Regarding the transmission on that Ambassador:
1) You must mean an I6, since no American car maker made a V6 in 1969-1970.
2) That was only the first or second year AMC bought the TorqueFlite transmission from Chrysler; prior to then, AMC bought Ford's Cruise-O-Matic 3-speed (notable for its first-gear lockout feature for better traction in snow).
My 1965 Ambassador convertible had that Ford unit and it was bullet-proof. Chances are your transmission was a rare defective one.
I admit the Ambassadors are a nice car, but I would rather my dream car a 1975 or 76 AMC Matador Sedan. The Matadors were a nice riding car too, but not with an exhaust falling off 15 times in 2 years... or the shift lever breaking off the steering column since it had the manual tranny. I recommend 6 cylinder AMCs with the Automatic or manuals on the floor if you want a all original car. make sure the exhausts are well hung on AMCs...
I'm surprised at the June 12th comment. The Chrysler 727 automatic is one of the most reliable transmissions ever made. I would be EXTREMELY surprised if a 727 failed under virtually any conditions, including holding it to the boards while doing reverse drops for several hours. If it's good enough for a 426 hemi, it's surely good enough to stand up to your I-6.
FYI - I was a sci-fi fan. The Battlewagon moniker was born of my twisted devotion to Battlestar: Galactica. Battlewagon:Ambassador was born. I even lettered it on the (non-funtional) two-way tailgate.
'Battlewagon' was on in years and I wanted something sportier for my senior year in high school. Dad sold it for $150 to a guy from work who then resold it. Neither one ever changed the title or registration.
I'm sleeping in during summer break (6 months later) - the phone rings...
"Mr SMITH, this is the Bham Police Dept. We've recovered your station wagon. I hate to tell you its been stripped and burned."
It had been found near the old mines in the valley where all stolen Bham cars end up. What anyone would want to strip from it is still a mystery to me?! I nearly cried though. It had a lot of sentimental value, but wasn't worth beans to anybody else. Great memories of first freedom, first drives, first love, you get the picture. (Did you know the front seats lay down nearly flat?)
Several years later I spotted a 'mint' condition 68/69 Ambassador wagon in the employee parking lot of the local NBC affiliate. I still wonder...
Just a few corrections.
First of all, the original poster was correct about the small V8's having a transmission designed originally for the six-cylinder-equipped cars.
I assume by "small V8" the author meant his car was equipped with a 290, 2-bbl engine. The trans that went behind that engine and carb combo was a Borg-Warner, aluminium-case M-40. The M-40 was a slightly beefed up version of the M-37 that was indeed designed for light-duty, 6 cyl cars.
These transmission were plenty reliable if you drove them like an old man. I suspect, however, that the temptation to put his foot in it didn't fit well with the "lot of miles" he said were on the car, and its general age. Plus the fact that few transmission techs these days even know how to properly rebuild them.
Second, June 12 said that the young man's car must have had the Chrysler transmission. AMC did not install Chrysler transmissions until the 72 model year (rather than 73 as a later poster said). The same individual also said that AMC used the Cruise-O-Matic from Ford; however, it's a bit more accurate to say it was the Ford-O-Matic.
June 12 also mentioned his 65 Ambassador's trans as being bullet-proof. Note that all V8 Classics and Ambassadors prior to 1967 got the heavy cast-iron Borg-Warner transmission; rather than the much weaker aluminium version that came with 2-bbl 290/304 AMC cars from 67-71.
Last, May 7 2006 said Ford licensed the design for the B/W trans from AMC. I don't see how that's possible since the trans appeared on the first Ford in 1955 (AMC was still using Packard UltraMatics that year, as I recall), and AMC didn't start using them until 1957.
On the other hand... 12.93 down the strip with a heavy car like an Ambassador??? WOW!
When you're ready to sell the beast, let me know. Rambler@AMCRC.com.
Why yes, it did have the 290-2bbl. We never had to open it. Tune-ups only, a tough and true motor. Didn't leak or burn any fluids.
Re: the transmission - I kept my foot out of it, and of course dad never 'romped' down on it. The terrain is very hilly where we lived and it was a booming community so there was lots of heavy stop-n-go traffic on steep hills. That's what stressed out the transmission. Any other stresses - well, that was was my first car. I wore out the brakes and dad ripped an armrest loose.
Another thing I remember fondly was helping dad change the a/c compressor (before E.P.A. regs) in the drive-way. It was HUGE. One of my teachers had a Subaru BRAT and I remember thinking said that my a/c compressor was bigger than his whole motor.
My 1969 AMC Ambassador SST has 150K miles with a 390 V8, 2 barrel carburetor and still runs smoothly. The transmission is original as is the engine. The paint and vinyl top are still in relatively good condition. The main issue is the gas tank, which may have a slight leak. Gas fumes and some exhaust smell is present.