Clean, solid top-of-the-line Rambler American 400 convertible. Optional OHV inline-6, automatic transmission, heater/defroster, and more. Runs and drives great, lots of recent work. Affordable yet unusual fun!
We do not know much history on this handsome little convertible, but its eager personality and no-nonsense demeanor won us over as soon as it arrived. It started right up and it seems to have led a good life somewhere that doesn’t use salt on the roads because the sheetmetal is in excellent condition. It’s a uni-body car, so it hasn’t had a traditional “frame off” restoration, but someone in the not-too-distant past spent good money on the bright red paint. The doors fit well and don’t need a huge slam to latch, the gaps are good all around, and it does not show any evidence of rust repair or accident damage. There’s nice chrome on the bumpers and grille, all the unique and probably hard-to-find parts are intact and in great shape, and it has a lot of advanced features, including standard back-up lights and dual outside mirrors. It’s an inexpensive car that doesn’t act like one.
The flashy two-tone black and red interior is a great place to hang out with family and friends, and the silver piping gives it a fairly upscale look and feel. There’s a surprising amount of space, front and rear, and it feels like a bigger car than it is from behind the wheel. The steering wheel shows a few minor cracks that don’t look like they’re coming apart and the horn button is crazed, but for being nearly 60 years old, they’re pretty nice. All the factory gauges are fully operational and the optional Weather Eye heater/defroster is surprisingly effective. The original AM radio is sadly not working but you’ll be having so much fun you probably won’t miss it. In back there’s plenty of room for two and maybe three in a pinch and the trunk is shockingly large. Peel back the carpet and you’ll find solid floors and no scary issues underneath. Not perfect, but a very solid car that will give you no worries about its structural soundness.
The engine is the optional 196 cubic inch overhead-valve inline-6 which was rated at a respectable 127 horsepower. It starts quickly and idles well, and out on the road it’s a decent cruiser that can probably pull down 25 MPG. It’s dressed in corporate blue engine enamel with a heavy-duty air cleaner and you’ll note lots of clever engineering, including the oil filter right there on top where it’s easy to reach for service. The giant radiator pretty much eliminates worries about warm weather driving and there’s a lot of recent work, including a fresh tune-up, new belts and hoses, and a new battery so it’s ready to go. Service access is excellent and even though it’s an orphan brand, parts are still plentiful, inexpensive, and easy to find at your local auto parts store. You’ll also note that AMC was way ahead of the rest of the industry with the dual reservoir master cylinder, which became standard equipment in 1962.
Underneath you’ll find Rambler’s familiar front suspension with upper and lower trunnions and high-mounted coil springs, which gives it a remarkably soft ride, particularly for a car sitting on a 100-inch wheelbase. The 2-speed automatic transmission shifts crisply and once you’re in high range, it’s easy to cruise at 50-60 MPH without the engine working very hard. You’ll note that the floors and support structure are in excellent condition, including the rocker panel seam which shows factory spot welds and no rot. A newer exhaust system gives the sturdy little six an appropriate exhaust note and the 4-wheel unassisted drum brakes are perfectly adequate for the car’s modest performance. The gas tank appears to have been recently sealed and there are newer shocks at all four corners. 15-inch wheels are large for a compact, and they carry beefy 215/75/15 Goodyear whitewall radials that really fill the wheel wells.
For an entry-level hobby car that isn’t ordinary and offers a lot of character for the money, this American 400 convertible is a great choice. We like the honesty of the bright red ragtop and it stands out in a field full of cars you’ve already seen. If you’re someone who likes to stand out but you don’t feel like spending a fortune to do it, take a closer look here because there’s a lot to love. Call today!
For more details and photos, please visit www.HarwoodMotors.com