Rambling With Stefan: The ’62 Rambler Classic in Media and Marketing.

An internet search for advertising media for the 1962 Ramblers revealed some neat stuff from the AMC factory archives which underline the strength of this brand.

“Big Car Room;  Small Car Economy!!”  …The Rambler was still a force to be reckoned with in ’62.  The third best-selling marque in 1960, Rambler was still going strong in 1962.  It’s appeal of value through economy; reliability and safety was not lost on “the Big Three”.  Beginning in late 1959, General Motors; Ford; and Chrysler Corp had hurriedly introduced “compacts”:  The Corvair and Chevy II Nova from Chevrolet, with corporate Buick, Pontiac and Oldsmobile ‘clones’  (Special ; Tempest; and F-85, respectively);  the Ford Falcon and Mercury Comet'; the Dodge Lancer and Plymouth Valiant,  were all rushed out in the span of two years  to fill out the new American auto niche of “compact” cars. ( The Rambler American, still popular with the public for its economy, evidenced in constant victories and accolades in fuel-economy competitions, was predominant as ‘the’ American compact, though it’s design was already almost ten years old).

The ‘big’ Ramblers, the Rebels and the Classics, were so popular, especially in the station wagon market, that the Big Three drained their coffers further by also introducing another niche of American automobile: the “midsize car”.  Notable among these were the Chevrolet Chevelle (1964); the Buick Skylark; a bigger Pontiac Tempest; the Oldsmobile Cutlass; the Ford Fairlane;  the Mercury Meteor; the Dodge Coronet (1965); and the Plymouth Belvedere.  Even Studebaker, which would eventually pack up and head to Canada in 1965, brought out a compact Lark in 1959, and a larger, more ‘intermediate’ Daytona coupe and Cruiser sedan.

That so immense an investment in design; tooling; and marketing of a cascade of new models in so short a time span is a tribute to George Romney’s coining of the term ‘compact’ in the mid 1950’s, and to his championing of  sensible transportation as a logical reaction to the gas-guzzling, finned “dinosaurs” that American cars had become. 

My ’62 Classic feels big on the inside.  I owned a full-sized, bat-winged Ford with less front leg-room.  I was surprised in preparing this post, however, that, in fact, my Classic is actually smaller on the outside than many of the above-mentioned ‘mid-sized’ or ‘intermediate’ cars.

Some factory photos I came across are illustrative, due, I think, to their  two-dimensional starkness:

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The uni-body construction of these cars, in which the frame of the car was not  a ladder onto which an assembled body was dropped on the production line, but integrated with the body, a cage to which the panels were affixed.  Savings in weight improved economy.  The rigidity of  the ‘cage’ minimized rattles and squeaks.  Safety was enhanced when the roof was part of the frame. Interior room was enhanced by not having to seat passengers between massive frame rails on each side of the car.

The only draw-back, to a manufacturer marketing in a culture of yearly styling re-designs, was that the tooling costs of a ‘cage’ were prohibitive compared to the “dinosaurs”, where the same frame could be used for a decade, and a new body ‘dropped on’ each year.   Hence the remarkable similarity of the Ramblers from 1956 through 1962, especially in the roof-line.  (See “Walking the Annals…A Brief History of the Rambler”).

Money saved in re-tooling, however, could be spent to other ends, however.   The ’62 Ramblers introduced a ‘dual master cylinder’,in the brake system, then offered only on Cadillac and Roll-Royce as standard equipment on all of their models.  The ‘Big Three’ did not adopt this life-saving feature until the mid to late sixties, and then only when required to do so by the federal government.  (Why “life-saving”?   The single master cylinder then in use on all other cars linked the brakes at all four wheels to one master cylinder, meaning that a failure or leak in any brake line or cylinder  would result in a complete failure of the braking system.  With the dual system, a leak or failure would affect the front brakes or the rear brakes only….leaving at least two wheels with the ability to bring the car to a safe stop.)

Yes, there is more to ‘value’ than fins or chrome…..

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The size and roominess was not lost on the Europeans.  Renault marketed the Rambler Classic in Europe, and in fact assembled them in Belgium and marketed them in Algeria, Austria, Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg to fill a void for a larger car in their model lineup.

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There is even a Rambler which Renault designed for use as a limousine for President Charles De Gaulle.  (He refused to use it, and opted for a slightly less roomy Citroen.  Patriotism or xenophobia?  Who can say?)

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The Rambler was also built by manufacturers in Argentina; Australia; New Zealand and Mexico.

Driving this car, then, is not only safe, but also a statement that one can be stylish yet sensible; frugal yet fashionable; daring yet dignified.

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Refined,…..and reclined.

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“That’s the way we roll. ….er, Ramble

Walking Away From “Wise Guys”: A Devotional Reflection on Corinthians 1:18-31

The elegant simplicity of faith is defined and symbolized in the cross.

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There can be no parsing of the message it represents.  It represents our separation from the God who created the universe; life and us.  Yet, at the same time, it is the means by which we are again made one with Him.

It is fitting that Paul’s letter to the Corinthians should be the conveyor of this message.  Corinth, in modern terms was, at the time of Paul’s writing, the most “cosmopolitan” of biblical cities, being comprised of many nationalities; social classes and particular denominations of Christianity.  Its  geography made it a crossroads of trade for all corners of the known world at that time.

Can you say “diversity”?

The power of Rome; the collected wisdom of Greek philosophy and the clamor of the marketplace must surely have constituted a habitat for faith not so much different from that which exists today.  That is to say, sectarian; diverse; driven by and catering to many ‘special’ interests competing for power and influence.

