In the ’60s, American Motors worked to shed its dowdy image with fun and sporty offerings like the Rambler Rogue.
What’s in a name? For little Amerian Motors in 1966, quite a bit. The smallest member of the Detroit four was then busily updating its image from producer of modest and economical granny cars to a full-line auto manufacturer. To signal that it was hip to the times, AMC adopted two sassy and anti-establishment model names for 1966: Rebel and Rogue. (The Rebel badge was first used by the company on a one-year high-performance model. Read about the 1957 Rebel here.)
The Rogue’s first appearance was as a mid-’66 special edition to call attention to the automaker’s newly redesigned 290 cubic-inch V8. (One might never know to look at them, but the first and second-generation AMC V8s share some basic architecture.) Based on the Rambler American 440 two-door hardtop but with an upgraded interior and some badge and trim changes, the Rogue was available only with the new V8 on the first 1,700 vehicles produced, which also sported distinctive two-tone gold paint combinations. After this initial production run, a more complete Rambler American catalog of drivetrain and paint choices was made available, and more than 8,700 Rogues were sold in that first half-year. As things turned out, ’66 would prove be the Rogue’s biggest year.
In 1967 the Rogue lineup was expanded to include a convertible body style, but it was not a big seller (fewer than one thousands units) and was quietly dropped at the end of the model year. A larger 343 CID second-gen V8 was also made available in ’67 (on all Americans, not just the Rogue) but barely a handful of these little monsters were built. More commonly, Rogues were equipped with the 232 CID inline six or the 290 CID V8. Arguably, the pinnacle of the Rogue model line was the ’69 Rambler SC/Rambler, which was not badged as such but was built upon the Rogue package. (More about the SC/Rambler here.) An interesting bit of AMC lore: For 1969 the American name was dropped and the AMC compacts, Rogue included, were marketed simply as Ramblers.
While the Rogue was no Ford Mustang in terms of styling or sales, it was an attractive little pillarless coupe (and briefly, a convertible) with decent equipment and a fun personality. Frankly, we were a little surprised to learn that in its four-year model run, the Rogue sold fewer than 22,000 units. It seems as though the Rogue’s impact on the market was greater than its sales numbers, so in that regard it accompished its mission, we could say. When the venerable Rambler American platform was dropped for 1970 in favor of the Hornet, the Rogue name disappeared as well.
Article courtesy of Mac's Motor City Garage.