AMC, Rambler and related stuff

cars, parts, documentation, and of course a lot of how-to, either borrowed from elsewhere or learned the hard way. life with an orphaned car line...




Cars

1963 Rambler American hardtop

Oct 2008 April 2007 Joe Fulton sold me this great little American 440. It had been destined to be someone's parts car; and Joe took away a 1973 Hornet I'd parted out. Joe plans to reassemble the Hornet, and I'm bringing the American back to life; two more Ramblers saved from the grave. (I feel a little guilty about parting the '73, which was a complete when I got it. These things are getting to...

My 1963 Rambler Classic 550 Cross Country Station Wagon

Considering I've had this car since 1989, it has very little presence on my website. I have a ton of pictures, I've driven it completely insane places, I've documented lots of things, they just haven't made it here. I'll remedy this in the next year(s) or so. Unfortunately most of the photos are chemical prints, on paper, you know, photography? How I fit a Howell TBI kit. I sold the car i...

My 1970 AMC Hornet

Intro is below; the following are the construction diary pages: Before... After... January - April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 - March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 (and a bit of a gap until...) February 2006 March 2006 Nice AMC air box for the Weber carb It was time for another project car. I've had my curren...

My 1975 AMC Levi's Gremlin X

(23 Aug 2004 -- photos added.) I bought this in October 1998, from a small car lot in San Jose Calif. I found it on an ad on the net. I was searching for a new project/daily driver, was considering SC-360's, but they're too pricey and hard to find. I also really like small cars, and I'd never owned a Gremlin, so... I was replacing a 1996 Honda Accord with VTEC engine; nice car, but boring, and...

My 1979 AMC AMX (aka Spirit V8)

My third-favorite car of all time is this '79 AMX, which I couldn't really call my "AMX", so I called it a Spirit V8, which is what it was. It had quick steering, 304-V8, a torqueflite (later a 4-speed). I bought it in Massachusetts, and took it with me when I moved to San Francisco in November 1983. I hated the big turkey/eagle decal and the plastic flares, though I liked the little tail (it's t...

AMC's 1970's typography

Sorry if the title leads you to think I've done any research at all. I'm only interested in making custom graphics for my 1970 Hornet, to suit the 1970 American Motors//import-scene//60's rally style lodged in my head. At an AMClist member's suggestion, I uploaded a cleaned-up (but quite terrible) photo of the "GREMLIN" sticker (right) from the back of my 1975 Gremlin X to WhatTheFont, expect...

2004 AMO Nationals

These are just some personal photos of the event completely unannotated....

Cars in Budapest, Hungary, March 2007

Photos from trip to Budapest. No AMC content here! Lots of cool ex-Eastern Bloc (sic) cars though. That's Simon Penny modelling some of the photos. Here's a picture of me (not) passing as a Budapesti in front of the world's largest "hourglass", that runs for an entire year and gets flipped over on New Year's Eve....

My 1975 AMC Levi's Gremlin X

I bought this in October 1998, from a small car lot in San Jose Calif. I found it on an ad on the net. I was searching for a new project/daily driver, was considering SC-360's, but they're too pricey and hard to find. I also really like small cars, and I'd never owned a Gremlin, so... I was replacing a 1996 Honda Accord with VTEC engine; nice car, but boring, and an asshole-magnet; it was broke...

Nate's Fast Metropolitan

Ignore these photos. It's not possible for Nash Metropolitans to be driven at speed. Everyone knows that. It is most definitely not going 60 mph in a Mulholland Highway turn. Nope. Beep beep....

VAM (Mexican American Motors) 1981 Rally GT

(Looks surprisingly like my faintly customized 1979 AMC AMX. I'd never seen one when I did that car.) Date: Sun, 17 Dec 2006 19:45:47 -0600 From: Eddie Stakes Subject: [AMC-List] Mexican VAM 1981 Rally GT pix Mauriecio sent me these from Guadajara Mexico of his new 1981 Rally GT. Someone save these photos for furute reference as the host, photobucket, usually dumps them after only a certain am...

Gremlin motor build

I'm having the engine from my 1975 AMC Gremlin X rebuilt; it's a 304ci V8. It had only 65,000 miles on it, but it leaked a lot of oil from the usual places (pan, valley gasket, valve covers). I suspected the car had sat for a while, wich was confirmed by the fine black corrosion on the bottom-end bearings probably from condensation-contaminated oil. It wasn't fatal, the car ran OK. The car came...





