Everything You Need To Know About The Most Underrated Muscle Cars Of The 60s - SUV VEHICLE

Everything You Need To Know About The Most Underrated Muscle Cars Of The 60s


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American Motors Company (AMC) is not a carmaker that is common to many, except for muscle car lovers who have run across an AMC Rambler Rebel or AMC Javelin. The American-based company competed with the big three from Detroit but chose not to take them head-to-head. Instead, the company found ways to fill the gaps that the big three left open, which is why it lasted as a viable automaker until it was acquired by Chrysler Corporation and turned into the Jeep-Eagle division in 1987.

Before Renault invested in the company, the purchase of Jeep, and the final buy-out from Chrysler, AMC designed and produced some unique and interesting cars and a few muscle cars that could give the big names a run for their money. The 1969 AMC AMX was one of those cars that could show up to a street drag race and have a great chance of winning. Since the car was built by a company limited in funds, the competition did not take the driver, or the car, seriously.

More times than not, that was the downfall of the competing car because, before they knew it, the AMC AMX was in the lead and crossing the finish line. Let’s jump into the seat of one of these awesome cars and discover some things that may have been forgotten throughout the years.

UPDATE: 2024/03/31

This list has been updated to reflect the new TopSpeed standards of formatting and style. Additional information has been added to expand upon the amazing AMC AMX, as well as new list items, because there can never be enough information on the only muscle car from the classic era, which was also a two-seat sports car.

10 Things You Might Not Know About The AMC Javelin

The AMC Javelin is a car that many have forgotten about, but it is an awesome piece of machinery that deserves to be remembered!

13 The AMX Almost Had Four Seats

The Ramble Seat

AMC AMX concept car
CZmarlin/Wikimedia Commons

Besides being a radically cool ride, the AMC AMX is most famous for being the only two-seat muscle car of the classic era. Rules are pretty strict as a muscle car is defined as an American-made two-door with a powerful V-8 and four seats. That is why the Chevrolet Corvette, despite having some serious American muscle, has always been classified as a sports car. For whatever reason, the AMX got a pass on its seat-count number, but almost did have room to place a couple of extra butts.

AMX Concept Cars:

  • AMX I
  • AMX II
  • AMX GT
  • AMX-400
  • AMX/3
  • Teague AMX

The original AMX concept car, introduced at the 1966 Society of Automotive Engineers convention in Detroit, had a rear folding seat that popped up from the rear decklid, which was called the “Ramble Seat.” Either goofy or nifty, depending on one’s perspective, AMC cut this out of the final design because it couldn’t be weatherproofed, and it was seriously unsafe. In 1969, James Jeffords, head of the Javelin Trans Am Racing Team, tried to revive this for production with an AMX-R prototype, but was rejected by AMC for liability reasons.

12 There Are A Few Right-Hand Drive AMX Cars

Bringing the Thunder Down Under

Rambler AMX Australia

Australians got to enjoy the thrill of driving an AMC because Australian Motor Industries had been importing and converting Ramblers since the 1960s. When the amazing AMC AMX came out in 1969, however, it was not made available down under, much to the chagrin of Aussie enthusiasts.

That changed in 1969, when AMI got their hands on 24 AMXs, with Complete Knockdown kits to convert them to right-hand drive. These RHD cars were named the Rambler AMX because that was something familiar on the continent.

Top AMI Imports

  • Standard Vanguard
  • Toyota Tiara
  • Mercedes-Benz 220SEb
  • Triumph Herald
  • AMC Rambler AMX

Obviously, the steering wheel was moved over to the right-hand side, but the windshield wipers were left in the left-hand-drive position. The steering pump remained on the left side, but all other steering components were relocated to the right. These Rambler AMX cars came with a 343ci V-8, automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. Though only two dozen were converted, there were three color options to choose from: White, Safety Wattle Yellow, and Signal Red. They were promoted as “personal supercars.”

10 Coolest Vehicles AMC Ever Built

AMC was known for making affordable, reliable cars, but they also cranked out some of the coolest rides to ever hit the streets

11 There Was A Mid-Engine AMX

AMX/3 Concept Car

The AMX turned out so great that almost immediately AMC began looking for ways to further link their name to coolness and performance. Beginning in 1969, AMC began developing the AMX/3, which was a mid-engine sports car in the vein of the Ford GT and De Tomaso Mangusta. AMC lacked the equipment and know-how to pull off such a vehicle, so much of the design and development was outsourced to European automakers and coachbuilders.

Original Six AMX/3 Cars:

  • First prototype
  • The “Red Monza Car”
  • Exhibit
  • The “Turin Car”
  • Direct to AMC
  • The Sciabola

The radical new design was powered by AMC’s 295-horsepower 390ci V-8, paired with an Oto Melara four-speed manual, though one was built with a ZF five-speed. Through trial and error, eventually, the AMX/3 could hit a top speed of 170 mph. The original plan was to build and sell 5,000 of these American supercars a year, but financial difficulties forced AMC to cancel production. There is no official count on how many AMX/3 cars were actually built, but there are at least six known to exist.

