The AMC AMX emerged during the golden age of muscle cars, and despite its impressive features, it was an underappreciated model. The car did not meet the expectations of the American Motors Company, so it only lasted for three years.
Since there were only 19,000 units of these unique muscle vehicles, they have now become rare classics for collectors and enthusiasts. Continue reading the article below to know more about the AMX muscle car, from its features to its legacy.
- 1 Overview of the AMC AMX Muscle Car
- 2 History of the AMX
- 3 Specs and Features of the AMC AMX
- 4 1968 AMX
- 5 1969 AMX
- 6 1970 AMX
- 7 The Legacy of the AMX
- 8 Conclusion
Overview of the AMC AMX Muscle Car
The AMC AMX is a two-seat and GT-style muscle car that was manufactured for the 1968, 1969, and 1970 model years. It was produced by AMC. It was also called Rambler AMX in the Australian market. The AMX was one of the two two-seater cars built in America and competed with the Chevrolet Corvette but was more affordable.
The AMX was based on the 1968 Javelin, with a shorter wheelbase and the removal of the rear seat. It also fixed the rear quarter windows in, so it was a 2-door coupe, unlike the AMC Javelin, which was a two-door hardtop.
As for the engine power, the car featured a high-compression engine for a sporty performance at an affordable price. Despite the affordable price and impressive power of the engine, car sales never thrived. It also had a very enthusiastic reception from the media, but this did not add to the case.
The AMX was very popular among younger customers, but the two-seat version was discontinued after three model years. The AMX was succeeded by the Javelin from 1971 to 1974 in a four-seat version. It was designed by Dick Teague.
History of the AMX
The initial full-scale model of the AMX was developed in 1965 by the advanced styling studio of AMC. The development was done under Charles Mashigan. The two-seat AMX was very popular before its release, as it was revealed on the auto show circuit in 1966. It came with rumble seats and was nicknamed the Ramble seat by fans.
Due to this, the AMC executives wanted to take advantage of the customer’s perceptions. So, they requested that a car like the full-scale model be produced and released quickly. AMC first manufactured two cars, one was a modified Javelin, and the second was a completely different car made of fiberglass.
The modified Javelin was chosen to be the AMX, especially since AMC could use its existing technology to make it. The automaker could produce cars with steel bodies in large numbers, so it rejected the fiberglass cars. The first fully operational unit of the AMX project emerged in 1966.
The AMX was the first steel-bodied, two-seat American car produced with high performance since the 1957 Ford Thunderbird. It was also the only mass-produced, domestic two-seater car to compete with the Chevy Corvette, also since the 1957 Thunderbird.
The AMX was initially launched at the Daytona International Speedway in February 1968. It was also introduced to the press through a demonstration on the race track. It had an impressive maximum speed of 130 miles per hour. The car was designed to appeal to those who enjoy driving muscle cars and sports cars.
It received positive responses from the press. The vice president of AMC called the car “the Walter Mitty Ferrari.” Another journalist stated that “the AMX is the hottest thing to ever come out of Wisconsin… you can whip through corners and real hard bends better than many out-and-out sport cars.”
Meaning of AMX
The AMX name means American Motors Experimental, and this was the code used on a concept vehicle. The code was also used on two prototypes from the company, shown at the Project IV automobile show tour in 1966.
The AMX was given to the fiberglass two-seat car, and the other was a four-seat car called AMX II. Both of these car styles were based on the company’s strategy to launch an economy car. It was focused on appealing to the younger market, and it succeeded.
Specs and Features of the AMC AMX
The AMC AMX was an impressive car, and the fact that it was a two-seater meant that it competed with other race cars released at that time. Despite this, it was not a sports car but a personal muscle car. This is probably what led to the low sales volume, as buyers were unsure of whether they were buying a sport car or a muscle car.
The AMX was based on the Javelin, which was a four-seat pony car, and the wheelbase was reduced by 12 inches. It was also an inch shorter than the Corvette, which was one of its biggest competitors. The car had no rear seats, with a bolder grille and a clean, fastback roofline. It gave the car an aggressive look.
Since it was a classic American muscle car, the AMX offered top-notch performance. The coupe came with a high-displacement engine and a short wheelbase, making it a unique option for buyers in that era. There were multiple engine options available at that time.
These include the 290 cubic-inch 225 hp 4.8-liter V8, 343 cubic-inch 280 hp 5.6-liter V8, 360 cubic-inch 5.9-liter V8, 390 cubic-inch 315 hp 6.4-liter V8, 390 cubic-inch 340 hp 6.4-liter V8, and 390 cubic-inch 325 hp 6.4-liter V8. The engine options were available for the different model years.
As for the transmission, the car comes with a standard 4-speed manual floor-shift transmission. The optional transmission is the 3-speed Shift Command automatic on the console.
The wheelbase of the car was 97 inches, which was a bit short but expected for a two-seater personal car. The length was 177 inches, but it was increased to 179 inches by 1970. The width was 71 inches, while the height was 51 inches. The curb weight of the car was approximately 3,000 pounds.
Features That Were Firsts in the Industry
The 1968-1970 AMX came with a lot of firsts in the industry, which is probably why it was named the best-engineered car of the year by the American Society of Automotive Engineers in 1969 and 1970.
For one, the car introduced an injection-molded dashboard that was in one piece for safety reasons, and that was the first time. Also, the 390 cubic-ich 6.4-liter engine was created to have a compact size and moderate weight while still having a large displacement. The models also came with fiberglass safety padding on the inside of the windshield post.
Another industry first on the AMX in the 1970 model year was the thin and light windshields, which were different from ordinary laminated glass. The glass came with a chemically hardened layer that could crumble upon impact to prevent injuries to the drivers. The windshield sealing design was incorporated into the 1970 models.
