Final Parking Space: 1965 Rambler Classic 660 4-Door Sedan

Murilee Martin

The American Motors Corporation did good business selling small, sensible cars bearing the Rambler brand during the late 1950s through early 1960s. Rambler sales peaked in the 1962 model year, after which competition from new compact and midsize offerings from the Detroit Big Three made life tougher for the not-so-big Kenosha outfit. During the middle 1960s, AMC battled for midsize sales against the likes of the Chevrolet Chevelle and Plymouth Belvedere with its Rambler Classic. Today we’ll admire the first AMC product in this series with a Classic 660 found in a yard located between Denver and Cheyenne.

Murilee Martin

The Classic began life as a 1961 model during George Romney’s reign at AMC, then got a complete redesign for 1963 and became bigger and more modern-looking. Unfortunately for AMC, Ford introduced the Fairlane as a 1962 model, while Chrysler was right there with brand-new B-Body midsize machinery at the same time. As if that wasn’t enough, GM stepped up with the Chevelle and its A-Body siblings for the 1964 model year.

Murilee Martin

AMC, by then without Romney (who had gone on to become governor of Michigan), completely redesigned the Classic for 1965 and it looked just as slick as its many rivals. The following year, the Rambler name entered a phase-out period that was completed when the final AMC Ramblers were sold as 1969 models (the last year for Rambler as a separate marque was 1968).

Murilee Martin

The 1965 Classic was a bit smaller than the Fairlane, Chevelle, and Belvedere, though somewhat bigger than the Commander from soon-to-be-gone Studebaker.

Murilee Martin

The ’65 Classic offered plenty of value per dollar; the list price for this car would have been $2287 (about $22,894 in 2024 dollars). Its most menacing sales rival was the Chevelle Malibu, which had an MSRP of $2299 ($23,105 in today’s money) with roughly similar equipment.

Murilee Martin

This car is a 660, which was the mid-priced trim level slotted between the 550 and 770. Rambler shoppers who wanted to pinch a penny until it screamed could get a zero-frills Rambler 550 two-door sedan for just $2142 ($21,443 after inflation), which just barely undercut the cheapest Ford Fairlane Six ($2183) and Chevelle 300 ($2156) two-door sedans. Studebaker would sell you a new Commander two-door for a mere $2125 that year, but found few takers for that deal.

Murilee Martin

The 1965 Classic’s light weight (curb weight of 2882 pounds for the 660 four-door) made it respectably quick even with a six-cylinder engine. This car was built with an AMC 232-cubic-incher rated at 145 horsepower. If you wanted a genuine factory hot rod Classic for ’65, a 327-cubic-inch V-8 (not related to Chevrolet’s 327) with 270 horses was available.

Murilee Martin

But back to the straight six: This incredibly successful engine family went on to serve American Motors and then Chrysler all the way through 2006, when the final 4.0-liter versions were bolted into Jeep Wranglers. The 232 was used in new AMC cars through 1979.

Murilee Martin

Automatic transmissions were very costly during the middle 1960s and the Classic didn’t get a four-on-the-floor manual transmission until 1966, so the thrifty original buyer of this car went with the base three-speed column-shift manual.

Murilee Martin

At least it has a factory AM radio, a $58.50 option ($586 now).

Murilee Martin

You had to pay extra to get a heater in the cheapest 1965 Studebakers, but a genuine Weather Eye heater/ventilation system was standard equipment in every 1965 Rambler Classic.

Murilee Martin

AMC sold more than 200,000 Classics for 1965, and the most popular version was the 660 sedan. I still find Classics regularly in car graveyards, so these cars aren’t particularly rare even today.

Murilee Martin

This one is just too rough and too common to be worth restoring, but some of its parts should live on in other Ramblers.

Murilee Martin

Its final parking space has it right next to another affordable American machine that deserved a better fate: A 1979 Dodge Aspen station wagon.


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    Ramblers got little respect in their day but were good, solid cars. I had a ’92 Jeep Cherokee with the injected 4.0L straight six. Great engines.

    Picking up on your tendency to mention past politicians in your articles, I wonder if young Mittens drove this vehicle West to attend BYU and then abandoned it. 😂😂😂

    I probably didn’t think so in the day but these are really nice looking cars and from all indications, they were good cars. If I had space and extra money (if there is such a thing) I would own a Ramber. But it would probably one of the very limited high performance versions.

    The interior looks a bit rough and the exterior matches the soil in it’s rusty color. Is the engine salvageable?

    Love these pieces, wish you could have wiped down the controls on the dash before pics, in a world of plastics I do love old dashes with god looking controls.

    One anachronism that the Rambler Classics (and Ambassadors) of that era had was a torque tube driveshaft. Made transmission repair “lotsa fun”. I believe it was gone by the 1967 model year.

    Yeah the torque tube would sometime lock up my 3 on the tree shifter. Always carried a big hammer so I could crawl under and smack it back into place. That 6 cylinder was smooth as silk.

    My dad bought a Classic 770 for my grandfather to drive when he came up to WNY from Florida during the summers (covered vacation time in a family pharmacy). The rest of the year it was mine. It was the first car I officially drove after getting learner’s permit. No power steering, slower than pond water but as they say, it was transportation. It was also the 1st car I drove in snow with bias ply regular tires. Thankfully I think God watches out (sometimes) for the dumb and innocent.

    A trip down memory lane looking at the front brings back my Dad’s 65 Marlin now that would be the one to restore it was not slow with that 327

    We had a ‘550’ with 327 ‘Tri-poised power’ 4bbl. Soon as I saw the radio I remembered how to ‘set a station’ by pulling up on the button – and then back down- and to ‘lock the doors’ – push down on the door handle- and up to unlock. All in all Ramblers offered some nice ‘value added’ features for the money!

    One “value-added” feature in this bottom of the range example appears to be reclining seats.

    Indicating that ‘every dog has it’s day’? Let this poor dog lie — it wasn’t a show dog once in it’s life! Three pedals, anyway! Rambler sedans; Aunt Emma’s ride!

    I some time rode with a friend who had an AMC ?? Late sixties. He loved to drag anywhere, for $50.00 cash. He would tell any interested lookers, he would take one of their friends with him, he would start out in second, squeal tires, leave it in second the whole time, &beat the “other” guy, quarter mile & top speed, time after time. He told me, one time it receded so high, it shot a push-rod right thru the rocker cover. He would “floor “ it, &just move his foot, left, off the clutch, & Win many,many, $50.00 bills.

    In 1970 or 71 I bought a 65 Ambassador for $500. In 73 I joined the army and got a call from home saying the engine died and dad had it towed. My next car was a new Gremlin.

    My dad had a 1963 Rambler Ambassador 880 2 door sedan red with the white top, red interior, 3 on the tree manual, bench seat, V8. He bought it brand new from West Valley Rambler that was on San Jose-Los Gatos Road in Los Gatos California. I remember it did not come with seat belts

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