Prototype 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 it!)

 

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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