1969 A.I.R. SC Ramblers


New Member
I am trying to research the 1969 AIR Rambler SCRamblers that raced in the 1969 Baja 500 and have a few questions. AMC provided 10 of these cars to the AIR team, founded in part by James Garner but at this point was owned by John Crean, Sr. The cars were prepared in Hewett, CA by Jim Wright and Bill Rohrbacher and crew chief Buck Hewson. Two of these cars were converted to 4 wheel drive, with the engine set back to clear the front differential, and an automatic transmission replacing the stock 4 speeds.

The cars proved pretty durable except the stress from the beefed up suspension was transmitted directly to the manual steering boxes, which literally broke apart. Three of the eight 2 wheel drive cars did not finish as a result, and a fourth finished after a replacement was found, but past the 30 hour cut-off. The remaining four 2 wheel drive cars finished 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 13th in class.

One 4 wheel drive car finished 4th on class, the other did not finish (but I don't know why. Steering also?)

I have attached the drivers list as I know it, as done during the race. John Crean Sr. and his wife Doona became very sick the day of the race and were replaced by Walker Evans and ?. Some of the racers swapped cars and were not in the ones that had their names on the side.

I am missing the names of 3 racers to match with the cars: both drivers of car #160, and the co-driver of the DNF 4 wheel drive car along with Jim Wright (and there were two Jim Wrights-one was an automobile magazine writer in car #140, the other was a drag racer who helped prepare the cars and was driving #130). I know Hunter Floyd drove one of the cars but do not know which one. I also have the names Rene Leonharde, Eric Dahlquist, and Rick Hickey as possible drivers. Can anyone help?

There was another rambler American that finished 11th on class, 67th overall, driven by "Samida and Henderson". Anyone know anything about these two, or about the car?

This was the last race for the AIR Team, The cars were possibly left at Bill Stroppes shop. Two went to Chafee College, either one 4 wheel drive and one 2 wheel drive, or both 2 wheel drive. One of these was destroyed in a race, the other?. I have a Bob Korf driving one on the 1970 Baja. The remains of one is still in CA, and the 4th place 4 wheel drive car is currently in a Canadian collectors museum (#110). What happened to the rest? Any others still out there?

Any help would be very much appreciated. Thanks


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Well-Known Member
Here are the 6 cars that finished.


Well-Known Member
Wow, John Crean is a legend here in the OC, there is a libuary he and his wife they funded 1/2 mile from my house I have been in and out of off road since the early 70's did not know he was into it.


Well-Known Member
The shop was in Hemet California. Google Maps is your friend.

John Crean wasn't into off road racing in the least bit. The only thing he was ever into was getting richer and thought he saw $$$ here. Jim Garner got tired of his BS and pulled the plug on this effort.

I'm the guy that was responsible for the front suspension on the 2 wheel drive cars. Because we were so short of time to make the race we didn't do a lot of testing. But what we did told us the steering boxes were the weak link. Rodney Hall did all the testing and not only did he put the cars to the test he also was a very good mechanic and understood why all the stress on the steering system was killing the very cheap lightweight AMC steering boxes. I recommended using a steering box from a GM or Ford pickup truck and was quickly dismissed by Bill Rohrbacher and Jim Wright. Rohrbacher was way over his head and had no clue about race cars. Wright was a good guy, but his interest was really only the engines as he was a drag racer. I was told maybe they would look into the beefer pickup steering boxes on down the road, but now we needed to get through the 500. Of course the "road" ended with the 1969 500.

You might contact Willie Stroppe as his Dad disposed of all of the cars. He might be able to help you track down where some of them went? I heard a couple had been converted to short track stock cars in the early 1970s. Other than Carl Jackson's car in Canada they are probably all gone. If they weren't it would be well known where they were I would think.

Troy OTB 1468

New Member
My Dad Dick Hansen drove the Hansen / Crean entered rambler ! but john didn't get in the the car for some reason, I think he got injured . So Crean put his son in as co-driver. My Dad said the cars were awesome on the pavement, but were a handful in the dirt. They lost a steering box somewhere going through the 3 sisters just before puertocitos . they had to wait for a mech. to bring then a new box , but they finished. Ive got a bunch of old pics. of that car. Ive always wanted to get ahold of one of those ramblers and build a replica just really never found a donor car. Pretty cool vintage baja history. sure mis those old days of the run what you brung era !


Well-Known Member
I'd also recommend talking to Carl Jackson - he knows a lot about them too.

Todd Z.

Troy OTB 1468

New Member
hear is some pics that I have


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Well-Known Member
Chaffey College did get 2 cars ,1- 4wheel drive and a 2 wheel drive. The 4wheel drive car was sold to an AMC collector from the Bakersfield Area around 1974. We raced the 2 wheel drive car in several Baja 500s, the last being in 1976. The car was crashed and totaled, just outside of San Felipe when Zoo Road was still FAST and SMOOTH !

Rennsport Group

Well-Known Member
Wow, John Crean is a legend here in the OC, there is a libuary he and his wife they funded 1/2 mile from my house I have been in and out of off road since the early 70's did not know he was into it.

John Crean and John Cummings went out to set the first four-wheel record in a Meyers Manx before the successful attempt made by Bruce Meyers/Ted Mangels. Sadly, Cummings died just two days after reaching La Paz. He and wife Donna Crean entered the inaugural 1967 Mexican 1000 in a Porsche 356-powered Meyers Manx (with custom aluminum body work) that DNF, a car raced by James Garner and sport car racer Scooter Patrick in the 1968 NORRA Stardust 7-11. I was honored enough to help restore that car for the current owners several years ago....


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these are pictures of the dash of the 2 WD car we raced on the 80s


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Found this pictures of Bill Stroppe shop a few years ago.


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