No mater what car(s) you collect you probably belong to an owners group. It’s a great place for the owners to get together and show off their pride and joy, swap stories, or maybe event parts. But unless your group is located near where your car was built, you probably won’t run into many guys who worked at the factory or their dad did.
So for our followers, you already know I have a fondness for American Motors‘ cars, mostly because my dad worked there for over 27 years. So I go to this car show the other night and see some familiar cars, a couple of Ambassadors and a Hurst S/C Rambler. Of course I go up and talk to the owners and we eventually get talking how they came to collecting AMC cars. It’s because our dads worked there. Even though it was a long time ago, we start playing the game, hey did your dad know…..? But most important since every car has a story we spent most of our time on that. Check out the video. Hey, maybe your dad, or uncle, or mom worked there.
OK, not a classic and only cool in my eyes or any of the other AMC nuts that love the Pacer too. Oh yeah, they are out there. This looks to be about a 75 or 76. So here’s your Monday morning laugh. Have a great week.
How many times has it happened when you’re driving down the road, or coming out to your car in a mall parking lot, or see a car on TV or a movie and boom, you remember that you had a car, your first, just like that. Not your second or third but your FIRST. We all have a story and I have a good friend of mine, John Wingate, who Facebooked me an image of his first car, a 1962 Mercury Meteor like this one which he saw the other day. John said he purchased it when he was in 10th grade for $400 and until he received his license, he drove it in the driveway for a week or so. So what’s your story? Come on, nobody’s going to bust your chops here. I owned a bunch of AMC’s so I’ve already taken care of that.
Rebel with a cause
Well since I came up with the idea, I’ll start. My first car was a 1970 Rebel. I cashed in a bunch of savings bonds and went with my dad to get it at Jack Doyle Motors near Germantown, WI. If course that was not my first choice, what I really wanted was a ’73 Javelin but didn’t have the cash so I got the Rebel. It was a metallic brown, auto trans and 360 V8. It did move out. Had a huge front and back seat too. It was my baby and when a friend of mine told me somebody hit it and took off in a parking lot, I was hot. I found out who the kid was who had run home so I rang the front door bell. Kid said he was going to come back the next day and fess up. Ya sure. His parents were not real happy and paid for the repairs. Well eventually I started (mostly dad) put money into to keep in running and traded it in for a ’73 Gremlin. Remember dad worked at AMC plus I thought it was a cool looking car at the time. At the time I said.
I hate to see a car company go out of business, or car line dropped, especially being such a big AMC guy. Most likely the cars they produced utilized several innovations to separate them from their competition. The rear engine Chevy Corvair, Unibody Construction by American Motors, and Electroluminescent instrument panel lighting by Chrysler. Of course there are tons of others. One that Mercury utilized was the The Breezeway window in the mid 60’s. Mercury did this in an attempt to differentiate itself from the the Fords they were based on. The thought behind the concept was that a driver would open the vents in the dashboard then the back window and have fresh air flowing through the car. Because the roof was slanted, no rain would get in. Hmmm, I’m thinking air conditioning would have worked better here.
The concept got good reviews
The automotive trades liked the Breezeway. Motor Trend pointed out in a test of a Monterey Custom sedan for its March 1963 issue, “The window has three primary advantages, all equally valuable as far as we’re concerned. There is, of course, more head room for rear seat passengers than with the window sloped in the regular manner. The window’s roof overhang provides a generous sunshade for the rear seat. … Finally, the window opens, operated by a dash control, and is very handy as a ventilation aid.” Car Life liked it too. “About the styling of the current Mercurys, we can only say that the ‘notch-back’ rear window provides the best ventilation and rearward visibility we’ve yet found on a ’63 car,” it said, but added, “It does make the rear-end appear abnormally long.”
But then they kind of mucked it up.
It did differentiate the Mercury line from the Fords but then for the 1963 model year Mercury added a more conventional-looking Marauder hardtop to the line, sharing the sleek “slantback” roof of the 1963-1/2 big Fords. The slantback roof had been introduced for the benefit of Ford’s NASCAR racers, and its appearance on the Marauder was intended to support Mercury’s own return to racing in 1963. I remember Parnelli Jones driving one at the Milwaukee Mile. Yawn…Mercury buyers weren’t blown away by the looks of the Breezeway, and Mercury’s total 1963 sales were down nearly 40,000 units from 1962; the compact and mid-size lines outsold the big Breezeway cars by a significant margin. Sales were little better the face-lifted ’64s, which deleted the four-door hardtop Breezeway in favor of a four-door version of the Marauder hardtop. Business rallied a bit for ’65 and ’66, but model-for-model sales of the full-size cars were depressing; only the four-door sedans broke into the five-figure range. Off into the sunset the Breezeway went.
