About Us 2017-08-19T18:17:32+00:00

Northern Ramblers Car Club – About Us

Promoting the “spirit” of the American Motors Corporation family of cars from 1902-1988

President’s Letter, June 2017

As I write this, September is approaching fast as we near the end of another cruise season. This year’s Rambler-Rama attracted 61 cars (58 registered) which was excellent considering the fact that we had to move the Event forward 2 weeks so as not to conflict with the big AMO annual Show in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. The weather was great and a good time was had by all. I must apologize to a mistake made in the determination of class winners in class numbers 10 and 11. Unfortunately the voting forms had different vehicle groupings from what was on the trophy plaques leaving us scrambling to make some sense of things at the last minute. We did our best to use our judgement to come up with the winners, in as fair a way as possible, and the mistake has been corrected for next year’s Event.

Our Club also attended the ‘Gathering of the Classics’ combined antique aircraft and classic car show at the Edenvale Aerodrome on August 13th (as ‘Ramblers on the Runway’). A total of 14 AMCs were there, including 10 Club members. I will supply Editor Chris with a full feature article highlighting the Event in the November/December Newsletter.

In the past, when we publish the year-end financial report, I have had questions asked as to why we show a balance of about $10,000 when we are a non-profit organization. One reason is that (say) you just renewed your membership for 2 years, that means that we must set aside the money for 12 Newsletters at roughly $5 apiece or $60. When you do the math and total up how many future Newsletters we ‘owe’ for each member the amount comes up to about $6,000. On top of this, we need, in today’s ‘sue happy’ world, to purchase liability insurance for the Club which amounts to just over $800 per year, and we also need to reserve funds to re-stock the store and make sure that we can ‘survive’ a money losing washout should the weather not cooperate on Rambler-Rama day. Aside from this we do our best to contain costs to keep your membership costs as low as possible.

And lastly, but most importantly, we urgently need someone to step forward as our new President as of April 1st of next year. I have had many members say ‘oh Steve we know that you will extend’. The answer to this is 100% no. Without a leader at the helm who will call and run the Executive Meetings, and ensure that all action items are followed up on, including next year’s Rambler-Rama?

As I mentioned in the last Newsletter, this decision was simply due to my need to devote more time to volunteer activities, travel, my antique clock repair hobby, as well as to spend more time with my grandchildren. I have enjoyed my 15 year run on the Executive Team, first as Editor, then as President, but it is now time, at the age of 66 (by then 67), to move on. In short, other things in my life have simply overtaken my passion for classic cars. Should you have an interest please call me at 905-939-8050. Believe me, the role can be very enjoyable and rewarding, and we need someone to step up soon. Although, as mentioned, I will not extend beyond March 31st 2018, I will, of course, continue to help the Club in various non-Executive ways, and will help the new President ‘learn the ropes’. In conclusion, I would like to thank all members who have supported me in the role as President, and I wish the Club success in the years to come.

Best regards, Steve Johnston.
Club President

President’s Duties:

  • Schedule, and preside over, quarterly Club Executive Meetings and ensure that these meetings address specific Club issues in a responsible manner.
  • Ensure that the Minutes from Club Executive Meetings, issued by the Secretary, properly reflect the items and issues discussed and acted upon.
  • Organize and oversee all aspects of the annual Club Executive Meeting.
  • Organize and oversee all aspects of the annual Rambler-Rama cruise event, plus other Club associated events such as Ramblers on the Runway.
  • Submit a “President’s Letter” for publication in each Edition of AM Spirit.
  • Act as an ambassador, developing interest and support of the Club and leverage relationships for sponsorships in the Club and, in particular the annual Rambler-Rama Show.

About Us – A Little History

Northern Ramblers Car Club Inc. was established in 1979.

A Look Back; a Short History of the Northern Ramblers Car Club

In 1979, American Motors Corporation was having its difficulties, as were most car manufacturers, but posted record breaking profits for the year. The Gremlin had been replaced by the Spirit this year and the Matador was now discontinued, but one could walk into an AMC dealership and order a 304 powered Spirit based AMX or Pacer, or perhaps a new Concord, which had replaced the Hornet for 1978. All cars came with a new “3-year corrosion warranty” (which is still an industry standard today). Those “in the know” were excited to see how the rumored AWD Eagles, a Concord with Jeep underpinnings, would change AMC fortunes in 1980.

