CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 16, 2001) – Many Americans take every opportunity these days to fly their flag, but how many are lucky enough to drive one? Kenny Robinson of Concord will certainly get the patriotic vote when he displays his red-white-and-blue two-door sedan during the GoodGuys Southeastern Rod & Custom Nationals presented by A Sani-Can on Oct. 26-28 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
The car, a 1964 Rambler American 440, wasn’t always decked out in the colors of Old Glory, nor was the long-forgotten American Motors Corporation product of particular interest to Robinson initially.
“When I first saw the Rambler,” Robinson remembers, “it was an unappealing shade of green. My father has always loved Ramblers and wanted to buy it when we saw it at a car show in Myrtle Beach. Rather than let my father buy one more old car, I thought I’d save him a trip to the dog house and get it myself.”
The little American’s smartly styled body – a fresh design when it hit the showrooms in ’64 – had been matched up with a 125-horsepower workhorse six-cylinder upon leaving the Kenosha, Wis., factory. By the time it reached Robinson’s garage, however, the sturdy AMC six had been replaced with a more powerful Chevrolet V-8 displacing 305 cubic inches and producing around 180 horsepower.
“The car only weighs about 2,600 pounds,” Robinson said. “Putting a V-8 in made it a little hot rod that is easy to drive and doesn’t cost a lot to maintain.”
Robinson elected to retain the stock Rambler interior, including the notorious “lay down” front seat configuration Nash originally advertised as perfect for overnight trips but history records as being of more interest to hormonally charged teenagers of the ’50s and ’60s.
After a year and a half of restoring the car, Robinson was ready to choose an exterior color; the “American” part of the Rambler’s name suggested he cover it with three different, but very significant, hues.
“Craig Breedlove and other drivers raced AMC products in the late ’60s that were painted red, white and blue in this same pattern,” Robinson remembers. “I don’t know exactly what made me do it, but I decided to imitate the paint scheme on those cars.
“My father and I carefully measured three big areas, taped everything off, then sprayed the paint. Once we got a good look at the finished car, we felt like the white portion dominated, so we extended the red another three or four inches. It wasn’t very scientific – we just eyeballed it.”
Robinson’s all-American Rambler is just one of 3,500 modified and custom cars expected to be on display during the three-day GoodGuys Southeastern Rod & Custom Nationals at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.
General admission for the GoodGuys Southeastern Rod & Custom Nationals presented by A Sani-Can is $12, with children aged 7-12 admitted for $6. Children 6 and under are admitted free. Parking is $5. Event hours are Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, contact Lowe’s Motor Speedway at (704) 455-3205.