Groovy, Baby: The AMC AMX

Richard A. Teague’s AMC AMX design is the height of 1960’s appeal. Its low wheelbase, 2-seat “muscle” body, and long hood evoke a certain mood, one of late evening cocktails, suave James-Bond lookalikes, and  just a whiff of danger and excitement. Aside from its looks, the AMC AMX has the distinction of being the first in a long list of industry standards, including being named the Best Engineered Car two years in a row, using new windshield technology to protect drivers in case of a crash, as well as a new dashboard design that promoted more safety. It also broke plenty of records as well, including 106 speed and endurance records during a test run at Goodyear, which served to promote the new vehicle before it even became available to the public.

The nitty gritty details of the AMC AMX include V8 engines with a range of horsepower (225-390), a 4-speed manual floor shift (this was standard, but a 3-speed automatic on console was also available), a wheelbase of 97 inches, length of 177 (1968-1969) or 179 (1970) inches, and a weight of 3,000 pounds. There were also various models with alterations, or that were offered as part of a special program, such as the Rent-A-Racer program offered by the Hertz Corporation, which lent out vehicles such as the AMX, Jaguars, and Mustangs to drivers who wanted to take a ride on the wild side.

Over 20 AMC AMX’s were also taken and modified by a Denver, Colorado company by the name of Thoroughbred Motors, which altered the AMX to become a drag racing type vehicle, with two sets of air scoops, and a modified hood that allowed for more airflow. There were also special editions of the AMX promoted by the American Motors Corporation, such as the California 500, Super Stock AMC, Playmate AMX, and the AMX-R. The Playmate AMX was painted pink and presented to the Playmate of the Year, Angela Dorian.

At top speed, the AMC AMX was capable of reaching over 120 miles per hour, going from 0-60 in under 7 seconds, and 0-100 in under 17 seconds. It became one of the most popular vehicles (specifically for its high performance) for dragstrip drivers such as Shirley Shahan, also called “The Drag-On Lady”. The National Hot Rod Association’s driver Herman Lewis, the “Godfather of AMX Racing” drove his patriotically painted vehicle to victory in 200 events.

Even if you don’t have enough money to purchase a full-size version of the groovy AMC AMX, you can purchase a 1:25 scale model of the vehiclefrom Jo-Han, or a 1:64 model from Hot Wheels. There are also 1:18 models that are newer and come in a range of options, including the pink Playmate version and a modified “Drag-On Lady” AMX. Of course, if you have the money, this would be a perfect vehicle for a ride up the coast in search of adventure.