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February 13, 2009

CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot: The 1957 Rambler Rebel

By Jim Brennan

UDMan

Welcome to the CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and to have some fun in the process. In 1956, AMC was only two years old, the result of a merger between Nash and Hudson. They were known as a company that produced dependable, if somewhat lackluster cars. However, in the fall of ’56, they stunned the public and the automotive press by introducing a veritable rocket. Say hello to the 1957 Rambler Rebel.

Continue reading after the jump!


Photo courtesy of Automotive Traveller, Richard Truesdell

The new 1957 Rebel debuted as a high-performance vehicle that combined AMC’s lightweight 108-inch wheelbase Rambler four-door hardtop body with AMC’s new 327 cu in V-8, making it the first-time that a large block V8 was installed in a mid-size car in the post-World War II marketplace. General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler offered no intermediate sized cars whatsoever. The Rebel’s $2,786 MSRP base price was economical for the amount of power provided. It was the fastest stock American sedan, according to Motor Trend Magazine. Among the items included in the Rebel’s price of were reclining seats, power steering, power brakes, a “continental” tire carrier, windshield washers, a radio, back-up lights, full wheel discs, a padded instrument panel and sun visors. A silver-and-black interior trim designed exclusively for the Rebel harmonized with the monotone body paint.


Photo courtesy of Automotive Traveller, Richard Truesdell

The Rebel was tested by Motor Trend, which found that when equipped with the Bendix “Electrojector” electronic fuel injection (EFI), this sedan was faster from a standing start than the 1957 Chevrolet Corvette with mechanical fuel injection. This was to have been the first production engine with fuel injection; however, it did not materialize because of cold-weather starting problems. At least two pre-production Rebels with EFI are known to have been built. All of the production Rebels used a four-barrel carburetor. Nevertheless, the EFI option remained in the published owner’s manual.

All Rebels came with a manual (with overdrive unit) or an automatic transmission, as well as other performance enhancements such as a dual exhaust system, heavy-duty suspension with Gabriel (brand) shock absorbers, and front sway bar. The Rebel was capable of 0 to 60 mph in just 7.5 seconds with its standard 255 hp engine. The car’s light unibody construction afforded a power-to-weight ratio of about 13 pounds per horsepower. The Rebel’s engine also differed from the 327s installed in the 1957 Ambassador and Hudson Hornet models because it used mechanical valve lifters and a higher compression ratio. Since both engines were rated at 255 hp, it is probable that the Rebel’s was underrated.

The car was available only in silver metallic paint accented with gold anodized aluminum inserts along the sides. A total of 1,500 Rebels were produced in 1957. AMC expected to manufacture Rebels on a made-to-order basis and to offer only two options: EFI and Hydra-Matic transmission. Extras added later included Solex tinted glass and 6.70 x 15 Goodyear Blue Streak racing tires.

AMC promoted “amazing acceleration and speed” for the new car and road testers substantiated such claims. Motor Trend said that the only car capable of outrunning the Rebel from 0-to-60 was the fuel-injected Corvette. A Rebel with overdrive and the 4:10 axle was made available for short acceleration runs at Daytona Beach in February 1957. Motor Trend’s Joe Wherry reported a best time of 7.5 seconds from 0-to-60. Hot Rod magazine obtained a 9.4-second 0-to-60 time in a Rebel with Hydra-Matic and reported that the stick-shift version with 4.10 gears could break 8 seconds flat. The car with Hydra-Matic did the quarter-mile in 17 seconds at 84 mph. Top speed has been stated as around 115+ mph.

The Rebel is considered to be a precursor of the muscle cars (rear-wheel drive mid-size cars with a powerful V8 engines and special trims) that became so popular in the 1960s. The rebel is aptly named, for it totally reversed the compact-car image that AMC, and originally Nash, first enjoyed. It was offered in this format for just the 1957 model year, and has become a sought after collectible.

Not convinced that this is a True American Muscle Car? Well, why not read what our very own contributor, Richard Truesdell, wrote about the the Rambler Rebel. He even went on to compare specifications to the legendary 1964 Pontiac GTO!

It looks like I strike out this time as far as finding a video about this particular car, or finding one that is showcased in the CarDomain files. I guess I’ll settle this by directing your attention to this fetching Rebel, repainted in Black! Found on the AACA.Org website :

So, here we are again, asking the question, is a cruiser from the 50′s a Muscle Car? Did little AMC actually create the category before anyone else even thought of it? Is it a true Obscure Muscle Car, or just another two tone sedan? Debate away, and don’t forget to leave your comments. Oh, and let me know what you think about this series while you’re at it.

