The 1968 model year Rebels were introduced on September 26, 1967, and were no longer a Rambler in name. The mid-sized models were now the AMC Rebel, but little was changed except for the safety features and the availability of the 315 hp (235 kW; 319 PS) 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 option. For ten years AMC "strictly observed the auto industry's anti-racing resolution" but management has changed and the AMC Rebel began to be campaigned on the dragstrips. The top-of-the-line model SST came standard with the 290 cu in (4.8 L) "Typhoon" V8, while all the other models were available with the 232 cu in (3.8 L) I6 engine.
The 1968 models were treated to a modest restyle of the trim, grille, and taillamps. New mandates by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) standards for all passenger cars sold in America for 1968 were incorporated. Among the new safety equipment were a separate shoulder harness for the front seat belts, lighted side marker lights on the front quarter panels just above the wrap around bumper, along with new 3-piece tail lights, front seat headrests, more interior padding, and elimination of bright interior trim. American Motors did not wait for the requirements to cars delivered to dealers after December 31, 1967, but incorporated the safety features starting with the early 1968 model year cars produced in late 1967. Other requirements caused increases to the price of all cars manufactured after January 1, 1968, including exhaust control systems to help reduce unburned hydrocarbon and carbon monoxide emissions.
A new AMC safety and styling feature was also introduced on the 1968 Rebels; the flush-mounted paddle-style door handles. These replaced the former push-button design and become an enduring AMC signature on its passenger vehicles through 1988.
Also new for 1968 was the Rebel 550 Convertible, the last AMC convertible, which replaced the American. The 550 was the base level convertible as the top trim version moved from 770 to the SST model joining the two-door hardtop. The two SST body styles featured more trim and features that included individually adjustable and reclining front seats, as well as simulated air-intakes ahead of the rear wheels. The interiors of AMC's Rebel made extensive use of a new olefin fiber carpeting.
American Motors changed its advertising agency to Wells, Rich, and Greene, which was headed by Mary Wells Lawrence. The automaker wanted to attract the highly individualistic, "non-average buyer".
The new agency established innovative campaigns and promotions for AMC that emphasized value for the money in direct comparisons to the competition showing "elegantly coifed beauties swooping from swank settings into modest AMC Rebels just as contentedly as if the cars were Continentals. Meanwhile, an off-camera voice proclaims: 'Either we're charging too little for our cars or everyone else is charging too much.'" The advertising was highly controversial because it violated the accepted rule of not attacking the competition. This marketing was successful in bringing AMC back to the firm's economy and practical-car roots in customers' minds, which resulted in higher sales.
Source: Wikipedia, 2012