A Fuel Injected Rambler Muscle Car?
It Happened

Here's photo of the Rambler Rebel 327 CID fuel injection unit.
The fuel rail (1) the port injector (2) and the timing unit attached to the distributor (3) are shown.

by Society Staff
Reprint with permission only

Most know that Chevrolet introduced fuel injection on the '57 Corvette and that it was also available on the big car too. Fewer know that Pontiac offered the same system on '57 and '58 cars. Fewer know that it was available on all Chrysler Corp performance models in 1958. And a thimble-full of car nuts know that Rambler, yes Rambler, offered F.I. on a special Rambler 4-door, called the "Rebel", in 1957.

Before we get into the headline story, we should give you some background. First, the Rochester unit offered on Chevrolet and Pontiac was called "mechanical" fuel injection. What this meant was that all the timing (there was little) was managed by a series of vacuum and mechanical cams and levers. Without going into the process in detail, just know that there was no electronic intervention – it was no more difficult to understand than a carburetor. If you wish to learn more, see our Corvette Section in the Tech pages Located HERE.

Few know that while the Rochester mechanical system was quite successful and was around from '57-'65, it was not easy to tune, and it did need to be tweaked every few months to be effective. Most know that it did provide extra HP when it was working correctly.

As to the System on the Rambler and Chrysler cars, it was a whole different animal. It was electronic and quite sophisticated – in fact, the principle is the same applied to the unit in your modern car. In greater fact, it is the system introduced in European cars in the late sixties - and proved that the approach that all F.I. is now based on would successfully work.

Bendix, the manufacturer of many different electronic and mechanical components to this day, decided to design and build an electronic, computerized, fuel injection system back in 1955. Yes computerized, in that a very primitive computer would determine the proper air/fuel ratio and deliver instructions to the fuel injectors on a cylinder by cylinder basis – timed to the firing of that cylinder. Frankly, if you look at the system, it looks very much like what you would see under the hood today. The issue, which we'll discuss later, was how the signals were sent to the injectors - and its vulnerabilities. You can learn about the Bendix system HERE

But let's get back to the Rambler. American Motors was late to the OHV V-8 party, only having their own engine available starting in 1956. Earlier AMC cars used the Packard V-8, but it was cost prohibitive to continue down that path and the merger of Packard with Studebaker, an AMC competitor, pushed them to develop their own powerplant.

The HP wars were in effect back in the mid-50s and AMC was impacted by this as well. Originally their V-8 was introduced at 250 CID, but early realization had them design the engine to be able to reach 327 CID, and that version was quickly introduced in 1957. For the time, the engine was an excellent design, with a sturdy lower end and great cylinder heads with large valves for the period. At the outset, it developed 250 HP, which was in the ballpark for V-8 power of the time. See the specs on the Rambler V-8 HERE.

It didn't take a rocket scientist to see that sticking the 327 in the smaller and lighter Rambler would result in a factory hot rod, so AMC went ahead with plans to do so. At the same time that plans were hatched to create the Rambler (now named "Rebel"), Bendix announced that their electronic system, called "Electrojector" would be available for licensing and that the engineers from the company would work with the manufacturers to see to it that the system would be integrated into their powerplants.

AMC jumped at the chance and the result was that the 327, with a bit of tuning, would now produce 288 HP. Rebels equipped with the system were as fast as a '57 F.I. Corvette! Magazines raved, testers were astounded, and the Rebel took off as a performance car, with 1,500 snapped up right away. See these road tests HERE.

So what happened? See the conclusion HERE!


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