The American Motors AMX

Evolution of The American Motors AMX – The Other American Muscle Car

The starting point for the AMX came when American Motors hired Dick Teague as assistant director of design in 1959.

 Three years later he became vice-president of Automotive Styling and a new era began at AMC. Teague’s job was to take American Motors from being a small economy car builder to a company more competitive, on a broad scale, with the Big Three (Ford, GM and Chrysler). Many historians say American Motors should have stayed with building only small cars, or at least small and midsize cars, and shied entirely away from building larger models, because Ford, GM and Chrysler owned that market segment.

In the end, perhaps nothing would have made a difference in AMC’s fate, but for one brief period in the late 1960s, America’s number four automaker managed to butt heads with Detroit’s Big Three and give them a run for their money with the AMX and Javelin.

The next step in the evolution of the AMX was the fiberglass concept car. This was a non-driving model for the auto shows. You can already see the final production AMX taking shape.

AMX fiberglass concept car

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AMX fiberglass concept car

1970 model year AMX

For the 1970 model year the AMX got a facelift and a new, bolder hood. It seems odd that AMC would have gone to the trouble of changing the car for one year, but when the styling work was underway, it is possible that the car was planned for a longer production cycle. 

The AMX concept was made from start to finish at the old Nash Motor Company (American Motors Corporation) facility at 14250 Plymouth Road, in Detroit, which was American Motors World Headquarters at the time. The AMX started from drawings done by a number of artists (about 20 men working full-time). Quite a few ideas were taken from Erick Kugler’s drafting table in January or February 1965. From there, Bill Mitchell and his men in the wood shop built a wooden platform for the clay model.

To save money, AMC made a two-seat sports coupe from the clay model of the production Javelin, changing only the grill, hood, door glass, quarter glass and roofline through different quarter panels. The four cars, the AMX II, the Javelin, and both the AMX show car and production AMX, were being made basically at the same time but in different studios.

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1970 model year AMX
American Motors AMX
The AMX first appeared as a 1968 model. In 1969 performance extras included a 140-mph speedometer and an 8000-rpm tachometer. Under the hood breathed a standard 290 cubic-inch, four-barrel V8, with 343 and 390 cid engines optional.
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American Motors AMX 

1971 American Motors Javelin AMX

After being discontinued as a two-seat model in 1970, the AMX name reappeared in 1971 as an option for the 2+2 Javelin model.

From 1971 to 1974 AMX was reduced to an option on the Javelin, and the Javelin itself was dropped after 1974. Actually the 1971-1974 cars handled the best; they just didn’t have the same appeal.


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1971 American Motors Javelin

In a somewhat less than glorious reprise, the AMX name returned in 1977 as an option on the AMC Hornet.

 In 1978 AMX was an option on the Concord. The last production AMX cars were made in 1979 and 1980 as an option on the Spirit. After that, there was a single AMX Turbo made out of house by Autodynamics of Troy, Michigan. John Starr did the original rendering and Dick Teague oversaw the project. The car was made for the PPG Indy Car World Series and was to be used as a pace car during the 1981 season.

The AMX is best remembered in its two-seat form, its true form, if you will. It was its lightest and fastest as a two-seater, winning many races on the quarter-mile drag strips across America, and on racetracks by Team AMX, a group of 20 AMC employees headed up by Jim Alexander. A total of 106 speed and endurance records were also set by Craig and Lee Breedlove, not to mention the times those few AMX cars that were in the neighborhood cleaned the clocks of the local bad boy Fords, Chevrolets and Mopars.

Today, the original two-seat AMX is receiving well-deserved recognition on various automotive television shows and in books and magazines around the world. The AMX has been featured in car calendars, on collector cards, in die cast models of different sizes, and the real cars are winning at top Concours d`Elegance events around the country. The AMX had a short but memorable existence.

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By C.L. Zinn II on Friday, May 13, 2016 in 1960s, 1970s, AMC, AMX, Articles, Car Collector Magazine Edited version, for full text and and many more images go to https://heacockclassic.com/articles/evolution-of-the-american-motors-amx-the-other-american-muscle-car/
Portions of this article were excerpted from AMX PHOTO ARCHIVE From Concept To Reality and used by permission from Iconografix, Inc.
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By C.L. Zinn II
© Car Collector Magazine, LLC. (Click for more Car Collector Magazine articles) Originally appeared in the January 2004 Issue