The saga of Italian-bodied American Motors cars outlived the Nash and Hudson nameplates. In the middle of the Sixties, stylist Richard Teague proposed a true GT car to generate showroom traffic, and this appeared in 1966 as the AMX show car. In order to get the car produced in time for the car shows, the body was produced by Vignale. The somewhat chunky "tunnel roof" fastback proportions and unadorned surfaces were a huge improvement over the Rambler Marlin, a hastily arranged marriage of the trendy fastback theme with a completely unsuitable sedan lower body which had appeared as a response to the Plymouth Barracuda. The AMX would have been a two-seater had it not been for the "Ramble Seat", a recycled rumble seat from the 1930s, with the hinged backlight swinging up to form a windshield for the rear occupants. Tightening Federal safety regulations nixed this seating idea, but the car was a hit on the show circuit, and provided the basic shape for the Javelin-based AMX, a true two-seater, which appeared in 1968. Note the raised surfaces outlining the wheel arches and the way this outline wraps around the tapered tail, forming the upper edge of the combined bumper and tail light units.
AMC produced the AMX 3 prototypes, also styled by Teague, as part of an effort to promote the performance aspect of their cars; this program included success in the Trans Am Series with Mark Donohue. This period coincided with a vogue for show cars (and even a few production models) featuring a mid-engined layout. AMC had Giotto Bizzarrini (designer of the Ferrari GTO and the Lamborghini V-12 engine) produce chassis to handle their big 390 inch V8, and body them in steel. The 4-speed transaxle was by OTO Melara. Testing of the unusually rigid, neutral-handling chassis was by BMW. The body design featured a strong horizontal crease along the flanks somewhat like Giugiaro's earlier De Tomaso Mangusta, but this crease kicked up over the rear wheels and outlined the car's tail, echoing the earlier AMX show car.
Though it was often assumed to be a response to Ford's Italian-built De Tomaso Pantera, the AMX -3 was announced one day earlier than that car, on April 1, 1970...
AMC's original order was for 30 cars, but a strike and related financial downturn were cited as reasons for the cancellation after only 5 cars had been built. Another possible reason was that production costs would have forced AMC to sell the car for $12,000, about $2,000 more than the announced price of the Pantera.
A sixth car was built post-cancellation from leftover spare parts. The car which might have been the most fully-realized and practical of the Italian-American GT projects still attracts plenty of attention wherever it appears.
Top & 2nd: American Motors Corp.