By on October 4, 2011

Many of the older cars you find in the junkyard clearly spent a decade or three moldering in a side yard or driveway before taking that final ride behind the tow truck. The project that never gets started, or the once-reliable car that needs a new transmission, or sometimes just Grandpa’s forgotten daily driver. We don’t know that this Rambler ran when parked, but we can tell when it was parked: 1986.
That’s because the trunk is still full of Denver newspapers and phone books from 25 years ago.
This convertible is pretty well thrashed, far beyond the point of being a worthwhile restoration. You can get a fairly straight restoration candidate for cheap, so why pour ten grand into a basket case to make it worth five grand?
Still, it is sad to see this car headed to The Crusher. Perhaps some rat-rod Rat Fink type will save this 287-cube V8 for a fenderless ’26 Nash Ajax project (though a Jeep Tornado OHC six in a Graham-Page 612 would be even cooler).
Weather Eye!

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18 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1965 Rambler Classic 770 Convertible...”


  • avatar
    Birddog

    A Tornado 6 in any Rod chassis would be awesome!

    “so why pour ten grand into a basket case to make it worth five grand?”
    I’ve made that mistake once. Once…
    Now it’s strictly classic “solid” beaters that look like they have about 6 months before hitting the yard for me.
    It is sad to see this one go away but a lost cause is a lost cause.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    AMC products were driven by strange people when I was a kid, plus, they were small when big was in. I ignored them. When I got older, I discovered the work of Patrick Foster who is the champion of the independents. Patrick Foster brought AMC to life for me and basically gave me a new old car. Studying them is like seeing that period in a new light. My opinion now is that AMC products up until the early 70’s were little jewels of cars. It’s fun to look at, say, a ’64 Ambassador and see nearly as much luxury as a Buick Electra 225 – abet in a shrunken form.

    I checked my Standard Catalog before writing this and learned that AMC built 4,953 1965 Classic 770 convertibles so, as much as I hate to see this one crushed, there has to be some nice ones out there for future generations to enjoy. AMC didn’t get much interest or respect back in the day and, sadly, this is still true. As Murilee points out, it just isn’t a paying proposition to restore this car.

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    This was an important car for Rambler, uh – I mean American Motors. Romney left AMC on a winning streak by becoming a humble missionary for a humble car with a humble purpose. Romney buried Hudson and Nash nine years earlier and broke a lot of hearts doing so. Not everyone liked making Ramblers, even though they liked climbing the sales charts and becoming the number three auto maker with those dull little compacts. Romney left and flushed with cash, the guys at AMC decided to make cars that they wouldn’t be embarrassed to be seen in at the country club with their Ford, GM and Chrysler buddies’ big Lincolns, Cadillacs, Imperials and Buicks.

    Besides, the thinking went, Romney’s small car gambit saved AMC when the market collapsed in ’57, but Americans returned to profitable big cars and Ramblers weren’t what Americans wanted during the Jet Age. They were Hudson and Nash men, not Rambler men and they wanted what they had a decade earlier. Studebaker wasn’t succeeding in the prestigious compact Lark and Mercedes-Benz markets, so the thinking went that compact Ramblers were a dead end. Additionally, the Big Three brought in nine new Rambler competitors and AMC felt a need to expand somewhere.

    So, by 1965, AMC threw everything it had from the preceeding profitable seven years of growth and cash into resurrecting full size cars such as the Classic and the Ambassador. At the moment the market went ga-ga over the compact Mustangs and Barracudas, AMC presented this very competent Impala, Galaxy and Fury fighter.

    Within the year, AMC was flat broke and facing bankruptsy. The new full size cars did not open any new markets, but instead pirated sales from their compacts. While sales for the full sized cars grew respectfully, sales of other Rambler vehicles declined to more than offset any new sales. AMC built full sized fleet queens by going after a market that had been fully saturated, causing Ford and GM to launch new option laden LTDs and Caprices. AMC countered with the DPL, but this was not enough. AMC’s gamble did not return the bang for the buck needed and their wallets were emptied by the attempt to move upscale. What saved AMC was the United States Postal Service contract to buy up those dull little compact Ramblers at fire sale prices to keep Kenosha open.

    When AMC was tooling up their full size auto renaissance, one of AMC’s suppliers, Budd Company showed up with a Rambler based XR-400 sports compact. It was rejected by a Board remembering Hudsons and Nashes, not one seeing a future Mustang.

