"I would rather see 100 Chevy powered AMCs than see one more AMC in a salvage yard." (me: 1997)
We are beginning to see more and more altered AMC vehicles. As
time goes on, we will see more and more of them. I like to call them "Cuban
cars" as the Cuban people have wonderful old cars, but none of them are stock, many
powered by whatever they can get ahold of like Soviet Lada engines for instance. ButI
think this goes both ways here. I can imagine the heart attacks if someone took say a 57
T/Bird and dropped in a AMC 401, or a 63 Vette with a AMC 360. There would be people on
both sides of the fence harping! I give Dane (who put a Buick GNX turbo 231-6 in his 69
Big Bad Green AMX, it turns low 11's)
a 10 for being creative, but I like to customize or mod, some of my cars, even though I do however keep the drivetrains AMC.
The 3 above are a 71 SC/360, convertible Rebel 'Machine' and SC/Rambler 'wagon' from my collection.
But as I have said before, some people know how easy it is to build a 350 Chevy, and parts are available on every damned street corner, many items that is why they do it, possibly their budget, who knows. And a few months ago there was talk about AMC pistons being impossible to find, that could be another factor. Who knows what goes thru people'smind when they create something like the Len Legere's 71 Mistress, or the Buick powered AMX, or Spacer Pacer, or just alter a AMC to their own specs. Some are visionaries marching to the beat of a different drum: Dick Teague, Darryl Starbird, Ed Big Daddy Roth, George Barris quickly come to mind who "changed AMXs".
Len Legere's Mistress
Dane's Buick powered AMX
Or the Banacek AMX (also known as the AMX 400)
Dick Teague's CUSTOM AMX (you can also see test drive on youtube.com )
Me behind thr wheel of Dick Teague's (Mike Spangler's) 71 TWO SEAT AMX prototype
(I should have drove it home from Berlin to Houston!)
I've said it a million times and wills say it again. Sure, we don't have to AGREE with it. If you don't think I grimace at the thought of possibly my
low mile 71 Matador being bought for nothing more than a donor car for a damned Rebel Machine think again. I do not care whether it would work or not, or what would fit or not, or whether the body style is identical or what would fit or not; that would be the buyer's problem. But I do need to move the vehicle, along with several others so I will drop my AMC what-passes-for-morals about who I sell a car to and for what purpose. In the past, if I thought the car would end up a parts car or a donor, or be ratted to hell by a kid, I would reconsider the sale, even with money in face. I don't no more.
As for a altered car, I would rather see a DOZEN non AMC powered AMCs stillon the street or cruise night than see just ONE in a salvage yard. It's real
people, and every day it happens, whether we know, care, agree or not, many cars are simply lost and have outlasted their usefulness and are put out to
the great AMC Heaven. We can debate it over and over about the pros and cons of altered cars, parting one out, restoring one to whatever fancy;
stock, non stock, altered, non altered, concourse to K-Mart paint can. Some are solid cars that need little, others are skeletons of their former selves. And with a lot of the legislation passed by municipalities, cities, counties, and states in the past 20 years, it has made it that much harder for junkyards and even individuals to save what they can. Granted, you don't want to live next to someone with a dozen old cars in their front yard either, (Collins Brothers AMC in NC)
but there are alternatives to that like storage or land. We have went thru that repeatedly on the list here about individual property rights and how sometimes they get trampled. You can pick up a publication monthly like Hemming's Motor News and the back pages are filled with constantly changing Senate rules, tons of environmental legislation, SEMA battles, and so on in the name of the old car hobby. And while we talk and argue more cars get crushed, or the apathy that exists out there in the old car hobby sometimes (not just AMC) just either quietly watches the cars fade away in places like PYP, or watch owners let them rot to hell for whatever reason, or in some cases, a car here and there is saved, but at what costs? How many people remember that 65 Classic convertible I posted about at the PYP here in Houston? It was someone's abandoned project, it had new trans, new seats, tons of new parts, but for whatever reason, it ended up there. That was a rather unique and rare piece of auto history, only 4953 made, of which a fraction remain almost 40 years, count them, 40 years, later. But not a lot was pulled off the car, just mostly cosmetics, no one pulled the convertible unique items days before it was crushed like top frame, electric wiper setup, hood, railroad track looking chrome, windshield, even reupholstered seats went bye bye with it. How about the rare factory Big Bad Blue 1970 Hornet two door that was also being restored...had new seats, carpet, interior, chrome dress up kit on the engine, and also ended up at Pick A Part for whatever reason! This was a really rare car! Like the Classic above it, both are now only a damned memory, and a few parts I pulled off them are all that remains of those two proud vehicles. Again, I would rather see either stuffed with a cookie cutter sheep 350V8 than see the fucking car gone forever. And I have watched over
10000+ AMCs crushed at junkyards in Houston since 1983.
