By Stephanie Julianna (whom we miss greatly!)
Those ladies here, around my age, will attest to my following assertions based on my experience over the years in which I was buying and collecting Nash and American Motors cars. For you young ones, here is a mini history lesson.
The first mass produced car was not Ford but the Rambler which started in 1902, a year before Ford. That Company got bought out by Charles Nash in 1915 after he stepped down as President of General Motors. Nashes were made from 1916 until the name was dropped in 1957. The brand name for the entire line became Rambler again in 1958 until 1969. Then from 1970 until 1989 the line was called AMC (American Motors Corporation) until Chrysler bought the company to get the Jeep brand which AMC also owned. AMC was the last independent car manufacturer in the USA from literally hundreds that came and went since the earliest days of the industry.
So what does Nash and Rambler have to do with ladies? For many reasons, they became the “go to” car for the “little woman” of the house. When it became common for the wives and single women to drive by the Fifties, Nash and Rambler were the logical choice for a second car in the family. Even new, there were many model choices two thirds to half the price of a Chevy or Ford. The top of the Line Ambassador was still pricey, most potential buyers got easier stamps of approval from the man of the house if they looked at the Nash Statesman or even cheaper Rambler American.
I cannot tell you how many times I have been approached at car shows over the years with one of my Ramblers by viewers. “My Grandma had a Rambler!” “My Aunt had a Nash.” “My first car in High School was a Rambler American.” “My college Sorority Sister had a Gremlin.” (Yes, that was also an AMC car .) Editorial comment: I owned a Gremlin! Green, of course.
The second big reason that so many girls and ladies had Ramblers and AMC’s was, that two years down the road, they depreciated like a brick and could be bought used for a quarter of the sticker price when new. Dad or hubby was not going to risk anything more pricey on a “LADY DRIVER”.
However, Nash and AMC did have a car for the woman who had a mind of her own and could afford what she wanted. As early as the 1930’s, Nash marketed their top of the line Ambassador toward women. That’s where my taste lies. I have had seven Ambassadors over the years, a 1929, ’38, ’51, ’55, ’58, ’65 and ’69. Half were originally owned by women.
In 1965 AMC decided to make the first Ambassador convertible since 1948. This became their flagship model for the year and also was the longest car that they had built since the mid 1930’s, coming in at 17 and 1/2 feet long. When optioned with the right accessories the price easily drifted into the low $4000 range. You could get a Buick or Oldsmobile for that kind of money. For Rambler’s effort, they made one of the classiest, cleanest and most drivable cars they had made to date. AND they marketed to women, and husbands who loved their wives enough, to buy one for “the love of his life”.
Rambler still touted their affordable value by stating in their ads for the 1965 Ambassador Convertible, “Buy your Luxury Convertible two years earlier. Other luxury brands had similar models but one to two thousand dollars higher in price. And the advertising did little to hide the fact that they wanted a woman behind the wheel as all the publicity and brochure photos show here. And note the picture with the man in the “ladies” seat, not behind the steering wheel!
My bucket list includes having my picture taken in a period correct dress with my Powder Blue beauty pictured here.
My lady’s car is no kitten with a 327 cubic inch (5.3L) big block V-8 with a factory Holley 4 barrel. With dual exhaust she touts 290 HP. Handling is lady-like easy due to power steering and rare factory power disc front brakes. With an automatic transmission and even an electrically powered Convertible top, almost everything is managed at the touch of a button or the shift of a lever. No need to chance breaking a nail. Lastly, this lady loves choices in music and loves her factory AM/FM radio. Only well appointed cars had one of those in 1965 and it was the 5th highest priced Rambler option offered in ’65.
So for you ladies like me, who love looking pretty and standing out from the crowd, think about buying a Rambler, the car preferred by more crossdressers (and their Grandmas, Aunts and girlfriends) than any other brand.