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Sunday, May 13, 2012

1964 Rambler

  1. Trim differed greatly on the posh 1964 Rambler Ambassador, though it shared the same body shell with lesser Classic. The big difference was that Ambassador featured a V-8 engine.
    Riding high from being 1963’s Car of the Year and selling out to the walls with banner sales, Rambler entered the 1964 selling season with an attractive line of vehicles. All cars were now built domestically; virtually none were imported from the States.
In presenting the new line, President Earl K. Brownridge said, “We have built our success on this foundation and will never waiver from the dedication to base our product concept directly and specifically on true Canadian consumer needs.” He cited benefits to consumers, providing better value, an emphasis on quality and belief in compact cars as Rambler’s key to success in the Canadian market place. 

The compact and perky American had been redesigned from the ground up. Riding on a new, longer 2 962-millimetre (106-inch) wheelbase, it was beautiful with its deeply tunneled headlights and graceful lines. Only the 220 and the 330 series were offered in Canada, with the sole exception of the Rambler American 440 convertible, of which 936 were built in Brampton for the domestic market. A dozen right-hand drive convertibles, were exported. A total of 129 right-hand drive Rambler Americans were built. Records show that 19 left-hand drive models were also exported. 

The staff at Track & Traffic tested a two-door Rambler American sedan. They liked the style, noted the curved side glass, unusual in an economy car. “It is part of the smart new look for ’64, a trend-setter among compact cars.” The editor wrote, “Rambler has taken a great step forward with the American,” then boldly predicted, “in spite of its south-of-the-border name, there’s a big place for it in Canada.”

The most popular Rambler American model with the Canadian buying public was the 330 four-door sedan. It accounted for one out of every four Americans sold, reaching 2,890 units. The second most popular American was the stripped 220 four-door sedan. Workers produced 2,890 units, taking 22.5 percent of the model’s sales. Billed as Canada’s Economy King, a total of 11,731 Rambler Americans was produced in Brampton for the domestic market during the 1964 model year that ran from August 12, 1963 to July 16, 1964.

In Canada, the 1964 Rambler American convertible was the only model in the series offered in 440 trim.
Engine choices for the American were the venerable 3.2-litre (196-cubic inch), 90-horsepower, six-cylinder; the new, 125-horsepower overhead-valve six or the 138-horsepower, overhead-valve six. All were mated to a three-speed, manual transmission, though the self-shifting Flash-O-Matic transmission was an extra-cost option.
The Rambler Classic was very popular in 1964. The 550 four-door sedans were the second most sought after of the Classics by Canadians. A total of 3,214 were built in Brampton, Ontario during the model year run.
Next up the corporate ladder was Rambler’s Classic. Touted as “having a new low silhouette that looks so smart nestled in your driveway,” it was the company’s bread-and-butter line; Classic production reached 18,993 units during the year. The vehicles were offered in three trim levels: 550, 660 and the upscale 770. It is interesting to note that the 770 two-door sedans, available in the US were not offered here. 

Consumers liked the 660 four-door sedans best of all; 6,766 of them were built. The modestly trimmed 550 four-door sedans were second, finding 3,214 owners. The least popular Classics were the 770 station wagons, of which only 634 were built. Classic accounted for a whopping 58.3 percent of model year production. Of that final tally, 255 right-hand drive models were built.

Introduced in 1964, the ultra-modern, seven-main bearing Typhoon engine was the basis for Rambler's trio of six-cylinder offerings.
Owners could choose among three power plants for Classic: the standard mill was the 127-horsepower, overhead-valve six, the 138-horsepower version or the 198-horsepower V-8. The three-speed manual transmission was standard equipment but the extra-cost overdrive option was available on Classics as well as the Flash-O-Matic transmission.

Classic interiors were finished in a tasteful combination of vinyl and cloth. The seats were coil spring for a more comfortable ride. All Classics and Ambassadors carried a Cushioned-Acoustical Ceiling made of moulded fibreglass, guaranteed to cut road noise by 30 percent.

