Sleeper Alert: This AMC Rambler Wagon Has a V8 Surprise

- in Cars

This 1969 AMC Rambler Wagon is not what it looks like.

1969 AMC Rambler Wagon sleeper
Looks can be deceiving. From the outside, this 1969 AMC Rambler wagon looks like an honest survivor—showing its 54 years’ worth of sunbaked paint, dings and dents, and a piece of missing trim here or there. In many ways it is, in others… it’s not.

That’s because while the outside screams “vintage ‘60s family wagon,” the engine bay screams “street sweeping muscle car.” Pop open the hood and you’ll find a built-up General Motors LS1 V8 that lets out an absolutely guttural howl.

AMC Rambler Wagon sleeper
The aim of this custom build was to keep the Rambler close to the same weight as originally delivered (about 2,820 pounds, or a thousand pounds less than 2000 Camaro Z28 the engine came out of) all while upgrading its engine and drivetrain with lightweight and high-performance components. And the biggest and baddest of those mods is the engine.

LS1 engine in 1969 AMC Rambler wagon
The 5.7-liter aluminum block V8 (the type you’d find in a C5 Corvette too) features a scad of new internal components—from valve stem seals to rocker arm upgrades—and pairs with an Allstar Tri-Core radiator, Holley oil pan, custom engine harness, and Aeromotive Stealth fuel pump. Horsepower figures aren’t given, but in Corvette form the LS1 V8s gave at least 345 ponies. It makes its presence known through a custom X-pipe exhaust.

Instead of bolting to the Rambler’s tired manual gearbox or three-speed automatic, the LS1 now lives next to a T56 six-speed manual, which puts power to the rear wheels through a modified transmission tunnel and a custom built Ford 8.8-inch rear end with a Ford Racing limited-slip differential. Zesty indeed.

1969 AMC Rambler wagon sleeper left side
Juxtaposing those aged wheel wells, the AMC Rambler also boasts a new Control Freak front subframe with double wishbone suspension and rack-and-pinion steering, while out back resides a new four-link rear setup with adjustable Viking coilover shocks at both ends.

1969 AMC Rambler Wagon sleeper interior
You wouldn’t know all that lived under its skin from the outside though, apart from the telltale 17-inch MB Old School Wheels and massive Wilwood brakes, which might pique the interest of passersby in the know. Fittingly, the build was nicknamed ‘Project Old Lady.’

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