Welcome to the Hooniverse Obscure Muscle Car Garage, a regular feature which aims to expand the notion of what a muscle car is, and have some fun in the process. AMC was created in 1954 after merging two independent car companies, Nash and Hudson. The company was struggling right after the merger, until they did away will all traces of the old companies, and created the Rambler compact line of cars. They were dependable, but not really exciting cars. That was about to change with the introduction of the 1965 Marlin.
“Unique” best described the AMC Marlin since there was nothing else quite like it on the road when it debuted in 1965. AMC decided to enter the youth oriented segment of the market with the Marlin, a vehicle that could best be classified as an intermediate sports sedan. Dick Teague is responsible for this radical fastback design which evolved from a prototype known as the Tarpon. The AMC Marlin was introduced in early February of 1965 and offered at a base price of $3,100. It was in dealer show rooms in March of 1965.
The Marlin sat atop a 118-inch wheelbase. During its introductory year, 10,327 examples were sold. There were many options available making the vehicle customizable to the users desires. The options ranged from engine and transmission choices, to air conditioning, AM/FM radio, power windows, and more. The vehicle was equipped with four-piston front disc brakes and non-servo type rear drums. A three-speed manual gearbox came standard, with an optional automatic. A wide range of interior and exterior colors allowed even further customization. The top performing Marlin featured a 287 cubic-inch V8 that managed to produce almost 200 HP, but a Four Speed Stick was not offered.
It may have been a fastback coupe, but the roofline was high to accommodate extra headroom for rear passengers. Fourteen inch steel wheels and Marlin wheel covers accented the two-color paint scheme and chrome trim.
Not much changed for the 1966 version of the Marlin. A new grill was placed on the front, the Rambler logos was removed, and a few extra options became available. The big news was in the engine department, with a 327 cubic-inch V8 that became available, produced 250 horsepower (270 HP has been reported in some cases), and making it a competitor with the Mustang and the Barracuda. Performance could be increased further with the new optional four-speed manual gearbox.
Unfortunately, the drum brakes were now standard on the front but the disc brakes could still be had for an additional cost. The base price was lowered to around $2,600, but AMC was unable to capture the sales that it had achieved in the prior year. Sales had dipped by more than half to 4,547
In 1967, the Marlin was redesigned. It borrowed design cues from the Ambassador, including the vertical dual headlights, V-profile grille, and parking and turn signal lights. It was even placed on the Ambassador’s chassis increasing its size in all directions; The length grew by six and one-half inches, the wheelbase by six inches, and the width by four inches.
The interior received new bucket seats and an overall increase in hip and shoulder room. The interior was outfitted with like power windows and cruise control, a rarity for cars of this price range at the time. Due to the increase in size, larger engines could be placed under the hood, including an all new 343 cubic-inch V8, making up to 290 HP.
Car and Driver performed a road test (along with the 1967 Dodge Charger) and recorded 0 to 60 times in 9.6 seconds, while producing 1/4 mile times at 17.6 seconds and achieving 82 MPH. Respectable? I’m not so sure. The corresponding Charger, with a 383 V8 did 0 to 60 in 8.9 seconds, and did the 1/4 mile in 16.5 seconds while achieving 86 MPH.
Sadly, even with all these changes, sales still were slow. In 1967, only 2,545 units were sold. You see, AMC was about to introduce the Javelin for 1968, along with one of the legendary performance cars, the AMX.
Now for the main question; Is the AMC Marlin an obscure Muscle Car, or is it just another dependable, unexciting Rambler that happens to look different? Remember, AMC used the basic structure of this car to produce the Javelin and the AMX, but enough of what I say, what do you think?
Please Note: All Images are screen grabs from around the web. If you want credit for any image, please let me know in the comments section. Thank You!