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Suzy Bauter Brings Her 1963 Rambler Wagon to the 2017 Spectre SEMA Booth

Click the image to see an interview with owner and builder of the Rambler, Suzy Bauter

Click the image to see an interview with owner and builder of the Rambler, Suzy Bauter

If in addition to “Spell Check” there was a program that determined whether the words in a sentence actually fit together it would definitely spit out “Rambler-Station Wagon-Pro Touring-Autocross.” But that hasn't stopped Suzy Bauter from turning what she thought would be a daily driver into the meanest Rambler that’s ever annihilated a cone.

Starting with a solid, straight 1963 Rambler American 440 Station Wagon, complete with engine in the back of the wagon, Suzy started by having the flathead 6 rebuilt. With all of 130 horsepower and a three-on-the-tree gearbox, Suzy took the Rambler out to autocross with her husband and ace autocrosser Rodney Prouty. Rodney, by the way, is well-known for killing cones in his “Plain Jane” 1968 Camaro.

So Suzy’s Plan A wasn’t working, so it was time to move to Plan B.

The intake assembly was pieced together from components available in the Spectre catalog

Easily spotted are the Spectre intake components that easily fit within the confines under the hood

That involved gutting the car, re-positioning the car on the frame (more in a minute), replacing the front end with a first generation Camaro subframe and the rear suspension with a full IRS from a fifth-generation Camaro, then stuffing an LS V8 under the hood, a full seven inches rearward from stock. Oh, and they did all of this by themselves in their two-car garage.

The Camaro front clip is supplemented by Global West upper control arms and Detroit Speeds lower control arms.

By 1963 parent company AMC, was holding on for dear life. They tried to squeeze as many models out of common components as possible, which is how Suzy ended up with a wagon with a 99-inch wheelbase but 100-inches between wheel well centers. As the plan was to flare the fenders to the extreme, that inch would cause problems. So the wheelbase was stretched to match the car.

The flares are steel with smoothing achieved with a professional body shop filler

The Flair Witch Project was completed inside the Bauter-Prouty family garage

Under the hood, the 5.3L LM7 V8 currently produces around 360 horsepower with its Edelbrock carb conversion, but it sounds like Suzy might be expecting a supercharger under the Christmas tree. Other mods include a Spectre fuel rail, fuel regulator, and crankcase breather. According to Suzy “there are no aftermarket parts available for a 1963 Rambler” so thankfully Spectre offers a wide range of intake components to custom-assemble a high-flow system. The LS is backed by a 700R4 with a TCI valve body, driving back to a fifth-generation Camaro differential.

While under the car, the couple installed 14-inch rotors and six-piston Baer Pro+ 6P brakes with 18x11 wheels from US Mags, fitted with P315/30ZR18 BFGs all around. Perhaps the most trick system on the car is the cutting-edge Viking Berserker ASM (Active Shock Management). It’s an intelligent system that collects data from yaw-rate to steering wheel position through a battalion of sensors and adjusts the damper valving up to 1000 times per second. All variables are adjustable through a laptop-based program, so the tuning can be adjusted for almost every handling state between runs, if needed.

The ginormous fender flares were formed and fitted in the Bauter-Prouty family garage as well, earning the nickname of the “Flare Witch Project” around the garage for the amount of toil required to get them fitted and blended properly. While all the cursing was going on in the garage, Suzy was inside sewing all new seat covers and carpets.

The interior also includes a harness bar from which to hang the shoulder straps

Suzy herself stitched the interior including seat covers and floor mats

The only work not completed inside the Bauter-Prouty garage was paint and final bodywork by Best of Show Coachworks in Escondido, California. Suzy gives high marks to the caliber of the work at Best of Show: “It was never supposed to be a pretty race car but it sure is now.”

Ask about their relationship Spectre, Suzy replied “We been loyal to Spectre for years. They supported us on our Camaro build and have become good industry friends.”

We’d love to report on how the gonzo ‘63 Ramb-aro faired in its first autocross, but that event is still to come. Suzy and Rodney had committed to having the beast on display in the Spectre Booth Number 22755 at the 2017 SEMA Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.


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