The Nash-Kelvinator Corporation and Hudson Motor Car Company merged in 1954 to create the American Motors Corporation, AMC, which would be the fourth biggest car company in America until it was acquired by Chrysler in 1987. Over their 33 year run, AMC managed to create cars that if not better than the big three, always seemed to be unique and interesting. Often AMC would lead the way, only to be over taken in the long run by foreign companies and the big three. So to better understand the history of AMC, here is a list of the top 10 cars sold by the American Motor Corporation, and also Jeep, the “crown jule” of AMC.
#10. Jeep Scrambler CJ-8
In 1981, Jeep under AMC released the CJ-8 Scrambler, a long wheelbase truck version of the CJ-7. Unlike other trucks at the time, the bed was not separate from the cab, but connected to the rest of the body, creating a small bed in the back. The car was officially named the CJ-8, but became known as the “Scrambler” after a popular appearance package pictured above. One notable owner was US president Ronald Reagan, who many of you will also remember owned a Subaru Brat, telling me he must have had a soft spot for small trucks or something. The Scrambler was built to battle new imports, and to widen the range of customers Jeep had without having to design a completely new vehicle. The positives of the Scrambler are it’s appearance, which is charming, and it’s utility as it is still a good off-roader but also a truck. One downside of the Scrambler, as with all AMC jeep products at the time, was that the components from the AMC parts bin, especially the engine, were not exactly grade A material, so you couldn’t expect a lot of speed or reliability. Overall, the CJ-8 Scrambler was one of AMC Jeep’s better ideas, but they have had much better sellers, and revolutionary vehicles later in the list. Outside of this list, I still have a soft spot for this sporty little Jeep truck and its quintessential 80s styling
#9. AMC Rambler and Hornet (SC Editions)
The AMC Rambler and it’s successor the Hornet were cool American compact cars before compact cars were cool. I don’t have much to say about the base models other than that they seem like nice basic cars, but the SC versions are both batsh!t insane in a good way. Hurst and AMC partnered together to create the Hurst SC Rambler with a 315 hp 390 cu. in. (6.4L) V8, which propelled the compact muscle car to the quarter mile in 14.4 Seconds @ 100 mph. Other features included a unique multi-color paint job shown above, a nice Hurst Shifter, a functional hood scoop with gaudy “air’ logo in front, factory ready for (NHRA) F/Stock class, and under $3,000 (priced at under $20,000 adjusted for inflation, but would likely be priced at closer to $30,000 today). In short, the Hurst SC Rambler was the late 60s drag car equivalent to the modern Subaru WRX STI! Later, when the Rambler was replaced by the Hornet, we got a less beast, but more beautiful SC 360 HornetWhat the 360 SC lost in craziness it made up for in more reasonable styling and practicality. The SC had standard a respectable 245 hp, which could be upped to 285 with an optional “GO” Package, which added a four-barrel carburetor and a ram air induction system. The car was supposed to be a hit, but less than 800 were produced due to raised insurance premiums, and the car was only ever made in 1971, with the 360 cu in engine becoming just an option in 1972. Overall, these were both good cars, but they failed to impress in sales and were not completely revolutionary idea wise. In a better world, we would have seen more of the Hornet SC 360, but the dieting muscle car market destroyed a neat little car, at least little for its era anyway.
#8. Jeep CJ-5/7
The classic civilian jeep continued under AMC, and the biggest change was marketting. Instead of just being for retired vets, and work, the CJ was now for all people old and young, who wanted to have fun with no top and doors in the sun (excuse my sporadic rhyme). AMC campaigns to turn the CJ from old war veteran to symbol of youth were successful and a true act of brilliance! As with the Scrambler, AMC engines were a help at first for a car with outdated Willys acquitment, but left much to be desired. Still, the CJ-5, and especially the CJ-7 became more desirable vehicles under AMC, and are still enjoyed by many off-roaders and young people wanting a fun car today. I would’ve place higher, but I have to say the biggest updates to the car came under Chrysler when they updated the design to create the Jeep Wrangler, which added in the area of creature comforts while retaining it off-road ability and a better power-plant.