A tough car to find now
On my search for Breezeway now I found the pickings slim but not expensive, mostly around 8 grand, but these would essentially be project cars and not show cars. Not that they couldn’t be and if you’re looking for that, there are some good deals. Good examples of the promotional model cars are also hard to find but of course a lot easier on the finances although not cheap. You can find plenty of restoration projects for well under $100 on the action sites and if you’re good at modeling, they would be pretty easy to fix up and maybe even take it to the next level like in this previous post.
But for you who want the car, maybe just one like you owned, or are that collector looking for that one last color be prepared to pay around 300 bucks and up. Going to one of my favorite places to shop for cars (please don’t tell my wife) is Wheat’s Nostalgia. Joe has a couple of cars up for sale. This 1964 above is one of the best examples around. Graded a 10 out of 10, just like it left the factory. Besides having the box, this one has no scratches (tough to find) no warping, chrome and class are outstanding. While your dad may have given you one like this back in 1964 and maybe paid 2 bucks for it, this one is going for $610. Think about it, 2 bucks in ’64 and 610 now. Not too bad. Joe also has (or had) a couple of other Breezeways, also 1964’s. This white one is a 9. Most collectors would be quite satisfied with a model which has this grading as it is near mint. A “9” might have some rather minor chrome rubs, re-plated original chrome, or possibly a tiny paint imperfection but nothing broken or missing. $525 and it’s yours to take home. This black one, again a hardtop, went for $315. Finding one in black is difficult. I really like the look of the 2-door hardtops. So if you’re in search for another project, there are plenty of them on eBay. No worries because there are tons of resources to help you out and you will see in the links below. If you’re stuck, shoot me the question and I’ll do my best to connect you with the people who can help make your project a perfect 10.
Usually when I get ready to make a new blog post on a promo model I have seen it for sale at some auction site but this time I took a bit of a different run at it. I tried to find the car first. In this case a 1948 Hudson Hornet. Why that? Sure its part of the American Motors family tree but why not? I had never seen one so it was time to hit the trail.
For anybody reading this blog over the age of 60, this will be one of those articles where you might say, Yup, I remember that.”, for those of us who are under that it will be a history lesson and for those who are really under that, like my 14 year old daughter, you saw some of this in Disney’s Cars movie where a Hudson Hornet (a ’51) played a prominent role.
The Hudson was created with the idea to offer improved transportation at a reasonable cost, well duh! Hudson was successful almost from the start in serving the upper middle-class motorists of the day. Up to the start of World War II, it was one of the more successful independent car makers. Unlike most of the pioneer automakers, the Hudson wasn’t named for the man who created the car, but for the man who financed it, Joseph Hudson, owner of a giant department store. The real deal fully restored will go for around $40,000 but good luck finding one or an owner who wants to part with it. Continue reading Promo model: 1948 Hudson Hornet→
Like any car guy I subscribe to a lot of newsletters. I like to keep up on what’s new, what’s cool, what’s fast:), and collector cars, mostly from the the 60’s and 70’s. This week I received my AutoWeek newsletter, parused it, and low and behold came across this car. Now of course being an AMC geek I took a closer look at the ’64 Classic 770 Cross Country wagon. Since it usually was cash-strapped, AMC knew the could not go head to head with GM, Ford, and Chrysler so they found a segment the Big Three weren’t in. BTW, did you know that in 1962, Rambler was N0. 1 in station wagon sales?
This ’64 was built on the new Classic, which debuted in 1963, and was named the Motor Trend Car of The Year. The new Classic/Ambassador series was the third all-new Rambler and the second of true midsize proportions. AMC stretched the standard wheelbase from 108 inches to 112 inches, while reducing overall length by almost an inch making for a lower, more modern profile. The wagon accounted for 34 percent of Classic sales. As a point of reference, the Audi A4 rides on a 110 wheelbase while the Cadillac CTS rides on 113 inch wheelbases.
Like a lot of AMC cars it featured lots of innovations such as curved side glass, an industry first for any car outside the luxury class which contributed to a sophisticated look that was supposed to last a decade. “Uniside” construction, which reduced body stampings by 30 percent. Door openings were welded from two stampings rather than 52. All of this reduced the weight as much as 150 pounds for some models. Dual-circuit brakes, soon required on all cars, were carried over from ’62. In my research for this article, besides the ad on the left, I was able to find a radio spot done by Phyllis Diller. She sounds so young.