Documentation

Factory service manual for the 3TMR AM radio

The Motorola 3TMR is the AM radio used in 1963, 1964 Rambler Classics and Ambassadors. The cheapskates, it's got only five transistors, one more than the cheapest pocket radio of the era, a 2N176 that drives the loudspeaker. The schematic shows AVC, but I can't hear it! Poor selectivity! Drift! Ahh... I love my 3TMR! (Really.)...

AMC/Rambler bellhousings

Not done yet, but getting there. Numeric dimensions will follow. Then there's this Ford stuff here. Send me your bellhousing data and I'll add it! I NEED: A CLOSEUP PHOTO of the trans mount, at high resolution (3 megapixels or better). You can either take all the measurements yourself, (bolt hole pattern and center big hole) --OR-- put a ruler in the photo (12" shown in mine) and take a very ...

Borg Warner M35 automatic transmission technical service manual

one large-ish PDF file here: Borg Warner M35 automatic transmission service manual...

AMC/Rambler brake database

A substantial compendium of AMC/Rambler brake components, intended mainly for cross-referencing and parts-swapping, and finding non-AMC donors for brake parts and upgrades. The data came directly from factory Technical Service Manuals, except the manufacturer part numbers which came from various commercial sources. For the missing-data years, if you scan ALL of the brake section from your TSM I wi...

Zemco CompuCruise

I had a lovely Zemco CompuCruise computer installed in my 1970 Hornet; very 1970's! It finally drove me crazy and I sold it on eBay. Here is the installation and operating manuals. The install manual is pretty dogeared; that's how I received it....

SR:Electrolytic rust removal

notes in the form of images....

1960-1965 Rambler factory parts catalog

Front-Cover, page 1, Model information, page i, 1a, 1b, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, Changes & Addendums, page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, Alphabetical index, page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, ...

AMC sales brochures

Funny, I had some of these things when they were new, but of course tossed 'em -- who would have thought such things would be interesting? I just bought these for $3 each at a thrift store... Ha ha (not funny), someone was trying to sell the Gremlin vs. Volkswagen brochure for $20! Here it is for free. I imagine that strictly speaking this may be a copyright violation, but in practice I assume i...

AMC/Rambler front spindles

Trying to lessen (or is it worsen) the mild controversy over AMC/Rambler front spindles, I figured I'd start compiling data here. Here's what I believe is the general consensus on AMC/Rambler spindles: All AMC and Rambler-badged cars use the same basic spindle design back to Nash days: Any AMC/Rambler spindle will bolt onto any AMC/Rambler and most if not all Nash and Hudson back to 1950. (Tha...

AMC Six water pumps

Part numbers and description of various water pump specs and such from AMC list email....





How-To

Airdam for the American

For some reason I decided I wanted an airdam. I'd just walked into the lab for something else, and ended up with it partially made an hour later. It took three weekends to complete (so much for instant gratification) but it came out OK, fit great, and even looks OK. I made it entirely out of 22ga steel since thats what I had laying around, plus a 'donor' valance that was all bondo'd and bent up....

Early American "big nut" axle

Even amongst AMCers there's a lot of rumor and fear about the driveshaft system on these early Americans, known as the "big nut" axle. "Modern" American cars have the rear U-joint yoke fixed to the rear axle pinion shaft; the big-nut rears instead have a splined slip joint with a compression sleeve tightened with a ... big nut, tightened to 300 foot-pounds. With big wrenches. I was warned of t...

Cold air intake

Like most early cars the motor sucks hot air from under the hood; it's cold during warm-up (when inducting warm air would improve things) and hot once warmed up (lowering air density). Short of a hood scoop, the easiest place to suck cold air is through the grille, and to each side of the radiator happens to be a nice flat blank area... So for a cold air source I chopped a large hole in t...

Dashboard and instrument cluster

Since the dash is the focal point of the interior, I started there. Stripped off the ruined foam dash pad, filled the holes, and painted it. It runs shock green to silver and yellow, which will complement the stainless and aluminum expanses of the door panels and console. (The maroon control escutcheon on the lower dash is a terrible experiment/mistake that will be rectified shortly.) The stock ...

1963 Rambler American

June-July 2012 D'OH! This all applies to a Scarebird kit no longer shipped! The bracket allegedly sold now (July 2012) might not have the trunnion problem. Still, these are the issues to look for. Oh well. No matter, really, this is a document of my particular experiences. YMMV. Note that the stuff below applies to all Nash-based cars; all of the pre-1964 Rambler Americans, and 1950-1955 Nash Ra...

