Sunday, January 5, 2014

1959 Rambler Super Cross Country

"Rambler presents the only station wagon with the best of both: big car room  . . .  small car economy. The recognized economy leader, too. World's only station wagons with Personalized Comfort. Take your choice of Economy 6 or Rebel V-8 engines."

Don't be fooled by the looks: what appears to be a homemade conversion, is genuine Rambler station wagon design. The sloping roof with an "added" flat top that should provide space for extra luggage, held in place by the unique "Roof-Top Travel Rack", was a signature feature of Nash Rambler station wagons since 1953. The only custom modification of our pictured Rambler is its front grille, and we think it turned out quite unfortunate: when new, the Rambler front looked as cool as this.  

AMC had a good run with its "compact" Rambler in the 50s, because it offered a niche product that wasn't competing with the cars of the "Big Three". The economic recession of 1958 even amplified this success story. With its restyling in 1957, the Rambler had grown up significantly. Yet, customers seemed to like this bigger appearance and honored it with sharply increasing demand.

It was apparently a real paradox: customers deserted the "Big Three" to buy compact cars, but at the end of the day, they bought the ones that were roomy and comfortable, and close to a full size car. In fact, what America really wanted was practical transportation, rather than spartan small cars. Kaiser-Frazer and Hudson had painfully discovered this dilemma earlier. The Rambler, though, hit the sweet spot of the clientele's aspirations. Aside from a better fuel economy, it was surprisingly roomy inside. There wasn't a big difference to the cabin space of full size cars.

In the U.S.,the station wagons were pretty popular among Rambler customers, accounting for almost half of the total production in 1959. Strangely enough, this 50:50 ratio isn't reflected at all on Cuban roads. Here, a Rambler station wagon is a very rare sight, while the sedan can be seen quite often. Cuban customers, apparently, bought much more conservative, and a station wagon was considered an utilitarian vehicle.

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