Comments

Big car muscle time
Dec 2, 2010 at 3:06 pm

[...] CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot: The 1957 Rambler Rebel 13 Feb 2009. Hot Rod magazine obtained a 9.4-second 0-to-60 time in a Rebel with Hydra-Matic and reported that the. Large V8 engine in intermediate body style = Muscle Car.. Big straight 8 in smaller chasis capable of 100 mph. CarDomain Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot: The 1957 Rambler Rebel [...]

2173491
Jul 30, 2009 at 5:24 pm

I am usually a purist when it comes to the definition of a Muscle Car. That being said, this could perhaps be the original! Large V8 engine in intermediate body style = Muscle Car.

GEN12
Mar 4, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I had a buddy who raced a 1956 Rebel at U.S. 30 dragstrip in Merrillville, IN. He beat everything in his class and wiped out a whole lot of ’57 Chevy’s. It was his dad’s car and it was automatic. He ran the Rebel until 1959 when he picked up a Vette.

bundies
Mar 2, 2009 at 11:26 am

Again I find this rediculous. Yes there were alot of cars built over the years that had extreme performance compared to their contemporaries,l but they aren’t no will they ever be muscle cars. The term was invented in the early 70′s to describe all the intermidiate body sized cars that carried the large engines of their line. These were pretty much the GTO, GS400,SS396,442,390gt’s,mercury cyclone’s. Chryslers fury’s and polara’s of the early 60′s probably qualify, even though they down sized to try and compete with the swiss cheese Pontiac super duty 421′s, 427 Ford’s, and 409 chevies. But most of us who lived the era still belive the original muscle car was the unbeliveable GTO. I still remember the first GTO we met at a traffic light. We were in a new 327 chevy 4 speed with 4:11 gears, a fast car at the time. That tri-power 64 GTO ate our lunch like we couldn’t believe. Even in the era there were faster cars, but they had small block engines in compact cars, or full size cars with all the tricks, An L79 66 Nova is competition for any GTO, but the GTO intermediate/large engine is a muscle car, the nova is just a very fast car, the 63-64 light weight fords with side bolt 427′s were faster then GTO’s Even my corvette which was the top of the heap fast car (427/425hp) is rarely even talked about when they discuss 60′s muscle cars. Yes even the theory of a muscle car can be found in the original Buick Century. Big straight 8 in smaller chasis capable of 100 mph. Of course in its day these cars were fast but not near as blistering fast as a muscle car. Every manufactor can look at a certain model and say, for their time they were fast. Now we get to the rebel. The 57 was a very fast car but it never won any races I’m familar with and I know there was a 57 chevy 150 with 283/283 3 on the tree that held the pure stock nhra record for years at about 13.5et. I would think the big stude of 56 would of clean everybodies clock having the Packard 374 engine, but I’ve never seen one race, then or now. In 57 the best weight to horse ratio was the little Dodge with the D-500 package, again I never saw one race but it was available.

Tired Of LS6 Chevelles And Hemi ‘Cudas? Check Out UDMan’s Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot! [Retro] | The genuine priest survey.
Feb 22, 2009 at 3:26 pm

[...] and illustrated studies of such greats as the 1958 Packard Hawk, 1970 Mercury Marauder X-100, 1957 Rambler Rebel, and 1977 Pontiac LeMans Can Am. We say check it out! [CarDomain [...]

Tired Of LS6 Chevelles And Hemi ‘Cudas? Check Out UDMan’s Obscure Muscle Car Parking Lot! [Retro] | Car Advisory
Feb 22, 2009 at 2:40 am

[...] and illustrated studies of such greats as the 1958 Packard Hawk, 1970 Mercury Marauder X-100, 1957 Rambler Rebel, and 1977 Pontiac LeMans Can Am. We say check it out! [CarDomain [...]

Mad_Science
Feb 21, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Wow. Those are some incredible numbers for ’57.

I’d say you make a pretty good case for this being the “original muscle car”. Unfortunately, since there was no continuity or competition at the time, it’s been forgotten.

Love the feature.

Loren
Feb 21, 2009 at 3:05 pm

I love the ’57 Rebel. Owned one for several years.

RAD
Feb 20, 2009 at 2:29 pm

This car is a true sleeper like the late 90′s Buick Regal GS or Riviera

O'brien
Feb 14, 2009 at 11:59 am

Columbo’s dream car.

John-Gelnett
Feb 14, 2009 at 6:32 am

I would agree that this is an early muscle car with the power to weight ratio it would probably be fun to drive.

The Rambler Rebel: AMC’s Rebel With A Cause | Rear Viewed
Feb 13, 2009 at 11:35 pm

[...] Car Domain, Wikipedia « The Nation’s Oldest Snow Plow (Or So We [...]

paul
Feb 13, 2009 at 12:30 pm

i can picture a new-york mobster driving that

Jason
Feb 13, 2009 at 11:20 am

Keep up the good work. I dont think I’d disagree with you about any of the cars reviewed yet.

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