Christopher's Pick

1969 AMC Rambler
Todd Sears, Geneseo, IL

I’m irrevocably attracted to the oddball projects, so my interest was instantly piqued when I came across Todd Sears’ ’69 Rambler. While good-looking little boxes, they were never meant to be sexy or muscular, just practical and reliable. That’s what makes it so much fun to outrun muscle cars in one—especially with an even more oddball powerplant like a turbo Jeep 4.0 six-cylinder. So Todd flies under the radar, stands out at shows (in a good way), manages good mileage, comes off like a gearhead mad scientist when people look under the hood, and he did it all on an everyman’s budget. That’s the hot rodding equivalent of the royal flush, and why I chose it as my personal favorite for this year’s readers’ rides contest.

Of all the muscle cars Todd Sears has had, the Rambler is his favorite to hop in and go for a drive. In his search for a family friendly project on eBay, the Rambler popped up. The 199ci, one-barrel under the hood wasn’t his first choice for power, but the low miles and fresh blue paint was the clincher. With fuel costs on the rise, a post on an AMC board about a Jeep 4.0 swap got his attention. Now the Rambler knocks down 24 mpg. Recently the Rambler got an even bigger power upgrade; Todd plumbed in a T60 turbo, which should keep most muscle cars in the Rambler’s rearview.

By The Numbers

Engine: ’97 4.0L Jeep inline-six with COMP Cams RV cam, ’99 Jeep intake, and T60 Masterpower turbo

Trans: 904 TorqueFlite with 2,200-stall converter

Rearend: narrowed AMC Twin-Grip rear with 3.08 gears

Suspension: stock with 3-inch lowering springs up front, de-arched leaf springs and Addco sway bar in the rear

Brakes: Ford Granada discs up front, ’97 Ford Crown Vic discs in the rear

Wheels & Tires: 16x7 and 16x8 American Racing Hopster wheels with 215/55R16 and 225/55R16 Nitto 450 tires