Mel Valentine & his Big Bad Orange AMX

A final thought on the late Mel Valentine, whose original owner 69 AMX was
featured in a recent Hemming's Muscle Machines May 2006. My wife and I went
to the AMC SouthEast Regional in Atlanta, GA in 1998; as we were hitting
different AMO meets, drumming up support for the National Houston would be
hosting in 2001; and of course, learning from those Nationals...and
Regionals, although Houston was home of a highly successful AMC SW Regionals
in the 90s, you still learn different things to bring people out!

I have said it a million times since the 1980s, it is the PEOPLE associated
with American Motors that makes this marque unique. And you will find them
at many meets where old friendships are rekindled, and new ones forged that
will last a lifetime. Yes, the cars are nice but the people is what make
AMC.....different.

I commonly not only photograph cars, all of them, at these meets, but also
document them. After a long sunny day of doing so, along with buying parts,
and talking to fellow AMC fans (I didn't judge at this meet if I recall) the
meet would usually break up about 3-4pm, like most do, as many folks want to
go clean up, as many have been up since crack of dawn detailing their rides,
or driven to the event that day, or lugging parts, vending, judging,
whatever it might be, you are usually a nice sweaty mess in your (pick one)
red, white and blue AMC shirt by mid afternoon. So most folks want to clean
up, snack, even nap before awards ceremony usually 7-8PM.

The field was starting to clear up. My attention had been on several cars, a
Maxi Blue 74 Hornet hatchback with factory 360V8; a 70 Rebel station wagon
someone had converted into a Rambulance (similiar to the AMC offerings of
1962 called Rambulance which was a Ambulance!) and several Javelins and
AMXs. I had spent some time laying on the ground looking at detail of a Big
Bad Green 69 AMX, which if I recall, would later win Best of Show. A 70 Mark
Donohue Javelin with 17,000 original miles had also caught my attention, as
this is one of those 'debunking the donohue myths' cars I write about, as it
is a column shift automatic. So lots of time spent in and around that
oddity.

So as the meet was breaking up, I was STILL snapping photos. There was a
lonely Big Bad Blue 69 AMX no one was around. Several cars over was the Big
Bad Green AMX, and noticed possibly the owner putting away display items in
trunk like fire extinguisher you need a fire extinguisher at these meets and
not only is it required, it is highly recommended. Talking to the fellow who
hailed from North Carolina I leanred his name was Eddie Jordan. I commented
on how nice his car was and he informed me it did well in shows. I asked him
if he would do me a favor and move his ride over near that Big Bad Blue car
for a few photos, of which he was more than happy to.

I also noticed the owner of the Big Bad Orange AMX had jumped in his car and
was fixing to drive away. His wife, or girlfriend was walking back towards
the host hotel over a small bluff. What happened after that was really one
of those magical moments that will last a lifetime however. I quickly stuck
my head almost in the window, introduced myself to Mel, who I had never met.
A big grin flashed across his face and I asked him if he would be so kind to
'park his orange AMX over there' as 'I was trying to recreate the Who Is
Afraid Of The Big Bad Colors' AMC cover brochure. He jumped out and yelled
at his wife "Honey! Eddie Stakes Is Going To Photograph My Car!!!" of which
she acknowledged with a wave. He pulled over BETWEEN the Blue and Green AMX,
asking how that looked, the whole time asking me, "how is that?" "how is 
that?" in reference to lining up the front of the vehicle with the others 
sitting there. I mentioned to him that I thought he was going to pull to the 
right of the Big Bad Green AMX! But I also told him that by pulling in the 
middle, he had unknowingly lined the three Big Bad colored AMXs up in order 
of production! Green=286; Orange=284= Blue=195!

Those people who were heading out suddenly turned their cars around,
realizing what was happening. People headed towards the hotel came back and
got out cameras again. Next thing you know there was over a dozen people
snapping away at this rare sight! The Pacer people got into the act also and
towards the hotel, was able to muster up a dozen Pacers lined up also. My
thoughts was why as to all these meets I have attened thru the years this
had never been done. I thanked Mel and Eddie for their cooperation and let
them know if they wanted copies of my photos write me later. Never did learn
who the owner of the blue AMX was nor am I aware his car was part of a
'moment's notice rare photo shoot' either.

Sadly I never got to cross paths with Mel Valentine again after that 1998
Atlanta Regional. But the image of him jumping out of the car, tired after a
long meet, yelling at his wife the he 'would only be a minute' was a
wonderful first....and lasting image of a true wonderful AMC fan. God bless
Mel, and also his family, and special thanks to Dan Strohl of Hemming's
Muscle Machines and Peach State AMO for telling Mel's story. It is about the
folks.

The Impromptu Photos!!

 

High resolution photo!

3-big-bad-amx-colors.jpg (488785 bytes)

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