Gremlins, Road Trips & Route 66

Gremlins, Road Trips & Route 66

My pa loved to impart tidbits of wisdom. One of his favorites was that it was better to fill the head with useless knowledge than no knowledge at all. So, what was the fastest American production sedan available in 1957? Did you guess the Rambler Rebel?

Who conceived the idea is a bit of a mystery. Likewise, with how the famously frugal Romney was talked into approving the project, but the limited production Rebel was a powerhouse that provided American Motors with some much-needed positive promotion.

The body was the Rambler Custom four door hardtop. But instead of the standard six-cylinder engine, under the hood was the potent Ambassador/Hornet V-8 engine. That combo—a midsize car powered by a V-8 from a full-size car – would be the formula used by other companies to create some of the most famous first-generation muscle cars including the Pontiac GTO.

The Rebel’s new engine made 255 hp at 4,700 rpm and a whopping 345 lb-ft of torque at just 2,600 rpm. Transmission choices were limited to a heavy-duty T-85 three-speed manual with overdrive, or the Flashaway Hydra-Matic supplied by GM. The suspension was stiffened with heavy-duty adjustable shock absorbers as standard equipment. Just one color would be provided, a metallic silver-gray called Rebel Silver, offset by bronze-gold-anodized aluminum side trim with the Rebel name spelled out in script on the leading edge.

The drivers at Motor Trend were stunned by the performance. The Rebel’s best 0-60-mph run was timed at 7.5 seconds, while the powerful Chrysler 300C turned in 7.6 seconds. The Rebel bested the supercharged Studebaker Golden Hawk’s 8.7 seconds, the Plymouth Fury at 8.0 seconds, the Dodge D-500 at 8.8 seconds, and the Pontiac Tri-Power at 7.9 seconds. In fact, the only car that could beat the Rebel in acceleration was a fuel-injected Corvette, which did the run in 7.0 seconds.

This is an excerpt from a recent episode of Car Talk From The Main Street of AmericaThe topic of discussion was AMC (American Motors), the company’s origins, and their abilty to survive by to sell everything on the hog including the squeal.

Jim HInckley’s America started as a companion to the books I wrote, and a venue for selling those on occasion. At some point it morphed into a multifaceted platform for sharing adventures. It was a manifestation for what was apparently a God given gift. For years people had been telling people that I was pretty damn good at telling people where to go. Linked with road trip inspiration was a passionate desire to share America’s incredible story that chronicles our ongoing quest to live up to the lofty goals enshrined in the Declaration of Independce.

The Car Talk From The Main Street of America podcast is the latest addition to the Jim Hinckley’s America network. It was born of an interview on a program developed by Stan Hustad, and his proposal that we form a limited partnership to develop a podcast that tells America’s story through the evolution of the auto industry.

It seemd like an excellent companion piece for Coffee With Jim, the interactive live podcast that blended travel, road trip inspiration and American history. And I thought that the second podcast would be another step in filling the void caused when the Jim HInckley’s America Facebook page was locked.

And that takes us the upcoming Heartland Tour sposnored in part by Visit Tucumcari. With our son encamped at the homestead he will serve as the operational manager. Meanwhile, we will be telling people where to go and sharing America’s story from the road. And we will be giving fans of Jim Hinckley’s America a chance to win copies of our latest books – Here We Are…On Route 66, Backroads of Route 66 and Murder and Mayhem on The Main Street of America: Tales From Bloody 66. Did I mention that I will also be giving away Route 66 souvenirs?

Just snap a picture of this sign when you see us on the road. Share it on social media with the hastag #jimhinckleysamerica. On Facebook tag James Hinckley, on INstagram and Twitter tag Jim Hinckley. There will be a random drawing for winners of books in November. And get a selfie with Jim, and this sign, to get a Route 66 souvenir.

Now, you may be asking if I can provide clues as to where we will be. Well, I am speaking at the museum/library in Atlanta, Illinois on the evening of October 18. And I will be at Home Again on 66 in Pontiac, Illinois on the afternoon of the 20th, and the Miles of Possibility Conference for the next few days.

The rest of the trip is a sort of Where’s Waldo adventure. So, where is Jim. Here is a hint. Planned stops include Winslow, Arizona, Moriarty and Tucumcari, New Mexico, McLean, Texas, Russellville, Arkansas, Perryville and Cuba, Missouri, and Ponca City,, Oklahoma. Does that help?

See you on the road! #jimhinckleysamerica