AMC AMX is a two-seat GT-style sports car that was produced by
American Motors Corporation for the 1968 through 1970 model
years. The AMX was also classified as a muscle car, but "unique
among other American cars at the time due its short wheelbase". The
AMX was also the only American-built steel-bodied two-seater of its
time, the first since the 1955-1957 Ford Thunderbird. To a degree,
the AMX was a competitor with America's only other two-seater of the
era, the Chevrolet Corvette for substantially less money. With a
one-inch (2.5 cm) shorter wheelbase than Chevrolet's two-seater,
the AMX was often seen by the press as a "Corvette competitor"
Fitted with the optional high-compression medium block
390 cu in (6.4 L) AMC V8 engine, the AMX offered
top-notch performance at an affordable price. In spite of this value
and enthusiastic initial reception by automotive media and
enthusiasts, sales never thrived. However, the automaker's larger
objectives to refocus AMC's image on performance and to bring younger
customers into its dealer showrooms was achieved. After three model
years, the two-seat version was discontinued, and the AMX's now
signature badging was transferred to a high-performance version of its
four-seat sibling, the Javelin, from the 1971 to 1974 model years.
American Motors capitalized the respected reputation of the original
AMXs by reviving the model designation for performance-equipped coupe
versions of the compact Hornet in 1977, Concord in 1978, and the
subcompact Spirit in 1979 and 1980.
1 Origin of the AMX
3 Industry firsts
4.1 Breedlove AMX
4.2 Hertz rent-a-racer
4.3 Von Piranha Edition
5.1 California 500
5.2 Super Stock AMX
5.3 Playmate AMX
Pikes Peak cars
7 Performance figures
8.1 Assembly in Australia
9 Concept and show cars
9.1 1966 AMX
9.2 AMX I
9.3 AMX II
9.4 AMX GT
9.7 1971 Teague AMX
10.1 Number matching
10.2 Scale models
11 See also
13 External links
Origin of the AMX
1968 and 1969 C-pillar AMX emblem
AMC AMX in "Matador Red"
The AMX name originates from the "
American Motors experimental" code
used on a concept vehicle and then on two prototypes shown on the
company's "Project IV" automobile show tour in 1966. One was a
fiberglass two-seat "AMX", and the other was a four-seat "AMX II".
Both of these radically styled offerings reflected the company's
strategy to shed its "economy car" image and appeal to a more
youthful, performance-oriented market.
The original AMX full-scale models were developed in 1965 by AMC's
advanced styling studios under the direction of Charles Mashigan.
The two-seat AMX was "big hit on the auto show circuit in 1966" and
featured a rumble seat that opened out from the rear decklid for extra
passengers called a "Ramble" seat. AMC executives saw the opportunity
to change consumers' perceptions of the automaker from Romney's
economy car image, to the realities of the new marketplace interested
in sporty, performance oriented vehicles.
Robert B. Evans
Robert B. Evans requested a
car like the AMX to be put into production quickly.
Two simultaneous development programs emerged for a production car:
one for a modified Javelin and another for a completely new car bodied
in fiberglass. The first approach was selected allowing AMC to use its
existing technology and unibody manufacturing expertise to make fairly
inexpensive modifications to the Javelin approximating the prototype's
styling and proportions. The automaker could turn out steel bodies in
large numbers, so it rejected developing plastic (or fiberglass)
bodies because those are intended only for low-production models.
The first fully operational unit debuted as part of AMC's AMX project
in 1966. The once-"frumpy" automaker jumped on the "pony car
bandwagon" with its "attractive Javelin" and soon introduced the
"unique" AMX featuring a design where "hoods didn't come any longer,
nor decks any shorter".
Vic Raviolo, previously responsible for the Lincolns that raced in the
Carrera Panamericana during the 1950s was involved with engineering
AMC's new sports-car-type coupe. The AMX was the first
steel-bodied, two-seat American performance car since the 1957
Thunderbird, Ford's original two-seater having long since evolved into
a four-seat personal luxury car. The AMX was also the only
mass-produced, domestic two-seater to share the market with
Chevrolet’s Corvette since the 1957 Thunderbird. With a
short, 97 in (2,464 mm), wheelbase, the AMX's direct
competition was the one-inch longer (98 in (2,489 mm)
Chevrolet Corvette. The AMX's manufacturer's suggested retail price
(MSRP) was US$3,245 (US$22,836 in 2017 dollars ), nearly 25% below
and over $1,000 less than the Corvette's price tag.
The AMX was introduced to the press at the Daytona International
Speedway on 15 February 1968; just over four months after the Javelin
went on sale. In the demonstrations on the race track, the new AMXs
ran at speeds up to 130 mph (209 km/h). American Motors'
group vice president, Vic Raviolo, described the AMX as "the Walter
Mitty Ferrari". The AMX was designed to "appeal to both muscle car
and sports car enthusiasts, two camps that rarely acknowledged each
other's existences." The problem was the "tire-melting"
acceleration of the two-seater made it "a quick car that handled like
a sports car, confusing the buying public." Automotive journalist
Tom McCahill summed up, "the AMX is the hottest thing to ever come out
of Wisconsin and ... you can whip through corners and real hard bends
better than with many out-and-out sports cars."
