How to Identify 1959 Through 1961 Rambler Cars


Locate the serial number on the passenger side wheel-well panel under the hood. According to the AMC Rambler Club, the serial number system was not sequential to its build. The numbers begin with as few as five digits, but may go as high as 12 or 13, depending on the production number built. The serial number always begins with a letter.


Decode the number, following an identification chart similar to the one provided by the AMC Ramblers club. The listing begins with the starting serial number for that year. There is no discernible rhyme or reason to this system, making cross-referencing essential.


Identify the 1959 Rambler visually. The 1959 Rambler's tail fins are a style reminiscent of the 1957 Chevrolet and these fins extend to the rear door. Other notable styling points include the decidedly Studebaker Hawk flavor of the vehicle, the wide side-decorative strip expanding at the tail fin and the optional "Continental Kit" spare tire on the trunk. The trademark "Rambler" was not spelled out on the front of the hood and the headlights sit in a high side-by-side position.


Identify the 1960 Rambler visually. The most significant styling change is the less pronounced tail fins. According to AMCyclopedia, grill inserts and side trim were also changed yearly. The rear quarter-panel changed from the earlier 1959 as a result of the smaller fins. Gone is the wide decorative strip on the side of the vehicle. Added is a wrap-around rear window and the trademark "Rambler" across the front of the hood.


Identify the 1961 Rambler visually. Characteristics of the 1961 model include the less pronounced tail fins introduced in 1960, a new grill design with dual headlights placed within the grill and "Rambler" placed below the grill, above the bumper.

Tips and Warnings

  • According to the AMC Forum, Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) were not mandated until 1968, making these early serial numbers more difficult to verify. The information is present, but AMC's numbering system was not sequential until the government VIN mandate. Also, the serial number information is not as complete as the later VIN system.
  • A mainstay of the American Motors Corporation from 1950 (as the Nash Rambler) until 1969, the AMC Rambler has gone through many style changes. The Rambler line was one of only two models produced by AMC during those years (The AMC Rambler and the Nash Metropolitan). From 1958 until 1960, it was the Rambler Ambassador Classic and American, by 1961, it became just the Rambler Classic. These three years differed from each other, with the most significant changes occurring in 1961. Identification is best done by using both the vehicle serial number and visual methods.