10 American Motors Experimental Was An AMC Call Out To Youths

AMC Flexes Its Muscles With The AMX

A parked 1968 AMC AMX

The American Motors Experimental, or the AMX as most called it, was a new design meant to lift the idea that AMX only produced economy cars for the masses. Not only did the executives at AMC want to join the muscle car revolution, but they also wanted to produce a vehicle that would put its name on the map and make a decent profit.

AMC Muscle Cars:

  • Rambler Rebel: (1956-1957)
  • Marlin (1965-1967)
  • Rambler/AMC Rebel (1967-1970)
  • Javelin (1968-1974)
  • AMX (1968-1970)
  • Hornet (1970-1977)
  • Gremlin (1970-1978)
  • Matador (1971-1973)
  • Pacer (1975-1980)

One of the concept cars caught the management team’s attention and quickly became the first AMC AMX for public purchase in 1968. From there, history was made by being named the best-engineered car of 1969 and 1970 and by having an agreement with Playboy to have sales meetings between executives and dealers at nine different Playboy Club locations around the nation.

9 Dick Teague And Company Created The AMX To Butt Heads With The Detroit Carmakers

Another Rebellious AMC

A parked 1968 AMC AMX
Bring a Trailer

Designers such as Gale Halderman and Harley Earl are household names when it comes to classic automotive engineering, but the real heroes behind the scenes were automotive specialists such as Dick Teague. He was a designer who worked for AMC, a company that demanded great designs with as little investment as possible.

Notable Dick Teague Designs

  • Oldsmobile Rocket
  • AMC Hornet
  • AMC Javelin/AMX
  • AMC Pacer
  • Jeep Cherokee

Dick Teague and his team are specialists in such designs, as seen in the AMC Gremlin and the mighty AMC AMX. The AMX was not just a basic car, though, it was a muscle car designed for one purpose; to butt heads with the big three automakers from Detroit and shake the muscle car industry to its core.

This 1979 AMC AMX Was Never Registered

40 Years in the same Showroom. This 1979 AMC AMX is still without a Title

8 The AMC AMX Was An AMC Javelin With A Face Lift

Launching A Javelin At The Corvette

A parked 1968 AMC Javelin SST

The AMC Javelin was the design the company planned to use to take on the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro in the muscle car industry, but they wanted more. The design team knew they had one more iconic car they needed to compete with; the Chevrolet Corvette. Since the Corvette was such a unique muscle car/performance car, the design team came up with the AMC AMX in an attempt to take some of the markets away from Chevy.

Top Pony Cars

  • 1964 Plymouth Barracuda
  • 1965 Ford Mustang
  • 1966 Dodge Charger
  • 1967 Chevrolet Camaro
  • 1968 AMC Javelin

Since AMC was not a financial institution, they had to use what was already available. The designers took an already-finished Javelin and made some simple changes to create the AMX. The new car was formed by changing the grill, the rear quarter panels, the hood, and the glass. The Javelin was meant to take on the crowded pony car class, while the AMX was aimed at the American sports car segment of one.

7 One Of Two American Two-Seat Performance Cars Was The AMX

Less Seats, More Fun

A parked 1968 AMC AMX
Christopher Ziemnowicz via Wikimedia Commons

American muscle cars were what it was all about in the ’60s and early ’70s, but there were a few consumers who wanted performance as well as muscle. That is one area of the market that the Chevy Corvette had covered and controlled until the AMC AMX came onto the market. It was the only other two-seat sports car on the market designed and built by an American-based company.

Top American Two-Seaters

  • 1953 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 1957 Ford Thunderbird
  • 1968 AMC AMX
  • 1984 Pontiac Fiero
  • 1991 Dodge Viper

The price advantage went to the AMX because it was tagged at under $3,000, compared to the base-level Corvette that would run a buyer over $4,500. However, sales were not as good as expected because the advantage of reputation went to the already established Chevy Corvette.

This AMC Javelin Honors Legendary Driver Mark Donohue And The Trans-Am Racing Era

A once-stock Javelin has been transformed into one of AMC and Donohue’s iconic racers

6 AMX Was A Muscle Car That Was Also A Sports Car

Merging Strength With Agility

A parked 1970 AMC AMX

The Javelin may have been one of the best-known AMC muscle cars at the time, but the AMX was no slouch when it came to straight-line races. The biggest engine available in the car was the AMC 390, which could produce up to 325 horsepower and 420 foot-pounds of torque, pushing the AMX down the quarter-mile track in just over 14 seconds.

1969 AMC AMX Power and Performance


390ci V-8


325 HP


420 pound-feet


Four-speed manual

0-60 Time

5.7 seconds


14.4 seconds

Top Speed

106 MPH

(Performance stats sourced from Automobile Catalog)

But, the AMX was not only designed to compete from 0 to 60 mph or on the quarter-mile track. It was also intended to compete on road courses, or as most from the era know, the nation’s back roads. The AMC AMX was a muscle car at heart, but a sports car in design, making it the master of both worlds.

