Regional specialty car programs lured curious potential customers into dealer showrooms by promising an exclusive offering, often at a tempting price. Even if consumers didn’t ultimately buy that particular vehicle, it still got them in the door so a savvy salesperson could seize the opportunity to sell them a different one.
These packages normally consisted of a group of options added to an existing model, as well as a catchy name announced with decals or emblems, and possibly special stripes and/or paint colors to make the creation standout further.
Some of these distinctive rides went on to become widely known beyond their geographical points of sale, while others were seemingly lost to time.In 1969, New York and New Jersey-area American Motors Rambler dealers offered the “Raider.” Based on the unit-body midsize Rebel, it featured “Electric Green, Tangerine, or Blue—You’ve Never Seen” (as stated in the ad) exterior colors, a black grille, a vinyl top, a bench-seat interior, a sports-type steering wheel, an AM radio, power steering and brakes, and other small items.
We know those colors instead as Big Bad Green, Big Bad Orange, and Big Bad Blue, and our featured Raider’s original window sticker lists “Big Bad Blue.
“Given its aggressive appearance, you may be expecting to hear that the engine was a rumbling 280-hp 343, or possibly the even-more-powerful 315-hp 390, but it was actually a 200-hp 290 two-barrel V-8 with a single exhaust. It was backed by a column-shifted Borg-Warner Shift- Command automatic transmission and a 3.15:1 axle ratio. The powertrain choice made sense to keep the price reasonable and reach a broader customer base.
In June of 1969, under codename E18, BMW engineers took delivery of an aggressively styled mid-engine coupe for development and testing. Except the car wasn’t theirs, wasn’t even built in Germany, and was destined for the American market. That car, the first-built American Motors AMX/3, did eventually make its way to the United States, where it proceeded to sit for decades before a recent sale got the ball rolling on a once-promised restoration.
“(This is) arguably the rarest American muscle car in existence,” George Huisman of Classic Design Concepts said of the AMX/3, chassis No. 1, which will make its public debut after more than 50 years at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals show in Rosemont, Illinois.
What if AMC had a Mustang-style vehicle before Ford?
Henry Ford Museum curator goes for a drive in the 1962 Budd XR-400 concept car
Budd Company was a major supplier of sheetmetal stampings to American automakers, producing body parts for nearly half of the passenger cars produced in North America in the pre- and post-war eras.
In 1962, Budd produced a running prototype of a sporty convertible, the XR-400 concept designed with sports car proportions. Budd suggested to American Motors that it should put such a vehicle into production. By the way, that production would have begun months before Ford unveiled a car with similar styling, the Mustang.