Jason Neuman’s 1965 Marlin

Great article written by our very own Jason Neuman for his Marlin club newsletter, It is great to see a Marlin at shows and double that by someone much younger than your standard “Car Show Guy” Enjoy the read and when you attend one of our shows you can check the car out in person. Jason typically brings his wife Danny and their daughter Mikenzie along to shows so come find us and say hello! – Dave Goodwin

Article below written by owner Jason Neuman

About 4 and half years ago I bought my Marlin. I no longer needed a personal car due to a company provided vehicle. I wanted to take on an old project car. I would say I grew up liking old cars and maybe the looks of older stuff. Colors and simplicity of it was appealing. Probably also because as I kid I grew up watching all the old Disney Herbie movies, Dukes of Hazard and the Back to the Future trilogy a lot. All had vintage cars in them. My parents never tinkered with or had anything automotive really, so the Marlin was my own doing. I was not really interested in what my parents were into.

My generation during my high school and into early collage days were fast imports especially Honda’s. I’d say I’m part of the Fast and Furious culture. My first car was an 89 Acura Integra which was about the choice for someone my age and price. I did have interest in a 72 Cutlass for my first car but was talked out of it for reliability reasons and no knowledge of how to maintain it. After the Acura I tried to go a bit different and owned a few Volkswagen’s and tried to make a little faster and louder of course. I did have a friend in high school who had a second gen Nova I rode in a few times and thought the thing was really cool. I liked that it had roll down windows in the back being a 2 door. Fast forward to right before I found my Marlin. I’ve been in the car biz a while and learned a few things on the mechanic side and tricks to recondition a car like detailing, minor body repair, the power of spray paint. So, when I wanted to maybe buy an old car I ran the idea to my wife Danny. She has supported this idea a long time to maybe sell off my current driver and maybe find an old project car, I started looking online a bit. I was actually sad to sell my 00 Saab 9-5 Aero that I really enjoyed driving but was ready to get an old car and keep me a little busy fixing it up. Well I said around $4k and see what I can get for that. Mid 60s to early 70s era with a stick and probably not the most popular choices like a Mustang or Camaro. That was about the search perimeter. I was almost considering a Porche 914. As you can read I like the European stuff too. I knew choices were limited with my budget though.

Well I was on eBay one day and stumbled upon something called an AMC Marlin. It has a pretty big V8 engine, twin stick, which I never heard of and thought that was unique. It was also a cool fast back shape and its interior still had that 50’s early 60’s look with all the nice chrome. I think the start bid was $2800. Advertised all original rare option package runs and drives or something like that. I was very concerned with buying a rust bucket so seeing that it was in AZ made me feel better. I was really intrigued on this car. I researched its history, pictures, parts availability and what they are worth. Did find also it was 1 of 299 made with my power plant. I think that’s when I came across the Marlin Club website too which was very helpful. From the online posting and even speaking with the seller I thought I maybe buying a car that maybe needed some minor mechanical, respray on the outside and maybe some patches to address on the seats but can at least enjoy a bit while fixing her up. Well that sure was not what I got when it rolled up on a truck from AZ to Orlando FL. I was working when my Marlin arrived at the house and my wife and her brother were there to see it for the first time. They actually had to help drag it off the back of the trailer it came on with her Kia Sportage. Battery had no charge and carb wasn’t helping to stay running. Well at the end of the day it was not an all original 1965 Marlin and it wasn’t even close to a driver. It was close to a complete car with the 1966 front end which I didn’t know and was repainted in different color than original. It seems the car was left for dead about 20 years and decided to sell off. The little bit of paperwork I got with it traced it to living in HI in the 80’s to early 90s and then New Mexico. Last registration was also from then too.

As much of a wreck it was, and the reaction friends and family gave off, I still was happy with it. So, the work began. The wiring was all toast, the engine was puffing smoke out the oil cap, seats and dash were cracked, and the foam was powder. Some pitted chrome, suspension all needed rebuild and all the rubber needed replacement. The list went on. I can say I didn’t have a rust issue to address just everything else. I never had ambitions to fully restore my car just wanted to clean it up to enjoy. Everything I did want to do would be by me hopefully performing myself, with friends’ or by trial in error.

