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Introduction

10 March 2022

Welcome to RamblerLore.com, my Rambler and American Motors technical information collection, mostly but not exclusively 1958 through 1963 Rambler Americans and the Nash Ramblers they share components with, back to 1950. My concern is driving, not restoration. The information here derives from that goal, so emphasis is on suspension, brakes, engine, chassis, etc. My daily driver is a 1960 American. My other car is the Rambler Roadster, a heavily modified 1961 American setup for sports car use. It is driven very hard, is all-Rambler except transmission, axle, and home-built rear suspension. The roadster has been the test bed for reliability-oriented mods in use for 10 years or more.

Replacement parts are increasingly difficult to source. Retail stores and online catalogs no longer accurately make available parts for cars that haven't been made for a half century, so a large part of my work is identifying parts by aftermarket part number (as opposed to application) and in more and more cases, fabrication and modification. See my Parts List spreadsheet below; further parts lists and cross-references are in the works.

How to use this website

Scroll this page or touch or mouse over the bar at the top of the screen to jump to article groupings.










Rambler 195.6 OHV engine

The Rambler 195.6 OHV engine Endurance, reliability, and performance modifications to the Rambler 195.6 ci OHV engine.



Manuals and documents

tomj's parts list Replacement parts I have personally installed with aftermarket numbers and notes. I update this frequently, so it's best used online here.
tomj's spreadsheets Spreadsheet that calculates MPH and RPM given tire size and axle information. It encourages "what if" poking and playing around. Save a copy on your own computer so that you can save changes.



Manuals and other AMC-produced documents

This includes AMC factory Technical Service Manuals, aka TSMs, factory Parts Catalogs, which contain many illustrations, AMC "family photo album", and other AMC documentation. It also includes some critical component-manufacturer data, such as Borg Warner transmissions, radios, and a few old hobbiest pages dedicated to under-documented things like the aluminum six cylinder engine.

AMC/Rambler and other factory manuals, catalogs, documents This section contains full AMC/Rambler parts catalogs in browsable or downloadable form.
Technical manuals other than AMC This section contains mostly service manuals in browsable or downloadable form.
AMC pitman and idler arm technical information Useful detailed technical information, and part numbers, on pitman and idler arms and bushings. From the Australian Rambler Club.
AMC/Rambler brake database
A compilation of disc and drum brake data taken from AMC factory Technical Service Manuals, arranged into one large table, cross-referenced. Now with Bendix, Wagner, Raybestos, UPB, Aimco parts numbers cross reference.



Front suspension and steering

1950 through 1963 Rambler American/Nash Rambler front suspension The 1958 through 1963 American (and 1950 to 1956 Nash Rambler) suspension can be daunting to work on. I've solved many of it's problems and have worked out solutions to reliability and replacement parts. This work applies to the 1950 up Nash double-wishbone suspensions.
High performance 1950 through 1963 Rambler American/Nash Rambler front suspension This early Rambler American/Nashcan suspension is amenable to some serious tuning. In this document I show how to dial in or eliminate understeer with "Shelby drop", and fabricate better than stock bushings.
Early American/Nash modern shock mount, control arm stiffener This bracket allows use of a modern (Gabriel 81270) shock absorber on the front; and a replacement lower control arm stiffener/spacer.
1950 through 1963 American steering gear (Gemmer) Pre-1964 Rambler Americans, and probably a lot of Nash cars, use this tiny little Gemmer worm and sector steering box. Needless to say after 60 years it's worn, sloppy, and probably out of lubricant. They are surprisingly easy to rebuild. It's a decent design, and a tight steering box makes driving a pleasure.
1958..1963 Idler Arm Probably more than you want to know about idler arms on the early Rambler Americans. But also see the idler/pitman arm information compiled by the Australian Rambler club, up in the Documents section.
1962 through 1967 Classic/Ambassador front suspension trickery 1960's Rambler "big cars" (Classic, Ambassador, etc) front suspensions are excellent designs in spite of their reputation for difficulty. They are subtle, and easy to assemble right if you follow this general procedure.
1962 through 1967 strut bushing fabrication The strut bushings for 1962 to 1967 Classics and Ambassadors are not available and later parts look similar but do not fit. Here is a solution to fabricating a replacement that's suitable for daily-driver use.
Modern (1970-up) AMC strut bushings There are quality and installation issues with two-piece strut rod bushings. Here's a look at the various designs available.
John Elle's 1970-up AMC front spring perch fix The front suspension on 1970-up AMC cars has a coil spring perch containing rubber bushings that wear and fail, and have historically been very difficult to find. John Elle worked out a replacement using inexpensive and generic urethane bushings. It assumes the metal parts are OK, but they usually are.
Home-made 1970-up AMC spring compressor As you'll find out when you go to do the job, it's difficult to find a spring compressor that actually fits 70-up front springs. They're 6.5" diameter, about an inch larger than most. Here's how I made one from scrap.
Home-made front suspension toe-setting tool An easy to construct and use tool for setting front suspension, front wheel toe-in.



