1958-62 Rambler & Classic

 


 

1958-60 Rambler Six
1961-62 Rambler Classic


 


 

1959 Rambler Six Four Door Sedan
1959 Rambler Six Four Door Sedan


 

General Information

When AMC dropped the old full size Nash and Hudson models after 1957, the Rambler and Metropolitan were the only two models left. Rather than restrict themselves to just two models, the 1958 Rambler American was reintroduced (former 1955 Rambler) as a smaller companion to the traditional Rambler, and the "Ambassador by Rambler" was introduced as a "larger", more luxurious model to stand in for the old big cars. The traditional Rambler was simply called Rambler or Rambler Six (V-8 models got their own name and series designation -- see Series 20). With three cars all bearing the Rambler name, the Rambler Rambler Six" was a little confusing! This was remedied in 1961 by dubbing the traditional Rambler the Rambler "Classic".

1958-62 models are grouped together because they all share the same basic unit body. Strip away the outer sheetmetal, including the rear quarter panels, and the bodies are virtually identical. There are some differences in the 58-59 and 60-62 bodies. The roofline and upper cowl section was changed in 1960, necessitating a different windshield, door window frames, and front/rear door post. Glass interchanges between 58 and 59 models and between 60-62 models.

Front end styling was very similar for 1958-60 models. Grille inserts changed from year to year as well as side trim. The rear fins changed all three years. 1958 models sported a vertical fin reminiscent of the popular 1957 Chevrolet. This same fin was extended into the rear door for 1959, noticeably changing the profile of the car while retaining the same quarter panel stamping. The forward fin extension was made via a new rear door skin. This was much cheaper than changing the larger and more complicated quarter panel stamping. For 1960 a new quarter panel and rear door skin stamping combined to change to a much more understated fin.

1961 and 62 models received a totally new front end with the dual headlights placed lower on the grille instead of high at the top of the fender like previous models. New fenders, hood, and grille insert were used, along with slightly changed inner wheel panels, radiator supports, and baffles (what AMC called the crossmembers above and below the radiator). 1961 models retained the subdued fins of the 1960 Classic. New quarter panels were stamped for the 1962 model, all but eliminating the fin, with new round tail lights. A new two door sedan body style was added to the Classic (and Ambassador) line-up, the first two door in the middle Rambler line since 1955. If you wanted a two door Rambler before 1962 you had to buy the smaller American, just forget a V-8 powered two door! 1962 brought an end to that. Over 30,000 two door Classics were sold, but they are rather rare today.

The 1962 Classic was a transition model for AMC. Not only did it sport the new two door body style, but more importantly it had a new front suspension. The 62 tested the front suspension that was to be the model for all future AMC front suspensions. It used a single lower control arm that pivoted on a new under engine crossmember and used a rubber bushed trailing strut rod to control fore and aft movement. A ball joint was used on the lower arm to handle turning and bumping motion, but the upper joint was still the same trunnion with a pair of stamped steel control arms first introduced in 1950 when other manufacturers were still using king pins (ball joints first appeared in 1954 Ford products). The older four arm trunnion design was lighter and more versatile and adjustable than this hybrid design, but cost more to assemble due to a higher part count. A new steering knuckle (the part the spindle bolts to) was required, but all upper components were the same as previous models. The engine still used a front and rear four point mounting system.
 

Body Styles And Trim Levels


There were three trim levels and three body styles available. The body styles and trim levels can be determined from the model number on the Unit Body Identification Plate. The body styles and trim levels are:

  • 4 door sedan in Deluxe, Super, and Custom trim, 1958-61; Deluxe, Custom, and 400 for 1962
  • 4 door hardtop sedan in Super trim, 1958-59; Custom trim, 1960
  •  4 door station wagon in Deluxe, Super, and Custom trim, 1958-61; Deluxe, Custom, and 400 for 1962
  • 5 door station wagon in Super and Custom trim, 1961; Custom only for 1962 (side opening tailgate)
  • 2 door sedan in Deluxe, Custom, and 400 trim, 1962 only

     

Engines

The only available was the 195.6 cid OHV inline six, 1bbl, 127 hp. A 138 hp 2bbl version was optional.

