Curbside Classic: 1965 Rambler American 440: One of “The Sensible Spectaculars”

I have to say that I have had a pretty fruitful week in my car sightings seen around the Home of the World’s Most Famous Beach. Although nearly every time I venture out into the wild around town, I spot something Curbside Classic worthy, I just need to remember to capture more images. I have some relatives in town and yesterday I climbed in the passenger seat of a huge F-350 4 door longbed diesel, let my older brother do the driving and we saw the sights around the area. One of them is the subject of my Curbside Classic for today.

I had previously spotted this Rambler in the parking lot of a locally owned pizza joint in the middle of the afternoon and got these images of it. We passed by it again yesterday and I pointed it out to my driver brother and he whipped in to take a look at it. I mentioned it was going to be showing up here soon and commented about that rare Daimler SP 250 I had previously seen. He made me bring CC on his wife’s fancy fancy cell phone so he could see it. He, just like me, couldn’t believe that sighting!

This is the third, and final, generation Rambler American. This is the last of the body styles offered by Rambler as the next grouping of offerings were from the American Motors Automobile Company.

It’s ironic this model was named the American when the first generation was introduced in 1958 and continued on until its demise in 1969. The third generation was a fairly economical automobile, both in purchase price and fuel economy, and it regularly won the annual Mobilgas Economy Run.

This Dick Teague era design was produced by Rambler both in the United States and Canada. Further, Rambler also licensed its design for the American to several overseas companies for production and sale in Iran, Argentina and South Africa. Those companies were able to do some design modifications to it, particularly on the front fascia and provided localized names for them.

This 106 inch wheelbase sedan has seen some use and wear and tear over the years but it is the owner’s daily driver and has been since 1983! He says it has 177,000 miles on it and he has not had the engine or transmission apart since he bought it with 37,000 miles on it.

One of the reason for this is most likely the engine it possesses.

Newly designed for 1965, the 232 cubic inch overhead valve in-line 6 in this sedan evolved into the venerable 258 utilized in nearly every Jeep from 1971-1989. My younger brother is looking at a 1984 Jeep Scrambler that has one in it! The engine further evolved into the 4.0 fuel injected version that was used in Jeep products, this time by Chrysler, through 2006. I would say parts are fairly easy to come by for this motor!


The owner also mentioned he is often asked if his car has a 440 engine in it. I laughed and he mentioned the 440 was a trim level.

Rambler offered three different trim levels on the third gen American. 220, 330, and this 440. The differences were basically chrome and more chrome as well as engine size. This one has a three speed column mounted shifter for its manually operated transmission, factory air conditioning and four wheel independent suspension.

The interior of this one is in the same shape as the exterior, or worse. I would suspect trying to find some those missing buttons and knobs is going to be a long term project should this automobile ever be the recepient of a “frame off” restoration. I put “frame off” in quotes as there is no frame for this offering, it is of the unibody design. One of the first for Rambler.

I think the front of this American is interesting, especially the grill. The upper grill is continuous between the headlights while the lower grill does not. A bunch of car designers back in the ’60’s just sitting around thinking up minor chrome design cues like this just amaze this olelongrooffan.

The body of this car is in pretty good shape considering it resides less than two miles from the Atlantic Ocean. Other than a little rust on the hood, some surface rust and that dent on the trunk lid, it is just a few hours work away from a shiny new coat of paint.

And the sides are almost without door dings or other imperfections.

As an aside, this third generation American body style was incorporated a few years later for the creation of the

SC/Rambler. This sporty hardtop coupe is worthy of a whole other Curbside Classic, the extended version. I spotted this gaggle of them at a car show recently and still can’t get over it. That sighting was the most I had ever seen in one spot! Ah, to see one out in the wild will be fantastic.

However, my personal favorite American is this one I saw at the same show. This was a barn find up in Georgia and brought home to Daytona Beach several years ago. This vehicle was without engine or transmission and, instead of rodding the heck out of it, the owner put in a period correct 258 with an automatic transmission. I remember it being a ’68.

And why is it my favorite? Did you see the length of the roof on it?