In the AutoWeek article by John F. Katz on 10/08/2012, he says the example above belongs to Bruce Ritchie, the second owner, “despite 72,000 original miles, seems to have time-warped directly from the Atlantic City showroom where it was sold brand-new. Look past the rocket-age instrument panel, and you see an interior that’s well-appointed and more upmarket in appearance than almost any contemporary midsize car. The seats are flat and soft, and the steering wheel large and close, but those quirks belong as much to the time as to this particular vehicle. The 196-cid, 127-hp overhead-valve six idles in silence and accelerates with a happy thrum. The steering is predictably linear, while the soft all-coil suspension convincingly replicates the ride (and body roll) of a much larger car. But that was precisely the Rambler’s appeal: big-car comfort and style at 23 mpg.” according to Katz.
While this is not a hot collectible, it is affordable. The car’s original list price was $3,233 and examples like this will go for around $7,900. Best of all, parts are available, and all one has to do is join one of the collector clubs, like the American Motors Owners Association, to find out where they are.
So here’s my promo model, a two-tone, white over maroon. I’ve had this car for a very long time as you can see by the dust on it. I’m not sure if it was one my dad brought home when he worked at AMC or I bought it at a swap. I do remember seeing these at swap meets. Examples of good ones like mine go for around $50. I was only able to see one on eBay and the current bid was around $35. I did see a ’63 Classic Sedan with a current bid of $90. I have one of them too. A few years back, my dad and I were at the American Motors Owners Association event in Kenosha, where most of the AMC’s were built, and there were some vendors selling the promo models. I was talking to a couple of guys, one who was into collecting promo models year by year and all the colors they came in while the other was collecting just the wagons which I have. Thinking back now to when I was kid, dad brought some many promo models home, many free while some others he paid 2 bucks for, 2 bucks! Quite a few of those were either burned or blown up in my driveway.
In the early 50’s most of the car manufacturers were going the “bigger is better” route. Nash Motor Company executives were examining the market to offer American buyers an economical transportation alternative. In came the Nash Metropolitan. Wait a minute, isn’t the all coming around again with cars like the Fiat 500 and Smart Car? Same concept, small car, good gas milage and fun to drive. The “Met” as it is called sometimes was first introduced in 1953 and was a partnership between Nash, here in the US, and Austin Motor Company, and Fisher and Ludlow in England to become the first American-designed car, that was to be exclusively marketed in North America, had been entirely built in Europe. It was also the first American car that was marketed specifically to women.
What’s not to love about this car? It’s wheelbase was just 85 inches, smaller than a VW, got great gas mileage, 40-47 mpg, and it was fun to drive. By the time of the end of the production run, there were 94,986 sold in the US and Canada with 1959 being the best sales year where 22,209 were sold. Today this car has a cult-like following with several car clubs.
For those of you who don’t have the cash or garage space there are the Met promo models. These were made mostly by Hubley Manufacturing both as promo model and a kit. The one way to tell them apart is that the promo was friction and the kit was not. When the Met came out, a dealer could order a box of them for 18 bucks. These are actually pretty easy to find.
I believe the one I have here was my dad’s. The detail on this is pretty good and they only thing keeping this one from being a perfect 10 would be the missing post on the passenger side. It has very little warp in it. I do not have the box with it which also would knock it down some. I have seen ones with boxes going in the neighborhood of around $200. I almost had the real deal but for some reason couldn’t hook up with the buyer and it was the same color as this one.
AMC’s AMX was an automotive rarity, a two-seat muscle car on a short wheelbase that most folks at the time agreed handled more like a sports car.
American Motors’ Javelin had just come out a few months earlier when AMC unveiled the AMX for 1968 ½ in February of that year. Auto World’s 1:18 version is a “frost” white 1969 AMX Hurst SS version, the rarest of the rare.
This is by far my most favorite car AMC ever made. If I had the cash, and good ones go for about 25 grand, I would go out and get one. Looks and power in a small package. I did own one, once, and it was a disaster for me. Hellbent on getting one of these, I found one for $2,500. That should have been my first clue of impending disaster. When I jambed the throttle, it pinned me to the seat, I laughed and the tires screamed! What a hoot. Then the engine blew up. A 390 which would not be easy to find. I found a 360 and actually tried to install it myself which would be about the same if I tried doing open heart surgery. I know where all the stuff is and what it does but was in way over my head. Continue reading Promo models: AMC AMX’s→