Rambler Marlin is one of the top classic cars that remains a popular option for many collectors and car enthusiasts. The car is pretty rare compared to other classic cars, so it was exciting for many who saw 10 Marlins from 1966 at the 2020 Gathering of Marlins in Illinois.
The AMC Rambler Marlin is known for its unique insignia badge, sleek design, racing applications and diverse styling. In this guide, we will look at the Marlin, its history, and other features of this classic car.
What Is the Rambler Marlin?
The Rambler Marlin is a personal luxury car that was produced by American Motors Corporation between 1965 and 1967. It is a two-door fastback automobile and was the flagship car of the company. In the beginning, it was marketed as Rambler Marlin, then Marlin, and then the AMC Marlin.
The Marlin was designed by Richard Teague and assembled at Kenosha, Wisconsin. It had an FR layout and was placed on the platform of the Rambler Classic and AMC Ambassador. It features a fastback roof design that was first seen on the Rambler American car. The first two model years were also fastback versions of the two-door hardtop Rambler Classic.
By 1967, the Rambler was redesigned with a longer, full-size chassis, a longer hood, a new V8 engine and other features. After the Rambler Marlin, AMC released other cars like the Rebel/Matador, Javelin and Ambassador.
Origin of the Rambler Marlin
In the 1960s, the car market in the United States was expanding, and the AMC was looking to compete with the more famous auto manufacturers, which were General Motors, Chryslers and Ford. The aim was to develop a sporty, six-passenger and roomy sedan with a distinctive look that could compete with other cars.
With the aim of providing this type of vehicle, Richard (Dick) Teague and his styling group were focused on developing a sporty fastback. This led to the Rambler Tarpon and Marlin models. Teague’s styling group did not have access to as much money as the other automobile manufacturers but was still able to use existing tools and some spin-off ideas.
With this in mind, they created the Tarpon, which later inspired the Marlin. The Tarpon was shown at the Society of Automotive Engineers even if it was not going into production. It was a two-door hardtop on a 106-inch wheelbase. Tarpon was meant to change the Rambler outlook, and despite all the fanfare, this was not what the executives wanted.
Instead of the 2+2 Tarpon, the company wanted a 3+3 sports fastback which was called the Marlin. The Marlin was roomy and luxurious, with a lot of features from the Tarpon show car. Since it was meant to be a personal luxury car, buyers also had access to different standard equipment they could use to personalize the vehicle.
Features of the Rambler Marlin
There were different luxury features offered on the Rambler Marlin, as it was officially released on the 10th of February, 1965. By the 1st of March, it was unveiled in the dealer showrooms. It had a 112-inch wheelbase, like the Rambler Classic. It also had a length of 195 inches and was one and a half inches higher than the Tarpon.
The Marlin looked like a Classic car but with a fastback roof and featured its own rear fenders, grille, taillights and hood ornament. It was a six-seater with diverse features. These include individual reclining seats and power disc brakes. It was powered by a 232 cubic-inch engine that gave off 145 horsepower.
For those that wanted more power, there was a 287 cubic-inch V8 engine with 198 horsepower and a 327 cubic-ich V8 engine with 270 horsepower. Another option was the Twin-Grip differential and heavy-duty suspension. The Marlin was also pretty affordable, as it went for $3100 at that time. It was about $50 more expensive than the Classic cars.
The highlights of the Marlin included the high-quality upholstery, adjustable backrests, optional floor or center console, dash-mounted tachometer and the well-liked 4-speed manual transmission. It all depended on the trim that you chose, and the diverse luxury features, both standard and optional, made this car appealing.
One easy way to identify the Rambler was the insignia badge that said “Marlin.” This was located on the slanted rear of the trunk.
There was also a lip on the rear deck that made the Marlin look unique compared to other cars.
Press Reaction and Marketing
When the Marlin fastback was released, it was met with mixed press reactions, with some calling the car an “ugly embarrassment” as most people didn’t expect a sports car with a roomy interior. Others were positive about the car.
Despite this, the Marlin did not have a high sales volume in 1965 and 1966. By 1967, with the redesign, the car had gained more popularity.
Mixed Press Reactions
While many writers praised the Marlin for its luxurious interior and the dual master cylinder braking system, others were against the mixed design of the car. The Courier Post in New Jersey described the Marlin as having “beautiful styles with refinements not typical of fastback models.”
As for the Indianapolis News, they stated that AMC “shook the car buffs out of the bushes with the Marlin, newest mid-year model to be offered to sports-minded motorists.” Then there was the San Francisco Chronicle which described it as an “extremely fine road car.”
