Saturday, March 23, 2013

Romney's '64 Rambler on the eBay auction block

Romney's '64 Rambler on the eBay auction block
Paul A. Eisenstein , The Detroit Bureau – 30 days

It may not have driven up to the White House, but a nearly 50-year-old AMC Rambler now going across the eBay auction block has historic ties to two presidential campaigns.

According to a listing on the popular site, potential bidders have less than three days left to snatch up the 1964 AMC Rambler Classic once owned by former Michigan Governor George Romney. The one-time president and chief executive of American Motors had the white two-door when he made his run for the White House in 1968. His son Mitt used the car to launch his own bid for president in 2007 during a campaign appearance in suburban Detroit.

“What’s most amazing about this car is that it’s so well preserved and unrestored. The paint is all factory and in excellent shape for its age,” said the current owner, a Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., resident who is selling it on eBay under the screenname “socalsoda.” He added that, “”What’s most amazing about this car is that it’s so well preserved and un-restored. To find a car this well preserved is rare, but to find a car this well preserved and with this documentation and ownership history is amazing. The paint is all factory and in excellent shape for its age.”

Known for his now out-of-style bipartisanship, the former business executive and politician acquired the ’64 Rambler after he had already left AMC to serve as Michigan governor. Romney was a champion of small cars, going so far as to blast American Motors’ bigger Detroit rivals for producing “gas-guzzling dinosaurs.”

It’s unclear how long he drove the six-cylinder coupe, though it was still in the family when Romney challenged President Lyndon Johnson during the 1968 campaign. The Michigan governor was considered a strong contender until being tripped up by his own explanation for becoming an opponent of the Viet Nam War, declaring that he originally had been “brainwashed” by the military.

The white Rambler remained in the family until shortly before the senior Romney’s death in 1995 when he donated it to the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich. Chrysler had purchased AMC more than a decade earlier. The coupe remained in the collection until just before Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy when, through a series of steps, it was sold to a collector in Northern California before being purchased by the current owner.

The current top bid as of Tuesday afternoon – was $10,500. The auction will close at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 22. It’s unclear whether any Romney family members are participating in the auction.

The Rambler features a 196 cubic-inch six-cylinder engine and, according to the current owner, is in good running shape, though he has kept it in a sealed garage unregistered since purchasing the Rambler.

As to Mitt Romney, it’s quite likely that he spent at least some time in the back seat of the ’64 AMC Rambler, as he would have been around 16 when his father purchased the coupe. In fact, the younger Romney and wife Ann received a later, blue model from the governor when they got married.

Copyright © 2009-2013, The Detroit Bureau

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