I bought the tech manual and used that as my main guide to start pulling parts off and cleaning them, repainting them or replacing all at my house so far. After getting the fuel system gone through, replacing the carburetor with a new one and a battery I wanted to at least drive it around the block. Well after realizing some wires were disconnected in places, cut in others I had no working lights except the reverse lights. Took 2 mechanic buddies new electronic ignition to get rid of points and everything else ignition related newly replaced we hit a wall to get it to turn over. Well a few days of trouble shooting later traced it to one of those dangling wires was disconnected for a reason. A non-working twin stick was grounding out the ignition. After that, I got my maiden voyage with my wife around the block and it was exciting. I knew after driving that it was not safe to go any farther than that.

Around this same time, I got the call for a job transfer. We were moving to Memphis TN. By then, I had the car 3 -4 months or so. I knew it was coming with us to continue my efforts and knowing I was upside down on it as well. Got it shipped to our new home and once settled back to work on it. Only now I may have to increase my work to get done on it because we have a baby on the way. Not knowing better, I had arranged to get one of my new coworkers in Memphis (still with same company and car business) to do some body work and paint. I was able to help him which I was happy to do. I wanted to learn some new skills and save money. Should have finished the mechanical parts first I feel before paint though because this process took forever, and time was ticking away to get it done. Long story short part of the way through he was not able to finish the job and I just made the choice to get it home and do it there with my novice skills. It was already striped of all the trim bumpers doors and some body work was done. The metal is good on the car other than some previous damage found on driver’s side and the rockers were very bad. I decided to go badge less and no trim around wheel wheels and rockers. I really got my practice there to clean up and make straight. I tried my best to match an original Silver that Marlin’s had and kept the top black. It came out pretty good other than Silver would need to be resprayed later to look more professional. Right about that time we had a new little girl named Mikenzie at the house.

On to the mechanical parts again, my mechanic buddies and I concluded the engine will need to be pulled and rebuilt. Another fellow Marlin owner up there I met through work luckily told me where to go. Same place he took his Marlin. Come to find out the car smoked when running was because every piston ring was broken, and the pistons will not hold the rings anymore. Got nice replacement pistons from Kanter in NJ and had the engine gone through, heads redone, which included new valves and springs. The cam was redone by a local performance shop and flywheel, clutch components all resurfaced or replaced.

Once the engine went back in it was time to do the brakes, suspension, steering components and anything left on the underside. I lucked out again and the shop my company recons cars had some down time and a few friends there suggested bringing the Marlin there to tinker with. I jumped at the opportunity. I Also had the hook up with AutoZone on discounted parts through work. Now the it was on a lift with some large tool boxes around it to help work on it. It was so awesome the support I got from the shop guys to start restoring these components. I wouldn’t say I’m a mechanic, but I am good at research, so I was able to figure out some great part exchanges to modernize my car and to help save money in the process. I did utilize our main venders, Galvin and American parts depot on a good chuck of parts that no one else had. Things I upgraded were new power steering box out of a 98 Jeep Grand Cherokee that bolts right in with a new rag joint and new hose fittings, poly bushings on all suspension components where available, one wire alternator from newer GM, new aluminum radiator with electric fans and shroud, AMX brake booster, Scarebird disc brake kit that uses newer model brake parts, heat treated compressed front springs and longer wheel studs to take a wider wheel. When it was all finished all these components had been removed and cleaned repainted and or replaced with new. Transmission was pulled out and gone through and resealed. Torque tube pulled out and cleaned repainted and later pulled again more recently because driveshaft got rebuilt to stop severe vibration over 60. Rear end was good. Rear brakes had wheel cylinder replaced and shoes drums rebuilt/ resurfaced.