AMX "shatters" speed records in an advertisement for Champion spark
In January 1968, two specially-prepared AMXs set 106 world speed and
endurance records at Goodyear's track in Texas driven by world land
speed record holder Craig Breedlove, his wife Lee, and Ron
Dykes. As a way to promote the new car, AMC's Performance
activities manager, Carl Chakmakian, asked Breedlove to put the AMX
through its paces before it was even available for sale.
Breedlove's "Spirit of America" crew and Traco Engineering had six
weeks to prepare the cars before they were to be displayed at the
Chicago Auto Show
Chicago Auto Show in February.
The AMC V8 engines, such as the 290 cu in (4.8 L)
engine in one car was bored out to 304 cu in (5.0 L)
and the 390 cu in (6.4 L) in the other to
397 cu in (6.5 L). The shop installed exhaust headers,
eight-quart oil pans, oil coolers, hi-rise intake manifolds, racing
camshafts with solid lifters and stronger springs, and larger
carburetors. The cars had engine and rear-end oil coolers, and
37 US gal (140 L; 31 imp gal) cell-type
safety fuel tanks.
Engine components were X-rayed and Magnafluxed to
check for cracks, as were chassis components.
Chassis preparation included heavy-duty front and rear springs (part
of the factory's optional handling package), rear spring traction
control arms, heavy-duty shock absorbers and a "panhard" type track
bar in the rear to eliminate side sway. Stock wheels and tires were
replaced by wide magnesium racing wheels and Goodyear racing tires.
The cars were aerodynamically modified: the front ends were lowered,
the hoods were slanted down and spoilers were installed below the
front bumpers. The car interiors had structure-stiffening roll cages
for driver protection, a stock bucket seat modified for additional
support, and supplementary engine-monitoring instruments.
Breedlove also took the AMX to Bonneville reaching 189 mph
(304 km/h) in a
United States Auto Club (USAC) sanctioned
run, as well as an unofficial run of over 200 mph
The AMX was not only sporty and attractive, but it introduced many
The American Society of Automotive Engineers named the AMX as the
"best engineered car of the year" in 1969 and 1970.
For its first year recognition, the reasons cited included the car’s
dashboard, which was injection-molded in one piece "for safety
purposes, an industry first." The AMX's new 390 cu in
(6.4 L) engine was developed to have a large displacement within
its minimal external dimensions and moderate weight, while the use of
common components and machining with AMC's 290 and 343 engines assured
manufacturing economy. The 1968 models also included an innovative
fiberglass safety padding, a "plastic" on the inside of the windshield
posts that was first used on the AMC Javelins.
For the following year's award, the citation included the 1970 AMXs
(and Javelins) being the first production cars to use windshields that
were safer, thinner, and lighter than ordinary laminated glass.
Developed by Corning, the glass featured a chemically hardened layer
designed to give under impact and crumble into small granules to
reduce injuries. The inner layer has "stress raisers that will
cause it to break before excessively high concussion forces can be
developed in the occupant's skull."
American Motors also incorporated new designs for windshield sealing
for the 1970 models, and developed a systems solutions process that
began in the styling studio to insure maximum efficiency.
AMC AMX with Go-Pac
AMC AMX with chrome wheels and red stripe tires standard with
The "AMX 390" engine
American Motors promoted the mid-model year launch of the AMX to
automotive journalists at Daytona to emphasize its sports car
performance, as well as with a marketing agreement with Playboy
Enterprises. To introduce the AMX to its dealers, AMC held
meetings at nine
The AMX was introduced to the public on 24 February 1968, five months
after the Javelin and other 1968 AMC cars. It was promoted as "the
only American sports car that costs less than $3500". American
Motors advertisements also showed "a helmeted race driver revving up
at the starting line in one of AMC's sporty AMX models, which it
describes as ready to do 125 miles an hour."
The two-seat AMX was "meant for a small, well-defined market niche,
and it pulled in young people into AMC dealer showrooms in never
before seen numbers". Numerous road tests described the new AMX as
a "handsome two-seater with American-style acceleration and
European-style handling". Journalists gave it a real run workout
on all kinds of terrain and wrote "that the AMX is one of the
best-looking cars — if not the best-looking car — made in the
All AMXs came with four-barrel carbureted small block AMC V8
engines in several versions: 290 cu in (4.8 L)
(225 hp (168 kW), N-code), 343 cu in (5.6 L)
(290 hp (220 kW), T-code), as well as the
390 cu in (6.4 L) "AMX" featuring 315 hp
(235 kW) with 425 pound force-feet (576 N⋅m) of torque
(X-code). All derived from the same external sized block. However, the
three engines differed vastly internally, with the smallest engine
having small intake and exhaust valves, thin block webbing, and a cast
nodular iron crankshaft; the 343 used larger valves with a thicker
block webbing; and the 390 moved up to a forged steel crankshaft and
connecting rods, as well as larger rod bearings, 2.250 in
(57.15 mm) compared to 2.090 in (53.09 mm) in the
smaller two versions.
