1966 AMC Marlin - SOLD
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  • Overview & History
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In a sea of Chevelles and GTOs and Mustangs, this humble Marlin seems to really stand out simply because most folks have never seen one before.

You should probably know a little bit about the AMC/Rambler Marlin before you judge it. With the success of the Mustang, Rambler conscripted noted stylist Dick Teague to create a sporty pony car to compete with the Ford. But after some corporate soul-searching, the small-ish 2+2 turned into a mid-sized coupe that was among the first muscle cars of the era. Big, comfortable, and packing decent horsepower, the Marlin looked like nothing else on the road. It’s rumored that Art Abernathy, AMC’s president, was 6-foot-4 and insisted that he be able to sit in the back seat of all the company’s products. Nevertheless, the stylists made it work, creating this handsome 3+3 coupe with a fastback roof and more practicality than most of its peers. Since they were only built for two short years, seeing one is rare, and seeing one as nice as this black-on-black 1966 AMC Rambler Marlin is virtually unheard-of. Seriously, is this the best one in existence?

As far as we can tell, this is a real black-on-black car and someone invested big to make it into a superior example. We detect no signs of rust or rot, and certainly no botched-up bondo work in the body, which is laser-straight and super glossy so there’s no place for such work to hide. Panel fit is excellent, with big doors that close with a reassuring kerCHUNK sound that feels expensive. You’ll see crisp body lines that streak straight from nose to tail and good gaps all around, which certainly wasn’t typical of AMC construction in the ‘60s. Doing more with less meant that the lower half was familiar Rambler American, but the sleek roof included such standout details as an optional vinyl top that extends to the trunk lid and what might just be the world’s biggest quarter windows. It works and we’ve found that in a sea of Chevelles and GTOs and Mustangs, this humble Marlin seems to really stand out simply because most folks have never seen one before.

You’ll also see nice chrome, including a crisply rendered grille that’s simple and elegant. Stylized Marlin emblems include that nautical-themed spearfish logo that looks like the most expensive part on the car. Ribbed taillights, subtle V8 emblems, and nicely done bumpers all stand out against the black paint and make this Marlin seem crisply tailored. There’s a great deal more money invested in this car than the asking price reflects.

The Marlin was able to out-shine many of its competitors with an upscale interior that featured reclining seats and enough room for six full-sized passengers. New seat covers, carpets, and door panels make it feel like new inside and the two-tone steering wheel really is pretty. Engine-turned panels on the dash and door panels help dress things up and the deeply-set round gauges feature silver faces just to help the Marlin stand apart. Everything works, including all the gauges, courtesy lights, and even the factory AM/FM radio with rear speaker—only the clock isn’t working but it probably doesn’t need anything more than a clean and oil. The trunk is cavernous, although the smallish opening makes loading big things a little bit of a challenge, but it’s not like you’re using the Marlin to move furniture, right? The one thing I do notice about the interior of the Marlin is that every single part appears to have been designed and carefully styled to look cool. Check out the sun visors, the door handles, and even the sliders for the heater/defroster. Too cool!

The base engine in the Marlin was a six-cylinder, but this one offers the optional 287 cubic inch “Classic” V8, which was rated at a fairly substantial 198 horsepower. This one has been fully rebuilt and runs so smoothly and silently that you’ll have to watch out that you don’t try to start it after it’s already running. Seriously, check out the video—this thing is almost silent from behind the wheel. It’s also neatly detailed, with correct turquoise engine enamel, a factory air cleaner with reproduction decals, and even a proper Rambler solvent bag for the windshield washers. It starts easily and idles well, and it’s a torquey engine that pulls the Marlin around without seeming to work very hard at all. You’ll also spot optional power steering and power front disc brakes that were ahead of the curve with American auto makers (and check out the calipers—they’re giant!). Aside from a few hose clamps, this is an engine bay that looks very much as it would have in 1966.

Underneath, we can find no traces of rust or panel replacement, even in those places you’d expect rust to hide. As a unit-body car, it’s especially important, and you’ll see that the rocker seams still show factory spot welds, the subframes are solid, and the areas behind the rear wheels are completely unmarked. Cars this clean usually cost thousands more than this! The 3-speed automatic transmission was also optional and clicks through the gears easily and there are highway-friendly 3.15 gears out back, so this Marlin is a great highway cruiser that actually gets decent mileage. The suspension and brakes have been fully rebuilt, there are new shocks and bushings, and even the exhaust system is a correct replacement that keeps the V8 muffled to barely a whisper. This was the final year for a torque tube on an AMC, so ride quality is excellent, and the aforementioned giant disc brakes are especially effective. 14-inch steel wheels carry standard wire wheel covers and a set of correct F78-14 Goodyear whitewalls, but just imagine this car with some Magnums and redline radials!

This is one of those cars that just delights you the more you look. Its price and reputation keep your expectations modest, but in reality, this is one of the best cars we’ve seen in years. Nobody restores these to this level, suggesting a real labor of love to transform it into this better-than-new Marlin. It drives great, looks wonderful, and asks for nothing but gas and oil in return. At this price, wouldn’t you rather have an outstanding car that’s also going to be the only one at any show you attend? Call today!

Vehicle: 1966 AMC Marlin
Price: SOLD
Stock Number: 116059
Mileage: 91,433
VIN: A6KA97T100339
Engine: 287 cubic inch V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.15
Wheelbase: 112 inches
Wheels: 14-inch steel wheels with hubcaps
Tires: F78-14 Goodyear whitewall
Exterior Color: Black
Interior Color: Black vinyl
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