If someone asked how cars and the name Romney are related, many people these days would connect the dots between the former Presidential candidate and his rooftop-riding dog, Seamus. Long before that episode, Mitt’s father, George, was deeply involved with cars. He was the chief executive who turned a shaky merger between a refrigerator company and Hudson Motor Cars into a successful venture: American Motors.
George Romney, the auto exec-cum-politician, was worth millions, but he drove an everyman car. Known as the Dinosaur Hunter for his attacks on the superfluousness of the Big Three, Romney became a champion of smaller, more efficient cars. One of the cars he drove around after relinquishing A.M.C.’s helm was a modest 1964 Rambler Classic coupe, the embodiment of his at-the-time revolutionary bent toward efficiency. It wasn’t even the top-of-the-line model.
The white two-door is still around, in excellent shape, and it has popped up on eBay in a no-reserve auction. Its current owner said that George Romney donated his Rambler (along with the original registration documents) to Chrysler in his later years, probably in hopes that the car would stay ensconced in their museum collection for all time. Chrysler’s bankruptcy scuttled that idea, and all sorts of interesting things — including Romney’s car — were jettisoned to keep the mother ship afloat.
In addition to admitting his admiration for both Romneys — particularly the elder one — the man selling the car, Josh Ackerman of California, said that his first car also happened to be a ’64 Rambler. So when he found this one at an auction in Northern California, he jumped on it.
“I only bought the car so that it wouldn’t be ‘lost,’” he said in an e-mail. “The seller wasn’t looking to make money, just sell the car, and I didn’t want the car to land into the wrong hands of someone who would treat it like just another old car.”
He’s pretty particular about who will buy the car from him, too, and appears to be vetting potential buyers to make sure the car remains in its current pristine shape for a while longer.