Even Motor Trend had a neutral reaction, calling it a “well-balanced car that sounds out the various types of personal performance sports cars on the market.” But there were some negative reviews. For instance, Automobile Quarterly said the car was in “disagreeable shape,” complaining about the rear-view widow, poorly designed pedals, and poor location.
Although sales in 1965 were decent, it became worse in 1966. There were minor changes to the car, and the company even reduced the price to $2,601 to attract buyers.
Once the Marlin was released in 1967, the company focused on a different marketing approach to increase sales. AMC launched an advertising and merchandising program in 1965, with different ads appearing in over two thousand followers. There were also different television and radio commercials and it appeared in different magazines.
Another form of advertisement was the display at major airports, as AMC leased airport lobby spaces to display their cars. There were also special models like the Black Marlin, which toured auto shows in 1965 along with attractive women, and the Tahiti, which was released in 1966 with custom designing.
Marlin also advertised a miniature plastic model that buyers could get in different colors. There wasn’t much demand for it then, and thousands were given away to children, but there were still thousands left. Today, these plastic models are pretty expensive and scarce.
Use of the Rambler Marlin in Racing
The Marlin was not used in racing as much as other cars in the 1960s. If anything, they ran an advertisement that said, “Why don’t we enter high-performance Rambler V-8s in racing? Because the only race Rambler cares about is the human race.” But since AMC wanted to attract young customers for the Marlin, they got racing sponsors and dealerships.
It was used in drag racing, oval racing and even endurance races. At the 25 Hours of Daytona, the Marlin was used in the race and retired after 80 laps due to steering and overheating problems. It was sold as a new car after the race.
Restyling the AMC Marlin
By 1967, American Motors redesigned the Marlin and changed it from the Rambler Marlin to AMC Marlin. It was built on the 118-inch wheelbase chassis of the Ambassador, although it was discontinued after this release. The length also increased to 201.5 inches while the width was 78.4 inches, leading to a much bigger car.
The Marlin was designed with enough room for six passengers, a black anodized grille with twin rally lights, upholstery fabrics on the coil spring seats, a padded instrument panel, thick carpeting and a padded acoustical ceiling that looks like suede.
There were some options on the AMC Marlin, like the sports steering wheel, electric tachometer, Typhoon V8, power disc brakes, and reclining vinyl or fabric bucket seats. The designer, Teague, described it as the “best looking Marlin,” as it was a handsome car.
Despite the new and attractive design, the Marlin still reported low sales, with only 2,545 units sold in 1967. Although the sales were low, there was a lot of excitement about the Marlin. Also, the Marlin has become quite popular today as a collector car. Collectors look out for this car for its distinctive styling, and the low production numbers make it scarce.
Other Versions of the Marlin
There were different versions of the Marlin made by the designers and stylists at AMC. The cars were used to promote the new look of the company that was focused on glamour and deluxe features.
There was the Black Marlin that was found on auto shows in 1965, with a black finish, silver interior and chrome roof. It was advertised with women wearing sailor outfits. After the tour, it was refitted as the Tahiti. The Tahiti was on tour in 1966 and was a luxury car with blue metallic floral upholstery, rhinestones and even throw pillows.
Another version was the Marlin II, a design experiment released in 1965 to combine the first-generation Marlin with the Ambassador. The Marlin II was used by Richard Teague and then sold in 1967. Then, there was the Prototype which was built on the 118-inch wheelbase senior platform. It was a handmade car with unique details.
Then there was the 1966 Rambler Marlin customized for Rader 1966 and used for promotion. It was painted red and featured a powdered gold leaf on the coat. It also featured wheels from Rader. Then, there was the Florida Marlins, which was released in 1966 with a roof cut off and no seats except the one for the driver.
The Rambler Marlin is a unique car from the 1960s that lasted through three model years and is now a popular collectible.
Here’s a summary of what we covered in this guide:
- Rambler Marlin is a personal luxury vehicle that was manufactured by American Motors Corporation between 1965 and 1967.
- It was inspired by the Tarpon, both of which were designed by Richard Teague.
- The car came with different luxury features and optional add-ons that appealed to customers.
- It received mixed reactions from the press, and the company made use of different forms of marketing to gain popularity.
- By 1967, the Marlin was redesigned with a new style, but it still had poor sales.
If you’re curious about the Marlin, our guide provides all that you need to know. For classic car enthusiasts, this would make a great addition to your collection.
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