Thumping good '56 Rambler

Inboard headlamps are just one of the '56 Rambler's distinctive styling cues.
   The owner of this 1956 Rambler Custom spends most of his day driving a a more modern Skoda Octavia Combi taxi cab.
   But that doesn't diminish his affection for the great grey-blue tank that carries him to and from his job.
   "That's mine – good car!" he announces after seeing me photographing the Rambler outside Juan Gualberto Gómez Airport near Matanzas.
   He opens the hood to reveal a four-cylinder Volga gasolina engine in place of the Rambler's original 200-cubic-inch Nash inline six-cylinder. At a steady 60 km/h, he says, the Volga-equipped Custom delivers seven or eight kilometres per litre – that's 17 to 19 miles per U.S. gallon or 20 to 23 per Imperial gallon.
   With its flat flanks, "basket handle" rear roof treatment and inboard-mounted headlamps, a cue from its Nash predecessor, the Rambler is distinctive. Not pretty, but distinctive. And this one is a solid example. Its panels are straight and most of its trim is in place. The owner tells me he has the chrome upper grille bezel at home and will be putting it back on.
   He knows the car is solid. He thumps the hood of a Skoda taxi parked in the next slot – not his Skoda taxi – and then strikes the Rambler's fender, watching to make sure I register the difference in tone.
   "Good car!" he repeats, and we both smile.

Basket handle is said to have inspired the rear roofline design.

Dash suggests this Custom originally had a much brighter exterior colour.

Missing chrome grille moulding will be reinstalled.

Four-cylinder gas engine came from a Russian-built Volga.

The Custom's proud custodian.


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