Once all that finished I pulled the dash out and whole interior. I decided since the interior was out I laid AC duct insulation throughout the whole floor and ceiling. Also, some on the inside of the doors and firewall. Purchased a universal wiring kit to rewire everything including the overdrive system to get the twin stick set up to all work again. I tried my best to redo the Dash myself. It was severely cracked and faded. The aluminum silver print that runs on the surface of it was worn out. eBay has a sticker version of that same print and looks identical. My steering wheel was cracked and worn out, so I researched all the AMC forums to find an aftermarket option or learn the size that works to put a Grant red Mooneyes wheel to match my interior. If anyone wants to know, a Grant First Gen Mustang steering wheel kit works, you’ll have to figure how you want to adapt the horn wiring. I paid to have the seats and door panels recovered and re-foamed professionally. I bought thin abs plastic to use to mold the top door panel pieces to match the shape and had those recovered as well to try and match original. Mine were destroyed upon removal. I spent a lot of time trying to make my clock tick again. My idea was to take the guts out and replace with a modern car clock I pulled from the junkyard. Used an Infiniti clock but it doesn’t work right. Don’t suggest it. Hope to find original replacement one day. The center console and seat backs were peeling badly so I stripped them add added some fiberglass filler to fix a few cracks and painted them with SEM paint to match original. The dash was tough to redo because I wanted to recover it in the same vinyl as my seats were being done but the curves of this Marlin’s dash wouldn’t let me bend the fabric to work. Wound up fiber glassing it and painting same way as seat backs and center console. Will probably redo it at a later time to make it look better. Instead of using the original lighting that the dash had, I ran LED lights throughout including in the cluster, courtesy lights, and glove box. Added an after-market radio that looks of the era that fit in the factory top hole for the radio. Put speakers on the doors and made custom mounts under the rear cover behind the seats to hang speakers underneath the stock speaker covers. Also wanted to do a dash mounted small tach like the 66’ option and found one that looked similar to that era. Added aftermarket lock actuators to doors and wired in an alarm with keyless remote to unlock doors. Added a universal mechanical brake light switch under the pedal for instant brake lights which deleted the need for the switch on the master. Choices are limited on master cylinders for these Marlins because of the switch location. So, this opens up most AMC models to use. My wiper motor was not working and so bad I couldn’t rebuild it. The switch was broken too. After much fighting with fitment I made a 90s Ford ranger wiper motor and Bronco switch operate my wipers. The overdrive wiring was a challenge since the twin stick was so rare and there is not much data on my particular set up. Ford and Studebaker used most of the parts as well but for automatic versions, so I used some information gathered from those guys to relate to mine. The Relays and switches were different than other setups. I wanted to modernize mine with a newer style relay system and be able to operate everything off my new fuse box. I was successful and now it all works. Replaced all the rubber seals, bought cut to fit headliner from APD and painted to match, used steel wool on the chrome best I could and bought carpet kit to finish off inside. Front window broke while resealing it but found another and replaced it.

The chrome trim around the taillight housings and on top of the doors/ quarters were severely pitted. I knew chroming pot metal is tough and could be expensive, so I looked for the best alternative to improve them. On the taillights I thought to be different and cut off the metal slates that you would see run across the taillight covers. I smoothed out the areas where they connected and painted them with chrome spray paint. I painted the inside housing areas with the same black body paint as the roof. The door/ quarter trim had the pits grinded and sanded smooth and painted with chrome paint as well. My trim all around looked more like polished aluminum than chrome so it flowed good. I was able to interchange some of the trim clips with aftermarket ones and later model VW to save on money for OEM. I Finished my Marlin off cosmetically with 18-inch wheels and tires.

The first real test and goal to complete the car was to drive from Memphis to the 1966 Marlin Anniversary Show in Rockford IL on July 29th, 2016. It made it there and back with only having the car shut off while driving in down pour from something electrical getting too wet and blowing out my overdrive solenoid on the way home. I won the award for the longest drive there. It was a great experience and finally got to meet others who enjoy this car. It’s still a work in progress and has no AC or heat and can’t get the back window to stop leaking. So it’s not always the best outside conditions to drive it but 3 and half years later I have a 65 Marlin to enjoy with family and friends.

I saved this Marlin, it may not be worth the money and time I put into nor a show piece but I feel it is special. Almost every time I have it out on the road someone asks, “what is that” and then compliments it. On nice days I take my wife and little girl out in it to go somewhere around town. I bolted in 2 eye bolts under the rear seats to attach climbing clips to install her baby seat. Were now back in Florida and it came along with us of course.

I want to especially thank my wife Danny for her support and letting my do this project. Also, my good friend Alan who spent countless hours working on the car with me. I don’t think it would be what it is without him and what he had taught me.


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