Rear axle and suspension

Rear axle bearing replacement
A how-to of rear axle bearing replacement that applies to all AMC axles all years, in note form, alas no photographs.
Early American "big nut" axle
Pre-1964 AMC "small cars" and Nashes have a peculiar method of attaching the rear yoke assembly to the pinion shaft, known as the "big nut" axle. Here's how to work on them.



Brakes

How to assemble front drum brakes
Front Bendix 9 x 2.5's shown here, but other sizes the same. Wagner is the same except shoe hold down spring is a different style, and the wheel cylinder has stubby pushrods to the shoes.
How to hotrod front drum brakes
Making drum brakes work as well as small disc brakes but drilling for ventilation.
Disc brakes on early Rambler Americans
Installing a Scarebird disc brake kit to pre-1964 Americans (applies to Nash cans as well).



How-To's

26 apr 2020

These are things written specifically to illuminate some technique or process or problem and how to get past it.

Re-lining door front rigid window guides Easy inexpensive and very effective method to re-line the rigid window channel, since these parts are not available.
Fitting a Carter YF/YFA or clone to the Rambler six Currently the best overall choice for a replacement for old Holley 1931, 1908, 1904, etc carburetors. Available new or used and plentiful ethanol- and modern-fuel-proof components.
Changing motor mounts the easy way (AMC 199, 232, 258) This sequence of actions makes the job fairly easy.
Easy, cheap replacement for the windshield washer foot pump check valve Original style replacements don't (aaffordably) exist. If you don't mind this non-standard look this works as well or better, uses common inexpensive parts. A five-minute fix.
A real fix for your sloppy 1960's column shifter The column mechanism in column-shift cars after 50 years of service wear out. They get sloppy, pop out of gear, in general degrade the pleasure of driving. The problem is that the metal components wear out. Here's a fix for this chronic condition.
An electronic replacement for instrument panel gauge voltage regulators Instrument panel gauges use an electro-mechanical voltage regulator that is either unobtainable or expensive and hard to find. Here is an all-electronic replacement using a common part.
Replacing AMC/Rambler Motorola alternators with Delco 10si There's nothing wrong with the older Motorola alternators other than they're old and expensive to replace. Most of the Moto's out there are "rebuilds" missing tag data and other critical information. A new Delco 10si, with warranty, is half the cost of the Motorola voltage regulator alone. The "three wire" Delco can be attached to the AMC wiring harness with no cutting or modification.
AMC and Rambler dash knob removal Why is it that automotive instrument cluster, knobs, levers, cranks, dials, etc are so weird and strange? The 60's and 70's Rambler and AMC wiper knobs in particular, even with the factory Technical Service Manual it's not easy. Here's photos of the mechanism.
Automotive LPG Fuel In the late 1980's I converted my 1963 Rambler Classic Cross Country wagon to LPG as a motor fuel, and drove it for 20 years without gasoline. It was great, except for when it was a huge PITA. Here's an electronic copy of the how-to booklet I sold 1200 copies of through the Real Goods Trading Company back then.
Renovating a rusty gas tank Making a rusted old gas tank as good/better than new qith Caswell's Phenol Novolac fuel-proof epoxy and a lot of work.