There is a machined pad on the left (driver's) side of the engine near the front and just below the block/head division. This pad contains the 1958-59 Engine Serial Number or the 1960-62 Engine Day Build Code.

1958-59 Engine Beginning Serial Numbers

A letter was assigned to each engine size with one barrel carburetor, a following "B" was used for two barrel models along with a different letter. The serial number listed was the first used that year. All possible serial numbers are included to help identify replacement engines. No OHV engines were used in 1958-59 Americans, but OHV engines from the Classic will fit as long as the short shaft American water pump is used. Likewise no 2 bbl OHV engines were used, but Classic versions can be retrofitted (entire engine or just manifold and carburetor).

  • 1958 195.6 OHV 1 bbl - B145001
  • 1958 195.6 OHV 2 bbl - CB9001
  • 1959 195.6 OHV 1 bbl - B227001
  • 1959 195.6 OHV 2 bbl - CB36001

Beginning in late 1959 the six character Engine Day Build Code was adopted. The first digit indicates the calendar year the engine was built. 1959 = 1, 60 = 2, 61 = 3, etc. Numbers repeated, but no zero was used (1967 =9, 1968 =1; due to a change in the numbering system, 1980 and later uses the last digit of the year (1980 = 0, 1981=1 etc.). The next two numbers will be the month the engine was made in. A letter code will tell engine size. C is the 195.6 cast iron OHV (1bbl or 2bbl), B is the aluminum version of the 195.6 OHV available 1961-64. The letter is followed by the day the engine was assembled. 103B12 indicates 1959, March, 195.6 OHV aluminum block, 12th day (of March).

It is possible that the engine has been replaced with a newer or older engine. 195.6 cid six cylinder engines made between 1956 and 1965 are direct bolt-in swaps and are externally identical, though water pump design varies slightly on the 56-57 OHV engines. Many aluminum engines have been replaced with longer lived cast iron models. There was nothing wrong with the aluminum engine design, it just required a little more careful maintenance to prevent corrosion and overheating. The wrong anti-freeze would accelerate internal corrosion, and extreme or repeated overheating could warp the block.

Note: Engine dates are calendar dates and not model year dates. Since model year production actually starts in the previous calendar year, it is possible to have, for example, an engine coded 1958 in a 1959 vehicle and be correct but an engine coded 1960 would not be correct for the same car since no 1960's were manufactured in calendar year 1958.

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Transmissions

The following Borg Warner transmissions were used in 1958-62 Rambler Six and Rambler Classic. There is no way of knowing what transmission or type was originally installed in a vehicle made before 1966.

  • T-96 three speed manual, available with an optional Borg Warner overdrive unit
  • T-85 three speed manual, available with an optional Borg Warner overdrive unit, as a heavy duty option
  • Borg Warner "Flash-O-Matic" three speed automatic (air cooled torque converter, cast iron case, vacuum modulator -- predecessor to model 35)

Production Numbers

Blank columns indicate that the body and trim style were not offered that year.

 

Body & Trim Style 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962
4 door sedan, Deluxe 12,723 26,157 37,666 40,398 38,082
4 door sedan, Super 29,699 72,577 88,004 62,563 -
4 door sedan, Custom 16,850 35,242 38,003 29,398 68,699
4 door sedan, 400 - - - - 31,255
4 door hardtop, Super, Custom       983   2,683   3,937 - -
4 door station wagon, Deluxe         78     422 24,011 19,848 28,203
4 door station wagon, Super 26,452 66,739 59,491 38,370 -
4 door station wagon, Custom 20,131 38,761 32,092 16,394 53,671
4 door station wagon, 400 - - - - 21,281
4 door station wagon, Super, 8 pass. - -    8,456    4,465 -
4 door station wagon, Custom, 8 pass. - -    5,718    2,741    6,322
2 door sedan, Deluxe - - - - 14,811
2 door sedan, Custom - - - - 12,652
2 door sedan, 400 - - - -    5,521
Total 106,916 242.581 297,378 214,177 280,497

NOTE: 1961-62 8 passenger wagons are "5 door" -- tailgate is side hinged; 1960 models have standard tailgate.

