By on May 5, 2012

Don Hogenson led a different life before he became a family man. He was a professional football player with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. Then he embarked on a career as a professional wrestler.

That all changed when his family got bigger.

Enter this 1966 Rambler American station wagon.

At that point in his life, Don was a car salesman. In those days, you didn’t use company demos for personal business. Don spotted this Rambler with a mere 114 miles on the clock. It was perfect for an upcoming vacation.

The car made sense for the trip until, as Don explained, “we were going on holidays and I couldn’t take a demo, I bought it, parked it and a half hour later cops were there after a guy had an epileptic seizure. Lost my holidays that year, because I told them I wanted all new parts.”

A year later the car was back to normal although Don admits that “the back corner has 4 pounds of lead on it.”

After that, there were no more disasters with the little wagon. As Don related, “ I drove it for twenty years pretty much anytime I didn’t have a demo car. I hauled kids everywhere in it and my daughter used it as a wedding car.”

There were a few skirmishes with the car though as Don recalled, “my kid and 2 other brats decided to break the windshield and I wore myself out trying to catch them as they ran around the car…disadvantages of a wagon.”

Eventually, the little Rambler became less of a factor for the Hogenson family, and it wasn’t driven for 15 years. Last year Don’s son decided to take the family wagon back to its former glory.

The car was really solid mechanically as Don explained, “I had to redo the brakes because they were seized, needed a new windshield, motor wasn’t touched.”

The car was a fairly lengthy project, and Don tried to stay away from his beloved Rambler during that period. Don admits, that he cried when he saw it. That speaks volumes about his inner car guy and his attachment to the little wagon because Don is not an overtly emotional guy in person.

Now,the Rambler gets a daily workout. Don can be seen all over town behind the wheel of his 46-year-old car. He admits “that I’d sooner drive this than my 2004 Camry because of the sentimental value, but it will never see another winter.”

His only regret is the lack of power steering. Don said it was easier to drive in 1966 when he was much younger and still had youth on his side.

Other than that, this 1966 Rambler station wagon is home for good as part of the Hogenson family heritage.

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18 Comments on “Car Collector’s Corner: 1966 Rambler Station Wagon – A Family Heritage Car Makes a Comeback...”

  • avatar

    A practical classic if I ever saw one.

    Folks today would think their arms would break if they had to hand crank the windows, to include the rear at the tailgate. There was a time when some folks had to parallel park without power steering.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Love Ramblers, they’re so uncool they’re cool.

    Although the song refers to a Nash Rambler I can see a Rambler without thinking of the song… “Beep, Beep”

  • avatar

    I love this car. Four door post. Think I would rather have this than the two door post wagon that I do have. Guess the grass is always greener.

  • avatar

    There is something so touching about stories like this and of cars like this little Rambler.

    True, it’s not a flashy car by any means, but it has a style all its own in a somewhat stylish way, and part of it is the two tone red/white paint scheme, using the sill line as the demarcation between the white top and the red body. In fact, since it’s a bright red/white color, it actually looks on the sporty side. if it were a beige/silver or some nondescript color, it would’ve looked dowdy even.

    Nice find.

  • avatar

    A really cool story behind a really cool car!

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    My parents had a similar one with a 232 inline-six, and three on the tree, that sometimes would get jammed.
    Actually learned to drive on that one.

    Served us well until it was stolen; the police later found it abandoned and completely stripped in a field; a carcass that vultures had feasted upon.

    • 0 avatar

      I learned to drive at age 13 on back country gravel roads in a four door Rambler with a six and an auto trans. Parents let me. Cannot recall the year, think it was a ’64. Our next car was a Dart with a slant six. We were fortunate to buy two very reliable cars in a row, because we had very little money at the time, and my parents knew nothing about cars – it was luck, really.

