A trip to Elizabeth to see Colorado’s Rambler Ranch, a private car collection, is a must for those who think they have seen it all. Terry Gale, the owner, waves us down as we pass his personal museum of American Motors and Nash Rambler vehicles. Terry plays the role of host, guide and ice cream dispenser all in one.
Like most ranches, the Rambler Ranch has animals; they just aren’t in a corral. Terry has two shih tzus and an indoor cat. Like any proud parent if you ask about his pets, he pulls out his phone and shows you a photo of his dogs. He also takes care of ten feral cats. One of his helpers at the ranch has a young, playful white German shepherd, who likes you to throw his Frisbee.
Of course, the 165-acre ranch actually refers to a private car collection of Nash Rambler vehicles. Rambler was a brand name used by Thomas B. Jeffery, builder of the Rambler bicycle. He built his first prototype for the Rambler in 1897. Between 1900 and 1914 he built the cars in an old bicycle factory in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His son, Charles replaced the Rambler name with the Jeffery, in honor of his father. Two years later Charles W. Nash bought the company.
Nash Motors dropped the Jeffery name and the “Rambler” name disappeared for a while. In 1937, Nash merged with Kelvinator, an appliance manufacturer. Terry has two sections in his museum where he displays those appliances. The side-by-side refrigerator/freezer has everything labeled with an egg cabinet in the door. He also has a Westinghouse roaster oven on a stand very much like the one used every Thanksgiving by my mother. There is a stove with a recessed heating element and a lid that lies atop the stove. Terry calls this an early form of the crockpot.
Considered to be the first American made compact car, the Nash Rambler was only in production for a short time in the early 1950s. Nash-Kelvinator merged with Hudson Motor Car Company in 1954 to become American Motors Corporation (AMC). AMC continued to make the Rambler from 1954 to 1969 in the US. This is all helpful information to understand the scope of Terry’s collection. Although he hopes to get a Nash from each year it and the Rambler were made, the focus is on the 1950s and 1960s.
For those who cannot be without a video, the layout includes a production video/commercial. It shows the difference between the fuel-efficiency of the “compact” car engine and other cars. There are also televisions showing Leave It to Beaver in the 1960s house and a Bullwinkle cartoon. Nothing up my sleeve.
Terry is a gracious host and loves to talk about his collection as he scoots around on his 2-wheeled electric mini-scooter. During our visit he plays a couple of songs on his antique juke boxes. In the 1960s house, he picked the songs Crazy by Patsy Cline and the duet version of Unforgettable with Nat King Cole and his daughter. Quite fun and a bit nostalgic,
Even though Terry appeals to the Boomer generation, he has an unlimited number of potential patrons. He does rent out his complex, which is nicely landscaped with flowers and tall pines. He has a caterer he uses in town for some events. Their is a cabin that is often used in wedding ceremonies. The ice cream that we bought at the Sinclair gas station on the property was also hand-made by a local. I like that he supports the community of Elizabeth.
Rambler Ranch reminds me of my uncle Paul, who had a Rambler back in the 1960s. I recall my first driving experience in an old AMC Gremlin. Thus, I have several reasons to visit Colorado’s Rambler Ranch, A Private Car Collection. My biggest surprise was to discover how much fun it was!