Glenn A 1966 American Motors Ambassador 990 4dr Sedan

My "green" freedom-mobile

My first car was a 1966 AMC Ambassador 990 – near top of the line - green, 4 door, 327 V8 / 270hp with factory Holley four-barrel carburetor, Twin Traction (“posi”), automatic, power steering, power (all-drum) dual-circuit brakes, radio and “gasp” reclining seats). I once had one photo of my car but I no longer do, sadly.

When I got it in 1973, I was sixteen and it was a seven year OLD car (then, this was considered “a junker”). When new, it was a near-luxury sedan built by a company which was by the early 1970’s was still doing moderately well with their smaller cars (Gremlin, Hornet, new Hornet hatchback, Hornet Sportabout wagon). You know, cars as “compact” as a Jaguar saloon new today…. AMC was still selling plenty of new full-sized Ambassadors in 1973, as well, as this was just before the OPEC fuel crisis, and gas was still 30 cents a gallon. My uncle bought a new ’73 Ambassador, in fact.

Unfortunately, a green four door was seriously “un-cool” for a teen guy back then, but beggars can’t be choosers and my father bought it for me as a surprise because of all the work I’d helped him with since the summer I was 13 (building houses as a business). Kind of a “bonus.” Naturally, despite its “un-coolness” I looked at it as a magic carpet to adulthood and freedom of movement, just like everyone else in my generation did. It was at least cooler than probably ½ of the other guys’ cars in High School. (One poor sap had a two-stroke Saab… beige – back when the only real import car presence of note in the high-school parking lot was Volkswagen Beetles).

Even so, even a ‘66 Ambassador DPL two door luxury hardtop in a color other than GREEN would have been an improvement…. Or, better yet, a ’67 Ambassador convertible in red with a 343 V8 and 280 horsepower?!

Mine wasn’t even rusty (it was a northern car, too) and had relatively low miles, ran reasonably well (and was quite quick, considering what it was). Famous road-tester Tom McCahill tested one and did 0-60 in 9.7 seconds (corrected) by manually shifting the automatic just short of valve-float. Not that I ever did that…. (ahem….) (3100 pounds divided by 270 horsepower = snappy performance no matter what the “brand” there is on the valve cover).

My dad told me that just for laughs, he had it to over 120 mph on the drive home from where he bought it (while driving on a back-road). Of course he did not tell me that until I was 50 years old and he was 76! I never had it past 70 mph or so. Okay, maybe 75ish. (Unlike most teens, apparently I really WAS smarter than my father?!) 10” cast iron non-finned drum brakes, and bias ply tires, anyone?!

However, I did occasionally surprise the daylights out of young guys with early small-block Mustangs and Camaros, by blowing their doors off in impromptu evening street races from light to light on “main street”. (Carefully looking to ensure no po-po’s had their cop cars and cop lights and cop ticket books anywhere near, of course). Yes, it was humiliating to the Ford and Chevy guys, and hey, life’s tough when you get your doors blown off by skinny bespecled guy in a four door greeeeeeeen “Raaaamblerrrrrrr” isn’t it? Heh heh. Especially in front of their girlfriends who were inevitably riding with them.

Until I “traded up” to a 1968 Pontiac Catalina blue 2 door hardtop at age 17, none of the dads in town would let their daughters go on a date with me.

No problem with the Catalina. I got permission to go out on dates from the dads. (The change was immediate, so no comments about geeky skinny 16-17 year olds with glasses not getting dates!)

So, that was my favorite "green" car of all. My "freedom-mobile" and the beginning of being adult enough to drive myself around.

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