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Projects 1959 rambler super cross country wagon

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ccole, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

    Hi everyone
    I'm hoping some of you can offer some advice. I just purchased a 1959 rambler super cross country wagon. The drive train is missing. I was thinking about putting either a late model tahoe 5.3 ls and drive train in it. I'm wondering if anyone has done this conversion, also if the factory front end is ok or if I should upgrade it. I know I definitely want disc brakes at a minimum. Are the coil springs ok or should I air bag it? And last the grille is broken does anyone know where to find another. Thank you in advance for any help its much appreciated

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  2. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 41,341

    porknbeaner
    Member

    You may try Yellow Bullet, we don't play LS here and most of the other BS is mildly frowned upon.

    The Rambler wagon is a good idea though. Good luck with it.
     
    shown50 likes this.
  3. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

    I would love to have had the original drive train but it is missing I thought an ls would be my best option

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  4. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 41,341

    porknbeaner
    Member

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  5. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

    Ok thank you i understand better now the scope of this site . If I were able to find an original 196.5 engine and three speed manual transmission are there any good performance upgrades?

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  6. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 41,341

    porknbeaner
    Member

    Nope.

    If you want easy and inexpensive a pre LS small block chevy is a good choice. Then choose one of about havle a dozen transmissions that will bolt to it. Small Fords are also a good choice but a bit more pricey as a rule.

    If you have an odd obsession with an inline 6 GM, Ford, and MOPAR all make good 6s. I would avoid 235s but they are an accepted choice by many. I like the later 292 for a GM and the 300 for a Ford. But there are earlier smaller motors f that floats your boat. There is always the leaned over 6 that Mopar makes as well.

    I suppose that you could also go with a banger, mercruisers are good (its a GM 4 with a better head) stck it makes more zot than the rambler 6 ever made even on a good day.

    Your options are endless all major manufacturers make something that will work in that old wagon.
     
  7. You can always drop a 350 or a 302 in it. HRP
     
  8. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

  9. I would vote to get rid of the trunnion front end. Is there a retrofit to something else? I don't know. You need to do some research on your own and start taking measurements of what you have.
     
    Bruce Fischer likes this.
  10. oldwood
    Joined: Mar 13, 2010
    Posts: 897

    oldwood
    Member
    from arkansas

    The Rambler Guru should chime in on this thread. I can't remember his handle. There is a salvage yard here in Little Rock that has some Ramblers with engines in them. He also has a '62 Rambler wagon that has the 327 V-8 in it. FYI
     
    Bruce Fischer likes this.
  11. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    The original suspension and brakes are good if you don't overmatch them with a giant engine. Especially if you like a smooth ride. The way everything is built into the body makes it hard to change. Try it with stock springs, a Chev small block is not much heavier than the stock six.

    The 59s were available with a V8 (optional) so a V8 should fit. Chevs are generally an easy engine to fit in other cars. I haven't done it personally but it shouldn't be too hard. You may want to measure the engine compartment and an engine. The transmission may be more of a tight fit because today's transmissions tend to be bulkier than the old 3 speed models.

    Leaf spring rear suspension makes it easy to change rear ends. You may have to relocate the mounts. Not too hard if you have a welder. New mounts are available from Summit Racing.
     
  12. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,036

    squirrel
    Member

    You should have asked before you bought the car :)

    The rear might be a torque tube setup, which means the suspension and axle might need some replacement...take a look and see what it has. The front suspension is kind of crappy, as has been mentioned. It's a challenging car to start out on.
     
    X38 likes this.
  13. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 41,341

    porknbeaner
    Member

    Unless I am mistaken he has the big Rambler. As mall block should be pretty easy.

    Somebody once told me that you could adapt unibody Ford front suspension to them, like falcon or early mustang. I never tried it. The stock suspension is good if it is solid. probably never serve well as Can Am suspension but for drivin' around it should be good enough.
     
  14. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,036

    squirrel
    Member

    Trade one crappy front suspension for another :)
     
    shawnsauto1 likes this.
  15. Lebowski
    Joined: Aug 21, 2011
    Posts: 1,570

    Lebowski
    BANNED

    Welcome. Feel free to post some pics of it. It was built in Kenosha, wasn't it? Where are you from? Good luck....
     
    C. John Stutzer likes this.
  16. rusty rocket
    Joined: Oct 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,581

    rusty rocket
    Member

    Mustang II and an AMC motor. Thats my plan for mine. IMG_0553.JPG
     
    C. John Stutzer likes this.
  17. buford_59
    Joined: May 30, 2010
    Posts: 36

    buford_59
    Member

    ccole,
    Check out American Motors Owners Association. They have other links that could steer you in the right direction. My '61 Wgn. is a Cross Country Super and is a Classic. Not sure about the rear sups. being leaf, but mine is coil. Of course it is a torque tube system. If the front suspension is in SUPER EXCELLENT condition you should be okay, but maintain it regularly. The trunnion can come apart without notice (experience). There's enough room in the engine bay for a small eight. Your current motor (the one that's missing) would be a flathead. Sixty & up will be an overhead. Find one with a fuel miser Holley and you'll get very good fuel milage. Get one with a two barrel and you've got a hot rod (not traditional style but peppier).
    The AMOA has a lot of info and you may find some pretty knowledgable people there or here on the H.A.M.B.
    Almost forgot: in sixty-two they changed to a ball joint on the lower arm (I'm changing mine this summer as I've got a Sixty-two wgn. parts car and it's too rotten to save).

