Since the end of World War II, Renault has not had a top class; the frigate disappears behind the success of the DS. A DS that sold almost 240,000 copies in two years, while the Frigate recorded 180,000 sales in nine years.
The management, lacking the funds, goes to seek its fortune on the other side of the Atlantic (it is painfully selling a few Dauphines and Caravelles in the US) from the American motor company it contacted.
The American Dream
After a high-end Renault project (Project 114) rejected by boss Pierre Dreyfus due to questionable profitability, in 1961 an agreement was reached between American Motors Corporation (AMC) and Renault to supply a car intended to fill the missing high-end niche.
The car of choice is the Rambler Classic 6, a 4.83m pretty baby which is the most compact in the AMC range and which Renault believes will appeal more to sedan enthusiasts than the futuristic DS.
A set assembled in Belgium
His line, however, leaves no doubt as to his origin; it’s pure American juice. Under the hood is a 3.2-liter inline 6-cylinder that produces 129 hp. Despite its weight of 1.3 tons, it can spin at more than 150 km/h. It is of course a drive with a manual gearbox and a good rigid rear axle.
The fiscal horsepower is still 18 HP, which entitles it to a super mark. To avoid customs charges, Renault will bring the Rambler in kit form for assembly in Haren, Belgium.
Assembly in Belgium
The career of the Rambler brand Renault begins discreetly after a presentation on 11 April 1962 in total anonymity. It is marketed in France, Benelux, Austria and Algeria under the diamond logo. For the rest of Europe, the model remains marketed under the sole American brand AMC.
The first brake on the sale remains its price: the Rambler is shown 18,000 Francs, while the DS is sold 12,500 F. If the launch was more or less missed, Renault bets on the attractiveness of the model as and when year. In the US, the tradition is to develop a car every year.
A new car every year
From 1963, the output increased to 140 hp, the top speed to 160 km/h and an automatic gearbox was available as an option. But above all, the body completely evolves with a more conventional line, more suitable for European customers, while the cabin improves in terms of comfort.
In 1964, the aesthetic changes were minimal, but a new hood and new optics could make you believe it was a real novelty.
1965, finally assets
The notable change appeared in 1965 when the body elements changed significantly. The trunk is extended by 10 centimeters and the lines are more square. The interior reflects true American luxury.
On the engine side, the 6-cylinder reaches 140 hp, and braking is entrusted to front discs. The Rambler now has everything to succeed. All ? Except the price, which reaches 19,900 F, or even 21,900 F for the automatic box. And the car reaches 19 fiscal CV. The addition makes you cough.
Soon the swan song
In 1966, the Rambler continued its career with a few timid changes. At the request of management, Chapron will have produced the “Ambassador”, with a raised roof, intended to replace the President’s DS. Without success. It is necessary to wait until 1967 for a new total overhaul.
With its new body, the Rambler now exceeds 5 meters; length achieved by the Rambler coupe arriving that year. The engine develops 155 hp, but taxation hits the Rambler hard. With 22 tax CVs it becomes unsellable. It disappears very discreetly after 4,000 sales in France (including 40 for ’67).