Restyled with flared fins in the rear and a lower, wider grille, the standard 1958 Rambler measures a shade over 191 inches in length. That makes it about 1½ feet shorter than the Chevvy and the longest Ford, and AM naturally trumpets the obvious advantages in parking and garaging it. Inside it is no less roomy, says AM, than its competitors. The Rambler, and all AM models, are again of one-unit body-frame construction, and they are now dipped in a giant paint bath before final assembly to reduce the risk of water penetration and rusting.
Rambler engines have been stepped up a bit in horsepower: the 195-cu.-in. six from 125 to 127 and the 250-cu.-in. V-8 from 190 to 215. In spite of the boost, say the engineers, greater fuel economy than in 1957 will be possible because of higher compression ratios and revised carburetion. Dashboard instruments have been relocated for greater visibility. A new push-button system has been developed for automatic transmissions. Reclining seats again may be lowered to form beds.
Little different from the Rambler except in size and power, the 1958 Ambassador is slightly over 200 inches long. It is equipped with a front sway bar to improve handling. Horsepower of the 327-cu.-in. V-8 is increased to 270 (from 255 for the old Nash and Hudson) by a higher compression ratio and a new four-barrel carburetor. Both Rambler and Ambassador incorporate a new internal transmission shifting system operated by vacuum control rather than mechanical linkage, as well as a step-on emergency brake. A new Ambassador station wagon bows.
Studebaker-Packard, heartened by the brisk sales of its economy model, the Scotsman, will push it vigorously this season. But unlike American Motors, S-P will continue to offer a wide variety of choices and will, of course, still distribute Germany's Mercedes-Benz cars through its dealers. President Harold Churchill promises to introduce another smaller car later, and the guessing is that it will be the German Goggomobil.
Sportiest cars of the S-P line are the Hawks, joined now by a Packard Hawk. Both the Packard and the Studebaker Golden Hawk have the supercharged, 289-cu.-in., 275-hp V-8 that was new last season. Studebaker's nonsuper-charged Silver Hawk V-8 develops 210 hp (225 with a power kit), and the Silver Hawk Six, displacing 185 cu. in., 101 hp. They are all built on a 120-inch wheelbase; the Packard, at 205 inches, is an inch longer than the Studebakers. An exception to the industry trend is the fitting of a pair of single headlights on the Packard. Studebaker Champions and Scotsmen, too, have single headlights, but the dual lamps are available.
In its conventional models S-P has dropped the roof line substantially, in keeping with the industry's low-profile trend, but is making no attempt to outdo the Big Three in length and girth. The low-priced Scotsman (a de-chromed Champion) is a little over 202 inches long: the luxury President just four inches longer. All Studebaker sedans and station wagons are 75.8 inches wide. The new bodies are noticeably, but not drastically, different from the 1957s, especially in front, where the headlight assembly protrudes sharply. Horsepower, ranging from 101 for the 185-cu.-in. six to 225 for the 289-cu.-in. V-8, is the same as last season's. S-P points with pride to an improved suspension system whose variable-rate springing adapts itself to road conditions and passenger loading.
In December, S-P will introduce a new Packard sedan that is said to be especially handsome, and later this month new hardtops in the President and Commander series.
Churchill, like AM's Romney, insists that he will be using black ink exclusively in the ledger next year.