SST Record! The Ephemeral Super-Clean 1969 Rambler Rebel Wagon

1969 AMC Rambler Rebel SST Wagon

Shortly after Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson joined forces against the postwar industrial might of General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford in 1954, the freshly minted concern popped out the Rambler Rebel. While Rambler traces its lineage back to a bicycle built during the latter quarter of the 19th century, “Rebel” was a fresh, new nameplate from a firm attempting to fend off a trio of daunting foes. After a four-model-year run, AMC retired the Rebel badge after 1960, only to wake it from its slumber in the heady days of the late ’60s and goose it with a performance-oriented SST trim level.

1969 AMC Rambler Rebel SST Wagon

The ’66 Rambler Rebel was a transitional model, a halfhearted cop of the muscle car template laid out by John Z. DeLorean two years before with the GTO. In ’67, however, while GM, Ford, and Chrysler intermediates were still clinging to the curves and creases of their mid-’60s designs, AMC launched the squared-off Ramblers, though the historic marque itself wasn’t long for our shores. The Rebel stuck it out a year longer in the U.S. market than hoary old Rambler managed to, surviving the end of the ’60s. For 1970, the AMC Rebel stood as its own machine before giving way to the Matador badge for ’71, a nameplate which came to exemplify chest hair and impotence in equal measure during the doldrums of the Malaise Era.

1969 AMC Rambler Rebel SST Wagon

So what do we have here, then? The last year of the Rambler Rebel models, the dorky cool of the stoic, blocky, late-’60s AMC design language, and the desirable SST trim. All well and good. The kicker, of course, is that it’s a damn wagon with a mere 24,000-odd miles on the odometer. According to the seller, the owner purchased the car new and basically parked it once the warranty ran out. It’s the archetypical nerd’s semi-musclewagon, with what’s apparently its original 343-cubic-inch V-8, a three-speed automatic transmission, boss American Motors hubcaps on its steel wheels, and a “Praise the Lord” front license-plate frame.

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A magical midsize time capsule, this thing is, a car from an era when we all thought we’d soon be flying in supersonic planes—the Concorde made its maiden flight the year this wagon rolled out of Kenosha—and still riding high on a wave of turbulent change, one that would come crashing down with the implosion of the Nixon administration and the imposition of the OPEC oil embargo. This old SST is a symbol of the ’60s, if a somewhat minor one. Think of it as an automotive Kinks to the Beatles, Stones, and Who of the Detroit Three. Less than two decades after the death of the Rebel, American Motors would be absorbed into Chrysler, but not before pioneering the crossover with the Eagle, birthing the compact family off-roader with the XJ Cherokee, and, of course, attempting to mainstream French weirdness during its lash-up with Renault. As a history-minded American, there might just be a thing or two wrong with you if somewhere deep inside, you haven’t got a hankering to spend some time in this SST wagon. The kicker is that you could have. The AMC was for sale yesterday on Craigslist up in Portland, Oregon, for $ 11,900. Today, it’s gone.

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