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The AMC Rebel (known as the Rambler Rebel in 1967) is a mid-size car produced by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1967 to 1970. It replaced the Rambler Classic. The Rebel was replaced by the similar AMC Matador for the 1971 model year.

History

The Rebel name was introduced by AMC in 1957 as a special model with a big V8 engine: the Rambler Rebel, the first factory-produced lightweight muscle car and the first hint that muscle cars would be part of the company's future

The Rebel name reappeared in 1966 on a specially trimmed version of the Rambler Classic two-door hardtop with a revised roofline. For 1967, AMC's entire intermediate line took the Rebel name.

Throughout its production, the Rebel was available as a 4-door sedan, 4-door station wagon, and 2-door hardtop. In addition, a 2-door sedan (coupé) with a thin B-pillar and flip out rear side windows was available in 1967 only, and a convertible was offered in 1967 and 1968.

1967

1967 Rambler Rebel 770 sedan
1968 AMC Rebel SST convertible
1969 AMC Rebel SST wagon
1970 AMC "The Machine"
The 1967 Rambler Rebel by American Motors was completely new design from its predecessor Rambler Classic. Now a larger car riding on a two-inch (50 millimeter) longer wheelbase, the width was also increased by nearly four inches (100 millimeters) to enlarge interior passenger space and cargo capacity. The new design featured a smooth rounded appearance with sweeping rooflines, a "coke-bottle" body with a shorter rear deck, as well as greater glass area for increased visibility. The Rebel models were similar to the senior Ambassador in that they shared the same basic unit body (platform) aft of the cowl. However, the Rebel's front end saw an entirely new concept with a "venturi" grille motif in die cast metal while its rear end featured a simple design with inward-curved taillights. Rebels came in the base 550 and deluxe 770 models, with a high-line SST available only as a two-door hardtop.

Starting with the 1967 models, American Motors offered the industry's most comprehensive warranty up to that time: 2-years or on the entire automobile, as well as 5-years or on the engine and power train. Offering traditional Rambler economy with six-cylinder engines and overdrive transmissions, the Rebel could also be turned "into a decent budget-priced muscle car" with the , the largest available engine in 1967.

1968

The 1968 models were treated to a modest restyle of the trim, grille, and taillamps. New U.S. government mandated standards for all passenger cars sold in America for 1968 were incorporated. The safety equipment added included shoulder harness seat belts, lighted side marker lights, front seat headrests, and elimination of bright interior trim. A new AMC safety and styling feature was also introduced on 1968 Rebels, the flush-mounted paddle-style door handles. These replaced the former push-button design and become an enduring AMC signature on its passenger vehicles through 1988.American Motors changed its advertising agency to Wells, Rich, and Greene, that was headed by Mary Wells Lawrence. They established innovative campaigns and promotions that emphasized the Rebel's' value for the money in direct comparisons to the competition. This marketing was successful in bringing AMC back to the company's economy and practical-car roots in customers' minds, which resulted in higher sales.

1969

The 1969 model year saw a reshuffling of models and trims with the four-door sedan and station wagon joining the two-door hardtop in SST trim. The interior received a new deeply hooded instrument panel with clustered instruments and controls in front of the driver. The V8 engine was optional on SST models.

1970

In 1970, the sedan and coupe received a restyled rear-end, along with a new C-pillar shape and rear quarters, as well as a more massive rear end and bumper. The hardtop was changed to a more sloping roofline with upswept reverse-angle quarter windows. The taillights were integrated into a new loop rear bumper with Rebel spelled out between them. The four-door sedans also had an altered roofline with a slimmer C-pillar and larger, squared-off rear door windows. Similarly as on the coupe, the belt line kicked up beneath the trailing edge of the rear door windows, and then tapered back to the same rear fascia as on the hardtop. The Rebel station wagons saw no change to their rooflines, doors, and rear fascias. The grille was again revised with a horizontal spit in the middle and the name, Rebel, was spelled out on the left lip of the hood. The exterior trim, colors, and model identification locations were also modified for 1970. Rebels were available in base or SST trim.

A major change was to the available V8 engines. The standard V8 was replaced for 1970 by a new , The was also supplanted by a . The was available on SST models and a special high-performance version standard on The Machine.

The 1970 restyle lasted only one year before a further restyle and renaming the models as the AMC Matador. The 4-door and wagon platform would remain unchanged until the retirement of the Matador line after the 1978 model year.