What better a time and place for Paul to shepherd them back to the Gospel and its meaning for a fallen mankind?

Paul cites Isaiah (29:14) from the Old Testament:  “The wisdom of the wise will perish”.  Those professing faith in Corinth could not deny their acceptance of this piece of Scripture.  That being the case, Paul continues, is it not folly to lose ourselves in using logic or knowledge to discern the nature of God?

Likewise, Paul notes that the Jews “seek signs”.  Their prayers for a conquering Messiah, more powerful than any pharaoh or king or emperor, are for  an ultimate conquest over enemies.   This belief that a true Messiah should be proof that “might makes right” is, again, folly.

For human logic and human strength or power are but that:  human.  To try to attain righteousness; sanctification and redemption with our God through these means alone is hubris at best, and sinful pride at worst.

This sinful folly, born of Adam, and rampant still in our warring and factious society, is what has separated us from Him.  And only He could make Himself flesh through Jesus Christ; and splay Himself on a cross to shoulder our sin as one of us out of  His love for all of us.  His death and resurrection unite us into His Spirit.

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We need only accept this, not due to any ” logic”,  nor even out of deference to ” power”.  This world, and our living in it, is proof enough of His power.  Accept the cross, and its meaning, and know that there is neither wisdom nor power that can understand; discern or measure His amazing Grace.

Boast not of what you can do for God or your fellow man, ….boast of what God has done for you.

Walking on Tip-Toe at 3:30 in the Morning on Valentine’s Day

Another morn; another nudge

From warm, delicate toes against the back of my ankle.

I rouse, but linger in the warmth of fleece and flannel,

Awaiting the next, more urgent, yet gentle, nudge.

Receiving it, I tread the cold wood to cold porcelain fixtures

Disturb their gleaming purity with her excellent chocolate cake,

And soap;

And toothpaste

And whiskers.

And I smell the coffee downstairs as I dress in silence,

And brace for my labors in the cold, cold world

Which awaits.

But that  frigid air

And  that frosty management

Become but mild distraction

As I tip-toe back in  the darkness

To kiss the perfect cheekbone

Of the one who is my Heart.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Stephen

A Walk in My October Sun (A Birthday Ode to Jennifer)

Darned if it’s not already her birthday again.  Time to write another poem.

It’s easy, though, as she is my sunshine; the Light of my life.  Often she even helps me find my glasses when I lose them.

Happy Birthday, darling………

October Smiles

 

Amazing face, how sweet that smile,

That calms the beast in me

It’s warmth consoles me, soothes me, while

I strive of worth to be.

 

This glow, this smile, this warmth I feel

When e’er your eyes  meet mine,

Does goodness in this earth reveal

Which I alone can’t find.

 

October’s sun, on radiant leaves

Which turn to red and gold

Can’t match the warmth that I receive

When your smile I behold.

 

And I’ll reside within your glow

As long as you can bear

This need for warmth that drives me so

This need for your face fair.

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Walking Tall With Jesus: A Tranformational Reflection on Romans 6:1-11

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In this reading, Paul instructs an audience complacent in its’ belief that merely adhering to ‘“the law” is sufficient for their justification in the eyes of God.  In his methodical, logical style, he gently chastises them with rhetorical questions.  Like many other parts of Romans, the depth of meaning increases with each reading.

In fact, in perusing my records, I note that I wrote a devotional on this selfsame passage three years ago.  In that piece, I noted Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross as being  symbolic of the death of our own sinful life, and his resurrection as being symbolic of our “new” selves, walking in His way.  Upon re-reading this year, I find meaning which, at least to me, is deeper.

I will be brief .  Since this is a popular reading, I will not resort to citations from the text.

The point of Paul’s message is not only that we should not persist in sin so “Grace can abound”, but, more importantly, that this symbolic death of sin is a transformation.   That is, however dead our sinful past, we are still flesh and blood, and, while hopefully abated, our sinfulness is still, due to no fault of our own, a persistent interruption to our existence.

The sins of Adam die hard.  While God’s Grace is free, it can only be for naught if we do not strive to live up to the ideals we profess, or have professed for us at our baptism, whether by water. or by the fire of our own reckless pasts.  This means work.  This means striving to keep our mortal bodies from occasionally being the instruments, (if not the seats) of sin.  This means prayer.

Paul’s conclusions are obvious.  Of course Grace will not abound by the persistence of sin.  But why?  Simply because liberty from sin is not license to sin.  Our transformation from our old, sinful selves which began with the crucifixion of Jesus is, for each of us, a work in progress.  Paul reminds us that we have to “think of” ourselves as living for God.   God can’t do that for us.  It takes effort and energy.  It is a lot to acknowledge, but with the Holy Spirit in play, we will always have the upper hand on the Devil.

“I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not what I hope to be. But by the cross of Jesus Christ, I am not what I was.”John Newton, Author, ‘Amazing Grace

(keep Mr. Newton’s tune in mind as you read the following):

A Metamorphosis in Grace.

My sins died on that ruddy cross

With our God’s only Son,

How strange that His death paid for sin,

When of sin he had none.

 

And as I ponder this sweet Grace

This priceless treasure pure

I find the strength and will to face

The next temptation’s lure.

 

For I’m forgiven, but not free

From Satan’s clever ways

And I must live so God can see

His Son in all my days.

 

I must be steady; strong and brave

I must not His Grace test.

And I refuse to be a slave

To sin He put to rest.

 

Though I’m not what I wish I was

Nor what I ought to be,

I live my life in hope, because

I’m not who I used to be.