Rambler Marlin (1965-1967)

Article by Mark Trotta

Like the Plymouth Barracuda and Ford Mustang fastback introduced a year earlier, the 1965 Rambler Marlin offered sporty looks and V8 power, but added mid-size room and comfort. The Marlin's spacious interior and deluxe appointments separated it from other intermediate-sized cars of the day.

Rambler Marlin history

Tarpon Concept Car

In 1964, the sporty-car boom was in full swing. Rambler's design chief, Dick Teague, was asked to develop a youth-oriented car similar to the Mustang. Based on the Rambler American platform, the Tarpon concept car measured just 180 inches long, and the wheelbase of 106 inches was two inches shorter than the Mustang's. It was shown at several auto shows and received good reviews.

Rambler Tarpon concept car

Perhaps the realization that they could not compete with Detroit's Big Three led Rambler to shift the Tarpon concept from pony car to intermediate car. At the time it seemed like a good strategy: by niche marketing, Rambler offered a product their competitors didn't. Switching to the larger Rambler Classic chassis, the long pillarless fastback was renamed Marlin.

1965 Rambler Marlin

In a deliberate maneuver to give the new car more exposure and less competition, Rambler introduced the Marlin in the middle of 1965 model year. Standard engine was a 232ci in-line six-cylinder, which provided good street torque as well as 20+ mpg around town.

Rambler Marlin fastback

Two V-8 engines were optonal, a 2-barrel 287ci motor, and the popular 4-barrel 327ci V-8. Transmission was either a three-speed automatic or a 3+2 manual with overdrive, which featured a stick-mounted button for the overdrive kick-down.

A luxurious interior helped separate the Marlin from other intermediates on the market. Interior door panels were finished with carpeting and stainless steel trim. Center armrests, both front and rear, were standard when bucket seats were selected. Other options included an adjustable steering wheel, power windows and air conditioning. Although individual reclining front seats were standard, a fold-down rear seat like the Plymouth Barracuda's was not available.

With safety always in mind, Rambler fitted the Marlin with a dual master-cylinder brake system, with front disc brakes optional. Two-tone paint options were popular, helping Rambler sell 10,327 Marlins in the first year.

1966 Marlin

Starting with the 1966 model year, the Rambler Marlin was now simply badged "Marlin". The "R" logo in the horn ring was replaced with a stylized letter "M". The front grille was changed, and upholstery trim was slightly different. A black vinyl roof could be ordered, which also covered the trunk lid and tear-drop side window surrounds.

1966 Marlin

Inside, a conventional four-on-the-floor shifter (no overdrive) was made available by popular request. A dash-mounted tachometer was also optional. Torque-tube drive systems, formally found on most Rambler models, were no longer used, replaced by conventional driveshafts. A front sway-bar was added to improve handling. Even with eleven full months of production, only 4,547 units were sold.

1967 Marlin

Now called the AMC Marlin, it's platform shifted to the full-size Ambassador chassis, making it longer, lower, and wider. Wheelbase increased to 118-inches over the prior year's 112-inches. The front end shared the Ambassador's vertical quad headlights and recessed extruded aluminum grille. More interior room was obtained with the width and length increase, with overall weight increasing to 3,350 pounds. Many felt the stretched-out fastback looked better on the longer frame.

AMC Marlin history

AMC's durable 232ci six-cylinder was carried over, plus two brand-new V-8s were offered. The 290ci had a two-barrel carburetor, as did the base 343ci engine. A high-performance version of the 343 motor was equipped with a 4-barrel carburetor and had 10.2:1 compression, which required premium fuel. Output was 280 horsepower with 365 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm. Marlins ordered with the hi-performance 343 engine came with dual exhaust.

Even with these improvements, sales for the year were a dismal 2,545 units. AMC discontinued the Marlin after 1967, replacing it with their new pony car, the Javelin.

1967 AMC Marlin fastback

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