Production

The Rebel was assembled from Complete knock down (CKD) kits under license in Europe (by Renault), in Mexico (by Vehiculos Automotores Mexicanos), and in Australia (by Australian Motor Industries). Rebels continued to be sold in these and other international markets under the "Rambler" brandname.

For the U.S. and Canadian markets, the Rebel was built at AMC's "West Assembly Line" (along with the Ambassador) in Kenosha, Wisconsinmarker and at Brampton, Ontariomarker, Canadamarker (Bramalea).

Regional wagons

Rambler Rebel "Mariner" wagon


During the 1967 model year, AMC issued a series of specialty Rebel station wagons with luxury equipment. Designed to spur interest in all of AMC's products and to generate increased sales for the company, the special wagons were limited for sale to geographical areas. According to automotive historian James C. Mays, the regional wagon marketing program was a success and it contributed to increasing confidence among the public in the "feisty" automaker.

Standard equipment on all regional wagons included V8 engine (the was optional), automatic transmission, power steering, power drum brakes, and special duty springs and shock absorbers. Each featured a distinctive interior and exterior trim:
  • The Mariner (600 units) in Barbados blue with panels trim of simulated bleached teakwood planking accented by narrow black horizontal stripes and a "nautical anchor" medallion. The interior featured anchors and stars decorating dark blue suede bolster panels of the seats, which also had white piping and broad horizontal pleated inserts of medium blue antelope grain vinyl. The Mariner was sold along the coastal regions of the United States.
  • The Briarcliff (400 units) in Matador Red with simulated black camera grain side panels and "regal" medallions, as well as its own black "antelope grain" vinyl interior. The Briarwood was marketed in major markets in the east and south.
  • The Westerner (500 units) in Frost White with plankwood trim side inserts and a "Pony Express" medallion. The interior featured stallion brown vinyl that simulated "richly tooled" leather on the seats and door panels in combination with white antelope grained vinyl. The Westerner was available west of the Mississippi River.
Each version included the color-coordinated upholstery and door panels, individually-adjustable reclining seats, sports steering wheel, as well as the of carpeted cargo room, a locking hidden compartment, and a rooftop luggage rack. Special regional nameplates were on the rear fender in addition to the unique medallions on the C-pillar.

Regional Raider

In 1969, a Rebel Raider two-door hardtop was sold only in New Yorkmarker and New Jerseymarker. The marketing of these cars was timed to coincide with the New York City Auto Showmarker. Three hundred Raiders were built and many were part of a “driveaway” by area dealers on the eve of the Auto Show. All Raiders came with a V8 engine with automatic transmission, as well as “blow-your mind colors to choose from: electric green, tangerine, and blue-you’ve never seen.” AMC tried out its “Big Bad” colors first this regional dealer special. The hues were introduced at mid-year on the Javelin and AMX models. Other standard features included black upholstery and carpeting, black front grill, black vinyl roof, a sports-type steering wheel, AM radio, power steering, and power brakes. The total price of the special Raider models was advertised at US$2,699.

Rebel funny cars

1967 AMC ad for the Rebel shows how AMC marketing attempted to produce ads designed to change the perception that AMC only made economy cars


In 1964, following record sales and Rambler’s third place position in U.S. sales, AMC declared that the only race the company was interested in was the human race. However, with AMC’s precarious financial condition in 1966 following the race to match its "Big Three" domestic competitors under Roy Abernethy, the new management reversed AMC's anti-racing strategy and decided to enter motorsports as a method to gain exposure, publicity, and a performance image.

American Motors' Performance Activities Director Carl Chamakian was charged to get AMC automobiles in racing, which would help to attract a younger customer base. In a “quest for quarter-mile glory,” AMC reached a $1 million agreement in 1967 with Grant Industries in Los Angeles, Californiamarker (a manufacturer of piston rings, ignition systems, and steering wheels), to build the Grant Rambler Rebel, a "Funny Car" racer to compete in the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) X/S (Experimental Stock) and Super Experimental Stock classes. When asked why the company decided to work with AMC, Grant’s President, Grant McCoon responded, “Rambler is a good automobile, and it’s time somebody proved what it can do.” The relationship provided both companies with national exposure and publicity. The car had a altered wheelbase RCS (chrome moly steel) tube chassis with a AMC V8 that was bored and stroked to tuned by Amos Saterlee. With its GMC 6-71 blower and Enderle fuel injection, the motor produced winding up to 9000 rpm on a mixture of alcohol and nitromethane. Starting in June 1967, the car was driven by "Banzai" Bill Hayes and painted red featuring a blue racing stripe with white stars. Soon, Hayden Proffitt took over the Grant funny car program and ran the Rebel on the quarter-mile (402 m) from a standing start in 8.11 seconds at .

