Under the leadership of chairman and president George Romney, who would later become governor of Michigan and a presidential candidate, major changes were afoot at American Motors in 1957. The big Nash and Hudson models were quietly phased out by the end of the year, and the venerable Nash and Hudson nameplates were sent into retirement as well.
With the slate wiped clean, the company would now pin its hopes on the Rambler brand and a more modestly sized package spun off the 1951-55 Nash Rambler platform. Unveiled in 1956, it was larger than a compact or an import, but smaller than the Motor City’s typical full-sized sedans. At 191 inches, it was more than a foot shorter than the ’57 Ford, while the 108-inch wheelbase allowed a six-passenger cabin. AMC’s beefy Single Unit Construction kept squeaks and rattles to a minimum, and there were two available engines, a 195 CID inline six and the company’s brand-new 327 CID V8. The optional automatic transmission, the Flash-Away Hydra-Matic, was supplied by General Motors.
However, the fast-paced commercial we have here features the Custom Cross Country in the more conventional post body style. In our favorite moment, the frame rate is comically cranked up to show the wagon screaming through an intersection. Wagons paid off in a big way for little AMC in ’57, accounting for more than a third of the company’s sales volume. Video follows.