For model years 1961 and 1962, Rambler American and Classic models were produced in Canada. AMC had ended Canadian production in 1957, but built a new plant in Brampton, Ontario, in 1960. The first cars were produced in January, 1961, and  total 1961 model year production was  4.168 units; 17.344 were built in 1962. All Canadian built Classics for 1961 were 6 cylinder, but there are no breakouts of American and Classic production.  An approximation would be 2.779 units for 1961 and 11.526 units for 1962.


 

Dates of model introductions:

1958 - October 22, 1957
1959 - October 8, 1958
1960 - October 14, 1959
1961 - October 5, 1960
1962 - October 6, 1961
 

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Serial Numbers & Body Tag Decoder


 

Serial Numbers

Before January 1966, all cars had a manufacturers assigned serial number, not a VIN, which was mandated by the U.S. government for all cars built from 1966 (calendar year) on. The serial number is on a tag located on the top of the right side shock tower in the engine compartment. The serial number gives no information except year and model series. Technically, any changes can be made to the car that were available from the factory and it will be "correct". Serial numbers were assigned to the car when it was ordered from the factory. Numbers with a single letter are assigned to cars made in Kenosha, WI. Special "knock-down" kit cars were made in Kenosha for final assembly at overseas locations. These kits typically excluded upholstery, tires, belts, batteries, and other items that could be supplied from the country of final assembly. Cars built in the Brampton, Ontario, Canada, plant have a "T" as a second letter. Starting serial numbers (first number used for the model year) are listed below:

  • 1958 - D409001
  • 1959 - D516001
  • 1960 - C100001
  • 1961 - C400001; CK10701; CT200001 
  • 1962 - C625001; CK11501; CT206001

Unit Body identification Plate

The Unit Body Identification Plate for a 1958-62 Rambler Six/Classic can be located on the driver's side front door frame between the hinges (not on the door itself as with later models). It can be decoded as follows:

Body

This is the number assigned to the body as it was being produced. It is different than the serial number. Bodies were produced in batches, so the numbers aren't consecutive to each series.

Model

This identifies the body and trim styles. The first two digits are the year, the last two or three identify the series, body style, and trim level. Blanks indicate that the body and trim style was not available for the year in question.
 

Code w/Body Style and Trim 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962
15 = 4 door sedan, Deluxe (base) X X X X X
15-1 = 4 door sedan, Super X
 
X X X
 
15-2 = 4 door sedan, Custom X X X X X
15-5 = 4 door sedan, 400
 

 

 

 
X
16 = 2 door sedan, Deluxe (base)
 
        X
16-2 = 2 door sedan, Custom
 

 

 

 
X
16-5 = 2 door sedan, 400
 

 

 

 
X
18 = 4 door station wagon, Deluxe (base) X X X X X
18-1 = 4 door station wagon, Super X X X X
 
18-2 = 4 door station wagon, Custom X X X X X
18-3 = 4 door station wagon, Super, 8 passenger
 

 
X X
 
18-4 = 4 door station wagon, Custom, 8 passenger
 

 
X X X
18-5 = 4 door station wagon, 400
 

 

 

 
X
19-1 = 4 door hardtop, Super X X
 

 

 
10-2 = 4 door hardtop, Custom
 

 
X
 

 


 

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Trim

1958-59 trim codes use three digits. The first digit is the last number in the model year (1958 = 8) and the last two represent the seat covering material and color. In 1960 a four character code that may be prefixed by a "T" was adopted. The first character is the last digit of the model year. The second character represents the seat type 1960-63, the model (first digit of series) from 1964 on. The third is the upholstery color, and the fourth is the upholstery material for 60-63 and seat type for 1964 on. Letters after the numeric code indicate the corresponding seat types that were available. Special order interiors were available for large orders (usually fleet vehicles) and will have a code of "00".

