Kenosha’s Wildest Ride Stakes a Claim in the Northeast
Kenosha’s wildest ride stakes a claim in the Northeast
Leave it to the maniacal minds at Kenosha’s American Motors Corporation to take a frumpy Rambler family sedan and turn it into a lean, mean, street-fightin’ machine: the AMC Hurst SC/Rambler. AMC’s bid to play with the Big Three in 1969 was arguably the gutsiest move of the muscle car era, and the boys in Kenosha did it by simply following the basic muscle car formula that had been forged years earlier by its competitors in the Motor City.
By taking the lightweight, base-model Rambler, infusing it with its biggest and hottest motor to date, and throwing in a four-speed rowed with a T-handle Hurst shifter for good measure, AMC created a car sporting one hell of a punch where it counts. Throw in some wild paint schemes and a price well below the cost of the other bargain-basement brawlers, and you had a recipe for success, or at least a shot at some pretty low e.t.’s!
Pushing out 1 hp for every 10.19 pounds of car, the AMC Hurst SC/Rambler had one of the highest horsepower-to-weight ratios of its era. This would help propel the radically handsome little box through the traps at times usually only obtained by big-block muscle monsters built by the Big Three.
If you are a loyal MCR reader, Chuck Fisher’s name will probably sound familiar. He’s a dyed-in-the-wool muscle car fanatic whose cars have been featured in several of our issues. Though he has a sizeable hoard of original cars, by no means is he a hoarder. His cars are not put up and pampered; he drives them often and enjoys them for what they were built for: running them out on the streets hard and leaving a black-streaked calling card on a regular basis.
Like all Chuck’s cars, this one has a tale to tell. The story starts in 1969, when Steven Posick (Sam to his friends) and his buddy Frank Lucuk walked into Stahls’ AMC dealership in Derby, Connecticut. They both planned to buy a hot new AMC offering that day and were ready to lay down some cash.
They spotted a pair of beauties sitting side by side: a Big Bad Green 390 Javelin and a SC/Rambler. Frank stepped up first and took the Javelin, which left the boxy little SC/Rambler for Sam.
Sam brought it to his repair shop, Steven Posick Motor Sales, to prep it for quarter-mile duty. He had already campaigned pretty much everything Detroit had offered up to this time, and had recently run a 390 Javelin from Stahls’ on local tracks like Dover (Connecticut) Dragway and New York National Speedway.
The first thing Sam did was remove the motor and send it to S&K Speed in Long Island, New York, to get a dose of power.
In the meantime, the already race-proven, S&K-built 390 out of Sam’s Javelin was installed in the SC/Rambler. A set of 4.11 gears went out back, along with a set of slicks mounted on Cragar rims. The final touch was adding the lettering on the side, which featured Stahls’ AMC as its main sponsor.
Within weeks the car was pulling off consistent 12-second quarters. The turnover was so fast that even the original dealer sales invoice was still attached in the window. A short time later the SC/Rambler’s original engine came back from S&K and was put into Sam’s Javelin. Soon they were both back hitting the track hard, and under Sam’s care they both did pretty well.
The owner/driver was known locally as a wild man, both on and off the track, and it was not uncommon to see either car street racing. He certainly wasn’t shy about getting into it at high speeds on the local roads. He became a sort of local celebrity in his brash AMCs.
Sam had other drivers in his circle of friends, so on weekends the two Stahls’ cars would hit different tracks in the area. His pair of AMC aces was always fast and competitive, and always seemed to place well. However, by 1972 he was growing tired of the runaround. He decided to respray both cars back to their original paint schemes and sold them through his body shop, the SC/Rambler let go with its built-up race engine and running gear still intact.
The Javelin disappeared, never to surface again. But the SC/Rambler stayed in the Connecticut area and close to Chuck Fisher’s home. It was sold to a local fellow who used it as transportation for years, driving it daily and parking it outside in the inhospitable New England winters. It was practically a landmark in the area, as the owner parked the brightly painted sedan where it was visible for all to see.
