The AMC AMX is an automobile in the Gran Turismo (GT) tradition. It was produced by the American Motors Corporation (AMC) and sold at a budget price. As it had only two seats, like the Chevrolet Corvette, The Muscle Car Club "world wide muscle car registry" queries whether it qualifies as a true muscle car or pony car. However they also list it among vehicles that fit the general interpretation of both categories because it is a shorter two-seat version of the longer AMC Javelin pony car. AMC was "“never shy" about describing the car as "a genuine sports car."
In 1971 AMC transferred the AMX name to a higher-performance version of the 4-seat Javelin, which continued through 1974. The name was revived for performance option equipped versions of the Hornet in 1977, Concord in 1978, and lastly to the Spirit in 1979 and 1980.
Origin of AMX
The AMX name originates from the "American Motors eXperimental" code used on two early AMC prototypes that were shown on tour in what is called the "Project IV" in 1966. The four cars derived from 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. In 1966 Vince Gardner, an outside consultant, designed the fiberglass-bodied car AMX II concept car as part of AMC's "Project IV" exhibit. AMC president Roy Abernethy sanctioned the Italian coachbuilder Vignale in Turin to construct an operational car in steel. Delivered in 78 days and known as the "AMX Vignale", it was first displayed at the 1966 New York International Auto Show.
There were two simultaneous development programs for a new AMC production car: (1) a modified Javelin and (2) a completely new car bodied in fiberglass. The first approach was selected for progress to production because it used AMC's existing technology and unibody manufacturing expertise. Fairly inexpensive modifications to the Javelin approximated the prototype's styling and proportions. The first fully operational AMX prototype debuted as part of AMC's AMX project in 1966. (Preserved in the Talledega Speedway Museum for many years, it is now in a private collection in Canada.)
AMC considered making an injection molded plastic unibody AMX, having the resource to do so through its Kelvinator Division who boasted the largest plastic injection molding machine in the industry at that time; large enough to do a small car. This idea was later seen in the arguable underpowered mid-engined Pontiac Fiero which features a plastic body shell. (This information should be sorted into a new page to feature the AMX/3 as a unique model. See http://www.amx390.com/amx3a.html )
The production AMX debuted just over four months after the Javelin went on sale.
It was touted by some to be the first steel-bodied, two seat production model from an American manufacturer since the 1957 Ford Thunderbird. The only other two-seat domestic sports car at that time was the Chevrolet Corvette. And AMC advertising merely played along with the flattering sayings. (The Corvette wheelbase was 98 inches (2,489 mm); the AMX’s was 97 inches (2,464 mm) ). Base price for the AMX was US$3,245, over $1,000 less than the Corvette.
In January 1968 two specially-prepared AMXs set 106 world speed records at a track in Texas. Described as “stock” in AMC’s promotional material about the run, the cars were modified for power, handling, and strength by World Land Speed Record holder Craig Breedlove’s speed shop.
The V8 engines, such as the 290 cu in (4.8 L) engine in one car was bored out to 304 cu in (5 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-gallon (Template:Convert/multi2LoffAonSon) 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 car interiors had structure-stiffening roll cages for driver protection, a stock bucket seat modified for additional support, and supplementary engine-monitoring instruments.
The cars were aerodynamically modified: the front ends were lowered, the hoods were slanted down and spoilers were installed below the front bumpers.
The AMX was “not only sporty and attractive”, but it introduced “many industry firsts."
The AMX was named "Best Engineered Car of the Year" in 1969 and 1970 by the American Society of Automotive Engineers. Among the reasons cited was the car’s dashboard, which was injection-molded in one piece "for safety purposes, an industry first."
1968 to 1969
All 1968 to 1969 AMXs came with a 4-barrel carbureted AMC V8 engines in 290 cu in (4.8 L) (235 hp (175 kW), N-code), 343 cu in (5.6 L) (280 hp (209 kW), T-code), 390 cu in (6.4 L) (315 hp (235 kW), X-code) versions, 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 crankshaft; the 343 used larger valves with a thicker block webbing; and the 390 moved up to a forged steel crankshaft.
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 AMX's with its dashboard number plate containing Dorian's measurements, making her car AMX 36-24-35. Only one other AMX is known to have been painted Playmate Pink at the factory. In late 1968 a Playmate Pink AMX was special ordered by a dealership in rural Missouri. This car, a 1969 model, was powered by a 390 V8 with automatic transmission and included the performance "GO" Package, air conditioning and genuine leather seats. It survives and has been restored by AMC collector Scott Campbell of Ohio.
Starting January 1969, all manual transmission AMXs came with a Hurst shifter. A "Shift-Command" three-speed automatic transmission (BorgWarner model M-11B or M-12) was optional with a floor console mounted shifter.
