The AMX was made for three model years – from 1968 to 1970 when the Javelin – a four passenger version of the AMX came on line to replace it. This car was the only steel body two seat vehicle made in the U.S. at the time. AMC wanted to break out of the idea that it was a car for economy minded people. The execs at AMC saw this car as a chance to break that image. The company wanted to bring young customers into its showrooms and it did that by offering this stylish high performance automobile with its long hood and short rear deck. The sales of the AMX were not too exciting for AMC but the car did bring young people into the show rooms. The AMX is a muscle car and could compete with the pricier Corvette; the only other two seat car made in America at the time. The AMX performance option had a high compression medium block 390 cu in (6.4 liter) V 8 power plant. The spirit of the AMX performance was revived again by AMC a few more times; in the compact Hornet in 1977, the Concord in 1978 and the subcompact Spirit in 1979/1980.
The name of the car comes from American Motors eXperamental and this car was first seen by the public as a prototype in 1966. The steel body prototype was shown on the companies “Project IV” awareness tour along with a sister prototype AMX sporting a fiberglass body. The prototypes were slightly different than the marketed end result in that they offered a rumble seat option for the trunk lid called a “ramble” seat. The fiber glass idea was scraped due to limited production facilities to work in that medium. The AMX was a hit at Daytona speedway in February 1968 where it made speeds up to 130 mph (209 km/h) not only that it also took corners and hung on in curves like a sports car. The car had a short wheel base and a low center of balance. It was described as a vehicle that had big appeal for both sports car fans and muscle car fans alike – a tough bridge to cross. The previous month two race prepped AMX cars set 106 world speed and endurance records at Goodyear’s track in Texas – one month before the public got to see the automobile unveiled at the Chicago auto show in February 1968.
The car the public sees in Chicago comes equipped with a 290 cu in bored out to 304 cu in (5.0 L). This motor comes equipped with exhaust headers, eight quart oil pan with oil coolers, a High rise intake manifold with larger carburetors on top, and a racing camshaft with solid lifters. If the engine was not strong enough you chose a high performance 390 cu in (6.4 L) option or the highest performance option offered was a 397 cu in (6.5 L) power plant to get you where you want to go on time. The front end was lowered and the hood slanted down. The AMX suspension was beefed up and a rear sway bar added for stability on corners.
Just a bit about safety features offered on this gem of an automobile that; in AMC tradition has a number of tread setting firsts. The large capacity – 37 US gallon gas tank (140 L) is divided into cells. The interior has a built in roll cage and modified bucket seats for driver and passenger support as well as for comfort. The easy reading instruments are set back in an injection molded padded dash. The windshield is thinner and lighter than traditional laminated glass with a chemically hardened finish that causes the glass to break up into smaller fragments if shattered and is held in place by plastic backed metal posts to reduce injuries. The AMX was voted “Best Engineered Car of the Year” in both 1969 and 1970 by “The Society of Automotive Engineers”