    Hope this helps,

    DoUg
     
  18. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

    Thank you for your responses, I do have the full size classic six it has the tourque tube rear end. I am wanting to use the car for a daily driver with a comfortable ride and decent handling. I would want to be able to tow with it as well. It's why I was thinking maybe air bags I read an option for this year was air coil suspension. Or maybe if someone makes Coil overs. I definitely want a disc front brake system. I checked with brembo and wildwood but neither makes a conversion kit.

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  19. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

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  20. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

    I will get some better pics posted soon it only has 47000 original miles on it

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  21. ccole
    Joined: Jun 22, 2016
    Posts: 9

    ccole

  22. I saw one many years ago done with a 250 Ford six and an automatic, the guy changed the rear as well, probably from a Ford as he was a bit of a Ford nut.
     
  23. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 44,036

    squirrel
    Member

    You have a tough row to hoe....

    Might be better off finding a wagon that is done already, preferably one of the more mainstream brands. You might not quite like how old cars ride and work, etc. They are not new cars. It would be better to find out before spending years and untold thousands of dollars, eh?
     
    X38 likes this.
  24. porknbeaner
    Joined: Sep 12, 2003
    Posts: 41,341

    porknbeaner
    Member

    :D :D :D

    Oh good advice on post #23. As always.;)
     
  25. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,994

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    I didn't know they had torque tube and coils in back, I thought it was just the big Ambassadors. Live and learn.

    Buick owners run into the same problem. The easiest swap is to find a conventional rear axle of the right width. Add spring mounts that duplicate the old ones. And 2 control arms that bolt to the spring pads on the axle.

    Chev used a similar setup in late 60s early 70s pickups. They had an I beam arm that was made to flex or twist as the car rolled. If I was doing it I would make arms of square tubing and use the same rubber mounts as Ford twin I beam pickup truck front ends for the sake of flex and vibration damping. The mounts should go as close as possible to where the original torque tube went, where the body is reinforced to take the thrust of the drive.

    They make kits for the Buicks, you might look them up online to see how they work and get some ideas for your car.

    If you are going to tow a trailer disc brakes are a good idea. I don't know if anyone makes a kit. Because of the way the springs and suspension fit into the body shell it is not easy to change the suspension. Maybe someone has done it.

    There is a thread on here about a 51 Nash someone hot rodded, they basically gutted it like a trout and ordered all the standard catalog stuff, Mustang front end, Chev 350/350, Ford 9" rear etc. That would be the way to go if you want to have a hot rod shop build the car and just write out a bunch of large checks.
     
  26. chriseakin
    Joined: Jan 21, 2009
    Posts: 321

    chriseakin
    Member

    Check the radius rods on the rear suspension. A friend of mine had an early 60s wagon and the arm cracked through - looked like pretty thin metal. The only thing holding it together was the emergency brake cable and habit.
     
  27. They must have been rough miles!

    Squirrel has given some good advice.

    I can half imagine where you're coming from with this (OT for the HAMB) and it sounds like you're wanting to jump into the deep end first without really understanding the patient you have in front of you. You may end up spending more money than you want to, to get a not very good outcome....unless you really know what you're doing and have all the tools.

    Despite how cheap you probably got this 'old car' for, you may be better off cutting your losses, selling it and buying something more user friendly. At least to give yourself a chance at a decent outcome.
     
  28. anteek49
    Joined: Aug 7, 2013
    Posts: 223

    anteek49
    Member

    AllAMC cars from the mid '30's had spindles that were 2 piece. the outer spindles from a disc brake car and the disc brakes from a newer car would bolt right on.
     
  29. Disc brakes are easy on these, goto the junkyard, find a Amc like a Spirit and grab the spindles off, bolts on, plus you can make drop plates for about 2" more. I put bags on the front because the six was heavier than a sbc. On motors, the sbc fits good, the LS is a bit wider, but if you build headers or find manifolds that give more room, prob corvette, I was going to try LS7. The front suspension is good on these, but most did not have a sway bar, they rode pretty smooth. I still have all stock in my car but added discs.
     
  30. nickleone
    Joined: Jun 14, 2007
    Posts: 319

    nickleone
    Member

    Go to: http://theamcforum.com/FORUM/forums.html
    If you post about a non AMC engine do it in the FRANKENRAMBLER section.
    Disc brakes are available from SCAREBIRD.
    You can buy their adaptor and source components from Rock Auto. Cost to convert about $300 or less.
    The Ford 8.8 is popular. Buy a rear at the junk yard and get a second short side axle and cutm the 8.8 down 3 inches.
    I have a 62 SW. with a 196. 60 over pistons and a reground cam. Rebuild ran $2000 parts and labor.
    The original 6 was very short compared to the later 6 from AMC.
    You will find much info on the AMC site with many knowledgble people.

    Nick
     

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