BorgWarner T-10 four-speed manual transmission was standard, as were
special traction bars, dual exhaust system, and fatter tires for
better traction. A "Shift-Command" three-speed automatic transmission
with the capability of manual shifting (
BorgWarner model M-11B or
M-12) was optional together with a floor console mounted shifter.
A popular "Go-Package" option came with either the four-barrel 343 or
390 engine, and included power assisted front disk brakes, "Twin-Grip"
differential, E70x14 red-stripe performance tires on "Magnum 500"
styled-steel wheels, heavy-duty suspension with thicker sway-bars,
heavy-duty cooling, and other performance enhancements. A wide
range of specialized performance parts were also available through AMC
dealers for installation on customer's cars. These were known as
"Group 19" parts because of the way AMC organized its parts books.
According to several sources, "Breedlove Replica" cars to commemorate
the speed and endurance records were offered by AMC. The Standard
Catalog of American Muscle Cars 1960-1972 describes an estimated 50
"Breedlove" AMXs were sold featuring the red, white, and blue paint
scheme along with the standard 4-barrel 290 cu in
(4.8 L) V8 with four-speed manual transmission.
However, AMC historians argue there was no "factory literature, order
sheets, advertising, photographs, or anything else to properly
document any factory 1968 or 1969 'Breedlove Replica' AMXs."
According to historians a new car that was ordered by a dealer in
Canada could not have been painted at the factory, but rather
outsourced to local Kenosha body shops to perform the final
In the late-1960s,
The Hertz Corporation
The Hertz Corporation offered "rent-a-racer"
program in selected locations that included cars such as Corvettes,
Jaguar XK-Es, Shelby Mustangs, and AMXs.
Von Piranha Edition
An estimated 22 new AMXs were modified by Thoroughbred Motors in
Colorado for select AMC dealerships to have ready-made racers
for both the dragstrips and road courses nearby. They were
named "Von Piranha" and the changes included the addition of two sets
of air scoops on each C-pillar with ducts to cool the rear brakes and
on the roof above the windshield that was reportedly functional to
cool the cockpit on race-bred versions. The AMX's twin hood bulges
were cut open to increase airflow in the engine bay. It is believed
the original Piranha buildup included AMC's Group 19 R4B intake
stamped with the Von Piranha logo along with a 950cm Holley
three-barrel carburetor. The sales manager at Thoroughbred at the
time and local racing legend, Ronald Hunter, raced a Piranha at the
Continental Divide Raceways and other events.
AMC AMX in "Big Bad Green"
1969 AMX interior with center panel "Gauge package"
The AMX's full second model year saw only slight changes, except for a
$52 increase in its base price. The five-spoke Magnum 500 steel
road wheels were no longer chrome plated, but now came with a
stainless steel trim ring. The racing stripes were now available in
five colors. The interior featured a revised instrumentation with the
0–8000 rpm tachometer moved to match the speedometer that was
now calibrated to 140 mph (230 km/h). Interior door panels
were revised, carpeting was upgraded, new leather upholstery was
optional, and the gas pedal became suspended. Later production
cars received a hood over the instruments in front of the driver.
Trunk capacity was 9.7 cubic feet (275 l).
Starting January 1969, all manual transmission AMXs came with a Hurst
floor shifter. The center console-mounted three-speed "Shift-Command"
automatic remained optional with "1", "2", and "D" forward settings.
The "D" mode was fully automatic, but the driver could shift manually
through all three gears by starting out in the "1" setting for
first-gear with no upshift, and the "2" setting for second-gear with
A “Big Bad” paint option for $34 became available starting in
mid-1969. The neon brilliant blue (BBB), orange (BBO), and green (BBG)
exteriors included color-matched front and rear bumpers, as well as a
special slim bright lower grille moulding for the front bumper and two
vertical rubber-faced painted bumper guards for the rear. The
factory-painted 1969 AMXs were 195 in BBB, 285 in BBO, and 283 in
Popular Mechanics wrote that the 1969 "AMX preserves the status quo
this year, being virtually unchanged, remains an absolute delight to
A specially equipped version was sold by West Coast AMC dealers in
1969. The cars came with several options that included "Trendsetter
Sidewinder" sidepipes and brass plaques on the hood blisters.
Super Stock AMX
1969 Super Stock AMX
AMC also introduced the Super Stock AMX. To maximize quarter-mile
performance, the 390 engine was equipped with twin Holley carburetors
and 12.3:1 compression-ratio cylinder heads, plus aftermarket Doug’s
headers and exhaust system, and the tires were drag slicks. Hurst
Performance carried out several additional modifications.