    AMC had everything in order for it to take advantage of where the market would eventually move during the 1960s and 1970s. However, by spending Rambler profits trying to impress the Board’s Big Three golfing partners, AMC no longer had the finances to hit this market with new cars. The Rambler was retooled into the successful Hornet and Gremlin, but by 1975, AMC was out of gas and living off of fleet sales, and Jeep sales until bought by Renault in 1983.

    AMC advertised itself as the “Small Car Specialists” up to the end. History however shows that this description was not the one AMC’s board chose. The Board’s actions didn’t demonstrate any confidence with the successes they had with small cars. Small cars, it seemed, was all they had left to sell, not what they wanted to sell. By the time AMC discovered that their survival depended upon how well they made small cars, they lacked the cash to remain competative in the small car field and offer new cars to replace the aged Rambler/American/Hornet/Gremlin/Concourse/Spirit. AMC’s board failed to respect the source of AMC’s profits and allowed the car to become obsolete while pursuing more attractive markets.

    • 0 avatar
      BigOldChryslers

      IMO, just add some pictures and your comment could be a CC article. :)

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ……I’d second that, but Nash, er, Rambler, photos might scare young readers away…..jus’ kidding. VanillaDude sure has some interesting history on Rambler, whoops, AMC’s seemingly perpetual decline back in the day. I can walk blindfolded to the defunct locations of GM and Ford showrooms I haunted as a teen, but be hard pressed to remember where I ogled any Ambassadors. Maybe the dealer was beyond walking distance, but more likely they just weren’t on a young guy’s radar, for many of the reasons VD describes. BTW, I have a big old Chrysler myself, in what looks like a similar color….Tahitian Coral.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    We all loved my mom’s 1979 Concord. The perfect car at the time! The car above? Not so much, but when the Rebel came out, I believed it was the perfect Chevelle/Torino fighter, plus I loved that thin, linear grille.

  • avatar
    GrouchoMarxist

    My grandpa from West Allis, Wisconsin, had a yellow Rambler Classic 4 door, 6 cylinder, three on the tree, manual steering, manual brakes, from about 1965. My grandpa from Beaver, Pennsylvania, had a 1969 Dodge Charger, light blue, black vinyl top, 318 V8, automatic, power steering. I loved both of my grandfathers. But, my grandpa from Pennsylvania was cooler.

  • avatar
    cheapthrills

    That newspaper is from the day before I was born!

    Also, that “Classic” emblem would look awesome ANYWHERE. My toaster, my computer case, my E30…time to check eBay.

  • avatar
    ravenchris

    My parents owned one of these with the automatic and power brakes.
    Like MM I would visit junkyards for parts.
    The front seats did recline…
    Thanks.

  • avatar

    Here’s a 65 Rambler that had a better future-
    http://www.mystarcollectorcar.com/2-features/stories/519-1965-marlin-smitten-by-a-rare-1960s-american-motors-fastback-.html

    • 0 avatar
      Robert.Walter

      Down at the end of the block, Don Stewart’s family had their grandfathers Rambler Classic ragtop in the garage under a tarp for years… when Don got his licene, he began to drive it. Nice car in red, wonder what ever happened to it or him!

      There’s a red and black one of these Marlins near my home in Switzerland!

  • avatar
    fincar1

    The expression “ran when parked” is the worst waste of advertising space I’ve ever seen, and if I see it in a car ad I move on. Of course it ran when it was parked. My new Accord ran when I parked it last night too. Good Grief!!

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      ……”ran when parked” is carguy code for “motor seized”, much like “great project car” means “sitting outside on blocks with no wheels”. There are lots of others……..on convertibles, “serviceable top” means a patchwork quilt of duct tape and Saran wrap, etc.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Being a former east coast guy, this car looks far from too far gone to restore. They’d call that rust free anywhere within three hours drive of the Chesapeake bay, and this is a V8, manual transmission convertible! OTOH, putting the top and interior right will cost more than a new Ducati.

    • 0 avatar
      dvp cars

      …..yeah, I don’t think it’s that rusty myself, but, like you point out, it’s a zero sum game………the best one in the world wouldn’t fetch 20 grand.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    I’ve only seen about ten Rambler Classics in my lifetime (I’m 46), but it seems like most, if not all that I saw, were in that ugly pudding yellow. Yecchh!!!

  • avatar
    87CE 95PV Type Я

    Part of me is more interested in that Dodge Caravan since it looks like it has parts that could benefit my daily driver Voyager.


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