AMC American Rambler Rogue
In 1966, the Rambler 440-H was retagged as the American Rambler Rogue. The Rogue was the top-of-the-line model in the Rambler series. It was conceived in 1966 and had Roy Abernathy’s stamp of pretension written all over it. The Rogue was an audacious attempt to stick it to the Big Three – an affordable muscle car with serious curb appeal.
The Rambler Rogue was not a sports car, it was simply a Rambler Rogue. Although, it did kind of handle like a sports car, and it had more built-in power than any other car in its class. And gee whiz, it kind of looked like a sports car too.
The Rogue was certainly not what Americans had come to expect from American Ramblers. Instead of being a sensible economy car, it was an absolute beast. The car featured a 290 cu in V8 engine that AMC called the “Typhoon”. It was available in a two or four-barrel carburetor that generated 200 and 225 horsepower respectively. The engines were built from a lightweight “thin-wall” casting material that gave them an overall weight of only 540 lbs.
The lightweight engine design devised by AMC would continue to be used until 1991.
Not a Sports Car
In 1967, AMC had added a high-octane, high-performance, high-compression V8 engine with a four-barrel carburetor that produced 280 hp and 365 foot-pounds of torque at 3000 rpm.
But at the same time, confidence in Roy Abernathy’s direction had dwindled alongside sales. Abernathy had miscalculated AMC’s capacity to compete against the Big Three and from their sales diminished in a downward spiral. He would be replaced by Roy D. Chapin Jr. in 1967 and AMC would end up going back to its roots.
Chapin simplified the American line, scaling back from 9 to 5 models. Chapin would keep the Rogue for another year but was not enthusiastic about either Abernathy’s vision or the Rogue itself.
In 1969, the title “American” was dumped from the Rambler line and was now referred to only as the American Motors Rambler. These Ramblers came as sedans and station wagons still built on a compact 106-inch wheelbase.
The Death of the American Rambler
By 1969, the Rambler was on borrowed time. The Rogue was dead, AMC had already ditched the title “American”. The Rambler itself was about to be put to pasture.
AMC settled on a commemorative gesture by repackaging the Rogue as SC/Rambler. This was a muscle car that wasn’t afraid to call itself a muscle car. They built slightly over 1500 SC/Ramblers and promoted them as stock car racers. It was a car for sports car enthusiasts.
By then, the SC/Rambler was equipped with a 390 cu in V8 engine with 315 hp. Gone was any pretense that it was an economy car with muscle chops. It looked like a sports car too with flashy trims and racing mirrors. The SC/Rambler was a dragstrip contender.
The next year, Ramblers were laid to rest, and with them, a decade-long run as an American icon.