American Motors rated the car at 340 hp (250 kW), but the
National Hot Rod Association
National Hot Rod Association ultimately rated it at 420 horsepower
(310 kW) and shuffled it among various competition classes: SS/G,
SS/D, and SS/C. Its best recorded quarter-mile was 10.73 seconds at
128 mph (206 km/h).
The Super Stock AMX was meant for the race track and lacked comfort
equipment such as a heater. The car could be ordered all white, or in
the vertical bands of red, white, and blue that distinguished numerous
AMC competition cars of the day. Base price was $5,994, some $1,900
more than a fully loaded regular 1969 AMX. There was no factory
The actual PMOY award car
Playboy magazine's 1968 Playmate of the Year, Angela Dorian, was
awarded a specially painted "Playmate Pink" 1968 AMX. It was
powered by the base 290 V8 with automatic transmission, air
conditioning, tilt wheel, AM/8-track radio and optional rear bumper
guards. Aside from the unique color, it differed from other AMXs with
its dashboard number plate containing Dorian's measurements, making
her car AMX 36-24-35. The car, currently owned by Mark Melvin who
purchased it from Dorian in 2010, was featured in an episode of Jay
Some sources describe other AMXs to have been painted Playmate Pink at
the factory. AMC’s marketing vice-president, Bill McNealy, who
handed over the keys to Angela Dorian’s car mentioned that “a
number of them" were finished in pink.
In late 1968, a Playmate Pink AMX was special-ordered by a dealership
in rural Potosi, Missouri. This 1969 model year car's door tag
indicates a "00" paint code (meaning a special-order color) and it has
a 390 V8 with automatic transmission, as well as the performance "GO"
Package, air conditioning, and leather seats.
Pikes Peak cars
Pikes Peak pace car
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb used 1969 AMXs as pace cars
for the hillclimb race to the summit of
Pikes Peak that was held on 29
June 1969 in Colorado.
The AMX Pace and Courtesy cars were used by racers (including Bobby
Unser) to practice the week prior to the race up the mountain.
There were 12 (10 according to some sources) pace/courtesy AMXs, and
all were equipped with the "390 Go-Pac" option and finished in "Frost
White" with red stripes and red interiors.
A number of AMC and
Jeep vehicles have participated in the annual
race, winning class titles and setting records, but the only two-seat
AMX that was officially raced in the hillclimb was a 1969 model
piloted by Larry G. Mitchell in the 1987 "Vintage" class.
The original AMX's “Ramble” seat idea was considered for possible
production. A working prototype was built in 1968 from a regular
AMX by James Jeffords, a designer-customizer, and was named the
AMX-R. Jeffords was also head of the Javelin Trans Am Racing Team
for AMC. Together with industrial designer Brooks Stevens, they
decided to also "plush up" the interior, add custom paint treatment
and hood with Jeffords's name in badge form, as well as a modified
suspension as part of their plan to offer an optional Ramble seat for
500 production cars. The first prototype was prepared by Dave
Puhl’s House of Kustoms in Palatine, Illinois. However, numerous
problems prevented serial production, including safety and product
liability concerns, AMC's refusal to sell him the cars to modify, as
well as the negative reaction from
Ralph Nader to the exposed exterior
seating idea. The AMX-R's special blacked-out hood treatment would
later to be offered as "shadow mask" option on 1970 AMX models.
AMC AMX base model
AMC AMX with "Ram Air" 390 V8
AMC AMX with black shadow mask
1970 AMX interior
1970 AMX with standard simulated wood-grained rim-blow steering wheel
AMC AMX with factory sidewinder sidepipes
American Motors 1970 AMX advertising headlined, "We made the AMX look
tougher this year because it's tougher this year". They were
mildly facelifted resembling the first two model years, but the
changes were different enough to be a separate design for 1970.
Featured was a new front end design with a longer hood that had a
“power blister” with two large openings. These were a functional
cold ram-air induction system with the popular "Go Package" available
with the 360 and 390 engines. The new grille was flush and full-width
incorporating the headlamps. The revised rear end also featured
full-width taillamps and a single center mounted backup light. Side
marker lights were now shared with several other AMC models. Riding on
the same wheelbase 97-inch (2,464 mm) as before, the changes
increased the AMX's overall body length by about two inches (51
millimeters) to 179 in (4,547 mm).
American Motors also changed the AMX's engine lineup for 1970 with the
introduction of a new 360 cu in (5.9 L) four-barrel
(290 hp (220 kW), P-code) to replace the 343 V8. The
smallest 290 was dropped and AMC could claim 65 more base horsepower
than the AMXs had previously. The 390 V8 engine continued, but
upgraded to new heads with 51 cc combustion chambers that
increased power to 325 hp (242 kW). The code remained "X"
for the engine on the vehicle identification number (VIN). The "Go
package" was available with the 360 engine (including power front disc
brakes, F70x14 raised white letter tires, handling package, and the
ram-air induction system) for $298.85, or including the 390 engine for
Also new, the double-wishbone front suspension had ball joints, upper
and lower control arms, coil springs and shock absorbers above the
upper control arms; as well as trailing struts on the lower control
arms. The "Magnum 500" road wheels were now standard, but the new
"Machine" 15x7 inch slot-styled wheels were optional.
