Collector Classics: AMC Rambler Marlin

American Motors Corp.’s well-equipped Marlin was basically a modified two-door Classic

Last weekend I was in Pinehurst, N.C., where I spotted a rarely seen and mint condition 1965 AMC Rambler Marlin.

The American Motors Corp. produced this model from 1965 to 1967. The 1965 model was marketed as the Rambler Marlin; in 1966 it was simply badged as a Marlin; and in its final year it became the AMC Marlin.

The Marlin was basically a modified two-door Rambler Classic, fitted with a 145-horsepower 232-Cid in-line six-cylinder engine.

As such, it did not exactly have a tire blistering zero to 60 mph (zero to 100 km/h) speed, which was reported to be 10.8 seconds.

However, what it lacked in acceleration it more than made up for in the braking department, as it was one of the first American cars to be fitted with a four-piston Bendix caliper, front wheel disc-brake package as standard equipment.

Only 2,005 Marlins were built with the smallest engine option, while the total 1965 and 1966 production amounted to 14,874 examples built, featuring a 270-hp 327 V8. The Bendix brakes were better suited to this engine package, which could keep up with the big three Pony cars of the day.

The long list of standard equipment was supplemented by numerous options which enabled buyers to personalize their Marlins.

The most popular engine combination ordered of the entire production run were fitted with the 327 cu.-in. (5.4-litre) four-barrel V8, often paired with an automatic transmission and a floor console shifter. Forty two per cent of the cars were built in this configuration.

Less than six per cent, regardless of their engine size, were fitted with the innovative “Twin-Stick” manual transmission. The centre console-mounted controls were supplied with a longer stick lever for the regular gears and a second shorter lever for selecting an overdrive gear.

One of the exterior options included accent colours for the roof and side window trim which enabled owners some further personal customization.

With a 1965 base price of $3,100 the well-equipped Marlin was only $37 more expensive than the sparsely equipped Rambler Classic 770 two-door hardtop.

In an attempt to broaden the car’s market appeal for 1966, AMC lowered the base price to $2,601.

AMC CEO Roy Abernethy had instituted a prohibition of corporate sponsorship of automobile racing because he personally was opposed to activities that glamorized speed and performance.

Consequently AMC ran an advertising campaign that said: “Why don’t we enter high-performance Rambler V8s in racing? Because the only race Rambler cares about is the human race”.

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