Having just returned from the American Motors Owners Assoc. (AMONational.com) 2016 convention, it’s hard not to be impressed by this Wisconsin automaker’s sporty AMX and Javelin models. When the car show awards were given out on Saturday night, they went to one or the other of these “pony cars” for at least a steady half hour, if not a full hour.
American Motors Corp. (AMC) introduced the AMX as a two-seat sports car. It debuted on Feb. 15, 1968. The Corvette was the only other two-seat car being produced in the United States at that time. The AMX was in rare company.
Selling a sports car was a change from AMC’s old economy car image. AMC called the launch of the car “Mission AMX.” That was a take off on the “Mission Impossible” TV show, which was very popular at the time. The car was aimed at the youth market and youthful buyers who were big fans of “spy” shows.
AMC’s new image as a youth-oriented automaker had begun with a total revamp of the company’s six-cylinder and V8 engines. The revamped AMC engines were lightweight and ultra-modern with lots of horsepower and torque. The basic AMC V8 had been designed back before 1960, but in a wise move, the engine designers went with center-to-center bore spacing of 1.75˝, which allowed the displacement to grow larger and larger over more than a decade.
A 290-cid V8 was offered from 1966 to 1969. Also available in 1967-1969 was a 343-cid V8. On the same day that the AMX was introduced, AMC brought out its 390-cid 315-hp V8, which gained 10 hp by 1970. There was also a 340-hp version of this engine that was exclusive to the 1970 Rebel “Machine.”
Shortly after the introduction of the AMX, land-speed-record holder Craig Breedlove and his wife Lee shattered 106 speed and endurance records with 390-powered AMXs they drove at the Bonneville Salt Flats near Wendover, UT. A bit later, the Society of Automotive Engineers gave the AMX its Design Award.
Two-seat AMXs were built for three years, during which a total of 19,134 cars left the assembly line. After the AMX came out, AMC cars and engines went on to establish a very impressive racing record in a very short period of time. Success on the racetrack added up to showroom sales and AMC enjoyed some of its best years prior to Chrysler’s purchase of the company in 1987.
For model years 1971 thru 1974, the AMX became a variant of the four-seat Javelin car line. AMC offered a wide selection of engines from the 232-cid six-cylinder to a big 401-cid 335-hp V8 that included forged steel con rods, a forged steel crank and a four-barrel carburetor. The 401 redlined at 8,000 rpm.
AMC advertised the Javelin-AMX as “the closest thing you can buy to a Trans-Am champion.” It had a full-width fiberglass cowl induction hood and front and rear spoilers. In 1972, the car industry changed to net horsepower ratings and the 401 Javelin was rated for 255 hp. Things stayed like this through 1974.
Today, parts are still available from several sources, including: AMC Store (www.amcstore.com); American Parts Depot (www.americanpartsdepot.com); Blaser Auto (www.blaserauto.com); and Galvin’s AMC-Rambler Parts (www.ramblerparts.com). Are there others? Let us know! ν