- 390-ci V8 engine
- 4-speed manual transmission with Hurst shifter
- Carter AFB Competition Series 4-bbl carburetor
- MSD ignition
- Power steering
- Power brakes
- Factory wheels with beauty rings
- Pioneer AM/FM/cassette
- AMX# 13555
- Air-conditioning delete
|Vehicle:||1969 AMC AMX|
|Number Produced:||19,134 (all years), 8,293 (1969)|
|Original List Price:||$3,297|
|Tune Up Cost:||$200|
|Chassis Number Location:||Plate at driver’s side base of windshield, plate welded to top of right wheelhouse panel under hood|
|Engine Number Location:||Cast into bottom side of block|
|Club Info:||American Motors Owners Association|
|Alternatives:||1967–68 Chevrolet Camaro, 1968 Ford Mustang GT, 1968 Plymouth Barracuda|
This car, Lot 722, sold for $15,400, including buyer’s premium, at Leake’s Oklahoma City, OK, auction, held February 24–26, 2017. It was offered without reserve.
The AMX (for American Motors eXperimental) is a car that the automotive community can’t seem to make up its mind about. On the one hand, this car was hailed in its day as one of the best muscle cars ever designed, and sometimes you’ll see a pristine example go for big money. But it’s just as common to see good examples that don’t make their estimate, or that go unsold without bids that meet a reasonable reserve. What’s up with that?
Back to the beginning
The AMX was designed in the mid-1960s and debuted for the 1968 model year. AMC had been teasing auto shows for a few years with AMX prototypes, and as usual, the production model was far more mundane than the concepts. But at the time, people thought it would give the brand-new C3 Corvette a run for its money as America’s favorite sports car.
When it was launched in February of 1968, you could get the new AMX for $3,245. That money got you the special AMX 290-ci V8 engine at 10:1 compression with a 4-barrel carb making 225 horsepower. A 4-speed floor-shift manual transmission was standard, but a 3-speed automatic with floor shift was optional.
The main option that you should care about is the Go Pack, which cost about $266. That got you a 343-ci engine at 290 horsepower, dual exhaust, upgraded cooling, power disc brakes in front, limited-slip differential and a handling package. You could also order the Go Pack with an X-Code 390-ci engine at 315 horsepower for about $343.25. Of course, the 390 was the engine to have.
Not much changed for 1969, as the AMX was a mid-year introduction. The base price went up by $50, and AMC offered several special option packages including a California 500 with sidepipes and a Super Stock with dual carburetors.
1970 was the last year for the authentic AMX, and the 290 and 343 engines were dropped. A 360-ci V8 was now the base engine, rated at 290 horsepower. The 390 was boosted to 325 horsepower for that year. The Go Pack was available with either engine.
American Motors dropped the AMX after 1970, likely because sales had never really taken off. But they kept trying to sell the name through the next decade. From 1971 to 1974, there was a top performance trim of the Javelin called an AMX, and AMC revived the name on a Hornet in 1977 and as a separate model based on the Concord in 1978 and the Spirit from 1979 to ’80.
The original AMX with the 390 offered tremendous performance at a bargain price. 0–60 was measured at 6.6 seconds by Car and Driver magazine in 1968, with a quarter-mile time of 14.8 seconds right off the showroom floor. The short wheelbase made the AMX more eager to turn than most of its competitors, so it could be used in sports car racing. In 1969, an AMX took second place at the SCCA Runoffs out of a field of 16 competitors.
A reasonable example
In the muscle car scene, the AMX occupies a peculiar position. Everyone seems to like them, but they’ve never commanded the kind of money that other muscle cars of the era routinely see. That’s good news for AMX enthusiasts, because it keeps prices down to earth — for the most part.
Through all three years of production, just 19,134 cars were built. Of those, 7,364 received the 390 and a 4-speed manual transmission, and 5,371 had the 390 with an automatic. The 290, 343 and 360 versions saw about 1,000 of each built per year. So most of the AMX cars you see at auctions now are 390s, and most of them are original 390s. And here’s the thing — you see a lot of these cars at auction.
Since the beginning of 2016, our database records 23 AMX models crossing the block. Most of them sold between $20,000 and $30,000, with occasional outliers for truly exceptional cars and junkers. One good-quality car sold for $27,500 (ACC# 271389) in March and then failed to sell in October at a high bid of $26,500 (ACC# 6804896).
Our subject car must have been a disappointing sale, since it was offered at no reserve and garnered only a $15,400 winning bid. We don’t have a lot of information on it, but it’s a 390 with a 4-speed manual and what appears to be the full Go Pack. The paint looks good, as does the interior. At least, they look as good as they ever did — AMC build quality and interior design in this era were middling at best.
Eyesores on the sale car include a 1980s-era tape deck and a whole bunch of mods in the engine bay. The seller should have made the effort to find something like an original air cleaner rather than a cheap filter sandwiched in chrome. The MSD ignition system could at least be hidden from view, and the plug wires should be sorted. It looks like a set of tube headers have replaced the stock exhaust, and that power-steering pump is unlike most AMX units.
The mark of an extremely amateur mechanic is also visible in the cheap replacement battery cables. Both of them are red to maximize the potential for a catastrophic electrical screw-up.
Yet for all that, this car is far more right than wrong. Unless there’s something going on that was undisclosed and not clearly visible, it’s a light weekend’s work and a little parts hunting to set this car right. Maybe the brown-car curse kept the bid from going higher, but the best I can say is that I’d buy this car myself at the price paid. Well done.
(Introductory description courtesy of Leake Auction Co.)