      When I got my license at 16, the first winter (in Canada), my best friend and I would take that Rambler out in the evening every time it snowed. I learned how to take corners in a four wheel drift in that car. Since we were going quite slow in the snow, nothing ever got damaged. Give the Rambler a little time to pick up speed and some gas and it would plow through a snow drift up to the hood. This was with skinny bias play (studded) snow tires in the rear only.

  • avatar

    “The car made sense for the trip until, as Don explained, ‘we were going on holidays and I couldn’t take a demo, I bought it, parked it and a half hour later cops were there after a guy had an epileptic seizure. Lost my holidays that year, because I told them I wanted all new parts.\'”

    Does this make sense to anyone?

  • avatar

    CJinSD: barely. Took me until the end of the comments to untangle this in my head. Let’s see:

    The epileptic was driving something and hit the Rambler with it, causing cop arrival & Rambler damage.

    The Rambler man had a tussle with the (epileptic’s?) insurance company over original vs. aftermarket parts, which took so long that he couldn’t take the car on vacation that year.

    The above thus accounts for the four pounds of lead (a previous generation’s bondo) referred to in one of the wagon’s back corners.


    (BTW, here should be a TTAC secret decoder ring you could send off for that would help you out in these cases.)

  • avatar

    Jerry put the verbatim quote in the story from the owner and erred by not including bracketed additional information to clarify the quotes. Sorry about the confusion.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s good as-is. It took me a third read to figure out the entire story, but it felt as though I was actually listening to the guy, trying to decipher his story.

      Ramble on, Rambler man!

  • avatar

    Simple and elegant styling = a very beautiful car. a beautiful restoration. I want one just like it. Also a very nice story.

  • avatar

    These cars were the most reliable on the market! Drive’em for years w/o nearly the same problems as the “Big 3”. American motors should’ve lived and Chrysler should’ve been the company that went under.
    Most people think American motors made slow cars for old people. I had a buddy that had a bad a** ’72 455HO Pontiac Trans Am. We would go out into the country and race all comers. He was the king of the hill until some guy came along with a Rebel Machine and kicked him off of the hill! We all had a much higher opinion of American Motors after that.

    • 0 avatar

      The chrysler A body set the standard in this class of cars, and was light years ahead of the rambler in pretty much every category. The suspension, as well as the torqueflite transmission used in the A body were superior.. The rambler still used the borg warner automatic which was outdated. AMC began using chrysler’s torqueflite in all of their cars in the 72 model year. The slant 6 intake manifold was tuned with long, separate runners for superior air/fuel distribution. The log manifold used on all other sixes was atrocious in comparison. The slant 6 also used a better exhaust manifold design, as well as a gear reduction starter. The A body was also the first car to use an alternator. AMC didn’t have the money to keep up with the big three in the engineering department when they decided to enter the compact market, which AMC had previously domintated. So basically the big three took the market right out from under them, and the A body was the car that drove the final nails in the rambler’s coffin.
      The AMC six was a great engine though, and was used by chrysler in the jeep lineup through the end of 2006.

  • avatar
    CA Guy

    The Rambler American designed by Richard Teague that debuted in 1964 is one of the most handsome cars of the 1960’s, and the first American that looked truly new and modern. I prefer the first year with the round headlight housings but this one looks great as well. My uncle finally was persuaded to turn in his ten-year old Chevy 210 for a 1964 four-door sedan, in gold metallic and white. A great-looking, well-built, reliable car.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    My dad owned one of these….very similar to this one, in fact: Dad’s was red where this one is red, but black where this one is white.

    Mom and Dad had 4 kids when he bought this, but those Catholic devils, two more kids in 3 years and presto, dad had to upgrade to a larger ’69 Ambassador SST wagon.

    He was a Rambler man, and a wagon man. The nut doesn’t fall very far from the tree,I reckon.

  • avatar

    Am I the only one who looks at the picture with the tailgate down and sees hints of Chevy Suburban in the two-tone and taillights?

  • avatar

    Beautiful! And those Rambler wagons had fold-down front seats. Brings back fond memories from high school. :)

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