AMC AMX equipped with Go Package. Photo by Christopher Ziemnowicz
If someone asked what was an American made sports car from the late 1960s, most people would answer with the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Only a true car enthusiast would bring up the oddball answer: The American Motor Company AMX.
The AMC AMX began life as a 1968 Javelin. They took their four-seater pony car and shortened the wheelbase by a foot to create a 97 inch wheelbase. The shorter wheelbase, combined with a new, fastback roofline made the rear completely useless, so they replaced seat with carpeted panels.
AMC had some nice engines in their line-up. The base engine was a 290 cubic inch V-8 that produced 225 hp, with a 280 hp 343 cubic inch engine. The top of the AMX food-chain was the 390 cubic inch beast producing 315 hp and 425 ft lbs of torque. This could be backed by a four speed manual or a three speed automatic transmission.
Suspension was heavy-duty (The 60’s “Sports Tuned”) suspension that included a thick front swaybar, and traction bars that prevented axle hop.
What AMC created was a hybrid of sorts—a muscle-sports car, for a price of around $3900 for the 390 equipped vehicle.
The AMX’s 0-60 time was 6.6 seconds, and could complete the quarter mile in 14.8 seconds, not great by today’s standards, but decent back then. The car couldn’t match the Corvette’s handling, but was one of the best handling American cars of its time.
The car didn’t change much for 1969, but in 1970 it received a new, more muscular front end design. The hood gained a scoop which became functional with the addition of the Ram Air option. The 290 and 343 engines were dropped; the standard motor was now a 290 hp 360 V-8. The 390 received 10 more horsepower, and combined with Ram Air produced 340 hp. The 1970 also received a revised front suspension that made the handling even better.
Like the Ford Thunderbird, the two-seater only lasted 3 years. For 1971, the AMX badge lived on as package on the Javelin, but it lost its sports car appeal. Little over 19,000 AMXs were built from 1968-70.