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. Hurst Performance carried out several additional modifications.
AMC rated the car at 340 horsepower (250 kW), but the 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 car could be ordered painted 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 warranty.
AMC changed the engine lineup for 1970 with the introduction of a new 360 cu in (5.9 L) four-barrel (290 hp (216 kW), P-code) to replace the 343. The smallest 290 was dropped. The 390 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 1970 models also featured a new front end design with a longer hood that had a “power blister” with two large openings that were a functional cold ram-air induction system with the popular custom "Go Package".
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; also trailing struts on the lower control arms.
Described as “the best version yet of this blend of muscle car and sports car”, the 1970 model was also the last “true AMX”.
In 2005 the Speed Channel show American Muscle Car conducted comparative tests with cars that included an AMX 390, Pontiac GTO Judge, Ford Mustang Cobra Jet, and Dodge Hemi Challenger. The objective was to identify "the greatest muscle car ever built." Lighter although less powerful, the AMX placed above a number of the other cars.
In 1969 the TV show "Car and Track" posted the following times with an AMX 390 cu in (6.4 L) running a standard 4-barrel carburetor and 10.2:1 compression ratio:
A limited number of AMXs were also assembled under license in Australia. Complete knock down (CKD) kits were shipped from Kenosha, Wisconsin to the Australian Motor Industries (AMI) Port Melbourne, Victoria facilities. These AMXs featured right hand drive.
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..."
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 2007 Hemmings said that about 39 of the original SS/AMX turn-key race cars were said to 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."
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."
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."
During production, AMC provided no identification on a car to associate it with a particular engine. Each vehicle was inspected to confirm that the engine displacement (identified by numbers cast on the block under the engine mounts) corresponded to its vehicle identification number (VIN) code. Also checked was the tag screwed to the valve cover. This confirmed an engine's build date as preceding that car's production sequence - there is no engine "numbers matching" test for AMXs or any other AMC automobiles.
As a marketing move, AMC affixed a small plate with a number to the glovebox door or to the center of the dash. These random numbers do not coincide with any other identifying number such as the car's VIN code, dealer or zone order, production sequence, nor build date.
Concept and show cars
Developed for the 1968 auto show circuit, the AMX GT is a concept car based on the Javelin with a Kammback rear end.
George Barris customized a 1969 AMX. It was built for the second "Banacek" TV season episode. The car was lowered and its body was heavily modified. Its roof was chopped almost five inches and the car was lengthened 18 inches (457 mm). Featuring a sculpted body with louvered accents, it became known as the AMX-400. Barris Kustom Gallery page
The AMX/2, is a non-functioning design experiment with fiberglass body. Two rolling AMX/2 prototypes were made. One spent many years mounted atop a pole of a used car dealership owned by Norm Kurtz of Twin Pines Auto Sales in Ephrata, Pennsylvania. This car is now in a private collection in Canada. The AMX/2 design never progressed to a running car. 
The AMX/3 was the third iteration of AMC's AMX (American Motors Experimental) design for a two-seater concept cars. The sole AMX/3 fiberglass prototype, made at the American Motors Design Center on Plymouth Road in Detroit, was displayed at the 1970 Chicago Auto Show. In 1973 Richard A. Teague had the car repainted from yellow to green and donated it to the Rippey's Veteran Car Museum in Denver Colorado. Five years later the museum sold the car to Jim Jensen. In April 2007 he sold it to Tom Dulaney, who is restoring it. When completed the car will be displayed at the San Diego Automotive Museum in California.
After making this fiberglass pushmobile called "Zero", the AMX/3 body mold was then sent to Giotto Bizzarrini in Turin, Italy who made the drivable mid-engine cars with steel bodies. These cars had a 105.3-inch (2,675 mm) wheelbase. They used the AMC 390 cu in (6.4 L) V8 and an Italian OTO Melara four-speed transaxle. BMW did the testing and said it had one of the stiffest chassis they had ever tested, with very neutral handling characteristics. Giotto Bizzarrini sent the first five cars to AMC before the US$2,000,000 program was cancelled. The five cars in the second group were incomplete. One is known to have been completed later by Giotto Bizzarrini's business partner Salvator Diamonte. The steel Italian cars differed from the original AMC design in several ways; also each car has individual characteristics that differentiate it from the others. All had louvered hoods to allow air to exit from the flow through radiator. Some also had hood scoops to guide fresh air into the heating and air conditioning system. The rear decklid louvers were reduced from 19 to 11 and made functional. There were other minor changes. The AMX/3 is widely considered to be the best AMC design of all time.