5 The AMC 390 Was Underrated By Almost 100 Horsepower

Under-Counted Ponies In The AMX Pony Car

A parked 1968 AMC AMX

Like most muscle car engines of the ’60s and ’70s, the AMC AMX 390 was underrated to ensure it could meet the requirements set by sanctioned racetracks, such as NHRA and NASCAR. AMC claimed that the 390 pushed out 325 horsepower, creating a way for them to attempt domination on the race circuits without having to decrease the actual power of the engine.

AMC AMX Engine Options:

  • 290ci V-8: 225 horsepower
  • 343ci V-8: 280 horsepower
  • 360ci V-8: 285 horsepower
  • 390ci V-8: 315 horsepower
  • 390ci V-8: 325 horsepower
  • 390ci V-8: 340 horsepower

Unfortunately for AMC, the other big-name racing carmakers were doing the same thing, so the advantage did not go to them as much as they had hoped. The AMX still won some races until NHRA gave the AMC 390 engine an actual horsepower rating of 420, almost 100 more than what AMC had been claiming.

The Long Forgotten Pride Of AMC: The 1970 Trans Am Javelin

The AMC Trans Am Javelin is a forgotten gem that won races on and off the track in 1970. Let’s take a look!

4 Cheaper Than The Other Muscle Car Models On The Market

The AMX Budget Beast

1969 AMC AMX
Mecum Auctions

Even today, one thing that a carmaker can do to secure some sales in the industry is to offer a competitive muscle car at a price that is less than the competition. AMC did not have a problem covering significant production costs because they used what they had on the shelves. AMC did not have to produce nearly as many platforms or components as the big three did, so the cost of production was lower than its rivals. This allowed them to place a sales price lower than the competition.

1969 Performance Car Original MSRPs:

  • Plymouth Barracuda 440 – $2,813
  • Pontiac Firebird 400 – $2,931
  • Chevrolet Chevelle SS – 3,021
  • Ford Mustang Mach 1 – $3,122
  • AMC AMX – $3,290
  • Dodge Charger R/T – $3,600
  • Chevrolet Corvette Stingray – $4,438

The AMX was less than the Corvette by $1,500, the Mustang by a couple of hundred, the Camaro by almost $1,000, and the Charger by $600 or so. This gave AMC the price advantage, but just like with the Corvette, the muscle cars that sold the most were not AMC because the big three from Detroit already had a solid reputation for building top-of-the-line muscle cars.

3 AMX Was Dropped After Three Production Years

A Short but Sweet History

A parked 1969 AMC AMX

Unfortunately for AMC, the AMX simply came too late in the muscle car era because things were changing. The rising cost of insurance coverage for muscle cars and increased fuel prices have made it hard for most average consumers to own a good-performance car. To top it off, the new emissions regulations that would be implemented basically killed the demand for the AMX before it even started.

AMC AMX Production Numbers

  • 1968: 6,725 units
  • 1969: 8,293 units
  • 1970: 4,116 units
  • Total: 19,134 units

A decrease in sales brought about a decline in production, which circled around and created fewer sales due to availability. This circle spiraled the sale of AMX down within 3 years, causing the carmaker to discontinue AMX line to shift its efforts elsewhere.

10 Awesome Things About The Forgotten AMC Rebel Machine

The 1970 AMC Rebel Machine is a forgotten gem from the muscle car era, but it is an awesome example of an underrated sleeper car

2 1969 Hurst Modified AMX Super Stocks Met NHRA Requirements

Hurst Shifts The AMX Into High Gear

A parked 1969 AMC AMX Super Stock

The AMC AMX that came off the production lines had a few engine options when it was ordered, but they all came with either a Borg-Warner four-speed manual transmission or a Borg-Warner M-12 Shift Command automatic. The company wanted something more out of the drivetrain and the engine, so they sent 52 cars to Hurst Performance in Michigan, from where the engines were shipped to Florida.

Noted Hurst Performance Vehicles

  • 1965-1975 Plymouth Barracuda Hurst Hemi Under Glass
  • 1968 Hemi Dart Super Stock
  • 1968 Hurst/Olds
  • 1969 AMC Hurst SC/Rambler
  • 1969 Super Stock AMC AMX

Both locations made modifications that boosted the power, torque, and performance while staying within the NHRA guidelines (at least on paper). The Hurst-modified AMX Super Stock was a beast made to race, making it one of the most sought-after collectible cars today.

1 1969 AMX California Special Is Unique And Rare

Special Edition AMX

A parked 1969 AMC AMX California Special

In the three years of production, there were numerous special edition cars AMC produced, but not many are more unique than the California Special. It was a car only sold through Southern California car dealers in commemoration of the Riverside International Speedway.

AMX Special Editions:

  • Playmate AMX – 1 unit
  • Hertz rent-a-racer – unknown units
  • Von Piranha Edition – 22 units
  • California 500 Special – 32 units (est.)
  • Super Stock AMX – 52 units
  • Pikes Peak cars – 12 units

The vehicle was designed to be the pace car for the 1969 race, with replicas being sold to the public. They all had the 390 under the hood and were painted Go Green with black striping down the middle. An estimated 32 examples of the AMX California Special were produced, so it is one of the rarest AMX muscle cars ever built.


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