The 1964 Rambler Ambassador 990-H.
The finest Rambler money could buy was the Ambassador line. It was designed for Canadians who had a “yen for motoring at its luxurious best.” Although it shared its body shell with the Classic, trim and standard equipment set it a country kilometre apart from its Classic kin. The most important distinction was that the compact luxury flagship was available only with a V-8 engine.

While folks south of the border could choose between the 880 or 990 trim levels for their Ambassadors, only the more posh 990 trim level was offered to Canadians. The ultra-swanky 990-H hardtop was imported. The four-door sedan reached 938 units, the two-door hardtop 626 units and the four-door station wagon only 313 units. The Ambassador 990 two-door sedan seen Stateside was not offered here. Production for the most expensive Ramblers totalled 1,877 units, accounting for 5.8 percent of domestic Rambler production. A total of 60 Ambassadors were exported, all to left-hand drive countries. 

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!
Ambassadors were powered either by the 250-horsepower or the four-barrel, 270-horsepower V-8 engine. The beefier mill required premium fuel. Like Classic, the engine was mated to a standard three-speed manual transmission, though overdrive and Flash-O-Matic were optional equipment.

Interior of the 1964 Rambler Ambassador was elegant. Here one sees the centre console and the rear centre armrest.
Ambassador interiors carried wood-grain inserts on the instrument panel and the doors. Upholstery was “a rich vinyl” or vinyl and cloth combinations in High-Fashion Colours: blue, green red, gold, maroon or turquoise. All interiors co-ordinated with matching cut-pile carpeting. An added touch of class was chromed bows for the Acoustical Ceiling.

After being dipped in anti-corrosion rustproofing bath right up to the roofline in giant tanks, Ramblers were given tough, triple-coat paint jobs. There were fourteen solid colours to choose from: Classic Black, Rampart Red, Forum blue, Westminster Green Aurora Turquoise, Bengal Ivory and Frost White. Then there were the metallic colours: Scepter Silver, Sentry Blue, Woodside Green, Lancelot Turquoise, Emperor Gold, Contessa Rose and Vintage Maroon. For $24.20 extra there were forty-two, count ‘em folks-forty-two two-tone combinations waiting to be had. 

Only 313 Rambler Ambassador 990 Cross Country station wagons were built in 1964. The tailgate opened like a door.
The optional equipment list for this year’s Ramblers was almost as big as Eaton's Catalogue. Those add-ons included power steering, power brakes, and power lift windows. The Flash-O-Matic transmission cost $209.30. There were headrests, Twin-Grip differential, Sunshade Solex Glass, backup lights and a push button all-transistor radio. The windshield washer cost $11.85, outside rear view mirrors sold for $6.50 each. There were seat belts, heavy-duty springs and shock absorbers. The fabled Weather-Eye heater added $83.75 and an engine block heater another $7.55 to the purchase price. White sidewall tires added $19.90 to the tab and full wheel covers replaced dog dish hubcaps for $18.20.

Rambler accessories filled a book in 1964.
One could order bucket seats-with or without console or centre armrest. Of course, there were split bench seats, too. For an additional $31.95 on models so not equipped, either buckets or split bench seats could be made into the famed Airliner beds with the flick of a lever. Wedge-cushions smoothed out bed contours, air mattresses made nap time comfy and insect window screens kept out bugs on an overnight sleep in one’s roadside Rambler Hilton.

Those were the glory days at Rambler Canada. On March 24, a milestone was reached when the 3,000,000th Rambler was built in North America. It happened to be an Ambassador 990 wagon and it happened to roll off the line in Brampton, Ontario.

Rambler was the fifth best selling car in Canada in 1964, with calendar year sales of 31,802 units. Pontiac took first place, full-sized Chevrolet took the number two spot (GM listed Corvair, Chevy II and Chevelle as separate makes), Ford was third (Fairlane and Falcon were listed as separate makes), and Valiant earned the fourth spot. 

Visit my old car website at: The Oilspot Eh!

Copyright James C. Mays 2004
All rights reserved.

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