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AMC AMX Review – Classic Muscle Car Review

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Written by Elise

1st March 2021

AMC AMX Review – Classic Muscle Car Review
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AMC AMX Review – Classic Muscle Car Review

By Owen Pham

American Motors Corporation (AMC) was born after the largest corporate merger at the time (merger of Hudson Motor Car Company & Nash-Kelvinator Corporation in 1954). The amalgamation was Nash-Kelvinator President, George W. Mason’s strategy to revolutionize AMC into the next big thing and compete with the Big Three (Chrysler, GM, Ford).

AMC was famous for producing safe and economical cars. However, their products were not selling well enough. The new CEO of the company, son of Hudson co-founder, Roy Chapin Jr, decided to enter the performance ring and give AMC muscle a new identity.

He wanted to transform the grandma & grandpa’s rambler image (small economy carmaker) into a big player that could compete with the Mustang and Camaro and attract younger car enthusiasts.

The AMX, unveiled in February 1968 at Daytona International Speedway, was the company’s answer to all those wishes. Inspired by the 1966 concept car, American Motors eXperimental, the AMX was designed by Richard Dick Teague. The pony car’s birthplace was 14250 Plymouth Road, Detroit (the old Nash Motor Company plant).

The AMX was an American-built steel-bodied two-seater. Despite AMC’s best efforts to offer a muscle car attractive enough to compete with Ford, GM, and Mopar rivals, sales never flourished as much as AMC hoped. After a total production of 19,134 units from 1968-1970 model years, the two-seat version was discontinued.


God created Eve from Adam’s rib, and AMC did something similar; they used the company’s new four-seat pony car AMC Javelin AMX and designed the AMX by cutting 12 inches off its wheelbase. Compared to one of its biggest competitors, the Corvette, the AMX was an inch shorter. The original idea was to give the muscle car a fibreglass body. After crunching the numbers, the company had to scrap that idea.

The rear seats were missing, as management opted for a two-seater. A bolder grille and cleaner fastback roofline gave the car an aggressive look. Like a classic muscle car, the AMX was a high-performance coupe with a high-displacement engine and a short wheelbase, making the vehicle a unique design for its era.

A 290 cubic inch, four-cylinder V8 engine producing 225 horsepower was the 1968 AMX’s base engine. Thanks to its short wheelbase and lightweight, the 1968 AMX was able to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and the quarter-mile in 14.8 seconds.

A 343-ci engine with four cylinders and 280 horsepower was also available for the 1968 AMX. Another alternative was a mid-size 390 engine 6.4L V8 rated at 315 horsepower and equipped with a 4-barrel Carter carburettor, forged steel connecting rods and crankshaft, and 10.2:1 compression ratio. An exceptional 415 lb/ft of torque was the fascinating result.

A Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission was standard, and a three-speed slushbox automatic with floor shifter was optional. A dual exhaust system and traction bars were also standard. For better traction, the pony car had fat E70X14 tires regardless of the model.

The world champion of land speed, Craig Breedlove, was able to set 106 world speed records with a 1968 AMX. 50 limited edition white, blue, and red Craig Breedlove AMXs were produced by AMC to celebrate this achievement.

1969 AMC AMX Model

AMC was able to sell 8300 AMXs in 1969, a 23 percent increase over 1968. The 1969 AMX was offered with new paint schemes, including Big Bad Colors; striking bright orange, blue and green hues helped boost sales. All manual transmission models were equipped with a Hurst shifter. The outlandish color package cost $34 more, but surprisingly, less than 10 percent of customers chose to buy wildly colored AMXs.

Dramatic modifications were not part of the manufacturer’s plan for the 1969 AMX. New carpeting was added, and the dash design was revised. The 140 mph speedometer was upgraded, and the tachometer was relocated. There was a hood in front of the driver’s seat above the instruments.

The most famous 1969 AMX was the Super Stock editions. Hurst performed some of the upgrades to make the 1969 Super Stock AMX meet National Hot Rod Association’s Super Stock class drag racing regulations and maximized its quarter-mile performance.