For the 1968 season, a new car was built and renamed the Grant Rebel SST and painted in the new hash red, white, and blue AMC corporate racing colors. With Hayden piloting, the car consistently ran the dragstripin the mid-eight second range at speeds around . By the end of 1968, AMC dropped out of funny car racing and Proffitt retired from racing for a few years.

In 1968, Ron Rosenberry drove the King Rebel of Ted McOsker using a blown fuel Chrysler Hemi engine and had a known best of 9.58 seconds at in the quarter mile dragstrip.

The Machine

The Machine was available in a sedate standard paint scheme


The most recognizable muscle car version of the Rebel was named The Machine which in its most patriotic or flamboyant form was painted white with bold red, white, and blue reflective stripes following success of the 1969 SC/Rambler.

First proposed in June 1968, the car was to have been a 1969 Rebel coupe finished in black with authoritative black wheels and fat tires, without any stripes, scoops, or spoilers, but with an aggressive, street-fighting stance. The proposed model included "The Machine" decal on the rear (that made it into production), as well as a "fab gear" logo on the front fender.

However, an even earlier attempt at a Rebel-based muscle car was produced by the AMC's engineering team: a 1967 two-door built as a development "project" car for carburetion-testing purposes, as well as with "Group 19" high-performance options and the car was re-equipped with a modified engine with an estimated "capable of running in the 11-second bracket." The car was considered a legal drag racing car, according to NHRA and AHRA rules and regulations in effect during those years and was painted in AMC's trademark red, white and blue color scheme, although the color breaks were not the same as on other AMC-backed or -developed race cars.

American Motors' high performance halo vehicle made its official debut October 25, 1969, in Dallas, Texasmarker; the site of the National Hot Rod Association's World Championship Drag Race Finals. The Machine was developed from a collaboration between Hurst Performance and AMC, but unlike the compact SC/Rambler, there was no official connection between the two parties once production commenced. The standard engine in The Machine was AMC's V8 engine with and of torque @ 3600 rpm. It came with special heads, valve train, cam, as well as a redesigned intake and exhaust. This was the most powerful in any AMC vehicle while retaining features required for normal street operations, as well as components to assure outstanding performance characteristics without incurring high-unit cost penalties. The engine is fed by a 690-cfm Motorcraft 4 barrel, it pumped up a 10.0:1 compression, and required high-octane gasoline.

The Machine features a large ram-air intake hood scoop that was painted Electric Blue (code B6) with a large tachometer visible to the driver integrated into a raised fairing at the rear of the scoop. The heavy-duty suspension was augmented by station wagon springs in the rear giving the car a raked look. Standard were a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed manual transmission with a Hurst floor shifter backed by either 3.54:1 or 3.91:1 rear axle gear ratios in the "Twin-Grip" differential, as well as power disc brakes, wide E60x15 Goodyear Polyglas white letter tires mounted on "Machine" mag-styled steel x wheels, and a black interior with bucket seats and a center armrest upholstered in red, white, and blue vinyl. Numerous other upgrades were standard to make each Machine a potent turn-key drag racer. In contrast to the lack of options on the SC/Rambler, Machine buyers could order numerous options. Furthermore, American Motors dealers sold numerous performance parts over the counter, such as an incredibly steep 5.00:1 gearing "for hardcore drag-racer types."

American Motors stated in its marketing promotion that "The Machine is not that fast," the car was capable to "give many muscle cars from the big three (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) a run for their money". According to a retrospective Motor Trend magazine article, The Machine is the most strip-ready car of the group they tested. The Machine could spring from zero to 60 miles per hour in just 6.4 seconds, a creditable showing even today. The Machine's top speed was .

The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) price was US$3,475 (approximately $20,000 in 2007 dollars). After the initial run of 1,000 units with its distinctive and easily recognizable identity, The Machine was available without the stripes in other colors with a blacked out hood. The rarest of all paint schemes for the Machine is Frost White with a flat-black hood (72A-8A), with only three made. Another rare version came in Big Bad Green with only one known factory documented original remaining, which can be seen at Movie Star Motors listed here. The original trim scheme became a $75 option. There were a total of 2,326 Rebel Machines built in 1970.