The interiors of the AMX were also redesigned. The broad wood-grained
dashboard, center console, and two-spoke "Rim Blow" steering wheel
were new. Tall bucket seats now featured a "clamshell" design
integrating the headrests.
Leather upholstery was $34 extra. The
exterior rear view mirror featured a new design and in some cases
matched the car's body color. The three "Big Bad" exterior paints
continued to be optional on the 1970 AMXs, but they now came with
regular chrome bumpers. A new "shadow mask" exterior finish applied
over any available AMX color was a $52 option, which included a
satin black-painted hood, engine compartment, front fender tops, and
side window surrounds offset by thin silver striping. The optional
"C-stripe" was $32.
The manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) for the base model
was US$3,395 (US$21,394 in 2017 dollars) as AMC promoted the 1970
AMX as, "A sports car for the price of a sporty car."
Motor Trend summed up a road test of a 1970 AMX with the 390 engine as
"one of better constructed cars around." Described as “the best
version yet of this blend of muscle car and sports car”, the 1970
model was also the last “true AMX”.
Original road test of a 390 AMX by Car and Driver (1968)
0 to 60 mph = 6.6 seconds
0-100 mph = 16.3 seconds
Dragstrip quarter-mile acceleration = 14.8 seconds @ 95 mph
Top speed = 122 mph (196 km/h)
Original road test of a 390 AMX by Motor Trend (December 1969)
0 to 60 mph = 6.56 seconds
Dragstrip quarter-mile acceleration = 14.68 seconds @ 92 mph
In 1969, the TV show Car and Track posted the following times[citation
needed] with an AMX 390 cu in (6.4 L) running a
standard 4-barrel carburetor and 10.2:1 compression ratio:
0 to 60 mph acceleration = 6.5 seconds
Dragstrip quarter-mile acceleration = 14.1 seconds
AMX dragracing burnout
Two AMX dragsters taking off
The AMC AMX, while not a Corvette, was a high-performance car with few
equals. The cars were regular performers on dragstrips around the
country. Drivers included Shirley Shahan, better known as the "Drag-On
Lady", and Lou Downy.
National Hot Rod Association
National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) champion
Wally Booth raced AMXs in both the Super Stock and the Pro Stock
classes. Herman Lewis, often described "as 'the Godfather of AMC
Racing' ... won 200 events in his hellacious red, white, and blue
The 1968 and 1969 AMXs with AMC's 390 cu in (6.4 L)
engines compete in contemporary
Nostalgia Super Stock
Nostalgia Super Stock drag racing.
Owners have also modified AMXs to compete in modern Pro Touring car
Sports Car Club of America
Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) classed the AMX in B Production
for amateur competition, the same class as the Shelby GT350. An AMX
scored second place in the 1969 SCCA national championship. Dwight
Knupp drove his AMX just 1 minute and 14 seconds behind a Corvette's
winning average of 102.385 mph (165 km/h) on 30 November
1969, at the
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway with 16 cars in the B
production class, and placed sixth overall out of the total of 28 A
and B class cars competing in the race. The two-seat AMX was
never eligible for SCCA Trans-Am competition.
A 1969 AMX was entered in the 1971 and 1972 Cannonball Baker
Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, an unofficial automobile race
from New York City and Darien, CT, on the US Atlantic (east) coast, to
Redondo Beach, a Los Angeles suburb on the Pacific (west) coast. A
team of enthusiastic brothers, Tom and Ed Bruerton, finished the 1971
competition in fifth place. They drove 2,897 miles (4,662 km)
in 37 hours and 48 minutes at an average of 77.3 mph
(124 km/h), with no speeding tickets. Their AMX already had
90,000 miles (144,841 km) on the odometer and the brothers had
previously taken it on numerous endurance rides, including "a rocky
ride the entire length of the Baja California Peninsula." They
again entered "their battlescarred AMX one more time" in the 1972
run. The brothers finished in eighth place, making the
coast-to-coast outlaw race in 39 hours and 42 minutes at an average of
72.3 mph (116 km/h).
1969 AMX in "Big Bad Orange" with 390 Go-Package at the AACA Museum
AMC AMX after a drag strip run
The two-seat AMX was built for three model years following its debut
as a mid-year model on February 15, 1968. The first 1968 model
year cars were scheduled to appear in dealer showrooms on March 19,
AMC AMX model year production totals in the U.S., by engine and
Model year and grand totals
American Motors showed the next generation AMX/2 concept car
in the automobile show circuit. As the two-seater AMX production
ceased in 1970, AMC was developing a sophisticated European-engineered
alternative, the AMX/3 for 1971 introduction. However, overall
economic conditions changed with spiraling inflation pushing sales of
smaller cars along with the insurance companies' decision to penalize
high-powered automobiles resulting in decreasing the sports-type car
market segment, and the AMX was made into a high-performance model of
the 4-seat Javelin starting in 1971.