Building French cars was in the future, and the original two-seater AMX was a neglected memory, treated with disdain (as were most “gas guzzling muscle cars”) by most in the emerging era of the four cylinder front wheel drive car. But six or seven Canadian die-hard enthusiasts, tied together by the common bond of recognizing and appreciating the inherent value of the AMX, decided that the time was right to form a club for people who shared their enthusiasm for the car. They had no idea that 25 years later, what they had started would still be going strong with 200 members, devoted to the preservation of the entire marque, spread across Canada.

Club Founders The idea came up after the club founders attended the 1978 Classic AMX Club (founded by Larry Mitchell) international convention in Kenosha, Wisconsin . Founding members Harm and Barb van der Veen (first president), Ken Perrier, Roy Hopkins, Jim Battelle (first secretary/treasurer), and John Workman formed the Classic AMX Club of Central Canada, affiliated with the AMX Club International and devoted solely to the two seater car [note; most of these original members are still members of the NRCC today]. The yearly dues were $12, and the first newsletters were 3 pages double-sided, done up by Barb Vanderveen on a typewriter (wow!) While she worked at home raising her young family.

Ray Pugh (from Baltimore), John Workman, Deb Workman, Barb van der Veen, Harm van der Veen

The picture at right was taken on the way back from that first Kenosha trip; from left to right, Ray Pugh (from Baltimore ), John Workman, Deb Workman, Barb van der Veen and Harm van der Veen.

Eventually the logistics of having a two-seater car with a young family, as well as interest from owners of Javelins and other AMC cars, made the need for a club devoted to cars other than the AMX evident to the van der Veens. In 1983, the Northern Ramblers Car Club was formed to meet this need. Barb and Harm traded in their AMX for an SC/Rambler (now owned by Jeff Spratt; see July/August “03 AM Spirit).

On the way back from that first Kenosha trip; from left to right, Ray Pugh (from Baltimore ),
John Workman, Deb Workman, Barb van der Veen and Harm van der Veen.
By the end of 1983, the newly-formed Northern Ramblers had just 10 members, but they were a solid and involved core group. At the Motion 1984 Car show at Exhibition Place in Toronto , the club display showed 4 cars, and took home an award for the 3rd best club display–out of 15 clubs!

The newsletter met the needs of both AMC clubs, and was called “Xs and Os” (for “AMXs” and “Others”?). During the decade that followed, American Motors met its demise at the hands of Chrysler shareholders and executive, and the last AMC made (an Eagle wagon) would come out of the Brampton, Ontario plant in December, 1987. But the two clubs would continue to grow simultaneously until 1994, with a combined membership now up to 127. The clubs were still separate, but due to resource-sharing, finances and management were some what intertwined. In a move to end duplication and ensure the longevity of a club for AMC owners, in early 1994 the two clubs were amalgamated, and took the name we”re familiar with today.

The first president of the newly amalgamated club was Michael McNiece. Norbert Axtmann edited the newsletter (now called, simply, AM Spirit), with technical assistance from Ken Parkman and Dave Baker. Other board members included Kathy Axtmann and Steve Paulitzki. It”s interesting to note that most of this executive board are still members as well!

Membership continued to grow after the amalgamation. Other than a brief bit of political rough water surrounding the AMO and the National convention (held in London in 1995), the club would continue to grow and improve unabated. We now have roughly 200 members nationwide (with a few from the United States ), and the legacy of those who paved the way is a well-established club with a very strong foundation and the rest, as they say, is history!

A meeting at the home of Brian Lewis in 1981. Barb van der Veen (with back to the camera),

Rod Marler (?), Dave and Cindy Chapman (seated on picnic table), Ken Perrier directly behind them, Gary Freelen – standing and the van der Veen”s eldest (and then only) son, Sye, in the AMC red, white, and blue top