According to the former editor of Motor Trend magazine, before BMW took "The Ultimate Driving Machine" moniker for itself, American Motors dubbed its high-performance model that could hold its head high in fast company simply "The Machine" and deserves to be considered among the Greatest Cars of All Time.

The Machine was discontinued for 1971, replaced by the Matador, with an optional , "Go Package."

Convertibles

1968 Rebel SST convertible


During the 1967 model year, American Motors produced a total of 1,686 Rambler Rebel convertibles, all in the top-trim SST model. Automatic power operation of top was standard. The new convertible top design featured a "streamlined" look blending smoothly with the lower body with the top up. Its new "split stack" folding mechanism also allowed a lower stack height with the top folded down, as well as for a full-width backseat with room for three passengers.

For 1968, the Rambler name was dropped and two convertible versions were offered in the Rebel line. A total of 1,200 were produced (823 in the SST version and 377 units in the base 550 model). Since convertibles in the Rambler American and Ambassador series were dropped after 1967, the 1968 Rebels were the only open models built by AMC. "1968-1970 AMC Rebel SST Hardtop & Convertible." by the auto editors of Consumer Guide, HowStuffWorks.com. 2007-07-17, retrieved on 2009-10-31. This was also the last year for AMC convertibles until this body style was added to the compact Renault Alliance in 1985.

Collectibility

According to automotive historian James C. Mays, the 1967 limited edition regional Rambler Rebel station wagons became a collectible before their time.

Among the 1968 to 1970 models, the 1968 Rebel convertible should gain in importance as the last of AMC's ragtops, and although station wagons and sedans later joined the SST hardtop, only the two-door models have collector appeal. The Rebel's "clean but mundane styling" is a minus for collector appeal, but Carl Cameron, an automobile designer at Chrysler and developer of the original Dodge Charger fastback, mentioned that the best competitors during the late 1960s were the AMCs with new engines and the Rambler Rebels were really nice, very hot cars, but the company just did not have much of a presence in the marketplace.

Today, surviving models of the Rebel Machine are bold reminders that tiny AMC once took on the big boys on the streets and strips of America – and won. According to Motor Trend magazine, "The Machine is the collectible muscle car for people who laugh at collectible muscle cars." The radical Rebel Machine with its hood scoop "larger than the corner mailbox" places it among the most controversially styled cars of that era, and the cars have a strong following today with their owners being rewarded with climbing prices.

References

Inline
  1. Tom Carter's site dedicated to the 1967 AMC Rebel Rambler regional station wagons, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  2. .
  3. American Motors Product Information Packet, dated February 20, 1967
  4. “Raider Driveaway” undated newspaper, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  5. American Motors Rambler Dealer advertisement, New York and New Jersey market, 1969.
  6. Daniel Strohl, Hemmings Auto Blogs, 2007-12-31, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  7. ArcticBoy's AMC Rebel Pictures Page 1, undated, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  8. Danny White and Dennis Doubleday. "Drag Racing Stories: 60s Funny Cars: The AMCs" draglist.com, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  9. White, Danny. "60s Funny Cars: Round 3: More Hot Rod Headliners" 60sfunnycars.com, undated, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  10. Truesdell, Richard. "The Rebellious American Machine", retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  11. "1970 AMC Rebel Machine" by the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide, 2007-01-12, retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  12. ArcticBoy's AMC Rebel Pictures Page 2, undated, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  13. , retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  14. Petersen, Robert A. SAE Technical Papers (Document Number: 700349), retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  15. Kunz, Bruce. "1970 AMC Rebel", St. Loius Post-Dispatch 2007-12-14, retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  16. Lassa, Todd. "Muscle Cars Comparison: 1970 AMC Rebel Machine, 1970 Mercury Cyclone Spoiler GT, 1970 Plymouth GTX, and 1970 Buick GSX Stage I", Motor Trend, retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  17. 1970 AMC Rebel Machine by Conceptcarz, retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  18. Nerad, Jack. "Great Classic Cars: AMC Rebel Machine", Driving Today, undated, retrieved on 2009-09-05.
  19. Carl Cameron Speech at the 2006 TDC Meet, taped and transcribed by Sue George, Winged Warriors/National B-Body Owners Association, not dated, retrieved on 2009-10-31.
  20. .
  21. .
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