Classic Cars A to Z

Rambler Marlin History (1965-1967)

Article by Mark Trotta

Like the Plymouth Barracuda and Ford Mustang fastback introduced a year earlier, the 1965 Rambler Marlin offered sporty looks and V8 power, but added mid-size room and comfort.

Rambler Marlin history

Tarpon Concept Car

In 1964, the sporty-car boom was in full swing. Rambler's design chief, Dick Teague, was asked to develop a youth-oriented car similar to the Mustang.

Based on the Rambler American platform, the Tarpon concept car measured just 180 inches long, and the wheelbase of 106 inches was two inches shorter than the Mustang's. It was shown at several auto shows and received good reviews.

Rambler Tarpon concept car

Perhaps the realization that they could not compete with Detroit's Big Three led Rambler to shift the Tarpon concept from pony car to intermediate car. At the time it seemed like a good strategy: by niche marketing, Rambler offered a product their competitors didn't. Switching to the larger Rambler Classic chassis, the Tarpon was renamed Marlin.



1965 Rambler Marlin

In a deliberate maneuver to give the new car more exposure and less competition, Rambler introduced the Marlin in the middle of 1965 model year. Standard engine was a 232ci in-line six-cylinder, which provided good street torque as well as 20+ mpg around town.

history of the Rambler Marlin fastback

Two V-8 engines were optional, a 287ci motor with a 2-barrel carburetor, or a larger 327ci with a 4-barrel. Transmission was either a three-speed automatic or a 3+2 manual with overdrive, which featured a stick-mounted button for the overdrive kick-down.

Marlin Interior

The Marlin's spacious interior and deluxe appointments separated it from other intermediate-sized cars of the day. This included interior door panels finished with carpeting and stainless steel trim.

1965 Rambler Marlin fastback

Center armrests, both front and rear, were standard when bucket seats were selected. Although individual reclining front seats were standard, a fold-down rear seat like the Plymouth Barracuda's was not available.

Popular options included adjustable steering wheel, power windows, and air conditioning. With safety always in mind, Rambler fitted the Marlin with a dual master-cylinder brake system, with front disc brakes optional.

1965 Rambler Marlin fastback

Two-tone paint options were popular, helping Rambler sell 10,327 Marlins in the first year.


1966 Marlin

Starting with the 1966 model year, the Rambler Marlin was now simply badged "Marlin". The "R" logo in the horn ring was replaced with a stylized letter "M".

1966 Marlin

Aside from a new front grille, a black vinyl roof could now be ordered, which also covered the trunk lid and tear-drop side window surrounds.

Inside, a four-on-the-floor shifter was made available by popular request. Upholstery trim was slightly different, and a dash-mounted tachometer was optional.



Torque-tube drive systems, formally fitted to most Rambler models, were replaced by conventional driveshafts. A front sway-bar was added to improve handling.

1966 Marlin fastback

Even with eleven full months of production, only 4,547 units were sold.


1967 Marlin

Now called the AMC Marlin, it's platform shifted to the full-size Ambassador chassis, making it longer, lower, and wider. Wheelbase increased to 118-inches over the prior year's 112-inches. Overall weight increased to 3,350 pounds.

1967 AMC Marlin history

The front end shared the Ambassador's vertical quad headlights and recessed extruded aluminum grille. Many agreed that the stretched-out fastback looked better on the longer frame.

With the width and length increase, more interior room was obtained.



AMC's durable 232ci six-cylinder was carried over, plus two V8's were offered. A 290ci V8 was equipped with a two-barrel carburetor, and the 343ci V8 was available in two versions.

The first 343ci option was equipped with a two-barrel carburetor and single exhaust. A second, high-performance version featured a 4-barrel carburetor and higher 10.2:1 engine compression, which required premium fuel.

1967 AMC Marlin fastback

Marlins ordered with the high-performance 343 engine were equipped with dual exhaust. Output was 280 horsepower with 365 pound-feet of torque at 3000 rpm.

Even with all the improvements, sales for the year were a dismal 2,545 units. AMC discontinued the Marlin after 1967, replacing it with their new pony car, the Javelin.

Rambler Marlin history

Pictures courtesy:


Further Reading:

American Motors Car Company History
Ford Mustang (1965)
Dodge Charger (1967)
AMC Javelin (1968-1974)