Rambler Marlin - Origin

Origin

As consumer per capita income increased in the early 1960s, the U.S. automobile market expanded. Whereas American Motors’ profitable marketing strategy under George W. Romney had concentrated on compact, economical cars, Romney's successor as CEO, Roy Abernethy, saw larger, more prestigious and luxurious models as a new profit opportunity. The objective was to compete with the "Big Three" automobile manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler) by expanding AMC's model lines into additional market segments; particularly by developing a sporty, roomy, 6-passenger sedan that would occupy a unique niche in the market. The idea was that the new car would be a distinctive, low-volume model symbolizing a new Rambler look and spearheading a full product line. To be a distinctive competitor in the big league with the Big Three, it was decided that it should be flashy and intermediate-sized, and in an era when other automakers were stressing the power of muscle cars for their intermediate-sized image vehicles, the new model - the Marlin - was to feature comfort and spaciousness.

Initially, in response to a proposal for a sporty youth-oriented car, a four-seat fastback design study, the Rambler Tarpon, had been built on the compact-sized Rambler American platform. This was shown as a concept car at various auto shows but AMC's current "GEN-1" V8 engine would not fit in the comparatively small Rambler chassis; also the new "GEN-II" V8 designs were still in development, and market research showed that a six-cylinder engine alone would not satisfy potential customers.

Ultimately, and in line with Roy Abernethy's new marketing strategy, the decision was made to build the new fastback model on AMC's intermediate-sized Rambler Classic platform. The development team, under distinguished American designer Richard A. Teague, had to work with considerably smaller budgets than their counterparts at Detroit's Big Three to create the new Marlin. They created a large, roomy and luxurious fastback which incorporated a number of design features from the Tarpon show car. (The roof was raised over the rear passenger area when Abernethy, who was six-foot-four (193 cm tall), insisted on being able to sit in the back seat of the design studies.) As the car was targeted at the evolving "personal luxury" segment, its long list of standard equipment was supplemented by numerous options that enabled buyers to personalize their Marlins.

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