The Rambler Rebel was the first factory produced muscle car and debuted in 1956 as a 1957 model. It spanned over five generations, fighting to be bigger and better than the Detroit three. It had a winning combination of a sedan look and a powerful V8 engine. The 5.4L V8 was capable of producing 255 HP and could get the Rebel from 0-60 mph in 7.5 seconds.
George Romney, the then-new chairman of American Motors Corporation, had big plans for the small American Company when he took over in 1954. World War II was over and the 1950s were in full swing. Not only were sales up for the big three automakers in the United States, but Hudson and Nash were doing well also. Romney’s big idea was to have Rambler become a company on its own and expand into a sector that Ford , General Motors, and Chevrolet had ignored thus far. Most companies were offering only large sedans and small economy cars. Rambler was going to split the market wide open with a mid-size model that featured aggressive styling and plenty of power.
Little did Romney know that his new Rambler Rebel model was destined to become the grandfather of the muscle car era. The first thing that Rambler needed to do was find a suitable engine that would bring performance and excitement to a lineup that had never had it before. Clearly, offering a V8 was the answer, and the new AMC 5.4-liter was perfect.
As history shows, 1957 was destined to be the first and most important year for the Rambler Rebel. As time went on and the car’s name was adapted to newer models from AMC, the original feeling of the car was lost. It is something that happens with many companies when they use a classic marquee in the wrong way simply to boost sales in the short term. Nonetheless, the short and successful years of the Rebel production have spawned numerous car clubs and followers throughout the United States and remains popular today.
Hit the jump for more details on the Rambler Rebel