The Allman Brothers espoused being a Ramblin' Man, Led Zeppelin needed to Ramble On, and in Ramble Tamble, CCR sang down the road I go. Today's Nice Price or Crack Pipe American may not run, but it's a Rambler too.
It's not that odd that yesterday's quirky Saab 900 Turbo ended up dancing the freak to its 66% Nice Price win. That '86 still had a lot of love to give, and, for its asking price, it could love you long time.
Long also happens to be the time since today's contender was a common sight on America's highways and backs of LIFE magazine where ads touted it as the Economy King with a brand-new zing!
Once upon a time the American auto industry wasn't composed of only the Big Three (or the 2.35 of today). Just as we're seeing consolidation and elimination of brands in this era, so did the two-martini lunchers of the late fifties and early sixties see several major brands coalesce or disappear entirely. The 1954 merger of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor Car created AMC, or American Motors Corporation- a perfect designation for the McCarthy era amalgam. This created a fourth major U.S.-based car builder although the newly minted AMC never seriously challenged the overall sales numbers of Ford, GM or even Chrysler.
Four years after the merger, the Nash and Hudson names were dropped and Rambler was elevated from model to brand. Rambler focused on the compact car market for the remainder of the decade and into the sixties, building sturdy and progressive cars that managed to keep the company competitive in the segment. This 1963 Rambler American 440 wagon is a prime example of the company's bread and butter cars, which also managed to capture the Motor Trend COTY award that year. The Arizona car is claimed rust-free and looks relatively complete, including some nice accessories such as a cooler, surfboard and "fitted" luggage - and yes, fitted is intended as a joke. Wearing a patina and war wounds that only time or Hollywood special effects wizardry can create, the wagon also sports post-jet age styling composed of vestigial fins at roof's edges and a slick tapered greenhouse. These cars were dubbed the "bread box" in differentiation of their predecessors whose rolie polie styling marked them as "bath tubs."
Inside there's a split bench up front and an unsplit one in the back. Gears are selected via a column shifter, and behind that is a great instrument panel that possesses down the rabbit hole speedo graphics and sits under a padded eyebrow dashboard. It's easy to see the bare-minimum instruments through the two-spoke steering wheel which also sports a chrome horn ring for all your finger-resting pleasure. The rest of the interior is rode-hard-and-put-away-wet rough, but hey, this is a car that's going to take some work, as the pictures prove. In its favor is the under-dash A/C which could probably be brought back to R134 life.
Behind the trapezoidal grille lies a 195.6-cid cast iron straight six. The base version of the motor originally put out a generously estimated 125-bhp, and a hot two-barrel version (dubbed Power Pak) was available with 138 horsepower. These cars came with Armstrong power steering and brakes that were equally unassisted, however Rambler Americans are light and owners describe the cars as almost sporty in their driving demeanor. As this one has over 300K on the clock, you know it was good enough for some Ozzie or Harriet, so if the thought of doing a little manual labor to make it steer and stop causes pause you should just man-up and realize that's how mom and dad did it.
The downside of this car is that it does not presently run. Now, those commenters who get all bug-eyed at the thought of just pumping their own gas have already moved on so the rest of us can get down to brass tacks and acknowledge that cars of this era are so simple that this Rambler could be rambling again with little effort, and the only tool you'd need to get it there is probably just a hammer. The seller says it needs a carb rebuild and he has the kit. Okay, that can be done in a bout a half hour while sitting on the dropped tailgate and enjoying a cold Mr Pibb. Also recommended is a boil-out of the gas tank. Big deal. If the brakes are shot, you'd probably want to plan the trip home from Arizona on roads with as few stop signs as possible, but hey, it'd be an adventure, right?
Sometimes adventure costs a lot - flying Virgin to the edge of space will be a six figure affair - but in this case, your earth-bound rambling escapades are only $1,600 away. This seller has tried to eBay the Rambler before and didn't have any takers at $1,800, but that's just because he didn't have the rabid Jalopnik commentariat as potential buyers. So, rabid commentariat, what's your take on this Rambler 440 for $1,600? Does that price make you think you might have been born a Ramblin' man? Or, is even that much too much to make you Ramble on?
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