Hotrodding drum brakes on a 1963 Rambler American

The original brakes on this car were 9" drums, with shoes 2" wide, terrifyingly small on today's highways, and I plan on driving to work (100 miles a day) on Los Angeles freeways. That's 139.5 sq.in. total (front plus rear!) braking area, or about 35 sq.in. per wheel -- about what today's motorcycles get at 1/5th the weight. Clearly an upgrade is called for. AMCers generally bolt on late-model (s...

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Photos from March 2009

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Interior

This car is basically a custom, with the aesthetic work centered around the interior. It's a hybrid of everything I like: Mobius and Japanese anime; better yet, Taiyo Matsumoto's work (Tekkonkinkreet), a Japanese anime artist who spent time in France with Mobius' cohort, making a perfect hybrid; last but not least, psychedelia, in the form of psychedelic trance, but passed through a punk cultural ...

SoCal TT 2009 Rally

(Quick link to chassis setup.) Looking for something more interesting to do with a car than driving to work, I somehow stumbled on the SoCal TT rally. The car is pretty reliable now so I thought I'd tag along at the rear of the pack and have a nice drive. No one was more surprised than I to find that this car actually handle well. Predictably slow of course, but when tossed into corners it be...

Steering gear

This is it. One box. No optional ratios, you steer, or don't. It's a Nash steering gear, very tiny, and turned upside down to fit in the American. The pitman arm comes out the top of the box, not the bottom, and it's grease filled from the factory, so it's a safe bet that the pitman arm bushing runs without lubrication for decades. I got this one to rebuild at my leisure. It had been repaired on...

Steering wheel

What can I say, it's a steering wheel. This one is a 15" Mooneyes special 60's metalflake wheel, made by Grant. No one makes an adapter specifically for early AMC/Ramblers with Gemmer steering boxes, but long ago I managed to figure out that Grant adapter #10159 fit the splined shaft just fine. I had a 15" (black) Grant on my 63 Classic, where it obscured the gauges and made difficult steering eve...

Front Suspension

The early American front suspension is a very old Nash design. Complete with actual Nash parts; this sort of makes the 1963 Rambler American the newest-oldest American car made, as far as I know. It's a nice and simple double A-arm system, but has chronic problems that were resolved in later designs. First, it has a trunnion top and bottom. Now everyone hates trunnions outright and thinks ball j...

Putting a Ford T-5 transmission onto an early Rambler six

There is one (1) choice of manual transmission for the early Rambler six: the Borg Warner T-96, described elsewhere. Though reliable enough if you do not abuse it (by 1960 standards, keep in mind) it's fairly terrible overall. (The overdrive model has it's own virtues however.) The T-14 will fit the bellhousing and clutch, and is not a bad transmission at all -- "late model" (OK, 1968) and synchro...

Wheel and Tire fit issues

This is an old car. The original wheels were 15 inch diameter and four inches wide; it came from the factory with 6.00x15 or "heavy duty" 6.50x15's. The closest metric tire size is 185/70-R15, which are simply no longer available. Though I originally wanted to stick with the skinny tire look, I fell into the modern habit of putting on the fattest rubber I could fit. I'm glad I did, actually; perf...

Transmission installed

Not particularly useful images, just what it looks like installed. ...

T-96 with R10 overdrive assembly

This is a photo sequence for a transmission assembly. Likely I'll not write the text up. It's accurate, the place where I shoot two fingers is where I screwed up the sequence and had to back up. Eh. The OD assembly is not well documented in the manual so maybe that's of some help to someone....

Transmission overhaul

The transmission in this little car is the widely-reviled T-96 by Borg Warner. Tales of the frequent failure of this trannie are common, but unwarranted. It's light duty, but fine in this car. The real problem is that no one knows how to drive a non-synchromesh car any more, crash first gear, and break off teeth. Simple as that. This isn't a valid complaint, it's an old car from another era. I h...

The breadbox American as a Rambler sports car!

(Quick link to SoCal TT.) This page will incrementally document changes to my 63 "breadbox" American to make it handle well (OK better). It's off to a good start just from reasonable chassis design, luckily. First off, the front suspension of this car is mechanically perfect (with a few exceptions, below). Clearly, no car will handle or behave well with excess wear and bad parts. Unfortunately...

Substituting a modern Delco alternator for that old AMC/Rambler Motorola

There's nothing wrong with the older Motorola alternators, other than they're all getting old, and are expensive to replace. The Delco alternator used by Chevrolet is common as dirt, half (or less) the cost, have twice the output, a built-in voltage regulator, and one minor problem: the case is a bit bigger than the smaller Motorola. This covers getting the alternator physically installed; wiring...