In addition to the 390 V8 engine, the 1969 Super Stock AMX got dual Holley carburettors, Edelbrock Cross-Ram intake manifolds, and 12.3:1 Crane modified cylinder heads under the bonnet. 10.73 seconds was the 1969 Super Stock AMX’s fastest quarter-mile record. To buy one of the 1969 Super Stock AMX, customers had to pay $1900 more than the regular models.

1970 AMC AMX Model

Unlike 1969, AMC tried to give its pony car a facelift in 1970 to make it look more rigid. With a new bumper, grille, and bonnet, the car’s front was lengthened by 2 inches. A working cold ram air intake system was installed on the bonnet with two large vents for the power blisters.

AMC replaced the 5.6 L engine with a new 5.9 L V8 and 290 horsepower. Under the bonnet, the larger 6.4 L V8 continued to live. However, AMC engineers improved the engine with new heads. The result was 325 horsepower and 430 lb/ft of torque.

AMC significantly optimized the 1970 model compared to the AMX from previous years. However, the company was out of luck, as the muscle car market was highly competitive and sales numbers plummeted as a result; only 4116 AMXs were produced in 1970, nearly half of the 1969 record.

AMC AMX in Pop Culture

Angela Dorian was named Playmate of the Year in 1968 by Playboy Magazine. AMC congratulated Angela and presented her with the keys to a special 1968 Playmate Pink AMX. Under the pink bonnet was a base 290 horsepower V8 engine.

The 1968 Playmate Pink AMX had an automatic transmission with floor shifter, chrome Magnum 500 wheels, an 8-track radio, rear bumper guards, and air conditioning. All AMXs had a sequential build number on the glove box door. Angela’s pink AMX was no exception; 36-24-35 was her code indicating her measurements.

Owners Opinion on AMC AMX

The AMXs weighed around 1.5 tons and had a 315-horsepower engine; even by today’s standards, the power-to-weight ratio is a magnificent one, and for the late 1960s, it was simply madness. Not surprisingly, the pony car broke several records.

A modified 1968 AMX was able to reach 189 mph at Bonneville. Auto journalists were fascinated by the muscle car’s performance; they called it The Corvette Killer. The pony car offered top performance at an affordable price, nearly 25 per cent cheaper than the Corvette.

Tom McCahill, an automotive journalist, declared, “The AMX is the hottest thing ever to come out of Wisconsin and… it’s better at whipping through corners and hard bends than a lot of fancy sports cars.”

Any muscle car enthusiast knows that part of the driving pleasure comes from the roar of the engine. Tony Fleming of Fleming’s Ultimate Garage says, “I’d say driving a muscle car [meaning a 1696 AMX] compared to a Tesla is a lot like having sex without sound. And I am not sure if you are interested in that or if that has ever happened to you.”

Hobie of DRIVEN, owner of a 1969 AMX, loves his car for its particular style and design, “It definitely was an attention-getter. And that’s the whole idea”.

Muscle car enthusiast forums abound with comments about the pony car’s handling and performance. Nearly everyone praises its performance, acceleration, brakes, and handling.

Tips for AMC AMX Collectors

If you’re a muscle car collector, admire the AMC AMX or Javelin, and want to buy one of these pony cars, there are a few things to keep in mind. The rear wing is a rust-prone area; you should inspect both sides of the trunk and check for debris.

The trunk and floor pans and the area under the front fenders should also be inspected for rust problems. Additionally, between the trunk and the rear window are the sill panels; you should also check them for the same reason. In the lower area of the A-pillars, there are drainage holes that can allow debris to accumulate and lead to rust.

Bottom Line

The AMX was American Motors Corporation’s masterpiece of design and embodied the company’s dream of competing with the Big Three carmakers of the day. The pony car was a unique monster that introduced many industry firsts. In a short period, the AMC AMX was able to break many records and inspire the admiration of many muscle car enthusiasts.

With its V8 engine and weighing less than 1.5 tons, it was mighty, even by today’s standards. Driving an AMX was a fun and exciting experience thanks to the pony car’s massive engine, highly efficient transmission, and suspension.

If you enjoy the roaring sound of a V8 engine and like having another muscle car that never gets boring after five decades, the AMX is your thing. Perhaps the only downside to the AMX is its high restoration and maintenance costs. Due to the limited number of these classic cars, it is difficult and expensive to find spare parts. However, being different is always costly, isn’t it?

Author: Owen Pham

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