Friday, January 8, 2016

The AMC Rebel - The First American Hot Rod?

The AMC Rebel (known as the Rambler Rebel in 1967) was an mid-size car produced by American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1967 to 1970. It replaced the Rambler Classic. The Rebel was replaced by the similar AMC Matador for the 1971 model year.

The Rebel name was introduced by AMC in 1957 as the first American factory hot-rod. The Rebel name reappeared in 1966 on a specially trimmed version of the Rambler Classic two-door hardtop with a revised roofline. For 1967, AMC's entire intermediate line took the Rebel name.

Throughout its life, the Rebel was available as a 4-door sedan, 4-door station wagon, and 2-door hardtop. In addition, a 2-door coupe with a thin B-pillar and flip out rear side windows was available in 1967 only, and a convertible was offered in 1967 and 1968. Engines included the 232 in I6 (145/155 hp), 290 in (200/225 hp), 343 in (235/280 hp) and 390 in (315/325 hp) V8s. Styling was similar to the senior Ambassador, which shared the same basic unit body aft of the cowl. In 1970, the sedan and coupe received a restyled rear-end, along with a new C-pillar shape and rear quarters. The Rebel was built at AMC's "West Assembly Line" (along with the Ambassador) in Kenosha, Wisconsin and at Brampton, Ontario, Canada (Bramalea).

The 1970 restyle was to last only one year before a further restyle and renaming the models as the AMC Matador. The 4-door and wagon platform would remain unchanged until the retirement of the Matador after 1978.

During the 1967 model year, AMC issued a series of speciality Rebel station wagons, each with their own distinctive side trim:

The Mariner (600 units) featured simulated grey lapboard trim and was issued along the coastal regions of the United States;
The Briarwood (400 units) featured simulated Rosewood panels and was issued throughout the east and south;
The Westerner (500 units) featured plankwood trim inserts and was issued west of the Mississippi River.

The most recognizable muscle car version of the Rebel was named The Machine, which in its most patriotic or flamboyant form was painted white with bold red, white, and blue reflective stripes following success of the 1969 SC/Rambler. American Motors' high performance car made its official debut October 25, 1969, in Dallas, Texas; the site of the National Hot Rod Association's World Championship Drag Race Finals. The Machine had a 390 in V8 engine with 340 hp (gross), the most powerful in any AMC vehicle. It featured a large ram-air intake hood scoop painted Electric Blue with a large tachometer visible to the driver integrated into a raised fairing at the rear of the scoop. The heavy-duty suspension was augmented by station wagon springs in the rear giving the car a raked look. Standard were a Borg-Warner T-10 four speed transmission with a Hurst shifter backed by either 3.54:1 or 3.91:1 rear axle gear ratios, as well as power disc brakes, wide E60X15 tires mounted on mag-styled steel wheels, and bucket seats with a center armrest upholstered in red, white, and blue vinyl. Numerous other upgrades were standard to make each Machine a potent turn-key drag racer. The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) price was $3,475 (roughly $20,000 in 2007 dollars). After the initial run of 1000 units, the Machine was available without the stripes in other colors with a blacked out hood; while the original trim scheme became a $75 option. The Rebel Machine was a limited edition, with 2,326 built in 1970.

Also of note is the 1968 convertible, which was the last AMC convertible built (not including the Renault Alliance). This is among the rarest AMC models, with only 823 produced. Less than 100 are known to survive today.

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