A real fix for your sloppy column shifter

(See my WPS AMC page for more of my rambler hacks.) The Flash-O-Matic column shifter on my 63 Classic has never been right. It's sloppy, pops out of gear ... that's in addition to the chronic turn-signal problems. The soft pot-metal castings are the main problem. The shift lever is steel, with a hardened tip that rides in a too-thin cast channel, and the pivot is a roll-pin. The hardened tip of ...

Rambler 1963-1964 front suspension trickery

This information is intended to help assemble or diagnose Rambler trunnion front suspensions, and assumes you have a factory Technical Service Manual (TSM) or you're just winging it (heh heh) and that you have basic mechanical competence. This isn't a how-to for beginners. Though it's specifically for a 1963-1964 Ambassadors or Classics it applies in general to all of the "big chassis" cars (eg. ...

Locations of 1975 AMC Gremlin "X"/Levis graphics

Since I'm having my car painted, and the stickers replaced, I measured them and took photos. I have no doubt that these are original, factory locations. This car has the "hockey stick" style stripe. It's implied, but I'll state it -- the horizontal stripe is 2.25" down from the horizontal crease that runs the length of the car (measured from the bottom of the crease, to the top of the top 1/8" ...

AMC and Rambler dash knob removal

Why is it that automotive instrument cluster, knobs, levers, cranks, dials, etc are so weird and strange? It's unbelievably difficult to figure out how to get control knobs (headlight, wipers, that sort of thing) off when they're on the car! Here's why. It's simple, but not obvious and impossible to see on the car. I can never remember how it works, and have to puzzle it out every time! So after ...

Automotive LPG Fuel

Tom Jennings, 3 August 2003 In 1987 I embarked on a project to convert my car to run on LPG (aka propane) instead of gasoline. What little I knew at that time indicated it would be a great motor fuel. I built the car in 1989/1990, and wrote it up as a small booklet, "Do-It-Yourself Automotive LPG Conversion", and amazingly, sold about 1200 copies in two years mostly through the Real Goods Trading...

Home-made AMC spring compressor

As you'll find out when you go to do the job, it's difficult to find a spring compressor that actually fits 70-up front springs. They're 6.5" diameter, about an inch larger than most. You need to compress a spring an additional 6" to get it out of the car; they're already squashed 4" just sitting there. About 60% of the car's weight is on the front, so each spring already has about 800 pound...

Modern type AMC strut bushings

Well we (collectively) got what we asked for -- cheaper and cheaper auto parts -- but we forgot that that meant shittier and shittier quality. In my entirely modern 1970 Hornet I went through three sets of strut bushings in under six months. In a car with all new parts, completely and thoroughly restored, absolutely straight chassis, aligned and checked by a very good shop (Spence Wheel Alignment...

Rambler 1963-1964 Strut bushing fabrication and replacement

The problem here is that the original part, an overly-complicated two piece assembly, is made of rubber. Old rubber. Newly-manufactured parts are simply not available, and there is no substitute from other years. New-old-stock parts are available; mine lasted four (4) days before splitting (I actually drive my car, on real roads; they're probably OK for a museum car). This design was used only on ...

Tuning the GM 1227747 ECM

These are expanded notes to myself, I am in no way a TBI tuning expert, I have this one car, a 1963 Rambler Classic 550 Cross Country station wagon with a 1970 232ci six in front of a 1965 M35 automatic, with a Howell TBI kit on it. I still don't have cold-start (southern California "cold") dialed in, it's lean until warmup, and the mileage is poor (16 mpg) even though my BLMs are all within 1 or...

John Elle's AMC front spring perch bushing fix

One of the things that's unobtainable for AMC cars (small chassis, 69 up) is the rubber-bushed spring perch, and they all go bad. Luckily, John Elle worked out a replacement using urethane bushings. It assumes the metal parts are OK, but they usually are. This fix seems to be well accepted. I did this fix on my 1970 Hornet project car; to the right is a partially-assembled version, and here th...

An electronic replacement for that miserable dash regulator

On early (eg. 1963) Ramblers, the dash voltage regulator is a 19th century style make/break thermostatic device. They fail, and are made of Unobtainium. They can easily be replaced with a modern "three terminal" regulator, ala LM7805 or equiv. I did this years ago. I recently had to take out the dash gauge cluster for another reason so I too the opp. to photograph it. To the right is how I mount...

