Sunday Supplement: 1971 AMC Ambassador Brougham

Here is is, another Sunday afternoon, and once again I’m gawking at old cars online. Today’s special is this handsome ’71 Ambassador Brougham sedan, looking particularly fetching in dark red with a black vinyl roof.

This was the flagship of American Motors. All Ambassadors, while using the same body as the midsize Matador, got a longer hood and front fenders, with a correspondingly stretched wheelbase.

This went back to the Nash days, when the postwar upside-down bathtub-shaped ‘Airflyte’ cars, the 600 (later renamed Statesman) and Ambassador had similar long- and short-nose differences. With the Ambassador getting more chrome and a fancier interior, of course.

In 1971 there were three flavors of Ambassador: Base DPL, mid range SST, and top-drawer Brougham. The sedan started at $3,983 and weighed in at 3,541 pounds.

There was also a Brougham coupe ($3,999) and Brougham wagon ($4,430).

I particularly liked the 71-73 two door hardtop, though I’ve never seen one in person.

Broughams came standard with a V8, which, depending on your power needs, could be a 304, 360 or 401 CID V8. The 401 packed 330 horses.

This one is currently on, with is kind of a Canadian Auto Trader/CL-type site. From the description: “2 Owner rust free car, matching number 360 V8, automatic, factory air conditioning, power steering and power brakes. A/C all there but not blowing cold. Believed to be 55,000 original miles (ED: or perhaps kilometers?) and original paint with painted on pinstripe. Serious inquires only, no low ball offers. $6,900. Great affordable cruise night car.”

That would be in Canadian dollars, I presume. Looks like a very nice, rust-free car, and in a most excellent color combination!

So now that I’ve gotten my writing in for the day, I think it’s time to grab a novel and head out to the deck for some Internet-free R&R. Or as my friend Laurie Kraynick often says, *BARTENDER* Take it easy, folks!

17 Replies to “Sunday Supplement: 1971 AMC Ambassador Brougham”

  1. John C.

    I assume the bidder for this will have outbid Mitt Romney who will surely want one of these at each of his many homes. Maybe not though, it will remind him that his father built things before politics while he just gutted things.

    Never knew they had a vertically mounted radio like a Citation. Interior designer must have been left handed.

    • Carmine

      Everyone freaks about the Citations sideways radio, but they forget the Corvette had one from 63-67 for some reason……

      • John C.

        My older brother bought a k car in 81 because he thought the vertical radio of the Citation was silly as he intended to install an aftermarket tape deck and Pioneer speakers. It was to my mind a far bigger sin than whatever the Csaba Cseres of the world were coming up with against the Citation at the time. The domestic maker is supposed to understand who you are as the domestic buyer. He was living in a small SC town and commuting to a small SC village where there was a Colgate Palmolive diaper factory where he was a industrial engineer, His dream car at the time was a Cordoba. Should he be be penalized for wanting to listen to Moody Blues’ “Long Distance Voyager” with decent sound?

        • CJinSD

          The profit margins on GM cassette stereos in 1981 were probably higher than they are on the entire Buick lineup today, at least now that the Chinese Evasion is subject to a tariff.

          I believe Crutchfield offered at least one vertical after-market head unit designed for the Citation. Unlike the AMC, I believe you could mount a regular radio in the Citation, you just wouldn’t have had much fun reading the tuner frequency.

  2. LynnG

    John, if i remember correctly AMC had vertical mounted radios in various models. That is a well preserved car considering its age, location, and the fact that AMC did not rust proff their cars very well if at all (penny saved)…. to a company that counted the pennies… 🙂

    End note, I do not think that Mitt owned many AMC products, now his dad might have sense they were company cars. Remember when the left wing media elites went bonkers when he said he and his wife had a couple of Cadillacs. What the media failed to mention is that all the media elites drive around in MB/AMGs and BMW/Mseries. 🙂

    • John C.

      What AMC did years later may not be reflective of 1971, but I recall around 1980 they were pitching an extra long rust through warranty.

      • JustPassinThru

        …figured – correctly, as it turned out – that they wouldn’t have to worry about rust warranty claims, because they probably wouldn’t exist.

        AMC definitely took a long time to die. They were effectively planning for it, from the mid-1970s, after their last sales hurrah, the Gas Crisis I small-car stampede…after it went down, and the Big Two showed up with little cars far-more efficient with gasoline than the heavy, six-cylinder Gremlin.