1958 Upholstery Material and Color Codes (colors not currently available)

Cloth

  • 60 - Deluxe
  • 01, 03, 06, 07 - Super
  • 10-17, 19, 20 - Custom

Vinyl

  • 00 - Deluxe
  • 61-64, 66-69 - Super
  • 70-73, 75, 76 - Custom

1959 Upholstery Material and Color Codes (colors not currently available)

Cloth

  • 20 - Deluxe
  • 22-25 - Super
  • 42-48 - Custom

Vinyl

  • 21 - Deluxe
  • 32-35 - Super
  • 52-58 - Custom

1960-62 seat types are as follows:

  • 5 - Standard Bench, Deluxe
  • 6 - Standard Bench, Super
  • 7 - Standard Bench, Custom

1960-62 trim colors are not currently available.

Paint

The following colors were available in 1958-1962. The original color can be determined by looking at the Paint code on the Unit Body Identification Plate. If there are two codes separated by a dash, the first code is the primary body color and the second code is the upper body (sometimes roof) or accent color. For example, a car that was black with a white top would have a paint code of 1-72. Paint codes may also be prefixed with a P or suffixed with an A. Note that some cars were painted non-standard colors. These cars will typically have a code such as "00" or "SPEC". This was normally reserved for large orders in the special color, usually for fleet use.

COLOR CHART BELOW IS NOT COMPLETE!
 

Paint Code Color Years
1 Classic Black 1958
2
 
Kimberly Blue Medium
 
1958
3
 
Saranac Green Medium 1958
4 Alamo Beige Light 1958-60
5 Autumn Yellow 1958-60
6 Georgian Rose 1958
7 Mariner Turquoise 1958
8
 
Chatsworth Green
 
1959-60
 
9
 
Pine Ridge Green Metallic
 
1959
 
10
 
Placid Blue
 
1959-60
 
11
 
Nocturne Blue Metallic
 
1959
 
12
 
Alladin Gray Metallic
 
1959
 
13
 
Oriental Red
 
1959-60
 
14
 
Carmel Copper Metallic
 
1959
 
15
 
Aqua Mist Metallic
 
1959-60
 
16
 
Cotillion Mauve
 
1959
 
17
 
Hibiscus Rose
 
1959
 
18
 
Westchester Green
 
1960
 
19
 
Sovereign Blue
 
1960
 
20
 
Dartmouth Gray
 
1960
 
21
 
Harvard Gray
 
1960
 
23
 
Echo Green
 
1960
 
24
 
Auburn Red
 
1960
 
25
 
Festival Rose
 
1960
 
72 Frost White 1958-60
90 Mardi Gras Red 1958
94 Cinnamon Bronze Medium 1958, 1960
95 Gotham Gray Medium 1958
97 Brentwood Green Light 1958
98 Lakeshore Blue Light 1958
99 Frontenac Gray Light 1958-60


Instrument panels were painted body color (primary body color if two tone). Remaining interior molding and trim was painted one of the following colors to harmonize with interior trim. Interior colors were usually semi-gloss to reduce glare.

  • N-45 Satin Black (58-60)
  • N-80 Metallic Medium Blue (58)
  • N-81 Metallic Medium Green (58)
  • N-109 Pine ridge Green Metallic (59)
  • N-110 Nocturne Blue Metallic (59)

Color samples can be viewed at http://autocolorlibrary.com/aclns.html

Sequential Assembly Number

The unlabeled number at the bottom of the Unit Body Identification Plate is the Sequential Assembly Number. This number was assigned to the vehicle as it entered the final assembly line. Vehicles were assembled in batches as needed -- i.e., 10 Americans may be assembled then 20 Classics followed by 15 Ambassadors, etc. Minimum and maximum sizes of batches are unknown -- in some cases single cars may have gone through the lines. At this time there was only one final assembly line in Kenosha; the second line wasn't in operation until 1961. Brampton opened in 1960, with 1961 Classics being the first cars to roll off the line.

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Bibliography

The following sources were used to verify the information contained on this page:

  • AMC Rambler Club 1958-1969 Production Handbook
  • Standard Catalog of American Motors, ISBN 0-87341-232-X, Krause Publications
  • 1958-62 American Motors Technical Service Manuals
  • 1958-62 American Motors Sales Flyers
  • 1958-62 American Motors Collision Parts Books
  • The Compact Chronicles, copyright 1992, Frank Swygert

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This page maintained by Frank Swygert, farna@att.net