Assembly in Australia
1969 Rambler AMX assembled by AMI
A total of 24 right hand drive 1969 model year AMXs were hand
assembled under license in
Australia by Australian Motor Industries
(AMI) between August, 1969, and July, 1970. They used the name
Rambler AMX as AMI produced the Rambler range of cars since October
Complete knock down
Complete knock down (CKD) kits were shipped from Kenosha,
Wisconsin to AMI's facilities at Port Melbourne in Victoria.
Differences to the RHD Australian AMXs (compared to the U.S. models)
included different outside rear-view mirrors, and black vinyl trim
inside the "AMX" circle logo on the C-pillars, As with Rambler sedans
built in right hand drive, windscreen wipers were not reversed,
remaining LHD pattern, but the power brake booster and heater on the
firewall were swapped over. Although the power steering pump remained
in its usual left location, the remainder of the steering components
were on the right side of the car. The cars came with
343 cu in (5.6 L) and automatic transmission, power
steering, power disk brakes, "twin-grip" rear axle, and other items
that were optional on the U.S. models. All of the Australian AMX
interiors were finished in black and featured unique seats, door
panels, and a fiberglass RHD dashboard with a wood-grained instrument
cluster in front of the driver. The Australian AMXs came with a large
high level of equipment and were promoted as "super" personal luxury
Concept and show cars
1966 AMX concept car
A concept car with a folding exposed rear seat was introduced by AMC
at the 1966 Society of Automotive Engineers convention in Detroit.
This was the first "AMX" (
American Motors Experimental) named car. The
sports car design features a rumble seat for two additional passengers
that was named "Ramble Seat" in homage to the automaker's predecessor
Rambler models. This back seat fords into the trunk space and the rear
window flips down, but these are not fully weatherproofed designs. The
roof design also has no "A" pillars providing for greater visibility.
The fiberglass bodied "pushmobile" concept has no interior, engine,
drivetrain, or suspension. It was widely covered by the automotive
media and appeared on several auto magazine covers. It was painted in
orange or a metallic blue to be shown on the auto show circuit. It
received positive reviews that convinced management to put the car
This 1966 AMX also gave rise to several other AMX show cars.
A fiberglass-bodied AMX I concept car was made in 1966 to be part of
AMC's "Project IV" exhibit. Built by Smith Inland of Ionia, Michigan,
one of the two fiberglass-bodied concept cars was reportedly destroyed
in a crash test convincing AMC's engineers and designers use a
traditional steel body. The remaining domestic-built fiberglass
prototype features round headlamps.
American Motors' president
Roy Abernethy sanctioned the Turin
coachbuilder Vignale to construct an operational car in steel. It was
hand-built show car using a modified 1966
Rambler American chassis on
a 98 in (2,489 mm) wheelbase powered by a
290 cu in (4.8 L) V8 engine. Delivered in 78 days and
known as the "AMX Vignale", it was first displayed at the 1966 New
York International Auto Show. The Vignale car features a "split-vee"
windshield, a cantilever-type roof that incorporates a built-in
concealed roll bar, rectangular European-type headlamps, and a custom
interior with full bucket seats flanking an aircraft-type console.
The fully functional "Ramble-seat" was operated by a push-button from
inside the car.
Vince Gardner, an outside consultant, designed the fiberglass-bodied
AMX II, a less radical two-door for the "Project IV" exhibit. This
four-passenger hardtop (no B-pillar) notchback coupe had little in
common with the AMX I. This car featured a longer wheelbase and an
overall length of 187 in (4,750 mm). The windshield wiper
blades were concealed by a panel which raises when wipers are
activated and the grille that was surrounded by a massive bumper had
horizontal multi-bars with hidden headlamps. Safety innovations
included doors that locked automatically when the engine is started,
reflectors on the sides of the rear fenders, rear tail lamps that
signaled the driver's intensions: green when the car is in motion,
amber when the driver removes foot from the accelerator, and red when
Main article: AMC AMX-GT
Developed for the 1968 auto show circuit, the AMX GT is a concept car
based on a shortened and "chopped" Javelin with a
Kammback rear end.
The AMX GT show car provided several design clues to future production
models and performance options.