        But, as late as 1977, the auto editor at Popular Mechanics was interviewing Gerald Meyer, then a vice-president of the company, if AMC would just get out of cars and focus on Jeeps. Meyers said, no, no…the engineering overhead has to be split at least 50/50. How they came to that understanding, I can’t guess – but they may have been trying to learn from their Kaiser Jeep veterans, who tried running Jeep without Willys or Kaiser, and succeeded – with wild swings between feast and famine.

        To this specimen: There wouldn’t have been any sort of advanced rust protection on these models. First, the body shell was dated and living on borrowed time. Three more years and done.

        And NO AMC product, prior to their experimentation with on-the-line Zeibart protection…none of them ever had any premium rustproofing or even quality paintjob. It was part of their problem – cutting corners where it wasn’t immediately apparent. The 1960s Classics, the 1970s Hornets and Gremlins…and all in between and around…rusted so fast even Fords looked durable by comparison.

        • John C.

          Imagine if Americans had understood, they would not have gotten this from the car mags, how great an AMC Spirit would have been with the 2.5 and 4.0 Jeep engines and Ziebart as seen on the last few years.. The factory floor quality would have been better than Gremlin, yet without submitting to Renault or Toyota. No compromising to Renault or what ever CUV Korea Inc had mind to placate us for losing our manufacturing base.

          • JustPassinThru

            The car mags were always pushing the car being reviewed.

            It was expected. Said magazine gets a press car to write a test about; and in return, it’s expected to be glowing. It’s part of why Car & Driver’s David E. Davis lost his job there, first time. He did several non-flattering reviews, including one Corvette one, which offended Arkas-Duntov; and a critique of a BMW, condeming its Blaupunkt radio, which PO’d BMW. Fired and gone.

            Twelve years later, he’s returned as editor; and AMC gives them their “new” Spirit. The C/D staff made a lot of noise about the fresh styling, and the reliability of the proven drive train.

            It was, as expected, a puff piece.

            It surely drove like a Gremlin, because it was a Gremlin. A hatchback body-style variant does not a new car make.

            And I’d driven a Gremlin. Transportation? Yes. Affordable, yes.

            A pleasure to own, use and drive? No.

            The Spirit went where it should have – should have, ten years before it did.

          • CJinSD

            Bad experiences with Detroit cars had far more to do with people buying imports than magazine reviews or politics did. However big the magazine circulations were, and none of them were all that huge to people who actually bought new cars. The vast majority of professionals I knew who received them never knew what I was on about as a kid when I thought them having the magazine I’d just read on their coffee table meant that they would have read it too. Mostly they’d just reply to me saying, ‘did you read the comparison of the 928 and the pony cars?’ by looking puzzled and then telling me they had an Austin Healey, or a Firebird 400, or an MG when they were college. Detroit lost customers because they acted like they were entitled to their customers. They were wrong.

  3. penguinboy

    “Believed to be 55,000 original miles (ED: or perhaps kilometers?)”
    A 1971 Canadian market car would have the speedometer and odometer in miles; the change to kilometres came a few years later.

    The car I learned to drive in was a Canadian market 1974, and had miles on the speedometer, a few years later I had a 1977 Canadian market car with kilometres the major scale of the speedometer, and miles on the minor scale. The odometer was in kilometres. The switch to metric units might have varied by a year or so depending on make and model, but by 1978 or so I think it was complete. The road signs switched over to metric around 1977.

  4. Dirt Roads

    My Grampa had a Ramble Ambassador and LOVED that car. His work truck, IIRC, was an old Ford half ton. That Rambler stayed with him until he stopped driving; after that I have no idea where it went.

  5. Ronnie Schreiber

    The AMC Ambassador was the Kaboom cereal of full size American cars. What sort of status did driving an Ambassador symbolize?

    No. Kaboom was for people — children, I mean — who had decided to give up on life. And it’s a sad thing for a six-year-old to have already thrown in the towel and said, “Ah well. The hopes and dreams of kindergarten are ultimately exposed as so much folly. Give me the Kaboom, Ma. I’m ready to settle.”

    Because that’s all such a cereal is fit for, those who settle, who accept, those who lower their gaze in defeat and shame. This, this horrid Clown Cereal that looks like it’s some kind of weird generic brand but it’s actually marketed by General Mills. I suppose this was General Mills’ attempt to tap the “downscale demographic” in six-year-olds.

    • LynnG

      That was a great piece of writing in the link you posted.
      Made me think of all the plastic bages of “puffed wheat” and “puffed rice” mom use to pick up for us at the A&P for all of us kids in the house. I guess is was a step below Kaboom because it did not even come in a box. 🙂 🙂 🙂 Why waste money on a box when a big plastic bag will do……


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