For 1963, the Rambler Classic was completely redesigned. This was the first AMC model that was influenced by Richard A. Teague, the company's new principal designer. They were also the first all-new cars developed by AMC since 1956.
It had a very clean, lower and narrower box shape on a longer 112 inch wheelbase, and they were over two inches lower when compared to the 1961-62 model. The front grille consisted of a one-piece aluminum stamping that was a double convex surface of fine U-shaped vertical bars with "Rambler" across the front in large block letters. New curved glass side windows were used along with more industry-standard outside pushbutton door handles. New series identification was by number and it was placed in the center of the trunk lid. There was also "Rambler" in trim below the trunk lid. The Rambler Classic V-8 returned and shared the same all-new styling as the Rambler Classic Six. The main trim difference was the attachment of V-8 emblems on the front fenders, behind the wheel openings.
A new "tri-pose" engine mounting system was used. It replaced a four-point system used earlier. (As such, earlier engines will not mount in 1963 and later chassis, and vice-versa). Base models, the "550" series, had no side trim. The next step up, the "660" series had a dual horizontal molding on front fender and a single molding from the front door to the back of the vehicle. The top range cars, "770" series, had a full-length dual molding with contrasting color insert.
The 550 offered as standard equipment turn signals; air cleaner; front arm rests; cigar lighter; dual headlamps; dual sun visors; front ash tray; oil filter; front fom cushion and five black tubeless tires; and on station wagons, a station wagon travel rack. The 660 series had all the 550 features, plus chrome horn ring; carpets; front and rear arm rests; ash trays; dual horns; automatic dome light switch and Captive Air tires on station wagons. The 770 had all of the 550 and 660 series items plus electric clock; padded dash and visors; rear door vent window; wheel discs; station wagon rub rail; foam seat cushions. Plus the die-cast aluminum six cylinder engine (with the cast-iron engine as a no-cost option).
The shorter and narrower size was accomplished with no loss of their "family-sized" passenger room and luggage capacity. The Classic shared the same 112" wheelbase and body parts with the Ambassador. There were only trim differences and standard equipment levels to distinguish between the two (a bad mistake).
The new AMC cars incorporated many engineering innovations. Among these was an engineering breakthrough where many of the separate parts in the unit body were combined into single stampings such as the "uni-side" door surround that was made from a single stamping of steel. This advanced type of unitized construction that reduced the number of parts and welds in the assembly by 30 percent!
1963 also was the year that the small V8 returned, now a 287 cu. in version, rather than the old 250. The 287 was only offered in 2 bbl. carburetor format, but it produced more torque than the 250. Best, it produced better acceleration and gas mileage than the previous offering. The Classic V8 also offered the semi-automatic 'E-stick' transmission and in mid-year a "Twin Stick" five-speed (utilizing the 3-speed overdrive unit) floor-mounted transmission was offered in some models. The right-hand lever was for locking the overdrive function in or out, while the left-hand lever was the floor shifter, which had the ability to select overdrive in or out in 2nd and 3rd.
American Motors' imaginative engineering prompted Motor Trend Magazine to give the Classic and the similar Ambassador models the prestigious Car-of-the-Year award for 1963. The new body style and engineering resulted in more than an award – over 320 thousand Classics were sold, an 87% increase over the previous year, driving AMC to its best sales year since 1960.
1964 Rambler Classic Six and V8
After such a huge change in 1963, AMC seemed willing to rest on its styling laurels. Thus, the major styling change for the Classic line in 1964 was a new grille. It had six stacks of short, horizontal bright metal "dashes" rather than bars running between dual, outboard headlamps. The headlights were horizontally positioned in rather clunky rounded rectangular housings. The entire ensemble was surrounded by a chrome grille shell with "Rambler" stamped into the upper surround bar.
Side trim was changed, and it varied by series. Classic 550 models had a bright rocker panel strip, but no lower beltline molding. Classic 660 models added a horizontal mid-body side strip of constant width, which ran from the head of the front fender to the taillights. The Classic 770 models used the same basic trim, but had a rounded front tip on the molding. This tip was horizontally ribbed and carried "770" to designate the series. All three series had "Classic" in script on a plate on the back edge of the rear fender. Equipment differences for each series were almost exactly the same as those of 1963.
A new 232 cubic inch six-cylinder engine was introduced in a total of 2,520 of Classic two-door hardtops beginning in late April, 1964 to commemorate the new design. All of these vehicles were painted Solar Yellow with a black roof. They had distinctive "Typhoon" rear fender badges, in place of the regular Classic script. All other AMC options were available on the Typhoon Six cars.
Thereafter, the 232 (now called the "Typhoon Six") motor was provided as a $59.95 powertrain option in all Classic 770 models and 660 2 and 4-Door sedans. It produced 145 brake horsepower at 4300 R.P.M.
It s hard to tell if the 64 Classic lost its COTY luster or the public was now looking past economy and toward larger, more powerful cars, but 6 cylinder cars took a beating in sales compared to the previous year with fully 52% less Classic Sixes leaving the factory. What seems to hint that the public was V8 hungry is that the V8 sales increased by 69%, with almost 60 thousand being delivered. This was the highest total of Rambler V8s ever sold by a wide margin. What is sad is that it was in this year that Pontiac introduced the GTO and Olds the 442 - and that the Classic, with a 327 and a stronger cam, a 4-speed and installed in their new hardtop would have been a no brainer to enter this market, but apparently that was exactly the problem at AMC. (See our discussion on this subject under Section I. High Performance Cars by clicking here).
For Specifications, Production Figures, and Options - Go to Section J. (You may click here to go to that section).
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See them Full Size
1963 Rambler Classic Six 550 4-Door Wagon.
1963 Rambler Classic Six 770 2-Door Sedan.
1963 Rambler Classic wins Motor Trend's
Prestigious COTY Award. See picture of the one-piece stamping around door openings - this was revolutionary at teh time.
1964 Rambler Classic Six 770 4-Door Sedan.
1964 Rambler Classic Six 770 2-Door Hardtop.
1964 Rambler Classic Six 550 4-Door Wagon.
1964 Rambler Classic Ad Showing off
the new Hardtop Coupe.
1964 Rambler Classic "Typhoon" Six 770 2-Door Hardtop. The Typhoon emblem where the V8 logo sits. Rambler was pushing a 145 HP six when GM was pushing 300-350 HP V8s in the same size car.
Which one do you think was getting press & generating product excitement?