8 month restoration of 63 Classic 770 story (long but good)

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edited November -1 in American Motors

This is a story of the restoration of my 1963 AMC Rambler Classic.

In mid December 2006, I was chatting with a good friend of mine named Allan about the up and coming HETNR (Hudson, Essex, Terraplaine, Nash, Rambler) National meeting in Toowoomba QLD. The subject of what car was I going to take came up. I own a few cars and I have always seemed to take the same ones to all the shows. I turned to Allan and said "I wish to take something different this time". Anything different that I wanted to take would have to be restored. I looked at the collection I had and decided to restore one of my 1963 Classics. This car had been sitting on a friends farm for about 5 years as I didn't have any covered space to put it. Allan agreed that he would help me to get this car ready for the week long national rally. So I proceeded to move the car from the farm to Allan's place where it was to under go a total restoration.

On the 26th of January 2007, Allan and I went on a club run for breakfast to Beaudesert QLD and meet up with some fantastic people (my first run with the HETNR car club of QLD). After breakfast, some great conversations and showing off of all our cars, we were all asked what we felt like doing next. At this point, Allan and I looked at each other and said "were going to start the restoration of my 1963 Rambler Classic". Yes, it was the 26th of January 2007 when we took the first bolt off the car. This is were the fun begins, you see the national rally started on the 30th of September 2007. That is correct, it was only 8 months away.

When I told everyone what we were doing, a lot of comments came back that it could never be done. This was a major driving force for me. There was no time wasted pulling everything off the car. By the end of the first weekend there was nothing but a bare shell sitting on 4 home made legs (the cars only support for the next 6 months). So with only weekends to work on the car (we both worked full time jobs throughout the week), we pushed hard to get it ready. Every panel was stripped by hand. First they were paint stripped, then cleaned back to pure steel with a strip and clean wheel till all traces of rust creep (tiny spots of rust) where totally removed. If the strip and clean wheel didn't remove the rust creep, I sat there with a electric drill and scratched the spots out with a drill bit.

Once we got each panel totally cleaned, they were etched ready for the next step. There was only a few minor spots of rust in the whole body and panels. These were all cut out and plated with new metal. The only panel that we had a problem with was the bonnet. So for this, we went to the hardware store and bought some pond liner and made a molases bath for us to submerge the bonnet in. Molases mixed with water at about 3:1 Water to Molases, is the best rust converter that I have ever seen. After one week, wiping over the bonnet every couple of days with steel wool, the bonnet came out looking like brand new steel.

Now with all the panels except the bonnet were repaired and etched. We started to high build prime everything. After the high build, it was time to start filing, Allan did all of the filing of the body and panels. Once the body was all filed ready, it was time to get under the car and do some rust proofing and sound deadening. What a messy job this was, but I think the results speak for themselves. The next job to tackle was the engine bay. I had Allan weld up all the none genuine holes as well as some of the factory ones. After a lot of prep work and rubbing ready for paint, I masked off everything and Allan put on the first part of the colour in the engine bay. What a fantastic sight that was to see some colour on after all this work. So back to Allan's we go. As the car was coming off the truck we had a crazy idea, lets get the motor and transmission (that had been previously prepared) out of the garage and put it straight into the car. We rolled them out into the carport and very carefully lowered them onto the ground. Next we lowered the body off the truck right down over the top of the motor and raised the motor into place. WHAT A SIGHT, the engine into the engine bay gave us quite a rush. For the rest of the weekend, we put in the diff, suspension and front end. Now "that was some amazing progress" we were told by some people, and it was. By this time, people were still very skeptical about whether we would have it done in time though, more amunition for me to push harder.

Now we were off to paint. The body and panels were all taken in individually and left for the painter to just lay the colour on. All he had to do was mask the car off and lay on the colour. The colours that were chosen were Chrysler Alpine white for the roof and side strip and Nissan Sky blue metalic for the body.

The day that the car came out of the paint bay was a major step. The finish on the car and panels was totally amazing to look at. So on to the back of the truck and straight back to Allan's we went.

When we got back to Allan's, there was not much to stop us now except for time. We started to plough full steam ahead and get this thing assembald. The doors were all hung, boot installed and the guards put on and glass went in. Then the car had to go back in for the side white strip to be painted on. After the car was all masked up again, and the strip laid on, it was back for the last time to Allan's to complete the car. Now all of the side trim, badges, gutter moulding etc were put on. Now that we had the guards on, we were able to trial fit the bonnet. The bonnet needed some panel work on it before it could be painted and we had to have all the front assembled so as to be able to do this. So 5 weeks after the car was painted, the bonnet went in to be painted. When it came back and was placed on the car, you could not tell that the bonnet had been painted at a different time.

We were flying along now, working on weekends and now most nights throughout the week. We were down to 5 weeks before the rally. There was a lot of late nights to finish off the interior, doors, engine bay, grill, bumper bars etc. Then all of a sudden, the car was finished. We put the trade plate on and did our road testing and final adjustments to kick down and lights etc, then off for its road worthy and registration. The car was registered on the 20th of September 2007. 7 Months and 3 weeks after starting restoration.

What a journey, and much to the amazment of the critics ( my friends and family who said it couldn't be done), IT WAS. This build has been a fantastic learning experience for a few people, but mainly for me. Would I do it again? Yes. Would I do it in this same short time again? Only if I had to.

There is some very big thank you's I must give for this build. First my family for allowing me the time away to get this done. Second to Fiona and Preston for putting up with me being at there place while doing this car, early mornings and late nights. Third to all the friends and family that said it could never be done, Don't underestimate a dream. Forth to all the family and friends that believed in me, and last but by no stretch of the imagination at least, Allan Smith, who without his help and vast knowledge, I know this couldn't have been possibly done to the standard and quality it has turned out to be, Thanks mate.

Thank you, Garry Murphy


  • more pics of Garrys 63 Rambler Classic 770 sedan. 287 V8 column auto. The were assembled in Australia when new.
  • faustmbfaustmb Posts: 1,229Senior Contributor
    Nice Job! That is one good looking sedan. It would take me 8+ years.

  • 37 CTS37 CTS Posts: 539Senior Contributor

    a great looking car, you should be very happy with it

    neat to see this year AMC be restored. not many saved her in US.
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