In the late-1960s, George Barris made bolt-on customizing kits for the
AMX that were marketed through AMC dealers. He also performed a
radical custom treatment on a 1969 AMX. The car was built for the
Banacek TV season episode. The car was lowered and its body was
heavily modified. Its roof was cut down almost 5 in (127 mm)
and the car was lengthened by 18 in (457 mm). Featuring a
sculpted body with louvered accents, it became known as the
AMX-400. The car featured a taillight system that glowed green
during acceleration, amber during deceleration, and red during
AMC AMX/3 concept car
Mid-engined AMC AMX/3
A third-generation AMX concept car, the AMX/3, debuted at the 1970
Chicago Auto Show. Engine-less and fashioned in fiberglass, the
original AMX/3 prototype was a show car only.
American Motors placed an order for 30 operational cars. The AMX/3
body mold was sent to Italian grand tourer maker Giotto Bizzarrini,
Turin facility hand made drivable mid-engined, steel bodied
cars. Built on a 105.3-inch (2,675 mm) wheelbase, the Bizzarrini
prototypes used the AMC 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 and an
Italian OTO Melara four-speed transaxle. The AMX/3 is considered one
of Bizzarrini's car-masterpieces.
The steel Italian cars differed from the original AMC design in having
fewer but functional rear decklid louvers, louvered hoods, and, in
some cases, hood scoops to direct fresh air into the heating-A/C
system. Further engineering improvements and road testing was done by
BMW, which declared the AMX/3's chassis one of the stiffest having a
50% higher stiffness compared to a benchmark Mercedes-Benz model.
The car's steel semi-monocoque chassis design with its welded on steel
body provided a strong overall structure while the top speed was
verified to 160 mph (257 km/h), with reports indicating the
AMX/3 could go faster if it was not for the tendency for the font end
to lift at those speeds, but
BMW found the car to be most neutral
handling they had ever tested. The
BMW engineers also refined
numerous components of the AMX/3 into "a world-class contender among
the mid-engined super car elite of its time." One of the cars
became "known as the Monza after it achieved a top speed of 170 mph in
testing at the famed Italian race track."
Five completed cars were produced before the US$2,000,000 program was
cancelled. The original projection by AMC called for building 5,000
AMX/3s per year, but the estimated retail price kept increasing.
The AMX/3 was "beautiful and sleek, the kind of car that would have
made hearts race in the day" and was to be a "flagship or halo car" to
lure customers to AMC dealerships, "where they often end up other,
more practical models." However, escalating costs and pending
bumper regulations put a stop to the mid-engined AMX/3.
Some remaining parts from the canceled, second group of five cars were
used by erstwhile Bizzarini collaborator
Salvatore Diomante to
assemble a sixth car, named and marketed as Sciabola.
Additionally, an open two-seat Spider featuring no weather protection
was built in the 1990s using an unfinished AMX/3 modified chassis and
the 7th AMX/3, on display at the Autoworld Museum in Belgium, were
both finished by Giorgio Giordanengo.
1971 Teague AMX
1971 AMX concept car
Teague's two-seat 1971 AMX
Sales of the two-seat AMX were not up to the numbers that American
Motors management wanted, but AMC’s vice president for styling,
Richard A. Teague, wanted to continue the sports model. American
Motors’ Advanced Design Studio made design proposals for a 1971 AMX
and Teague requested—and received permission—to produce a fully
working concept car.
Starting with a Frost White 1968 AMX coupe as the development mule,
Teague updated its front end to the grille and swooping front fenders
of what was incorporated into the production 1971 Javelin. The
concept car also featured the interior to what was to become AMC’s
characteristic high-backed bucket seats and corduroy upholstery
introduced in 1970. The concept car was repainted light metallic
blue with red striping to match the interior. A short-wheelbase,
two-seat 1971 AMX was not approved for production by the automaker,
but Teague used this car as his daily driver.
Stock 1969 AMX at AACA car show
1969 SS Hurst (documented car #23) "Performance Automotive" at
Daytona Florida show
Stock 1970 AMX with BBO and "shadow mask" finish at a car show
Stock 1970 AMX 390 engine at classic car show
Stock and customized AMXs at an
American Motors Owners Association
Stock 1970 AMX at AACA car show
Automotive historian and author,
Richard M. Langworth noted that the
AMX has "all the right sports-car stuff" and that the "little machine
that can only go up in value over the long haul."
Prior to 2004 the AMX had been under-appreciated from an investment
standpoint, according to CNN.
In 2004, there was considerable variation between the values of
two-seat AMXs and four-seat Javelin AMXs. Craig Fitzgerald mentioned
"the satisfaction in owning a car that you don't see every single day,
or on the cover of every single magazine," and favored the two-seater,
on the grounds of its rarity; but he noted that parts for either car
were extremely expensive.
In 2006, the editors of Hemmings Muscle Machines magazine said that
AMCs had "experienced notable value increases over the last few
years--especially AMXs..." The book Keith Martin's Guide to Car
Collecting, in collaboration with the editors of the monthly Sports
Car Market, lists the 1970 AMX as one of the picks under $40,000 among
"Nine Muscle Car Sleepers".