The weather and constant driving in the salty winter months took a toll on the car. However, in 1990 the car’s fortunes improved. Chuck’s good friend Jim Wisneski spied an advertisement for a 1969 Rambler SC in the local want ads for $1,500. He knew the history of the SC/Rambler and wanted to save it, so he grabbed a fistful of Benjamins and headed over with his tow truck.
Jim soon was learning the ways of a true hot rod junky. Interestingly enough, he was employed by Sam himself as a muscle car mechanic, so he knew the history of this wild ride firsthand. Another interesting twist to the story was that the last owner of the SC/Rambler had stored the car in the lot adjacent to Stahls’ new dealership location in town.
After getting the car for just $900, Jim tore into a rotisserie restoration, taking the car down to the core. He soon found
out that even after all these years and miles, the engine was still as S&K built it. It needed just a freshening with new rings, bearings, and a valve job to get it up to snuff. They kept the enormous solid-lifter cam in place, as it brought an evil, lopey grunt to this particular 390. Since there were no AMC reproduction parts at the time, Jim bought a six-cylinder Rambler parts car and used its near-mint black vinyl interior to replace the ravaged original charcoal gray interior in the SC/Rambler, though the SC/Rambler’s distinctive red, white, and blue headrests stayed in the car. Now the AMC was a stunner. Though it was not a 100-point restoration, it made the car once again complete and ready to show and go.
“The SC/Rambler had one of the highest horsepower-to-weight ratios of its era”
After two decades of Jim’s ownership, Chuck took the SC/Rambler off of his good buddy’s hands. The 20-year-old restoration was showing its age, so Chuck cleaned up some of the car’s issues. He decided to keep the black interior because it was part of this particular AMC’s backstory, and Chuck likes to keep modifications intact on his street and race cars. To bring it back to day-two status, he decided not only to install a set of Cragars like it had back in the day but also to letter the car to look like it did when it ran on the Northeast’s raceways. Good friend Scott Bowden grabbed his brushes along with a few vintage pics of the car and worked his magic, repeating history once again.
Now a local legend is reborn and back in full race regalia. Knowing Chuck, this car will not sit idle. He is putting it through the paces and keeping it up to spec; that hopped-up 390 is ready to perform when the urge hits him. Thanks to him, another classic muscle car is being saved for future generations to ogle over and drive.
n There were 1,512 SC/Ramblers built in two different paint schemes. The more prominent A scheme (shown here) featured red on the flanks over the white base, while the B scheme was more sedate: just red and blue rocker stripes on the white base car. They both featured the wild “induction” graphics on the hood. n The SC/Rambler’s 390 was rebuilt by S&K Speed in Long Island, New York, back in 1969. No one knows for sure if this is the car’s original engine or the one taken from owner Steven Posick’s 1968 Javelin. The lack of VIN stampings on AMC’s blocks makes it difficult to identify original powerplants. Nevertheless, this is a real-deal 390 built with the quarter-mile in mind. The paint in the engine bay is original.
Steven “Sam” Posick, the original owner of Chuck Fisher’s SC/Rambler, bought the car new from Stahls’ AMC in Connecticut. It, as well as his earlier race car, a 1968 Javelin, were sponsored by the dealership while they terrorized the Northeast’s dragstrips through the early 1970s.
n Once new owner Chuck Fisher got his hands on the SC/Rambler, he knew this ride would get a set of original Cragar SS wheels just like it ran back in its days as a racer. These tires have been with the car for the last 20-plus years. The front skinnies are Shell tires; yes,Shell sold tires back in the day!n
Wisneski didn’t like the throw of the original Hurst T-handle shifter, so he bought an aftermarket one and installed it in the car. He did try to bend the Hurst more to his liking, putting a torch to the lower end of the shaft. It didn’t work, but the OE piece is still with the car.
n When the car was stripped down for a restoration in 1990, the original charcoal vinyl interior was in poor shape. Then-owner Jim Wisneski replaced the seats and door panels with pieces salvaged from a mint condition Rambler he bought for parts. Fortunately he was smart enough to reuse the SC/Rambleronly headrests.