The AMC Rebel
The Rebel began as a rebranding effort on the part of AMC to save their failing Rambler Classic line. The Rambler Classic, which was the mid-size model between their Ambassador and their economy line, had a bit of a problem carving out its niche.
In ‘65 it was being produced in 550, 660, 770 trims. The 770 H was AMC’s top trim for the model. It boasted performance features like a V8 engine but was also offered in economy trims that managed a modest 125 hp. The problem was obvious. AMC was trying to do too much with the Rambler Classic. On the one has it was an economy car that wasn’t as economical as other economy cars. On the other hand, it was a luxury car that wasn’t as luxurious as other luxury cars. Roy Abernathy pitched these cars as “sensible spectaculars”. Try as they might, AMC could not bridge the gap between sensible and spectacular.
In ‘66, AMC attempted a rebranding of 770 H called the AMC Classic Rebel. By ‘67 AMC had dumped the Classic entirely, and the car became known as the AMC Rambler Rebel.
The AMC Rambler Rebel (1967)
After the death of the Rambler Classic, the Rebel was due for a rebrand and a redesign. The Rebel got bigger. It now sat atop a 114-inch wheelbase and its width increased by four inches. The look of the car was manipulated it well. In contrast to its predecessor’s boxy styling, AMC beveled out the hard edges of the Classic. The Rebel had more interior space as well. In fact, the Rebel boasted as much interior space as full-size cars.
Style-wise, the Rebel featured an all-new venturi grille and the frame itself had a coke-bottle design with a shorter rear-deck and an extended front end.
The AMC Rebel (1968 – 1970)
Slumping sales of the Rambler line forced AMC to let the Rebel stand out on its own. The Rebel was the mid-size offering of AMC’s line. In terms of the engineering, very little had actually changed.
One thing, however, did change. While on the one hand, AMC added a bunch of features, with the other hand it broke a 10-year industry-wide moratorium on the adding of racing features to vehicles.
By ‘69 AMC had dumped the 550 and 770 models.
The AMC Rebel competed on dragstrips. The SST trim came standard with AMC’s V8 “Typhoon” engine while the other trims were offered with an I6.
But at this point, AMC had a reputation much like the kind that put Oldsmobile out of business. That is to say, it was the car of choice for fogies. In ‘69 AMC released this commercial, which is still considered one of the funniest commercials of all time. It features the Rebel being tested by student drivers. The message: the Rebel can withstand just about anything.
1970 would be the last year for the AMC Rebel. It was replaced by the Matador, but before producing one of the most collectible and memorable muscle cars: The Rebel Machine.