How about Cleveland? Phoenix? St. Louis? Dallas?
Go ahead and count them.
They are gone.
Think all AMC's are collectible? And "bringing big bucks at Barrett Jackson?"
Then go look thru the Shut Up & Drive Lists here at cars that have been for sale,
over and over, some even listed free. Tow it away. Better yet, for those who
think "cars bring big bucks on ebay" there is a file on my site here for
that too called AMC Ebay tracking Sales; (discontinued
yesrs ago, point was made) then go over to Ebay and look at prices on everything there, all AMC and
So why bitch about someone's preference on a engine? Are NOS and reproduction parts growing on trees for a classic AMC anything? So we have a number of new reproduction products like aluminum heads, intakes. Big deal, not everyone wants to buy them. I'm sure they are great products. AMC used a variety of engines in a variety of their cars thru the years like 70-71 Buick V6s, Audi 4cylinder engines in the late 70s and GM four cylinder engines in the mid 70s. This saved AMC a lot of money from having to produce same. Get on craigslist and search for 'amc engine' in your state , many 401s under $1000 and 360s you are hard pressed to give them away in 2012 and beyond, 304s are door stops. Yes, someone needs them, but not worth 'big bucks'.
Chances are most of us love four door and wagons. That don't mean that someone else who needs a fender is more likely to use a wagon or four door as a donor car than as to restore it to it's former glory. However it usually means due to collectability, resale value or perceived lack of it, chances are it will get parted out. I recently found in a Texas junkyard, a right hand drive US Mail Ambassador . Yup, 232, few options. Most of these although rare, were simply disposable and junked many years ago, surprised to see one left at all!
Six cylinder powered Ambassadors? I have owned about three of them,, real nice too. But these cars seldom stand the test of time. Same with six cylinder and 290 and 304 Javelins. In 2014 a Yellow Jacket 68 Ambassador appeared on ebay, could not sell for $5500. Google 'yellow jacket amc ambassador' for a neat youtube video of this rare car.
Most are cannibalized for bigger brothers.
I mentioned in a conversation with a fellow just the other day that I estimate about 600-700 70 AMXs still exist in any condition. So you can count 10-20 in your area, I can count 10-20 in my area that have been bought, and parted out, and only remain on Kodak stills. My estimate only, hope I am wrong. But the 70 has the highest rate of cannibalism due to many of it's unique parts that are not reproduced and impossible to find. I mentioned a friend of mine who parted out a 70 AMX Big Bad Green in AR two years ago. He needed some of the parts for his other 70 AMX. That old 70 BBG was one of about 74 made in 70 I told him. He said that he could not find parts like grill and rockers for his and he already had this car, which was hit, not bad, but hit in the 1/4 PS. So he saved what he could and hauled the rest away. He was ok with parting it out to get the items he needed
and haul away the rest as opposed to taking only the parts he needed and selling the rest to someone who might be able to bring it back one day. There seem to be more getting parted out than saved, but maybe since people call me looking for parts I can make that assumption but hard not to when some folks have 2, 3, or more AMXs and are using most of them for parts to fix just one in a effort to save money, or just because of the luxury of having a parts car around. You tell me. I don't know, I am only going by the amount of people who e/mail me and call me and who have told me they have parted out something some of us might think is restorable or fixable. The 70 Javelin faces greatest threat of extinction as most were cannibalized to restore a AMX.