Case studies

I can't think of a better description for things like this than "studies", as in case studies, as in taking a look at a failed part to diagnose a problem or find a solution. Documentation of work done on a car or project that doesn't rise to the level of "How-To" but might contain useful hints. These are arranged as note-to-self. These are forensic or post-mortem projects and examinations, that don't quite rise to the quality of the how-to's, but may contain useful information. YMMV.

Early American door hinge repair and study
Remove and repair of the early American front door hinges. It's satisfying to work on quality parts! A close look at how and why they wear and things to look for.
Factory radios
An unsatisfying and incomplete collection of information on AMC and Rambler factory AM, AM/FM, tape players and CB radios. Information is spotty and sparse, and even the factory parts catalogs are silent.
Motorcraft Duraspark distributor and TFI upgrade
Installing a Ford type Duraspark distributor in an early 232ci six, and using the TFI coil.
Fitting a Howell TBI kit into a 1963 Rambler Classic
My experience and notes on installing a Howell throttle body injection (TBI) system, intended for Jeeps, on the 232ci in my 1963 Classic.
Tuning the GM 1227747 ECM
Some notes on my experience tuning the Howell TBI kit (GM 1227747).
Aftermarket A/C installation
Some high points of installing a Vintage Air A/C system in my 1963 Classic wagon, on a 232ci six.
1963 Rambler station wagon rear window remove and replace
Simple trick for removing Rambler glass mounted in those rubber gaskets with the "H" profile.
How and why oil pressure senders fail
I had two oil pressure senders fail on the road and at speed, bright red OIL PRESSURE FAILURE lamp scaring the crap out of me. I identified the failure and have a fix that has lasted, so far anyway.

Early Rambler-American-specific projects

I've spent a decade doing decidedly non-stock things to this chassis and engine, on two different cars: a 1963 440 Twin Stick, and a 1961 base model. It's a tough car to drive daily; though of very high quality of manufacture, it embodies very old engineering, and in stock form the demands of modern driving stress it to failure, and parts are hard to find. So I ended up doing a lot of one-off repairs and customizations that eventually led to the Rambler Roadster. Some of the work below precedes the Roadster work. Most of it is one-off customizations to the '63, one step at a time. Later work will therefore contradict earlier statements, etc. I've tried to sequence these pages in a way that reveals the progression.

Early American steering wheel (Gemmer box)
Fitting a Grant aftermarket steering wheel to the ancient Gemmer steering box in a 1963 Rambler American.
T5z transmission in an Early American
Using Modern Drive Line's AMC/Nash T5 adapter to fit one of MDL's T5z transmissions into an early (pre-1964) Rambler American.
Interior
Forensic disassembly of a (ruined) vacuum modulator from a Borg Warner M8 automatic transmission.
Interior
Interior design and construction of my '63 American hardtop; a hybrid of Mobius and Japanese anime, and Taiyo Matsumoto's work (Tekkonkinkreet), a Japanese anime artist who spent time in France with Mobius' cohort.
Dashboard and instrument cluster
Restomod/custom work on the rusty instrument gauge cluster.
Cold air intake
Simple hack to feed the carburetor with colder air, the pre-1964 American chassis.
Borg Warner T-96 T96 transmission overhaul
Rebuilding the Borg Warner T96 overdrive transmission.
T-96 with R10 overdrive assembly
Photo sequence for a transmission assembly.
Transmission installed
Not particularly useful images, just what it looks like installed. ...
Wheel and Tire fit issues
Tire and wheel fitment issues on the pre-1964 Rambler American chassis.



