Down On The Street: AMC Ambassador SST
A shockingly complete example of AMC's forgotten luxury coupe from the late 60s
Back in June of 2020 I spied something unusual on the side of a shop, a complete stock AMC Ambassador! Any AMC is a pretty rare spot nowadays and even when this car was new it would have been an unusual choice so I decided to document this olive green example.
I believe this to be a 1968 model as the SST trim this one is was introduced for the final year of the 6th generation. AMC was still enjoying increasing market share around this time as the oil crisis wouldn't be for another 5 years. Still solidly fourth place but working to change that with the help of big optioned up V8 luxury cars like this one. It's a part of history and a forgotten one at that.
The Ambassador was a much more staid and less flamboyant car than a lot of the stuff the Big 3 was putting out at the time. And being one of the last years before carbureted emissions control cut performance in half, it's overshadowed by the fire breathing muscle cars that rolled off the assembly line around the same time. I think it's a shame because the car is not uninteresting in its own right but just isn't something the collector market ever paid the slightest bit of attention to.
This particular car is the SST trim with the four barrel 343 (5.6L) V8 making 280 horses at the crank put to the pavement through a column shift 3 speed BorgWarner automatic. Not a very exciting combo but performance was respectable for the era. People didn't buy these for the performance and in only 5 years that drivetrain would have made it very expensive indeed to keep going not to mention steeper depreciation than the Big 3 so a lot of Ambassadors didn't see the other side of the mid 70s. Still, someone loved this one enough to keep it in good shape for a long time.
I do think the Ambassador was a good looking car in this generation. It's understated and I'm not convinced the olive green paint does its lines any justice but but the details are elegant and not overdone. But elegant and understated wasn't exactly where the market was headed and these never really had much of a following.
You see most of the luxury on the inside. Swanky green vinyl with wood effect trim is everywhere and looks ahead of its time. It looks much more early 70s than late 60s in here. It's weathered the many years of service quite well too.
AMC was doing respectably well at the time but would be caught woefully unprepared for the Oil Crisis to come. That was because they sunk their R&D funds into making innovations in segments like this one. Air conditioning was standard for 1968, an almost unheard of thing to do at the time. They really went hard on innovative marketing and features during this time given their limited budget and it was working reasonably well for the moment.
Welcome everyone to another edition of "Underappreciated" where we look at the underappreciated racing cars of the past, relegated to the history books. We look today at the AMC Matador, a humble car from AMC and it's racing history that is now forgotten...
I was inspired to write this up for Drive Tribe after reading RCtothefuture's post on the AMC Matador and its racing history over on the Hyphen as it made me think back to this. Actually, of the two AMC branded cars I've seen move under their own power, both were very battered old Ambassadors.
So what's your opinion on this slightly weathered old AMC? Is this mostly unloved classic fit for anything other than the scrap yard? Or do you think this orphaned luxury coupe from a long dead brand is more appealing for being obscure?