1968 Hurst SC/Rambler Tribute

If Lee Iacoca had teamed up with Hurst to build a performance version of their economy car during his tenure (aka, the Plymouth Omlette Omni) most people would call that insane.  When AMC did it, they called it one of the fastest-selling musclecars of the 60’s. 1968 AMC SC-RamblerThe post-WWII party that drove the economy sky-high through the early 50’s, lead to the hangover recession of 1958.  AMC brass-namely president George W. Romney-decided that the company was in dire need of a cheap-to-buy, cheap-to-own vehicle.  The tooling for the 1955-model Rambler was dusted off, and the tiny car went back into production with a few minor cosmetic changes added.  You know, to fool all the blind car buyers that think they’re getting a “new for ’58” ride.  Suckers.

Ten years later, AMC felt like getting kinda crazy.  They called up Hurst-who was “just a friend”-and invited them over for a couple glasses of wine.  Things started to get hot & heavy, and the next you know, AMC comes along with a bouncing baby musclecar:  the 1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler. 1968 AMC SC-Rambler

The premise was simple:  Take the teeniest, tiniest car in the lineup, stuff it with the biggest, baddest engine in the fleet, and slather it in a wild and obsessively patriotic paint job.  The end result was a 315-horse, 390 cubic inch engine, mated to a 4-speed standard transmission and limited-slip differential in today’s equivalent to a Chevy Aveo sedan.  There were a few other goodies installed, too-namely, a Sun tachometer, special badging, and red, white & blue headrests.  But like any respectable bastard love child, the SC/Rambler had a very neglected options list.  No air conditioning, no power windows, locks, seats, etc.  Just one single tick box for an AM radio. There was a mere 1,512 of these little things built, all with the NHRA F/Stock class in mind.  It turned out to be a potent competitor on the track, as it could turn low 14’s straight off the showroom floor.

Its success wasn’t limited to just the straight & paved, either.  Ten SC/Ramblers were handed over to James Garner’s racing team for the grueling Baja 500 off-road race in Mexico.  Seven vehicles survived the race car gauntlet, taking three of the top five spots in its class.  James Garner wasn’t available to race the little beasties himself, so he left driving duty up to some unknown kid named Walker Evans.

1968 AMC SC/Rambler clone The entire 1,512-unit production run sold out as fast as AMC could push them off the assembly line.  The car still has a cult-like following, with websites and clubs around the world, and even a registry.  For the truly devoted, it is an honour just to be in the same room as an original AMC SC/Rambler.

Too bad this one isn’t.

This is Gerry Saunders’ 1968 Rambler Rogue “SC/Rambler tribute.”  His particular specimen came courtesy of the bushes near Eddystone, Manitoba, almost too far gone to restore.  “It was unrecognizeable,” Gerry recalled. Doing a restoration on an AMC-any AMC-is one of the greatest challenges in recent automotive history.  

For most muscle cars, body panels and trim are still being cranked out by third party vendors.  In fact, it is now possible to build entire cars from scratch, just from the spare parts available and advertised in the back of Canadian Hot Rods magazine.  That is, unless your car is an AMC. American Motors died in the mid-80’s, taking their parts inventory and supplier list with them.  Getting parts now involves taking the old part and fixing it-there is often no substitute, as getting body panels, or any other new part, is nearly impossible.

1968 AMC SC/Rambler clone

So why would Gerry want to put himself through this ordeal?  What would make him want to slowly rebuild a beat-up, rusted-out car that’s been sitting in a swamp all this time?  Because he can, that’s why.

Gerry Saunders isn’t what you would call “faint of heart.”  He’s built several tribute cars before, restoring every one to like-new condition.  However, he wanted a restoration that would truly test his skills.  One that wasn’t as easy as picking up the Jeg’s catalogue.

“It was the challenge of doing something different,” he explained through the turmoil of a Saturday afternoon at World of Wheels 2009.  “You can buy parts (for other cars) in catalogues.  There are no parts available for these.”

But even more important for Gerry is the uniqueness of owning a rare tribute car such as this.  He summed it up best with a gleam in his eye.  “Have you seen one of these?  No one else has one…  Nobody else has, nobody else does, and nobody else will.”

If that doesn’t satisfy your muscle car itch, check out Gerry’s page on the 1512 Registry of AMC SC/Ramblers.  Or if you’ve got a hankering for more hot rod history, check out our first installment on History of the Camaro.

And when you’re done reading up, take a walk over to the SundayCruiseFever.com facebook group!  We’ve got more pictures, more news, and more chances to meet fellow gearheads.  Click Here, or search for us at Facebook.com!


3 Responses to “1968 Hurst SC/Rambler Tribute”

  1. April 21, 2009 at 5:23 am

    Great Piece! Yeah these little cars were little beasts no doubt! Check Out M3 for the “Unicorn of Mustangs…”

  2. 3 blasterhappy
    April 22, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Dude I love Krass and Bernie! I’m a big fan of George Trosley. He and I have become good friends over the years though we have never met face to face. He is really a great guy. I’m trying to go back and find some old issues of CAR-TOONS. George sent me a lot of cool stuff on disk to post on M3. I like his TOOLBOX Humor too. I gotta get some of that stuff up.

    As far as it being a good or bad idea…well I just think some things should just be left alone. It’s like the Chevelle SS as a station wagon…Nah! But the El Camino SS yeah that works. I don’t know, everytime I hear Station Wagon I think of National Lampoon’s Vacation with Chevy Chase and that trip to Wally World. HAHA! Nice Green walls!

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