Regardless of the nomenclature, it is almost unbelievable that the target public of the non-mainstream carmaker didn’t have unlimited and affordable access to a 12,000-gallon (45,000 liters) rustproofing primer tank. That’s what AMC used for keeping corrosion at bay while the industry standard was still the spray-painting line.
Rambler saturated the nooks and crannies missed by ordinary painting techniques to ensure the galvanized steel body wouldn’t give in to oxidation like the competition’s cars. Remember the Plymouth Rus… Duster, America’s most biodegradable automobile from the early seventies?
Unfortunately, 1964 was also the year of the Mustang. Annoyingly, history only retains the collective memory and hides the truth in some dust-covered shelf hidden in some abstract barn of nostalgia. With the new wonder-kid of American motoring, the AMC machines became even less attractive for the buyers.
However, even with that year's pony car Gold Rush, AMC still found the energy to release some exciting automobiles. With the financial reins pulling hard on the engineering enthusiasm, Rambler had to rely on ingenuity to make ends meet. So, for 1964, the top-of-the-line Ambassador and the run-of-the-mill Classic had as many shared parts as feasibly possible.
Luckily, the car came in the possession of a wrench-turning father-and-son duo (Rob and Connor Hofford) with an appetite for classics. Although Hofford Senior is a Mopar-infected gearhead, the AMC automobile wasn’t guilty of the capital sin that most car guys can’t overcome. Since it wasn’t a Ford or a GM product, the Rambler Ambassador was deemed worthy of a restoration.
The engine had to be rebuilt – and Connor did an outstanding job putting it back together, as we can all see in the video below this article. I wish I could find a wormhole to travel to 2082 and see what kind of cars people from that time find hidden in barns and what they do with them. But honestly speaking, I have strong doubts that any of today’s new cars can have even one-tenth of the appeal of this old classic.
Four trim levels for the American and another four on the Classic presented the buyers with 26 options (counting the roll call of body styles), with seven more on the select Ambassador. Nine engines were available, with seven transmissions putting the horses on the road. Naturally, the big engines were the leading stars – but in 1964, Rambler proposed a 327 cubic-inch (5.4 liters) as the main V8 gun for its piston armada.
The 990 H (H stands for hardtop, by the way) had the luxury of being powered by the powerlifting 270-hp (274 PS) variant, with 360 lb-ft (488 Nm) to put the transmission to work. Incidentally, three gearboxes could be ordered with the motor, either a three-speed automatic or two manuals (with three and four speeds).
Although the Ambassador offered amenities such as the fake-stereo reverb radio, the most sought-after item of a 1964 Rambler Ambassador 990 H was not found in the cabin. It wasn’t found almost anywhere due to its tendency to break down. We’re talking about the vacuum windshield wiper motor, almost universally missing from junkyard residents sporting the Rambler emblem.
While it lasted, the motor did its job, but after five years or so – depending on the usage – it simply gave up, and the owner had to embark on an epic quest to find one. The Hoffards are lucky – their 990 H has the ‘Holy Grail’ piece in the engine bay.
Although it can’t be technically called a survivor since its engine had to be rebuilt, this Rambler deserves full recognition for the symbol it is and for the era it represents. Not a part of the muscle car club, the Rambler Ambassador from 1964 is still a monument of American automotive engineering, pointing at an era long gone but never forgotten.