So how many are left?
I got this letter from a well known east coast AMC Vendor in ealry 1990s, and while I was not shocked, it also shows the fate of a ton of AMC vehicles that people cannibalize for either just the drivetrain, or body/interior:
"I haven't quite had the amount of cars you have gone through but since the east is so tough on bodies I have parted out over 100 68-70 AMX's alone, most either wrecked beyond repair or chopped up dream with so much missing it wasn't worth putting back together or rusted beyond belief. And I must say 80+% 290/343 cars, which I guess is a good thing to see most 390 cars are survivors." He's on my vendors list and a rather nice fellow to deal with I may add. But I found it odd that he would actually admit to something like that. Sure, it is his property and we have went thru that over and over again here on the list. And no, you can't have his info to flame him, even though some of you will really disagree with his policy. I don't fully agree with it either but hey, it is his stuff to do with what he wishes. If I had never had that conversation with him I would have never know about this much carnage. Just like I mentioned way up above about places like PYP. Unless you have seen it up close and personal, you can't even begin to comprehend the sheer frustration sometimes, knowing you can't afford everything in there AMC to save for another day as it will never be reproduced, or knowing no matter how many damned people you call and write, if they don't need that one item, they won't bother to get anything else. And not to mention those who will gladly smash the whole dash out of a junkyard car only to get a tiny 38 cent bulb from the instrument cluster they could have frigging bought at a damned Auto Zone!
I took heat years ago for parting out a rusty 70 AMX that had sat on the ground near Beaumont, TX since 1983 when the owner had rebuilt the engine, and after about 1000 miles it started fouling plugs and he parked it. And there it sat until it was no longer restorable like most of the cars you see sitting up at the CARS IN BARNS website. I bought it when he finally decided to sell in 1998, and decided it was too far gone to even attempt a restoration, stuff like 1/4 panel separation, floor had stayed back in Beaumont, and so on. But no mention of the many people who have parted out a slew of cars then, and now, whether a vendor, a national chain like Pick A Part (where I have seen over 8000+ AMCs crushed since 1983 here in Houston alone) or even individuals. Think about the AMC Vendors on my Vendors List who are indeed parting out 10, 20, or even 150+ AMCs that some of us deem 'collectible' or 'restorable'. I guess they don't want to hear any whining, only the phone calls from those who need parts off it. Ah, supply and demand. I'm on the fence on this one as while I do part out some cars, like the two 68 AMXs currently, and a 68 Javelin too.
Think all AMC's are collectible and worth
saving, maybe you have not seen the
"AMC Cars In Barns/Rotting Ramblers"
file on my site yet.
I also like to save them from the crusher, even if it means sloshing 50 lbs of bondo on them and painting them with a brush in the rain, someone out there on a limited budget, or who might see past that mess, might decide to buy it, either drive it daily or attempt to bring it back around in whatever shape, form, or fashion it might take once in their off the phone with a lady in Florida who her husband was looking for a few parts, and their 69 AMX actually does have a hemi in it. I would like to see that considering I have joked about that setup for years! There are in Palmetto, FL.
How about the folks everyone knows that have cars that sit up? Surely you know some one in either your city, town, local AMC club, don't lie, I got my eye on you heehee...They won't fix them and they won't sell them, just AMC flowerpots and catboxes until the vehicle is too far gone. I could tell you dozens, no, hundreds of them, and their stories but it would crash the server, heehee....again, I guess everyone here know my stand on this, don't have to agree or disagree, but if you do, that is alright with me. I would rather put them on the road for another day personally regardless of whether AMC powered or not, but also realistic to see that not all will, can, or should be saved. So hopefully we can just admire those AMC & Rambler vehicles we see that are altered. When you come to think of it, most of them are altered in some form or fashion anyhows, could be chrome rims, a hood scoop, Holley intake or carb, non original engine for that year, Ford 9", turbo, valve covers, or pink carpet. If you have pink carpet, don't park it near me though as you are gay. There was a big hullabaloo at the Berlin CT AMO nationals in 2000 as several people with Chevy powered AMCs were locked out of the showfield, and one sweet AMX had a nasty sign on it because of that. I believe they changed the rules somewhat or relaxed them for Houston in 2001 though. NAMDRA would not let non-AMC powered cars run down track at their National meet. Why? I hope most national clubs will relax their rules a little on something like this or risk alienating people in the future when more and more cars might indeed be altered due to lack of parts needed to keep it AMC powered? But I believe in building a vehicle to one's own tastes, and hopefully there will be some room for everyone come show day on the showfield if it is a AMC.
