Rambler V8 - Red, White, and Blow.

When flipping through an old magazine, any car ad gives your brain a little endorphin squirt. Shiny paint, big picture, etc etc. Upon finding this ad for Rambler, that little thrill is immediately followed by a stomach-clenching revulsion. This is an ugly car.

Rambler was formerly the brand of Nash motors, but as of 1954, it was owned by AMC (American Motors Corp.). This may be all you need to know, if you're one of the huge number of people who think that AMC's later models, the Gremlin and Pacer, are eye-hurtingly hideous. Now, I like the Gremlin and Pacer. At least they had a unified design that looked intentional, if arguably misguided. The Rambler V-8, on the other hand, looks to me as if it were designed by committee.

One board member liked the "new clean lines" of the sixties, while another wanted to see flips and flares. That's okay! That's what compromise is all about! We can do both! So, you get the kind of nose we see here.The line that comes forward from the front door handles ends in a sharp edge over the top of the grill. But, the little curve that spins off the front fender arches curves downward toward the bumper making the awkward "ear" shape that jives with the previously mentioned upper line not at all.

It gets worse with the station wagon model. The front half of the roof line is kind of arched, but the back half of the roof (where the luggage rack is mounted) is all straight. Wonky and ugly. The designer may have argued that the luggage rack needs the flat area to be more useful, but hundreds of cars since then have successfully included a luggage rack without making the back half of the cabin look like an afterthought.

I can agree that the Gremlin and Pacer are funny looking, but that's why I like them. The Rambler V-8 isn't funny looking. It's just fugly. I'd feel better about the ultimate demise of the AMC corporation if the Rambler seen in this ad was the attributed cause, not the goofy little cars they made in the 70s. Goofy isn't unforgivable. Design by committee should be punishable by death.


Dan said...

Re: "jives" Anytime I use that term in the way you have, I get some reader who wants to tell me that I should've actually used the term "jibes." So, of course, I continue to use the term "jives." Huzzah!

Re: the roofline. That actually dates back to 1956 and was used because AMC didn't have the resources to develop different stampings for the sedan roofs and the wagon roofs (and for the extruded window/door frames). Thus, they were able to use sedan stampings and extrusions for the wagons. And I rather like that roofline.

But I agree 100 percent with you on the front end of the 1961s. Take a look at the 1958-1960 Ramblers for a much cleaner front end design.

Phil Are Go! said...

Hey, thanks for commenting, Dan... and for disagreeing without venom. In the old days they'd call this "lively debate" or "friendly discussion", but these things are generally unheard of on the web.
I feel the need to clarify. In the post, I was, of course, making inferences and assumptions about "design by committee". I have no proof that this car was created in such a way, other than the fact that that's generally the way things have always been done in business. It's just that, when I see something that looks a little wonky to me, I immediately think of committee decisions. These are, of course, just opinions.

Thanks for your insight! I look forward to more comments from you.


Sue said...

I would totally jive with that wagon! But, I like fugly cars. NO ONE'S stealing my car. The kids would be horrified to drive it. My mother would hate it. Very likely a bench seat in the front, making for convenient snog time. It's a win all around!

Phil Are Go! said...

Yes, it's always evocative, heaping derision on a car. Somebody will love the thing for one reason or another. Theft-resistance is a fine point. Tomorrow's post will feature a superbly gorgeous car, by contrast.

Thanks Sue!

Post a Comment