Pick of the Day: 1966 AMC Marlin

Pity poor American Motors! Tried to compete with GM, Ford, and Chrysler toe to toe yet is often remembered for its failures more than its successes! On the other hand, sales figures alone are not a good way to judge a product. Our Pick of the Day is one of those loser AMCs that may simply need another glance to realize how the company from Kenosha was heading to the top of its game: this 1966 Marlin. It is listed for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in Celina, Ohio. (Click the link to view the listing)

The Marlin had its foundation in the Tarpon, an American-based show car with a fastback roofline. The American was Rambler’s all-new compact for 1964, and it won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award for a list of strengths that included fine styling, features, and economy. While Rambler had been somewhat of a stubbornly sensible brand, it was nonetheless stylish as the 1950s wore on, though no one in the enthusiast world waxes poetic about that. Then, with a change of leadership, there was an acknowledgement that something was brewing in America: kids, and folks who wanted to be younger like kids. Features like bucket seats, consoles, and other sporty items more commonly associated with European manufacturers were popping up on American vehicles, and American Motors needed to rise to the occasion and embrace what the market was dictating if it were to survive.

A huge problem not in the Tarpon’s favor was that the AMC’s V8 wouldn’t fit in its engine bay, and the new V8 AMC was developing wouldn’t be ready for the American until 1966. With market demands suggesting only offering a six would be a waste, AMC answered this problem by applying the fastback roofline to the mid-size Classic. This new Rambler was renamed Marlin and was introduced for the 1965 model year. However, the sleek fastback design of the Tarpon was somewhat compromised because Roy Abernathy – AMC’s boss – was six-foot-four and wanted to be able to sit comfortably in the back. That adjustment likely changed the trajectory of the Marlin and possibly led to the public not embracing the Marlin as much as it could have.

For 1966, the Rambler Marlin became the AMC Marlin as the company continued to distance itself from its pure economy origins into something more contemporary, all the while exploiting the sensible nature of its cars. That may not have been enough to endear the Marlin to the car-buying public as the introduction of the 1966 Dodge Charger brought a competitor with personal-luxury features in a mid-size fastback package, but its styling was a bit less polarizing. Dodge also offered performance options well above AMC’s 327 V8, if not a standard V8 (Marlin started with the 232cid six).

AMC moved the Marlin to the full-size Ambassador platform for 1967. The new platform lent itself better to the proportions of the fastback roofline and fulfilled the design promise that started with the Tarpon, a car two degrees separated from the Ambassador. By that time, it was too late as under 18,000 were built among the three years, but there was youthful hope on the horizon as the Javelin and AMX were scheduled for 1968.

This Marlin Silver and Antigua Red 1966 AMC Marlin is one of 4,547 built, but even more interesting is that it is powered by the 232 Torque Command 6. The interiors could get pretty fancy with Marlins, but for 1966 AMC decontented the Marlin, making many of the fancy stuff optional, with this one appearing to have red twin reclining buckets with a column-shifted automatic. The seller doesn’t say much about the car other than it has power steering and brakes and is “serviced and road-ready.” To invoke an old marketing idea, $27,500 will get you a family car big enough to carry all the kids and sporty enough for dad.

Click here for this ClassicCars.com Pick of the Day.

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