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Flare Witch Project: A Rambler Wagon Story

I might be the only grandmother here who brought her pro touring car,” says Suzy Bauter as she stands beside her massively flared AMC Rambler American on the floor of the 2017 SEMA Show. No doubt. Why a Rambler? Sure, it made one eye-catching piece on the show floor, but why not build something with more performance potential?

Suzy explains.

Five years ago, she decided to give autocrossing a try. She even got her feet wet, driving a 1968 Camaro belonging to her partner, Rodney Prouty. But she wanted to develop something that she could call her own. And her build had one big ultimatum: It had to be a vintage wagon.

Suzy started her search with her heart set on a Falcon wagon. She grew up with one.

After some searching, she found a Falcon for sale. It was rotten. Totally rotten. Even so, the price? $5000.

She decided to take another route, expanding her search to cover other wagons. Her search brought her to a trailer park where she found a cream-colored Rambler. It was parked beneath some blue tarps and huddled next to an abandoned motorhome. The Rambler wasn’t perfect, but soon they had it on the trailer.

For five years Suzy and Rodney cut, welded and hammered the Rambler into shape. Once they had fixed the rust and eradicated the shag carpet, they started their performance setup. “That’s when the money started flying out the window,” Suzy exclaims.

The Ramber’s most striking modification has to be the 8.5-inch fender flares, with each one attempting to shelter 315-width tires. Huge 14-inch rotors and six-piston Baer Brakes hide behind the wheels.

When Suzy first started her build, she wanted to retain the original straight-six drivetrain, but they quickly realized that wouldn't be sufficient. Instead she worked in a stock 5.3-liter Chevy LM7 V8–basically the truck version of the famed LS.

They also fit a first-generation Camaro suspension up front, while the rear comes from a fifth-gen Camaro. The dampers feature technology that was barely a dream when the Rambler rolled out of Kenosha: Viking Performance’s Berserker Active Shock Management, a system that allows the dampers to be remotely adjusted on the fly.

Suzy and Rodney did all the work in their home garage–no lift, even–doing everything except paint. Suzy sewed all of the interior and carpeting. In fact, they moved across the country twice with their Rambler project in tow.

Future plans? SCCA CAM autocross competition. Yet her autocross adventures are getting a jump start: At the 2017 SEMA Show, she was awarded a golden ticket to participate in this weekend’s Optima Batteries Ultimate Street Car Invitational.

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Comments

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Indy-Cougar-Guy
Indy-Cougar-Guy SuperDork
11/2/17 3:11 p.m.

She sounds like my favorite kind of grandma. This is one cool wagon wink

M2Pilot
M2Pilot HalfDork
11/2/17 8:26 p.m.

We had a Rambler American 2 dr. sedan.  IIRC it had a flathead 6.

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 UltraDork
11/2/17 8:35 p.m.

Also had a Rambler American 2-door sedan version. Mine had a OHV-6.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
11/2/17 8:41 p.m.

I think I saw them pan across that car on the Velocity channel coverage of SEMA the other night.  It has an angry looking face.  smiley

759NRNG
759NRNG Dork
11/2/17 9:32 p.m.

Where's Crackers he needs to see this for inspiration?

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
11/3/17 6:07 a.m.

Me  gusta mucho!

singleslammer
singleslammer PowerDork
11/3/17 8:57 a.m.

I don't know how I feel about this. It is crazy with insanely cool flairs but the overall look is just off to me. Looks more like a slammed, wide wagoneer to me than a rambler. 

Kreb
Kreb UltraDork
11/3/17 9:28 a.m.

Awesomeness. I'm moving into grandparent age. I wonder what the odds are of my wife becoming a motorhead at this point? Hmmm. Jesse Jackson joining the Klan seems like a rough equivalent.

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
11/3/17 9:29 a.m.
NOHOME said:

Me  gusta mucho!

My goal in life is to care less and less about more and more until I reach the point where I dont give a Berkley about anything.

When I had delusions of stuffing a V8 into my crusty ES, I soon realized it would end up looking something like this.

NOHOME
NOHOME UltimaDork
11/3/17 10:06 a.m.
Ian F said:
NOHOME said:

Me  gusta mucho!

My goal in life is to care less and less about more and more until I reach the point where I dont give a Berkley about anything.

When I had delusions of stuffing a V8 into my crusty ES, I soon realized it would end up looking something like this.

I am not done yet!

 

That said...I am not a huge fan of the flat flares. If I were to go that way, I would harvest something off of a VW RAbbit repair panel like the MGB guys do.

 

Ian F
Ian F MegaDork
11/3/17 10:17 a.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

Agreed.  Dan Masters' car is an especially clean example.

M2Pilot
M2Pilot HalfDork
11/3/17 2:01 p.m.

In reply to wlkelley3 :

Your response caused me to wonder, after some googling it seems that the '61s had a flathead in the base model

ckosacranoid
ckosacranoid Dork
11/3/17 2:12 p.m.

that is both bas A$$ and very cool to see grandma driving something like that to pick the grandkids up from school. Though would have been more from to see them keep an amc v8 though or gone with a jeep str 6 with turbo would have been even cooler. thanks for sharing guys.

please tell us how she does at the shootout.

Aspen
Aspen Reader
11/3/17 3:51 p.m.

This inspires me to flare my Subaru and get some giant meats under there.

slantvaliant
slantvaliant UltraDork
11/3/17 4:56 p.m.

I do kind of think it'd be just a little cooler with a Rambler engine ... maybe one inspired by Barney Navarro's Indy effort:

 

wlkelley3
wlkelley3 UltraDork
11/3/17 9:47 p.m.

In reply to M2Pilot :

Mine was a 63. Last year of that body style. Wasn't the top of the line model but wasn't the base edition either. Wiki says 63 could come with either flathead or OHV. Mine was auto trans also. Actually it was my first wife's car when we got married. Sold it when we bought a used Pinto which she got in the divorce. Would have kept it if it had the Nash seats in it. But then similar use is what got us married in the first place.

ssswitch
ssswitch Dork
11/4/17 9:33 a.m.

This thing is wicked. My grandma drives a Kia and probably isn't going to race it any time soon.

SVreX
SVreX MegaDork
11/4/17 10:16 a.m.

Umm...Yeah!

(The car is not bad either!)

M2Pilot
M2Pilot HalfDork
11/4/17 1:48 p.m.

In reply to wlkelley3 :

Yes, I remember those seats fondly.  Even better, we had a '63 Rambler Classic wagon with 3 row seats.  One could use the front seats for  ,ahem, resting or fold the 2nd & 3rd rows flat for athletic resting.  Probably no father whose daughter was picked up by a nice young man driving a Rambler could envision any evil intent.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn UltimaDork
11/4/17 3:32 p.m.
slantvaliant said:

I do kind of think it'd be just a little cooler with a Rambler engine ... maybe one inspired by Barney Navarro's Indy effort.

Barney Navarro did a lot of cool stuff.  I have an old Hot Rod magazine around here someplace with an article about that Indy engine build.

ebonyandivory
ebonyandivory UberDork
11/6/17 9:13 a.m.

I’m probably the only one that saw that Rambler as a stretched Mini at first glance... 

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
11/6/17 11:04 a.m.

In reply to ebonyandivory :

I thought the same thing!

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