AMC Rambler AMX

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1968 - 1970
325 bhp at 5000 rpm
4 spd. MT
Top Speed:
Number Built:
4 star
Reviewed by Unique Cars and Parts
Our Rating: 4


The AMC AMX was a two-seat GT in style and approach sports car that was produced by American Motors Corporation for the 1968 through 1970 model years. The AMX was also classified as a muscle car, but "unique among other American cars at the time due its short wheelbase". The AMX was also the only American-built steel-bodied two-seater of its time, with the 1955 - 1957 Ford Thunderbird being the last ones.

To a degree, the AMX was a competitor with America's only other two-seater of the era, the Chevrolet Corvette for substantially less money. With a one-inch (2.5 cm) shorter wheelbase than the Chevrolet's 2-seater, "the AMX was often seen by the press as a Corvette competitor."

For Australians, the AMX was an American revolution. Unlike the land-barges then being built (excluding of course the likes of the Mustang, Corvette, Dart etc) the AMX felt taut and crip. It would rumble surefootedly over broken surfaces and the suspension let the driver know exactly what was going on underneath.

When you planted the right foot, the twin exhausts would let go with a throaty blast and the car would accelerate without a waver, there being little more drama than an initial brief chirp from the rear wheels. It cornered flat, and had enough power to allow the driver to control its attitude through use of the accelerator.

Mechanical specifications were identical to the Javelin, with a 343 cubic inch V8 delivering 280 horses to the rear wheels, via a three-speed "Shift Command" automatic transmission. By virtue of its scaled-down dimensions, it had a slightly better power/ weight ratio than the Javelin and this imparted a real get-down-to-business feel that was not as strongly evident in the iarger car.

Suspension changes were limited to traction bars for the rear suspension, which assisted the limited slip differential in keeping the back end well in hand. There was only one feature which tended to dull the driver's rapport with the road - an over-light power-assisted steering system. The number of turns required from lock-to-lock were considerably less than in the Rambler Rebel, but 4.5revolutions of a large-diameter steering wheel were still too many, especially when there was no road feel whatsoever.

In Australia there were less options than that available in the USA - mainly because the cars arrived at the AMI factory ready for assembly in CKD form. That's not to say there were no options at all - just far fewer than those available Stateside. But there was a bright side to the Australian assembly; The cars rolling off the Port Melbourne facility were considered to have been put togther with a quality of fit and finish equal to the Toyota's which shared the production line.

Behind the Wheel

The AMX was carpeted throughout, the upholstery materials were attractive and the instruments were comprehensive, being well laid out in a hooded panel directly in front of the driver. The controls were easily reached while wearing (a non-inertia reel) seat-belt, and a push-button radio came as standard equipment. The range of seat adjustment was adequate for most people, but it could have been more generous, considering that there were no rear passengers to worry about. We assume the cause was that AMC stuck to their existing parts bin and did not design a new setup for the AMX.

Like the Rebel, the reclining adjustment for the seat backrest was too coarse to allow all drivers to find an ideal driving position, but the seats were comfortable and were well-shaped enough so we doubt few found fault - unless they were particularly tall and realised that head-room was not all that generous. On the outside the main features that impressed was the car's styling, with its reliance on simple curvature of body panels to give the muscular sporty look, the handling which was the equal of those sporty looks, and the performance from the two big 350 c.i. beasties.

Hurst Shifter and Go Package

An all-synchromesh four-on-the-floor transmission with a Hurst shifter was standard. Performance options included the AMX 390-cid V-8 with 325 hp and a close-ratio four-speed manual transmission. Very desirable today is the code 391-392 “Go-Package,” that was available on 360-powered AMXs for $299 and on 390-powered AMXs for $384. It included power front disc brakes, F70-14 raised white-letter tyres, a handling package, a heavy-duty cooling system and a functional Ram-Air hood scoop

US Built AMX

Fitted with the optional high-compression medium block 390 cu in (6.4 litre) AMC V8, the AMX offered top-notch performance at an affordable price. In spite of this value and enthusiastic initial reception by automotive media and enthusiasts, sales never thrived. However, the automaker's larger objectives to refocus AMC's image on performance and to bring younger customers into its dealer showrooms was achieved. After three model years, the two-seat version was discontinued, and the AMX's new signature badging was transferred to a high-performance version of its 4-seat sibling, the Javelin, from 1971 - 1974. American Motors capitalised the respected reputation of the original AMXs by reviving the model designation for performance-equipped coupe versions of the compact Hornet in 1977, Concord in 1978, and subcompact Spirit in 1979 and 1980.

Base and Optional V8

Overhead valves. Cast-iron block. Displacement: 360 cid. Bore and stroke: 4.08 x 3.44 inches. Compression ratio: 10.0:1. Advertised hp: 290 at 4800 rpm. Advertised torque: 395 at 3200 rpm. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetor: Motorcraft 4300 Series four-barrel. Exhaust system: Single standard, duals optional, duals standard on AMX. Optional V-8: Overhead valves. Cast-iron block. Displacement: 390 cid. Bore and stroke: 4.17 x 3.57 inches. Compression ratio: 10.0:1. Advertised hp: 325 at 5000 rpm. Advertised torque: 420 at 3200 rpm. Five main bearings. Forged crank and rods. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetor: Motorcraft 4300 Series four-barrel. Exhaust system: Duals standard on all models with 390 engine.

Options (US Spec)

Shift-Command automatic transmission. Close-ratio four-speed manual transmission with floor shift. AMX V-8 390-cid/325-hp four-barrel engine ($11). Heavy-duty 70-amp battery ($13). Axle ratios, all optional ($10). Heavy-duty cooling, standard with air ($16). Dual exhaust, as separate option ($31). Twin-Grip positive traction rear axle ($43). Power brakes ($43). Power steering ($102). Air-conditioning ($380). Rear bumper guards ($13). Command Air ventilation system, without air ($41). Tinted glass. Two-tone finish with “black shadow” treatment ($52). Rally side stripes, solid colour ($32). Power front disc brakes ($84). Eight-track stereo tape with manual radio/twin rear speakers ($195). Leather-trimmed bucket seats ($34). Quick-ratio manual steering, for racing ($16). Tachometer and 140 mph speedometer with V-8 ($50). Shift-Command, floor control AMX with “390” V-8 ($118). The Code 39 1/2 Go-Package retailed for $298.85 on the “360” AMX and $383.90 on the “390” AMX. It included one of these engines, power front disc brakes, F70-14 black-wall tires with raised white letters, Handling Package, heavy-duty cooling system, and functional Ram-Air induction scoop.

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