Unique versions, such as the California 500 Specials and the 52
Hurst-modified SS/AMX drag race cars are perhaps the most highly
sought after by collectors. In 2006, a California 500 AMX sold for
$54,000 at the
Barrett-Jackson auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, while a
regular AMX went for over $55,000 at the Mecum collector auction in
Belvidere, Illinois. In 2007, Hemmings wrote that only about 39
of the original SS/AMX turn-key race cars may have survived.
By 2007, the AMX was "among the most highly sought AMC cars" and
"really taking off in the muscle-car market". Also in 2007,
Hemmings said that the two-seater AMX had "a strong following among
old car hobbyists and collectors of historic vehicles and nearly every
one of the 19,134 built...remains in circulation and in demand,
ensuring a good future for the first-generation AMX as a collectible
muscle car." The 2007 book Classic Cars states that AMC's small
and powerful AMX "had tire-burning speed" and "all have become
Noting the increasing values of the 1968-1970 AMXs, Hemmings listed
them among the "21 hottest cars" that enthusiasts wanted in 2007 "and
will want tomorrow."
In 2008, Hemmings said that buyers had "only recently 'discovered' the
AMX; they're now snapping them up left and right. Prices ... are on
the rise, though they still represent a relative bargain compared to
many more common muscle machines."
In 2010, Hemmings Classic Car included the two-seat AMXs in their list
of 32 best cars to restore in terms of economic sense after factoring
purchase price, parts availability, as well as restored value and
Although low in production, the AMX shared parts and components with
other AMC models. There are many active AMC car clubs for these cars.
Parts, including reproduction components, are available. However, "AMC
did not build cars in the vast numbers the Big Three did back in the
day; therefore, there are fewer to restore and not as many parts to go
around." As of 2010, Hemmings Classic Car wrote that the AMXs are
"pretty basic" so they are not hard to restore, and that "reproduction
parts are available" and continues to grow with many mechanical parts
interchanging with other cars.
More valuable according to automotive historian and author, James C.
Mays, is the "wow factor". His book, The Savvy Guide to Buying
Collector Cars at Auction, explains this important and measurable
pleasure to an owner, whether their car is driven or sits in a
climate-controlled garage, such as a red 1969 AMX that attracts more
attention than the more prestigious Ferraris and Lamborghinis.
The 100th issue of Hemmings Classic Car listed the "Top 100 American
collector cars ever made" as selected by the editors of Hemmings Motor
News on the basis of "the most popular models among both enthusiasts
and collectors" and included the 1968-1969 AMXs for both rarity and
high interest, as well as "they boast sporting lines, traditional
long-hood/short-deck proportions, and a smattering of performance
options to add spice."
Old Cars Weekly describes the AMX as an "appealing little package for
adrenaline junkies and guys ... who have an appetite for something a
little offbeat and different ... a car that famed automotive scribe
Tom McCahill once described as 'harrier than a Borneo gorilla.'"
Automotive journalist Patric George noted the
AMC AMX is "great
vintage American iron" and with only "two seats, making it more of a
sports car than a lot of other muscle cars."
American Motors did not provide identification on the engine block,
known as VIN stamping, as some other car manufacturers had been doing
at that time. Other than the actual displacement, there was no way to
associate a vehicle with the original "born with" engine. Since this
was common practice at the GM and
Chrysler plants it is much easier to
verify that the exact engine in the car is actually the factory
original unit. Each AMC vehicle was inspected to confirm that the
engine displacement (identified by numbers cast on the block under the
engine mounts) corresponded to its corresponding engine code in the
vehicle identification number (VIN). A tag screwed to the valve cover
provides an engine's build date, and that date code always preceded a
specific car's production sequence. However, there is no engine
"numbers matching" test for AMXs or any other AMC automobiles.
As a marketing move for the AMX, AMC affixed a small plate with a
number to the center of the dash (1968-1969) or to the glovebox door
(1970). These are random numbers. They do not coincide with any
other identifying number such as the car's VIN code, dealer or zone
order, production sequence, nor build date. For example, the
numbers on the 1970 models ranged from 014469 to 18584.
A variety of scale models of the AMX are available including
promotional 1/25-scale model manufactured under license from AMC by
Jo-Han in factory colors.
Hot Wheels offered a 1969 AMX custom in 1:64
scale, and in 1971 issued the AMX/2 show car model. Newer models
in 1:18 scale diecast were issued, including the
Playboy Pink version
in the "Best of the Best" series, as well as the modified "Drag-On
Lady" race car. According to the editors of Die Cast X
Magazine, "muscle cars are the largest, most popular category in
die-cast" collectors, and they included the
AMC AMX among the 34
models that represent "the best and most important from the genre ...
performance and style that are the hallmarks of the high point of
American automotive history."
AMC Javelin AMX: 1971–1974
AMC Hornet AMX: 1977
AMC Concord AMX: 1978
AMC Spirit AMX: 1979–1980
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to AMC AMX.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to AMC muscle cars.
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