Just Above Sunset
Volume 5, Number 10
March 11, 2007

Rambling Around

 The world as seen from Just Above Sunset -

"Notes on how things seem from out here in Hollywood..."

Rambling Around - It's 1958 in Hollywood

A 1958 Rambler American in original condition

Just off Sunset Boulevard, parked next to the Directors Guild - this seems to be a 1958 Rambler American in original condition. The paint is new but the color scheme is correct. American Motors Corporation (AMC) made Ramblers from 1958 to 1969. The American was their second try - a Rambler compact had been sold under the Nash and Hudson Motors name in 1954 and 1955. But this was all new for 1958, or at least the body style was. They produced this for two years before making something bigger and far different as a Rambler American.

You can credit this first generation to the company president, George W. Romney, and the Eisenhower Recession of 1958. People suddenly wanted smaller cars, or so the thinking went. It was available only as a two-door sedan 1958, but they moved 30,640 of them. In 1959 they sold 91,491 units, having added a two-door station wagon. In 1960, they added a four-door sedan and hit 120,603 units. Then they changed it all. The recession was over.

George Romney resigned to become governor of Michigan, and the company reversed course and tried to turn itself into a full-line imitation of the Big Three. That didn't work out and by the late seventies they were looking for a partner to bail them out - and that would be France's Renault in 1979. The arrangement lasted until March 1987, when American Motors was purchased by the Chrysler Corporation, and they discontinued the use of the AMC and Renault brand names in the United States. The Jeep line was continued. The Rambler American was no more.

But there's one in Hollywood.

A 1958 Rambler American in original condition
A 1958 Rambler American in original condition
A 1958 Rambler American in original condition

Remember 1958? Here are selected events -

  • January 1 - Treaty of Rome founding the European Union is implemented
  • January 8 - Fourteen-year-old year old Bobby Fischer wins the United States Chess Championship
  • January 31 - The first successful American satellite, Explorer I, is launched into orbit
  • February 1 - Egypt and Syria unite to form the United Arab Republic
  • February 17 - Pope Pius XII declares Saint Clare the patron saint of television
  • March 11 - A B-47 bomber accidentally drops an atomic bomb on Mars Bluff, South Carolina. Its conventional explosives destroy a house and injure several people, but no nuclear fission occurs. Oops.
  • March 17 - The United States launches the Vanguard 1 satellite
  • March 27 - Nikita Khrushchev becomes Premier of the Soviet Union
  • April 4 - The daughter of the actress Lana Turner stabs her mother's gangster lover to death out here (this was eventually ruled self-defense)
  • May 13 - During a visit to Caracas, Venezuela, Vice President Nixon's car is attacked by anti-American demonstrators
  • June 1 - Charles De Gaulle is brought out of retirement to lead France by decree for six months
  • July 15 - In Lebanon, 5,000 United States Marines land in the capital Beirut in order to protect the pro-Western government there
  • August 3 - The nuclear powered submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571) became the first vessel to cross the North Pole under water
  • October 4 - BOAC uses the new Comet jet to become the first airline to fly jet passengers across the Atlantic
  • December 9 - The John Birch Society is founded in Newport Beach, California, by Robert Welch, a retired candy manufacturer
  • December 21 - General Charles de Gaulle is elected president of France with 78.5% of the votes

Top movies of the year, in descending order of box office receipts -

  • Touch of Evil
  • Vertigo
  • Thunder Road
  • House on Haunted Hill
  • Nazarin
  • Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
  • Auntie Mame
  • The Barbarian and the Geisha
  • Bell, Book and Candle
  • The Big Country
  • Big Deal on Madonna Street
  • Bonjour Tristesse
  • The Brain from Planet Arous

The top then hits of 1958, in descending order -

  • Tequila - The Champs
  • Johnnie B. Goode - Chuck Berry
  • At the Hop - Danny & the Juniors
  • Get a Job - The Silhouettes
  • Twilight Time - The Platters
  • It's All In the Game - Tommy Edwards
  • Do You Want To Dance - Bobby Freeman
  • Sweet Little Sixteen - Chuck Berry
  • Rockin' Robin - Bobby Day
  • Tears On My Pillow - Little Anthony and the Imperials

And more than thirty thousand Americans were driving Rambler Americans like this one.

1958 Rambler American ad -
A 1958 Rambler American in original condition
A 1958 Rambler American in original condition

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.

[Rambling Around]

Last updated Saturday, March 10, 2007, 10:30 pm Pacific Time

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 - Alan M. Pavlik