The AMX was hardly a car for conformists
In 1968 American Motors finally had a winner. Maybe it's just a law of averages type of thing, but the AMX was in many ways the right car for the right time.
American Motors dumped the funky four-seat Marlin in '68 and replaced it with a car made in the true pony-car formula (long hood, short trunk, six- or eight-cylinder motor, 2+2 seating), called the Javelin. It was late to the party, with Mustang and Camaro already eating up the sales charts. But the Javelin was a real car, and it was an exciting change from a company known for selling transportation aimed at the practical side of the ledger. In the middle of the 1968 sales year, AMC introduced another car, one aimed squarely at image.
In February 1968, the AMX (American Motors Experimental) was introduced. AMX was a Javelin-based car, with a 97-inch version of the Javelin's 109-inch wheelbase. Gone was the back seat, replaced by a carpeted area. The seats themselves were thin shell buckets with an available reclining feature. A dash-mounted tachometer was standard, and the steering wheel was made of a wood-grained material. The AMX came with the requisite non-functioning hood scoops, and the fastback rear treatment (the only body style offered) completed the total born-in-the-late-1960s look. Under the hood, choices ranged from a standard 290-cubic-inch V8 to 343 and 390 options.
In 1969, AMXs were available with many more features and options, including a "Big Bad AMX" package, with body-colored bumpers available in Big Bad Blue (195 built), Big Bad Orange (284 built) and Big Bad Green (293 built). Fifty-two AMXs, full NHRA turnkey drag racers prepared by Hurst, were sold: The '60s were an era of non-conformity, and fittingly, the AMX was hardly a car for conformists.
In addition to performance options, power and luxury options included air conditioning and power steering. So many different options and packages were offered that it would require your own database server just to crunch the numbers on what was available at what time. Suffice it to say, it is doubtful if there are more than one or two cars remaining that carry the same colors and equipment.
The AMX, like many muscle and performance cars of the time, did not have a high survival rate. Perhaps 25% of the cars produced are streetable today, so expect to spend some time looking for the car you want with the colors and equipment you desire. Finding original, new old stock (NOS) AMX parts makes looking for a $39 hotel room in Manhattan seem doable; in most cases, NOS parts simply do not exist. Look for a fully restored car, as a "checkbook restoration" that might be possible or even plausible (although not advisable) on a Camaro or Mustang is just not something you want to be involved in with this AMC. Fabrication is often the only way to go for rare AMX parts, and you'll find that building something from scratch is a whole lot more difficult than ordering Mopar stuff out of a Year One catalog or Web site.
Prices? The astute AMX buyer will find a good offering of decent cars in the mid-teens, while the under $10,000 cars will most likely be plagued with expensive problems. The rare #1-condition cars with great options can run twice as much and, in my opinion, are worth the difference in price. As usual, take a magnet with you when you look at an AMX-hidden rust can make an okay-looking car economically unfeasible.
By 1971, the AMX was just an option package on the Javelin. Although the '71s are sought after, they are not in the same league as the true two-seat AMXs.
Today, American Motors is just a historical footnote in the history of DaimlerChrysler (and a minor one at that). But the lasting popularity of the AMX points out that even the company known for turning out hordes of hopeless Ambassadors did, for three years at least, get one car just right.