Remembering Americans in service

"My country 'tis of thee..."

“My country ’tis of thee…”

We’ve been dealing with the term “un-American” since the era of Tail Gunner Joe and the Hollywood 10.  This Memorial Day, when he honor those who served we wonder if something can be “too American.”   Case in point is this second generation 1962 Rambler American 400 convertible, finished in Fireglow Red Metallic.  We’ve long been partial to these rolling tributes to AMC’s ability to stay competitive in the face of minimal resources at hand and multiple market disadvantages.

as best can determine

aired full decade

Hold over from the final episode of "Leave It To Beaver"

Hold over from the final episode of “Leave It To Beaver”

It’s an adaptation of a car, only minimally updated, that was produced in 1954-’55. Lazarus-like, it rose from the dead and was brought back in 1958, re-badged from Nash Rambler to Rambler American. It was the initial salvo in the battle for domestic compact car supremacy that saw the introduction of Studebaker’s wildly successful Lark in ’59 with The Big 3 joining the fray in 1960 with Corvair (Chevy), Falcon (Ford) and Valiant (Plymouth).

New Frontiersman

New Frontiersman

The red, far-from-dead American is pretty swell — and we do have a weakness for convertibles — but, c’mon, what’s with the anachronistic and inappropriate lily gilding?  Yes, the Kennedy/Johnson sticker is terrific but  why would an “authentic” ’62 have a sticker from an election that was resolved two years before the car rolled off the line in Kenosha?

All for Dick

Dick digger

“Democrat for Nixon”?  This self-loathing description, perhaps drawn from the proverbial bag of dirty tricks, could relate to the elections of 1960, 1968 and 1972,  campaigns when turncoat Democrats could, theoretically have embraced Dick on one level or another. As noted about the Kennedy/Johnson sticker, it couldn’t have been applied before the car was built; that leaves ’68 and ’72 in the consideration set. Maybe, but we find that far-fetched, and the same goes for that “Morro Castle, Havana Cuba” sticker on the passenger side rear window.  Huh? The trade embargo with Cuba was in full effect by the time of the car’s manufacture so it couldn’t have been imported to Cuba and, flotation issues notwithstanding,  there’s no way its owners drove it 90 miles across the the Florida Strait  in the wake of 1961’s Bay of Pigs invasion so no way José. On the contrary, we’re for keepin’ it real, Fidel.

 Cuba Sí! Yanqui No?

Cuba sí! Yanqui not so much

OK, enough carping about inauthenticity. The owner has a sense of the dramatic and seems to have given himself poetic license and begs us to suspend disbelief.  We’ll play along and suggest you check out some other Rambler Americans of this ilk that don’t seem to be trying quite as hard but are still quite convincing to Feral Cars people who appreciate a more laissez-faire approach to onsite car curation.

The Reanimated

The Reanimated

We mentioned the earlier incarnation of the Rambler American that was the revivification of a basic body and platform that had gone out of production three years earlier.  We dig this ’59 wagon that comes off like a 5/6th version of Chevy’s Nomad. Thanks to Feral Cars Field Scout Peter Andrews for the shot.

American = manifest destiny

American = manifest destiny

Back to the ’61 – ’63 “square biz” Americans.  Here’s a very basic two-door coupe barreling along the Freeway, impressively rocking like it’s 1961.  We found another two door, curbside.  Boxy lady!

Pride of Kenosha

Pride of Kenosha

Thrill on a hill

Thrill on a hill

Let’s depart for a moment to check out the ’64 third, and last, generation Rambler American four door sedan that was captured on the streets of Palm Springs.  Feral Cars Field Scout Bill Ruttan found it and took pains to document the very innovative parking break alternative that has been juxtaposed to the leading edge of the left rear tire.  Can’t be too careful on a hill, right?

Great gilding!

Great gilding!

We ran an earlier Rambler American post and included this one.   It’s a convertible of the same vintage as our opener but with a “hey look me over” white accent that contrasts tastefully with the Sonata Blue body — no bumper stickers necessary.

Socialismo or muerte!

Socialismo o muerte!

That “Morro Castle/Havana, Cuba” sticker reminded us of a senior Rambler, a ’58 or ’59, as best can determine, that we happened upon in Havana.    The HERO61 license plate, we’re educated guessing, relates to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion that slammed the door shut on the possibility for reconciliation with Cuba until just a few weeks ago.

This means it’s not as difficult to travel to Cuba these days and when you do get there you may wish to take a Classic Car Tour of Havana.  Click here to book in advance of the inevitable Starbucks and slot machine invasion.

We found this pretty swell ’61 Rambler American convertible in nearby Redlands, CA.  It’s not cheap but can you really put a price on patriotism? Check out this commercial, titled “The Young American,” that aired full decade before David Bowie’s song of the same title made its debut. Jamaica’s Max Romeo collaborated with Lee “Scratch” Perry on “Norman,” a reggae classic about a degenerate gambler who drove a Rambler.  Hey, it rhymes!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.








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2 thoughts on “Remembering Americans in service

  1. Byron Laursen

    No other car is as integral to American music traditions. “Rambler,” equipped with the compound adjective “layin’-down,” rhymed with “wife of a gambler” for Delbert McClinton in “B-Movie Boxcar Blues.” The Allman Brothers proudly proclaimed “Lord I was born a Rambler man,” and King of the Delta Blues Robert Johnson himself confessed, “I got Ramblers, I got Ramblers all on my mind.” Most famously of all, Hank Williams, the Hillbilly Shakespeare, warned us all “Now boys don’t start to Ramblerin’ around.”

    I could go on, but the missus says I tend to rambler.

  2. bobmerlis

    You omitted Rory Gallagher’s “Rambler On” and, of course, the Rolling Stones “Midnight Rambler.”


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