Other car stuff

Navarro Rambler six

On 14 July 2005 the remaining contents of Navarro Engineering's (Barney Navarro) shop in Los Angeles was auctioned, mostly shop equipment. I went to ogle the twin-turbo Indianapolis 500 engine, ended up buying a load of exotic Rambler Indy-engine test-mule engine parts. I later sold them to some turbo guy up in the Seattle area who had embarked on a project to re-create Navarro's car #50, but he and his shop seem to have disappeared, so I don't know what became of all the stuff.

Barney Navarro's 700hp 199ci six sold at auction
This page is mostly photos of the twin-turbo motor.
Barney Navarro Rambler turbo six parts bought at auction
A quick inventory of the parts bought at the Barney Navarro auction.
Navarro turbo setup in a Hornet
The Navarro turbo motor mocked up, interesting though.
Barney Navarro-built Rambler turbo Indy motor
Turbo mock-up.
Note this is mocked up with a TE06, not a T04, which the flange was meant for. The TE06 flange is about an inch wider....
SPEED AGE magazine reviews the 1951 Nash Rambler (Jan 1952)
Cars in Budapest, Hungary, March 2007
Photos from trip to Budapest. No AMC content here! Lots of cool ex-Eastern Bloc (sic) cars though. That's Simon Penny modelling some of the photos.
VAM (Mexican American Motors) 1981 Rally GT
Looks surprisingly like my customized 1979 AMC AMX. I did not know of this car when I did that work.)
Nate's Fast Metropolitan
Ignore these photos. It's not possible for Nash Metropolitans to be driven at speed. Everyone knows that. It is most definitely not going 60 mph in a Mulholland Highway turn. Nope. Beep beep....
AMC/Rambler bellhousings
A weak attempt to document AMC six cylinder bell housings. If you have one not shown here please contact me, I'd love to add data on it to this page.



Cars

My own cars, present and past, some of them anyway.

1960 Rambler American two-door wagon
My daily driver, a comfortable and slow little station wagon. Looking to be the best car I've ever owned.
Rambler Roadster
A roadster made from a 1961 Rambler American; light weight open car (2250 lbs), custom wishbone rear suspension, home made front suspension, heavily modified engine, five speed transmission, four wheel disc brakes. This is the true sports car AMC could have made.
1968 Rambler American Sport Sedan
This was my daily driver. Innocuous and forgettable when new in the 1968 market, but today a shining examle of excellent engineering, frugal but comfortable design, and a semi-timeless style, meaning it's not larded up with non-functional stylistical gunk. The smallest six, three speed column shift, bench seat. 22 MPG with 210,000 original miles verified, engine never apart. Wonderfully reliable.
1963 Rambler American hardtop
Restomod work on my 1963 Rambler American 440 Twin Stick hardtop. Many of the early American project pages above refer to pages within.
My 1963 Rambler Classic 550 Cross Country Station Wagon
I drove this car for 21 years, best car I ever had so far. I put 350,000 miles on it, one engine and two or maybe three full transmission teardowns. Never failed me on the road.
1963 Rambler Classic 550 Cross Country, detail pictures, March 2011
I took a bunch of detail pictures of my wagon before I sold it. One of the few car regrets I have was selling this wagon, though it was driving me crazy at the time. (2021 note: looking at these photos all hese years later; man was that car wore out! But it was still reliable.)
My 1970 AMC Hornet
Restomod project for a 1970 Hornet; 1983 258, Torqueflite, in diary form.
My 1975 AMC Levi's Gremlin X
I bought this in October 1998 from a small car lot in San Jose Calif. My first and probably only actual restoration.
AMC's 1970's typography
Some notes on the logo and text on the rear ofa 1975 Gremlin X, and a matching typeface found.
My 1979 AMC AMX (aka Spirit V8)
My third-favorite car of all time is this '79 AMX, which I couldn't really call my "AMX", so I called it a Spirit V8, which is what it was. It had quick steering, 304-V8, a torqueflite (later a 4-speed). I bought it in Massachusetts, and took it with me when I moved to San Francisco in November 1983.