AMC AMX Running Changes; Genius On A Budget
It was not uncommon for AMC to built, and use as a mule, a "pre
production" car for changes one would see in the coming model year.
Changes might include grilles, interior pieces, tail lights, trim for example.
Many of these were fabricated in clay, fiberglass, wood, plaster (like the
Dick Teague 2 seat 71 prototype grille; yup, that is my behind the wheel of
to name a few materials. Some of these cars still known to exist. Others
lost in time. Most...but not all, were assigned a vehicle identification
number which may have been for that particular year, or coming year. One of
the 1970 AMX/3's for example has a 1971 VIN tag, A1M397X100001 AMC assigned to
it....AFTER 1970 production. Another that quickly comes to mind is the Topel
RamblerRebel drag car (Kenosha, Wisconsin longtime Topel Rambler) used to try
out AMC's "new" array of Group 19 performance parts. (Under
restoration in 2010)
This is a 1972 AMX built well before "actual" production began
August 1st, 1971 for the 1972 model year, giving AMC 3 months to tweak some
changes on interior. Built in April 1971 it has the "assigned" AMC
VIN of A2M798Z000002; note the last 6 digits, especially the 8th digit is a 0,
not 1, and last digit is 2. AMC had gotten some complaints on their new 71 AMX
& Javelin series about the "hidden" cigar lighter and
ashtray below heater & AC controls (Weathereye) from consumers. They were
extremely receptive to customers and drive reports, and in this case, decided
to change it to better design.....so drivers could keep eyes on the road, not
try to figure out Rubic's Cube door on dash.
The console would get shorter by about 9-10 inches, as the AMX &
Javelin console for 1971 stretched almost to firewall. The "dash
pod" would be easier to fabricate, simply remove the door, and the
ashtray and cigar lighter made user friendly.
This 72 AMX pre production car has some of the mule parts. The ashtray is
SAMPLE #M22825 while their part number is A21701. Made by Grand Rapids
Metalcraft Division of Grand Rapid, Michigan for AMC, this wider and flatter.
The dash pod itself is made of plaster and wood. There is chunks of wood
holding in the new ligher, while smaller piece fabricated for around ashtray
where front was hallowed out. The for 71 was shorter horizontally and wider
vertically, a stubby little fellow. This new ashtray AMC tried on this
prototype was just opposite, it was wider horizontally but shorter vertically.
The cigar lighter area was small box area for 71, but for this prototype
changed to a chevron pattern, or "V" pattern if you will. It would
revert back to flattened box type before actual production began however and
remain that way thru end of AMX & Javelin prduction in November 1974.
I have a few photos here of this pre production 72 AMX with the prototype
dash parts and some photos of a 1971 dash pod (shown in green) next to 74 AMX
dash pod for comparison. You can see how easy it was for AMC to make changes
that actual ended up on the cars, and while not all of them used (compare it
to film editing) AMC's changes to constantly improve their vehicles, even in a
small way such as a dash ashtray meant a lot to them as they actually were
reponsive to customers concerns.
No, like many running changes with AMC, you will not find a 'bulletin' a
'service spec' a 'memo' a 'dealer letter' with any of this. AMC had thousands
of suppliers for their parts. And with that came "stuff happens"
whereas a company could go out of business, UAW or other party possibly
trucker strike, Act of God like tornado or hurricane or flood, but the line
had to keep moving at all costs. So if say TRW or Moog could not get AMC the
bushings, AMC quickly went to Plan B and Wagner supplied them. A good
comparison would be the BP oil spill. You love Gulf shrimp (I raised on it
down in Corpus Christi/Padre Island) and your favorite restaurant can't get
Louisiana shrimp, to keep doors open and customers coming in they now serving
Texas shrimp not affected by spill.
Bottom line was that AMC's strategy for changes such as shown in these
photos was nothing short of genius on a budget.
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