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Rear axle bearing replacement

These are basically my personal notes to myself, expanded into a how-to. I have no pictures for this page; I only wrote it up after someone asked for tips on the AMC forum, the week after I'd just done the job. If you see an error in my method please let me know. Tools you will need, not usually in casual toolboxes: 3/4" drive breaker bar, 18" - 24" long 12" or other long 3/4" drive extention 1...

Chevrolet 1.94"/155" valves in AMC 304 head

Some details on the valve job. To the right here is the stock AMC combustion chamber, so you can see what we're workign with. We're installing small-block Chevy valves made by Martin Wells, swirl-polished stainless steel, 1.94" intake, 1.55" exhaust valves into the AMC head, with hardened seats, since LPG is hard on exhaust valves due to lack of thick, crusty damaging crud provided by gasolin...

1963 Rambler station wagon rear window remove and replace

To replace a rear quarter panel after some idiot in a pickup truck with bad brakes ("but I was pumping them" he sez) crunches it, you gotta take out the scary side window. It's scary because it has been sitting there for nearly 40 years and rubber turns to something resembling coal. The Technical Service Manual (TSM) says something to the effect, just pry down the window channel lip on the insi...





NO-SECTION-TAG

Aftermarket A/C installation

(August 2008) I finished this installation in 2005, it's still working perfectly fine so I guess I can say it was a success and finish this page! This isn't a complete how-to, it's a somewhat complicated job, but this should cover the high points of retrofitting a Vintage Air system into a 1963 Classic or similar car. The engine's a 1970 232ci six. I apologize for the poorly organized page. The...

Detail pictures, March 2011

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Fitting a Howell TBI kit into a 1963 Rambler Classic

I bought this kit from fellow AMC-lister Russ (thanks continually!) who originally bought it from Howell for a project that ended up not materializing (my lab is filled with such things...). I had two cars that were candidates for it, my 1970 Hornet and my Classic wagon. The Hornet is most ways was a better application -- it's got a 1983 Jeep 258 in it and already had the aluminum intake and all ...

1963 Rambler Classic 550 Cross Country Station Wagon gas tank

The gas tank on most cars doesn't warrent it's own web page, but this car had no gas tank and ran on propane for a few months short of 20 years so I was lucky to find one in a Sun Vally CA junk yard when I switched to gasoline fuel injection....

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Navarro Rambler six

Barney Navarro's 700hp 199ci six sold at auction

On 14 July 2005 the remaining contents of Navarro Engineering's shop in Los Angeles (Glendale) was auctioned off, almost all of it reasonably ordinary machine shop equipment, plus his twin-turbo Rambler six, a bunch of Rambler engine parts, and a few scattered pieces of what may be the Indy car. I'm writing this the day of the auction and will eventually round out the information here as I get it...

Barney Navarro Rambler turbo six parts bought at auction

On 14 July 2005 the remaining contents of Navarro Engineering's shop in Los Angeles (Glendale) was auctioned off, almost all of it reasonably ordinary machine shop equipment, plus his twin-turbo Rambler six, a bunch of Rambler engine parts, and a few scattered pieces of what may be the Indy car. The indy motor went to a private collector for $15,000; pictures of it are here. I haven't inventorie...

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Barney Navarro-built Rambler turbo Indy motor

I recently bought at an auction one of Barney Navarro's turbo-charged Rambler six cylinder Indianapolis 500 motors. I'm still in the discovery phase of determining exactly which motor it is, and if all the parts I have fit it. At this point, it appears that I have the 1967 single-turbo motor, or a version thereof. Navarro made three attempts at a qualifying car based upon the Rambler six for a ...

Turbo mock-up.

Temporary, place-holder page. Note this is mocked up with a TE06, not a T04, which the flange was meant for. The TE06 flange is about an inch wider....





Road trips

Assorted, mostly old, road trip photos

These are almost all scanned photographs, year photo taken in the filename. They were taken all over the SouthWest....

September 2002 road trip to Santa Fe

From Los Angeles. I take one, two or more trips to Santa Fe every year, only a few got many photos. These days I bomb it out I40, since the trip has gotten pretty routine....

Places I've been in this car

It's not really obvious, but I built this car (my 1963 Rambler Classic Cross Country) for mild off-road camping, meaning basically unimproved dirt roads, like the East Mojave (Calif. desert). It weighs 3150 pounds. With custom wound springs, the tallest wheels and tires I could find, it's got about 9" of ground clearance, about 8" under the axle center and under the LP tank. It sleeps two, has ...