So in other words, if it is YOUR car, built it how YOU want, as you will be the one restoring, racing, driving, fixing, insuring, showing it, so don't lose focus, just have fun with it.
And as I said at the top here and have said for many years:
"I would rather see 100 non AMC powered AMCs than see one more fucking AMC crushed because no one took a chance on it, and wanted to fix it up."
UPDATE 2013. Since this file was written back in late 1980s when Al Gore 'invented' the internet while filming Love Story with Richard Gere's gerbils a number of things have changed.
1. AMO allows "non powered AMCs on the showfield, no longer back of bus stuff
2. Many of the items mentioned above for 1970 have been reproduced: AMX 70 grilles, complete ram air systems including vacuum actuators, dash eyebrows, woodgrain overlays, simulated exhaust moldings, tail light lense and housings and back up lens, exterior mirrors, turtle back buckets for 70-72, 70 door panels, so sadly, many of those 1970 AMXs and Javelins cannibalized in 1970s/80s didn't have to die, just wait for technology to catch up.
3. THERE IS NOT SHIT in ANY pick a parts, or any junkyards AMC anymore. ALL FUCKING GONE. Like you didn't see that coming. At the local pick a parts in Houston, there used to be two rows of AMCs...then one row, then mixed in with mopars, then none. No mas, all crushed, good cars all of them no matter how 'collectible' or 'rare' some of us think they might have been. A 85 Eagle was at a Pick A Part in Houston in 2010, a 78 Pacer at Pick A Part in 2014, both did not last long as same in 1970s 'if it is AMC crush it first'.
4. Javelins will ALWAYS be parts cars for AMX (not to me though) and unless they are 390 or 401s no one seems to care. Not my opinion, just it has sadly and unfortunately always been like that. I LOVE six cylinder Javelins, the world does not, see comments above about 290/343 68-69s and 360 70s, same for 71-74 258-6 and 304 powered cars.
5. AMC national clubs have folded, AMC chapters have come and gone, AMC vendors past away. AMC online groups on internet have sprang up, some good, some fucking suck, others there for no damned reason except wasted bandqidth of cliques, some AMXs sold at major auctions for $50K+ but when O'butthole was elected president, market and ecomony crashed, and priced dropped like rock (how do you like your $6 million $$ hemi cuda convertible now?) and the costs of restorations many times will exceed value of the AMC. I would HOPE that is NOT why we collect, restore, and fix them up however.
6. There are more AMC RELATED vendors out there than any time in history, not because of value of cars, but technology. I can driver under I-10 bridge and homeless guy with six pit bulls tied to his shopping cart has laser printer so while at stop light I ask if he can hook me up with a set of red, 68 AMX Go Pack stripes and he says come back in a hour, bring some Pall Malls and dog food. So everyone has carpet, weatherstrips and 3M vinyl stripes. SHOP AROUND for best price, the homeless guy might surprise you. And don't forget Pall Malls.
7. There has been a EXPLOSION of AMC related books hit the market since this file written, that is a wonderful thing to not only keep aMC in limelight, but also bring in a new generation of ans into the fold.
8. There has been a BIGGER EXPLOSION of AMC toys and diecasts come into the market in miniature form since this file was written. Not that is has anything to do with altered AMCs but really worth mentioning. Johnny Lightning, Fresh Cherries, Greenlight, Hot Wheels, AMT models, Johan models, Yat Ming, too many to count and document, but go do a simple search on ebay for 'amc model' or 'amc diecast' and prepare to fill out collection.
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