds picked them up by the thousands.
…except that AMC didn’t buy Kaiser/Jeep until 1970, a few years after buying these Ambassadors.
For 1991, RHD Subaru Legacy wagons were delivered to the postal service. I noticed some of these being used in New Hampshire.
Cool to see at least one RHD Ambassador survived .
I remember a RHC Chevy Nova , the only one I ever saw ~ it was *very* tired but still running when offered for sale .
A 1967-68 Ambassador is MY kind of car. I know the styling is an amalgamation of other mid-late 60’s cars, but it’s still hard for me to see why these didn’t sell better. I bet they’d have sold a million if they were produced by a GM division…
My parents bought a new RHD 1994 Subaru Legacy postal vehicle before they moved back to the UK, drove it 10000 miles on a road trip starting from St Louis (which included a woman screaming at them in a petrol station in New Mexico that their right hand drive car was illegal and should be destroyed) to the west coast and up into Canada, put in in a shipping container and unpacked it six weeks later in the UK. Even after import duties it was several thousand pounds cheaper than buying one in the U.K. Ours was light blue (new for 94) and they ran it for 150k miles before selling it on. Many of the parts were different from European cars including the cross member behind the rear bumper which meant it couldn’t take a Euro tow bar. But enough cars were being imported mainly by returning British embassy personnel that my father got a small company to design a tow bar especially for this model!
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