1970 AMC AMX. Click image to enlarge
Article and photo by Bill Vance
In 1962, when Roy Abernethy became president of American Motors Corporation after George Romney left to pursue politics (he became governor of Michigan), he set out to change what he perceived as AMC’s economy car image. Whereas Romney was a champion of smaller, more economical cars, Abernethy, who had formerly been with Packard, wanted to expand and go virtually head-to-head with the Big Three.
AMC marketed three car lines: the small Rambler American; the standard size Rambler Classic; and a stretched, upscale version of the Classic called the Rambler Ambassador. When Ford surprised the industry by introducing the sporty Mustang in 1964, a car that spawned a new class of vehicle called the “pony car,” AMC naturally felt it had to have one too.
It took a while for other manufacturers to respond because Ford had so thoroughly scooped the competition. The American Motors entry, the Javelin, was finally ready for 1968. Javelin, the first departure from the Rambler name, which AMC had used exclusively since 1958, was a smartly-styled, four-passenger, long-hood, short-deck pony car that could hold its own with Mustangs, Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds.
But AMC didn’t stop there: it went the others one better with the introduction of a short-coupled sports car called the AMX, a spin-off of the Javelin.
An AMX concept car, which would strongly influence the style of the production AMX, had been shown by American Motors in 1966. It was a low, sleek, two-passenger coupe, a venture hardly expected from staid American Motors. Unusual features included a futuristic cantilevered roof with no windshield pillars, and a slick, fold-up trunk-mounted rumble seat, which AMC stylist Richard Teague cleverly dubbed the “Ramble Seat.”
Complementing this seat was a windshield that flipped up in front of the open air passengers, a la the 1946-1949 Triumph 1800/2000 Roadster, the world’s last production car with a rumble seat (the last American rumble seat was in the 1939 Plymouth). Neither the cantilevered roof nor the Ramble Seat would make it to the production AMX.
The AMX, introduced in September 1967, was created by removing a 305 mm (12 in.) slice from the middle of the Javelin. This reduced the wheelbase from 2,769 mm (109 in.) to 2,464 mm (97 in.), and the result was a trim, stylish two-passenger coupe (the only two-passenger pony car) that was only 4,374 mm (177.2 in.) long, although it tipped the scales at a rather porky 1,515 kg (3,340
To save money and speed up introduction, many Javelin parts were used in the AMX. Among the common components were the hood, doors, taillights, rear bumper and rear deck.