Rambler succeeded on the strength of its practical and staid compact sedans and wagons. Yes, the very first Rambler was a convertible sedan, but that soon grew a solid steel roof. And in 1961, the American 440 dropped its top, the first convertible Rambler. But the mainstay Rambler Classic and Ambassador kept their staid hats on. For that matter, they never had two door hardtop coupes either until 1964.
But in 1965, part of AMC’s new strategy to compete with the Big Three across the board, the first Classic 770 convertible appeared. Less than 5,000 of these ’65s were made, and 1,806 of the similar ’66 model. That was the end of the road for that experiment.
Eric Clem found and shot this veritable Rambler unicorn sitting at the curb on a beautiful summer day, just begging to be taken out for an early evening spin.
These were tough times at AMC, as market share was falling after the long and very successful climb to its peak years in 1960-1962. The whole mission of the company, which had been so laser-sharp on compacts, was now diffused. AMC simply didn’t have what it took to compete stylistically and otherwise with the Big Three. What convertible would you have bought in 1965? A boxy Rambler Classic or a hot and stylish new Mustang? Over 100,000 buyers picked the latter that year.
You have to wonder just who did buy a Classic convertible. It most likely wasn’t the classic die-hard Rambler buyer. Or maybe there were five thousand of them who were ready to live a little after the kids who grew up in the back of a 1950s Rambler wagon had left home. Rambler buyers in the ’50s weren’t necessarily constrained financially; they were drawn to the practical size and features of the more compact Rambler. Now a few of them might have indulged themselves. Emphasis on the “few”.
This one does not have the optional bucket seats, console and floor shift. So maybe its first owner wasn’t quite ready to make that big of a leap from their well-worn Classic wagon.
But they did spring for one of the optional V8s (287 or 327) and automatic. And it’s got spinners on the wheel covers. But I don’t see those in the brochure. Aftermarket?
In any case, this is a terrific find, and a great addition to our growing list of Rambler and AMC cars we’ve covered to date.