The 1968 AMX is the first model year for this brand. After it was promoted in front of automotive journalists, AMC also signed a marketing agreement with Playboy Enterprises and held meetings at nine Playboy Clubs. The AMX was introduced five months after the Javelin and other AMC cars. It was promoted as the only American sport car that costs less than $3,500.
Upon its release, the 1968 AMX attracted a lot of positive responses, and it pulled young people into their dealer showrooms in large numbers. It was a handsome two-seater that was praised as the best-looking car in the USA.
The 1968 AMX came with three engine options, which included a 290 cubic-inch 4.8-liter, a 343 cubic-inch 5.6-liter, and a 390 cubic-inch 6.4-liter engine. It also came with a BorgWarner T-10 four-speed manual transmission as standard, with the three-speed automatic transmission as optional.
This model year also came with the Go-Package option. This option provided a four-barrel 343 or 390 engine with power-assisted front disk brakes, heavy-duty suspension with thicker sway bars, Twin-Grip differentials, and heavy-duty cooling. Drivers could also purchase performance parts for installation into their cars, and they were called Group 19.
Special Editions of the 1968 AMX
The 1968 AMX also came with other editions. For instance, the Breedlove AMX was a replica to commemorate the speed and other records made by the AMC. There isn’t a lot of documentation on this car, but it had red, white, and blue paint on the exterior and a 4-barrel 290 cubic-inch 4.8-liter V8 engine.
Then, there was the Playmate AMX. This was a specially painted Playmate Pink 1968 AMX that was awarded to Angela Dorian, the Playmate of the Year. It came with a 290 V8 engine with automatic transmission, tilt wheel, air conditioning, AM/8-track radio, and optional rear bumper guards. There were a number of other AMX models that were finished in pink.
There was also the Hertz rent-a-racer, which was a program offered by Hertz Corporation. Hertz ordered different AMX cars for their fleet, and it was provided to others as a rental car. Then there was the Von Piranha Edition. These were 22 new AMXs modified for particular dealerships, and they came with some changes, like the ducts that cooled the rear brakes and roof.
The 1969 AMX is the second model year of this muscle car, and it only saw slight changes. There was also a $52 increase in the base price. The racing stripes were now available in three colors, and the five-spoke Magnum 500 steel road wheels were now equipped with a stainless steel trim ring.
The interior of the hot rod was also redesigned. The door panels were revised, and the carpeting was upgraded. The leather upholstery was also optional, and AMX removed the gas pedal. There was also a hood placed over the instruments on the dashboard.
All the manual transmission AMXs in this model year came with a Hurst floor shifter. There was the console-mounted three-speed Shift Command automatic transmission available. AMC also offered another paint option called Big Bad. The exterior options included color-matched front and rear bumpers and a slim bright lower grille molding.
Special Editions of the 1969 AMX
There were also special editions of the 1969 AMX. These include the California 500 Special, which was only sold to the members of the Southern California American Motors Dealer Association. It served as a pace car, and the dealers also sold replicas. The cars also came with Trendsetter Sidewinder exhaust side pipes.
AMC also released the Super Stock AMX, which offered better performance. The 390 engine was created with twin Holley carburetors and a 12.3:1 compression ratio cylinder head. The tires were drag slicks, and there were additional modifications. The car was meant for the race track and did not come with comfort equipment.
Another special edition is the Pikes Peak car, which was designed to be used as a pace vehicle for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. The AMX Pace went against Courtesy cars to practice in races. A number of AMC and Jeep cars participated in the race, but only one two-seat AMX succeeded.
The model year also came with the AMX-R, which was a seat idea considered for possible production. A prototype was built in 1968 based on the regular AMX and was named the AMX-R. The designers modified the interior, added custom paint treatment, and updated the suspension.
The 1970 AMX was the final model year for this series. The model year was slightly facelifted, so while it still looked like the previous model, there were obvious changes. It came with a new front-end design, with a long hood and two large openings. This paired with the Go Package on the 360 and 390 engines, which came with a ram-air induction system.
The rear end was also modified, with full-width taillamps and a center-mounted backup light. It also came with side marker lights. Another new feature is the front double wishbone suspension with ball joints, coil springs, and shock absorbers above the control arms and upper and lower control arms.
The interior of the 1970 AMX was redesigned, too, with new features like the wood-grained dashboard, Rim Blow steering wheel, and center console. There were tall bucket seats with a clamshell design and headrests. The exterior rearview mirror had a new design and matched the body of the car.
The Legacy of the AMX
The AMC AMX is popular among collectors, especially since it was present in pop culture like Playboy. The AMC muscle car became popular after 2004, and it recorded notable value increases from 2006. One model sold for over $40,000.
If you’re a muscle car collector, you should consider some factors. The rear wing of the car is prone to rust, so you should inspect it before you purchase it. You should also check the truck and floor pans, the area under the front fenders, the sill panels, and other parts for rust.
The AMC AMX is an impressive muscle car that you can enjoy driving, even if it dates back to the 60s, or add to your collection.
Here’s a summary of our article on this classic car:
- AMX is a two-seat GT-style muscle car that was made from 1968 to 1970.
- The first model was made in 1965, but it was later launched at the Daytona International Speedway in 1968.
- The AMX came with six engine options, and drivers can choose between manual and automatic transmissions.
- There are special editions of the AMX, like the Playmate AMX, Breedlove AMX, and AMX-R.
- The AMX is still very popular among collectors who are interested in muscle cars.
You can still purchase the AMX from classic car markets and second-hand markets, as it is a popular option among drivers.
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