Cohort Pic(k) of the Day: 1970 AMC AMX – Dick Teague Sharpens His Knife

This morning is a double-header: Just like we’ve never had a CC on the Porsche 924, so it is with the original AMX. I recently saw a fine ’68-’69 roll by on a street here not long ago, so I know there’s one around. And when I find it, it will get its proper respects. In the meantime, we’ll have to content ourselves with this 1970 shot and posted by nifticus, and a more limited commentary by me.

The AMX was quite a shocker in its day, for more reasons than one.

The first AMX concept was unveiled in 1965. It was of course the work of AMC Design head Dick Teague, featuring his “wet shirt” look: a tight skin, with the muscles and other elements clearly in view.

The next step was for Vignale to build a running prototype (in 78 days), which featured this “Ramble Seat”. That obviously didn’t make it into production.

The final product arrived in 1968. It was of course just a shortened Javelin with a bolder C pillar and a different grille. AMC tried very hard to position it as a genuine sports car on the basis of it being a two seater, but frankly, that just didn’t go over all that well.

Its proportions are a wee bit off, being too short and looking like what it was. But then are the Javelin’s, which had a rather unusually long rear section between the end of the front door and the rear wheels. It looks more like a sporty sedan-coupe than a genuine pony car. The Javelin is of course related to the Hornet sedan, from which this quality undoubtedly springs. AMC did brag about how the Javelin’s rear seat was so much more spacious than any of the other pony cars. Not that it helped much.

How about something right between these two outliers? That might have looked just right.

And of course if you want to know where Dick Teague got the idea of cutting the Hornet’s rear end to create the Gremlin, you’re looking at it. It was just a bigger slice.

Nevertheless, the AMX brought some genuine excitement to AMC, which is something it desperately needed at a time when it was trying to shed its dull and thrifty image. But the effect was limited, as were the AMX’s actual sales: a total of 19,134 for the years 1968-1970. Pretty modest.

And as can be seen here, the 1970 version had a new front end that reflected the change in the Javelin’s front end that year. Engines were all the AMC V8, in 290, 343, 360 and 390 cubic inch sizes. Performance with the 390 was quite decent, with the 0-60 being absolved in some 6.6 seconds, and the 1/4 mile in 14.7-14.8 @92-95 mph.

I vividly remember the arrival of the AMX, and did think they were trying to pull the wool over us to some extent. But I also liked aspects of its design, and had to give them credit for the gumption to cut a Javelin down and sell what was left of it, at higher prices, of course. Good old AMC and Dick Teague.