This car is quite the unlikely find, in this state, in this location, in this state of service.
It is most certainly an American Beauty. American Motors that is. While I cannot prove it, I hypothesize that this car was built some 26 km (16 miles) north-west of where I found it, at the old Brampton, Ontario AMC plant. It just seemed to me that the fellow who owns this car would have wanted to buy a domestic (Canadian) made car. You see, as I was taking a few hurried shots of his beloved, he approached with the introduction, “You vant to buy dis car?”, and a friendly pre-COVID handshake.
I was in a hurry to get downtown to an appointment, and it was cold and drizzling, when from across the street my eyes were pulled as if by radar to turn away from the Compact Utility and teardrop shaped filled roadway to this squared sight. I reeled off a few photos on my trusty phone, none too high in quality of the interior, and was ready to dash to the subway.
I assured my friend of my purely photographic intentions and he replied that it was not for sale anyway, with a chuckle. He informed me quite proudly that he bought this car new. In 1965, Ontario was issuing 6 digit numeric license plates, so the plate visible in the photos was issued in 1973 when all numeric plates were changed over to the 3 alpha – three numeric character format. It appears he was close to first in line.
When this Rambler roamed the streets as a new car, it was one that kind of blended in if you will. Its design was not one to draw a great deal of attention to itself, not one that necessarily stood out. Its ad touted the features as being sensible, good trunk space, lots of leg room, with good durability.
I didn’t get the mileage reading, but let me share this with you. The dealer sticker on the trunklid indicates this car was purchased about 3 km (2 miles) west of where it sat that cool morning. McDowell Motors is no longer there (it’s now condos, what else), but it was at that dealer that I went as a young lad to meet my childhood hero, Jean Beliveau, by then retired from the Montreal Canadiens. I rode my bike there, and stood in awe as he shook hands with people and patiently spoke with them one to one. He was then an AMC spokesperson, and was there for an endorsement.
In 1965, Chevelles, Skylarks, Falcons, Valiants, Comets, and Belvederes all participated in the mid-size category. At 112 inches for the wheelbase, this Classic was not a small car, but it was less than the Ambassador, which came in at 116 inches.
I would guess this one had the 232 Cu.In engine under the hood in order to go easy on gas. There is an automatic transmission on board, and a handy metric conversion calculator hanging next to the gearshift. The analog clock has perhaps long stopped working, and I am betting it will not be repaired. The AM radio appears to be tuned to a talk radio station. A disability parking space permit sits on the dash. I would have to hazard a guess that out of the new car lot, with those snazzy original Rambler wheel covers, automatic transmission, the radio, whitewalls, the 770 dress up package whatever that may have consisted of, he may have spent a bit over $3000 on this car, plus taxes of say five or six percent. I dare say he may not have made a more prudent purchase in his life except for his current house that he may have bought around the same time.
Certainly late ‘50s and early ‘60s cars were all over the streets at the time, and including Ramblers but a bit less so. Rambler came in eighth in 1965 among US automakers with 391 thousand cars altogether, as compared with Chev at 2.375 million, Ford at 2.175 million, Pontiac at 802 thousand, and Plymouth at 728 thousand, etc.
When our friend bought our featured machine one sunny day in 1964-65, he may have cross shopped at Old Mill Pontiac, walking distance for him. He may have checked out the Pontiac Acadian, cousin to the Nova, or the Beaumont, cousin to the Chevelle. Finding neither of them a fit, he may have travelled west to Islington Plymouth Chrysler to look in on a Savoy. There was a lot of news about the new Ford Mustang at the Ford dealer, but that was kind of flashy for him. The Fairlane was attractive, but a bit more than his price range it seemed, so off to McDowell it was to make the deal.
To me, to find a car, in this rust prone climate, in this fine condition, (carrying just a few paint dings), of this age (well past its fiftieth birthday), on the busy streets, and to still be apparently a daily driver (at least in the good weather one would assume), I say “Congratulations Sir” on a faithful servant for all these years. May she live on in your garage and in your care.
Photographed in Bloor West Village, Toronto, May 2019