Collector Car Corner – Rambler Rebel still popular in collector circles

Collector Car Corner - Rambler Rebel still popular in collector circlesAdvertisement for the 1966 Rambler Rebel, of which less than 2,000 units were produced. (Ad courtesy of American Motors Corporation).
Collector Car Corner - Rambler Rebel still popular in collector circles

Rambler introduced its hot Rebel in 1957 at car shows everywhere to the buying public. Little did the consumer know it was almost as fast as that year’s fuel injected Chevy Corvette. (Photo courtesy of American Motors Corporation).

Q: Greg my retired friend once owned a 1966 Rambler Rebel two-door hard top of which AMC only made about 1975 of them. He sold it many years ago, but I’d love to know how much one is worth today? It was in good condition with an inline six cylinder engine, automatic, power steering and brakes, AM radio and about 70,000 miles on it when he sold it? Thank you and keep up the old car columns! Joseph L., Oregon.

A: Joseph, I get many letters from readers about the Rambler Rebels and your friend had one of the rarest of the “new” Rambler Rebels, all built by American Motors Corporation (AMC) of Kenosha, Wisconsin, initially from 1957 through 1960 and then again in 1966 and 1967. 

First, I’ve got to give you the history of this special Rambler Rebel, which I always felt was the inspiration for the song “Beep Beep” a fun car song by the “The Playmates” released in 1958 that chronicled a little Rambler playing havoc with a big bruiser Cadillac, which it not only outruns, it does so in second gear! “Beep Beep” is a classic song from the ’50s and one of the best loved for its novelty and “in your face” attitude to the Cadillac owner. The song’s beat escalates as the action increases until the Rambler driver pulls along the side of the Cadillac and asks, “Hey buddy how do I get my car, out of second gear!”

In 1957, there was truth to “The Playmates” song, as families who purchased Rebels didn’t realize that they were driving one of the hottest cars on the highway. It came with a 327-inch, 255 horse V8 with a four-barrel carb. However it was supposed to come with fuel injection as an option but problems of fuel injection reliability and status as a performance car instead of a family friendly car hindered its release to customers.

Motor Trend Magazine tested a fuel injected Rebel given them by AMC and realized it was just as quick on a quarter mile dragstrip as a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette. The 288-horse injected version utilized an electronic fuel injection unit by Bendix called the Electrojector, and in addition to the “uproar” of AMC having one of the fastest cars on the highway, reliability issues with the electronic control unit also contributed to the non-production decision.

So, in a move to protect its family economy car image, AMC quickly announced that the fuel injection option was officially shelved and all of the production Rebels would use a four-barrel carburetor instead.

Still, even the ’57 Rebels with a carburetor were very fast. The intermediate size Rambler had a wheelbase of 108-inches and the four-door hardtop body didn’t “scare” any of the popular fast cars of the day – until the light turned green.

Only 1,500 1957 Rebels were ever produced, and I remember in 1958 at our local half mile asphalt oval speedway in Vineland, N.J., several of the modified stock cars had 327 Rebel engines powering them.

In 1958, the Rebel name was used on all standard Ramblers powered by AMC’s 250-inch V8. This lasted through the 1960 model year, after which all of the 108-inch wheelbase models took the Rambler Classic name.

Your 1966 Rebel is the year AMC resurrected the Rebel name on a version of the Rambler Classic two-door hardtop. It had specific interior upgrading and a revised roofline that fit the popular styles of the day. For 1967, all of AMC’s intermediates took the Rambler Rebel name, but in 1968, the Rambler name was dropped and the car was named AMC Rebel. Overall, 8,336 Classic hardtops were produced in 1966, of which your Rebel is one of the 1,750 that year with Rebel trim. 

Your friend’s car today is easily worth $6,500 in “average retail” good condition and perhaps more to a Rambler Rebel lover. I use “NADA Classic Car Price Guide” which lists the Rebel at $3,510 in “low retail” to a high of $9,850 in restored condition “high retail” condition. Also remember price guides are fine, but always remember it’s the buyer who sets the price in the final scheme of things.  

(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist who welcomes reader questions and input on old cars and auto nostalgia at 303 Roosevelt St., Sayre, Pa. 18840 or email at greg@gregzyla.com)

Be the first to comment on "Collector Car Corner – Rambler Rebel still popular in collector circles"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.


*