Saturday, April 18, 2009

1957 Rambler Custom

"Beat rising fuel cost! Get Rambler that set the coast-to-coast record, 32 miles per gallon with overdrive. Pay the lowest price. Get highest resale value. Be smart. Switch to Rambler, V-8 or 6."

This Rambler Custom, parked at the beautiful beach of Trinidad del Mar, is one of the earlier "compact" cars which should become a big success at the end of the 50s.

It wasn't an easy business for smaller car companies, to compete with the "Big Three" in the 50s. Nash President George Mason rightly had recognized, that the "independents" could only survive by merger, to get use of the same economy of scale that helped the "Big Three" to cut down production costs. In 1954, Nash merged with Hudson, to form American Motors, the only "independent" that should survive over a longer period of time.

The Rambler Custom, introduced for 1956, was sold as Nash and Hudson Rambler equally, and effectively became the most successful model for AMC. With the 1957 facelift, Nash- and Hudson nameplates were dropped, and the Rambler was sold as its own brand.

AMC was clever enough, to introduce a performance version in 1957, called the Rambler Rebel. Looks were similar to our pictured car, but under the hood worked a 325 cubic-inch V-8 engine with 255 hp. The combination of powerful engine and rather lightweight construction made the Rambler Rebel the second fastest car in the U.S., only subdued by the 1957 Corvette. In an horsepower-hungry era, this recipe was ideal to promote the Rambler lineup, and the sales soared, even when only a fraction of customers finally picked up a Rebel. At the end of the decade, AMC had established Rambler as Detroit's best-selling compact car.

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